It’s people like you who give the public the impression homeschoolers are wackos. Homeschoolers teach academics thus the word “homeschooling.” Unschoolers are just that. They don’t “do school.” (This comment was left for me on this post)
My kids learn at home. Some might call them life learners, home learners, home schoolers or unschoolers. Does being an “unschooler” simply mean they don’t “do school”? Case closed as if the unschooled children are therefore stagnant?
Many home learners learn at home because they believe there is something wrong with the way children are taught. Why would we then want to mimic a school setting in our home setting?
How absurd to think that learning only happens when structured teaching is involved. Learning happens all the time. In every moment. Whether we like it or not.
I wholeheartedly believe what my friend Anita has been quoted saying “I believe in education, I don’t believe in schooling.”
Unschooling is about following my child’s interests. When we watch a movie or read a book about Egyptians, for example and something sparks in her making her want to know as much as possible about this ancient civilisation, we look for more. We look at pictures and read books and search the internet. We find classes or mentors that work for my child to help her learn what she’s interested in learning. Her love for learning is not lessened because it’s not forced.
Recently we watched a documentary about a family from New Zealand who are living a very non-traditional life. (This Way Of Life. Check it out, it’s a must see!) An interviewer asked the father “what do you do for a living?” and his extraordinary answer was “I live for a living.” This simple sentence cut straight to the heart of this matter. Further significance was lent to his statement when the documentary cameras were turned to the children who seemed happy, engaged and well developed. There seemed to be little or no friction between the kids as a group or between them and their parents. The children clearly had an admirable grasp on the skills required to survive, and they were very focused on the happiness of the family.
Cam and I are both engaged curious people who are interested in new ideas and adventures. I think that the most important thing we could do for our kids is to imbue them with that same curiosity and sense of adventure. “Learning” will fall into place unnoticed if the kids proceed through their lives drawn by their interests and desires.
You can’t force learning. Recently, we had family visiting and they made some good natured attempts at teaching Lily to read more than she is learning on her own. This well intentioned “teaching” was more like forcing and what Lily really learned was how to give the “teacher” sounding-out sounds that usually had nothing to do with the words in front of her and to mimic a half second behind the “teacher’s” own sounding out. This wasn’t learning, it was placating. Lily didn’t want to read any books for the rest of the visit and for a couple days after it. She’d want to be read to but couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t be pressured into more than she was interested in. I can’t imagine how Lily would ever enjoy reading if she had “teaching” like this on a regular basis.
We all remember the school lessons where the biggest question in our minds was “What the hell do I need to know this for?”. The simple answer is you don’t need to know, or more accurately you have no application for the knowledge so it becomes something that is being forced on you. The point of this whole debate is that a person will acquire the same relative body of knowledge, and some would argue far greater critical thinking skills, if left to their own devices and interests. It is not credible to suggest that any switched on, engaged child will ever grow up unable to read for example. The necessities of daily life and natural curiosity will drive kids to learn to read and it will be their own motivation that gets them there. The most important thing we can do as parents is keep our kids engaged. My husband would suggest that a solid dose of fishing helps too! I couldn’t agree more- at least with the idea that it’s vital that a good deal of a child’s time is spent outside.