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Unschooling Equals Natural LearningHow do you learn stuff in your free time when nobody tells you what to do?
by Jeff Madison
How do you learn something in your post high school/post college life? If you sit down and think about it for awhile, you will probably discover that you pursue things you are interested in or that will help you in your life's direction. If you really think about it, you will notice that you don't really waste any time on things that don't interest you or that have no value to you. You will notice that pursuing these things are easy and enjoyable and that you sometimes you "loose track of time" when you are absorbed in pursuing these interests.
In effect, you are "schooling" yourself without anyone telling you what to do, or why you should do it, or for how long. In home education circles, this is called unschooling and it is applied to school aged children.
There are many misconceptions about unschooling. Many people think that unschooled children have no structure to their lives and that they sit around all day doing mindless things (usually visions of gameboy, X-box, TV, and movies come to mind). If you will do just a little research, however, you will find that this is simply not true. Parents who adhere to the unschooling methods do not just abdicate their responsibility in guiding their children's education, they just go about it a different way than is generally accepted by the masses.
The hardest part of unschooling is the change it requires in the minds parents. Mom and Dad have to start looking at education in a more holistic way. Everything in life becomes a learning experience, i.e. a trip to the grocery store becomes a lesson in math, consumerism, marketing, etc. Unschooling requires parents to think about education in a whole new way, the way you wish you had been allowed to learn...following your interests with no limits of time, space and age.
The role that unschooling parents play in their child's education is the role of facilitator not teacher. SHOCK! I know but that's because of our preconceived ideas about schooling, how children learn, and our whole role in it. This is not to say that a parent never "teaches" a child anything. The parent just chooses to do it in a way that follows a child's natural desire to learn. In our traditional thinking, a teacher chooses what a child need to know and when and then comes up with a plan to make sure it happens. I know, you are thinking that this doesn't sound too bad and you are right only the difference is in the method of application. In traditional schooling, the child if forced to learn things at a certain time...no matter what their interest or ability. With unschooling, the parent facilitator/teacher takes notice of what the child is interested in and provides them with the tools to make learning possible without an agenda. The parent usually has in mind things the child need to learn to function in society, they just don't stress about timetables and they find ways to intertwine the necessary learning of life into whatever the child is pursuing. Often times, the parent will see that the necessary things are usually learned by the child without much "pushing".
Most parents start homeschooling because they want to foster the creativity and curiosity they see in their child in a natural way. Most times, however, parents get bogged down by the pressure they feel to educate by the prescribed methods that the school system has invented to teach the masses.
Unschooling frees your child to love the process of learning because they are truly interested in what they are doing and are allowed the time to explore. They get to learn what they are interested in at the time they are interested in it. Parents facilitate, teach and guide as their child learns at their own pace...the way you choose to learn things yourself.
Written by: Jeff Madison
10 July 2008