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Some Misconceptions About Unschooling

An opinion from a Newsvine article
By TheF###Princess

Unschooling can be a very controversial topic to discuss. But as with all topics, if you are unfamiliar with the subject, it needs to be explained. In short, unschooling is child-led homeschooling. But this deffenition does not always explain enough, though.

Grown unschool blogger Idzie Desmariais describes it as

Version #1: Unschooling (usually considered a type of homeschooling) is student directed learning, which means the child or teen learns whatever they want, whenever they want. Learning is entirely interest driven, not dictated or directed by an external curriculum, by teachers, or by parents. For an unschooler, life is their classroom.

Version #2:Unschooling requires a paradigm shift, one in which you must stop looking at the world as a series of occurrences/resources/experiences etc. that can be learned from, and a series that can’t. The world doesn’t divide neatly into different subjects, and you can’t tell right from the outset what a seemingly unimportant question, interest, or TV show obsession will lead to. I learn from: wandering, wondering, listening, reading, watching, discussing, running, writing, daydreaming, searching, researching, meditating, hibernating, playing, creating, growing, doing, helping, and everything else that comprises the day to day happenings of my life.

Version #3: Unschooling, at its heart, is nothing more complicated or simple than the realization that life and learning are not two separate things. And when you realize that living and learning are inseparable, it all starts to truly make sense

Some of you may be thinking, "Idzie may have been a willing unschooler, with attentive parents and many resources, but surely this is an isolated case". Although unschooling may not work for everyone, it does work for some people.

One common misconception of unschooling is that if there is no adult/mentor-set curriculum, there is no curriculum and therefore the child is learning nothing. This question only remains valid, however, if you do not queston how much children actually learn in a traditional school setting. One of the main reasons that dropout rates are increasing is because they consider classes too boring or irrelevent, or they genuinely have no interest. You may think that they are just making excuses, that they need to learn the material. But when was the last time you used a sentance diagram? Chances are it's been a while, and the form of diagram has changed since then. Does it hinder your life to have learned the "old" diagram, and to barely remember what it was? Probably not. With unschooling, there is no bulk information, and people learn at their own pace.

There are also no dropout problems amonng unschoolers. With unschooling, there is no "dropping out". The learning always continues. There is a sense of learning for life, not just at set times in a set place until a set age. The realization comes that people are always learning, as long as they are alive, and that the information is always changing. Whether that information is the square root of 144 or what time Blue Planet comes on, it is still learning, and unschooling leaves one's mind open to other types of learning.

Another worry is that children won't learn key concepts if they are not interested in them. They will simply just play all the time and won't get a thing done. Even though it is child-led, the parents, teachers, etc. can still make suggestions. Did you have to go to school to learn what the color red was? Of course not. You would have known what the color was even if you had never gone to school, because of socialization with those who did know.

Which brings us to the subject of social interaction. Although it may seem that children can only get healthy interaction throgh the friends they meet from school, you have probably noticed the people they play with in the park, around the neighborhood, etc. They were not made to meet these children. No one directed them on how to play, when to introduce themselves, and yet it happened. They were not made to be with these people, or specifically instructed, but they are not anti-social or confused. Some children may be shy, but still have a group of aquaintances. School does not help them be less shy, or any less of who they are. There are children's groups, unschooling gatherings, and many other chances for both parent and child to meet new people.

While not always the right choice for everyone, with the right tools and ideas, unschooling can be an explorable option for future education.


Where to next? Pick one!

Posted in: Commentary on May 6, 2011 @ 2:31 AM

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