Coming to Terms with Unschooling

I am an unschooler in the truest sense of the word – I don’t homeschool, but my 3 year old and 5 month old twins are contstantly learning from me and the environment I create for them (when I say “me”, I mean “we”. BK is equally active in teaching our little cave people. however I don’t want to blog on his behalf)

I intend to homeschool. I’ve known that this would be my plan since before I had children. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy school myself.  I had a great time in school. So did BK. However we didn’t learn much and that’s surprising since we both had great marks. I don’t want to trash on schools too much – but I intend to raise educated children and I simply don’t see school as a great place to get an education.

As I’ve read the different methods and looked at various curriculum options I have ultimately decided that unschooling is the method that suits us best. I had to break this to BK – great, now I don’t have to just tell people we’re homeschooling, but that we’re unschooling.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about unschooling. Here’s how I see it – Unschooling is taking the instituionalization out of the education. Homeschooling can be extremely regimented just as public school can be. Unschool tries to integrate learning into life and make it a seamless part of your existence.

The principle lesson that children learn is that they have the power to learn. It is not something dictated to you by someone else, but is something that you can experience and direct on your own.

When I hear the term I still tend to picture ignorant children choosing to watch TV all day rather than learn algebra. But when I really think about it – how likely is this to be the case in my home? Without a curriculum to dictate our actions BK and I have taught The Goose an exceptional amount of information about a wide range of topics. She’s inquisitive and motivated to learn.

Just because I won’t sit her down for 6 hours a day and say LEARN THIS doesn’t mean that I won’t be involved in guiding her. I don’t have a curriculum for tying shoes, eating with a fork or riding a bike, but these are essential childhood skills and so I teach them. And I don’t have to force her to learn them because she wants to. I don’t care if she learns the history of New Zealand, but she has to learn about history. And she has to learn to read, compose, and perform proficient mathematics.

I expect that there will be a certain level of manipulation involved. Certain books will appear on the shelves. Certain outings will be scheduled. And, if need be, she will be forced to sit and gruel through essential subjects that she simply isn’t able to learn through the unschool method.

BUT – if a child is inquisitive and motivated to learn about nature or geography or poetry on their own, in an enjoyable way then why would you ruin it by formalizing the process?

So – here begins unschooling.

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