Unschooling Part 1 – What is Unschooling?
A huge misconception about homeschoolers, and especially about unschoolers, is that they sit around in their pajamas watching TV, playing video games or tablets, and sleeping all day. However, a lack of compulsory-style schooling, and a lack of curriculum does not mean a lack of structure in their life, nor does it mean a lack of parenting or teaching. There are still routines and responsibilities to fulfill, but they’re not fulfilled by sending the children off to a school, nor by trying to replicate a school environment at home. So, what is unschooling?
Unschooling isn’t a method, it’s a way of perceiving children, and it’s a way of approaching life. It’s a life-style choice, and sometime adjustment. Everyone, and each family has different needs, goals, interests, and abilities, and we’re all surrounded by different environments. If you look at a day in the life of an unschooling family, the daily tasks for one family may be completely different than that of another family.
In a homeschooling environment, the parents typically make the decisions regarding the educational methods best suited for their children. However, in an unschooling environment, the children are allowed to make their own decisions concerning which method will work the best. They, themselves, are the ones in charge of their own education. I’ll admit, it does sound a little crazy, but…
The school system as we know it today is a social experiment based on a fairly modern model. Administrators arbitrarily set a pace for learning that is falsely led by age-based-ability standards. Meaning the students are only allowed to study what’s deemed “necessary” for their age group. Whereas, this isn’t how humans have learned throughout the majority of our history. Unschooling is the manner in which humans have mostly learned.
In contrast to having a set curriculum, unschooling is a style of natural learning that takes place at home and around the community through hands-on experimentation, and is based on pursuing passions, and satisfying natural curiosities. It’s driven by the child’s interests and questions, and is implemented by creating and maintaining an environment where natural learning can thrive. It’s a style of informal learning that promotes non-structured, child-led, interest-based learning (that’s a mouth full!), and that encourages exploration through activities of their choosing.
Sometimes it may look like nothing is happening and everyone is just sitting around (in our pajamas to boot, ha!), but learning can simply be a side effect of exploring what peaks our interests, and of living our lives with a passion for something. Parents that unschool generally have an understanding that learning never ends, and they usually have a desire to instill in their children a lifelong love for learning.
Learning happens all the time, everywhere, and there is no separation between learning and living. Advocating for student-chosen activities as a primary means of learning lends a hand to a more organic growth of knowledge. To learn more about unschooling, check out our post The Benefits of Unschooling!