Friday, April 27, 2012

Homeschool Method: Unschooling

According to Wikapedia:  Unschooling is

Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, includingplaygame play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. There are many who find it controversial.[1] Unschooling encourages exploration of activities, often initiated by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child.
The term "unschooling" was coined in the 1970s and used by educator John Holt, widely regarded as the "father" of unschooling.[2] While often considered a subset of homeschooling, unschoolers may be as philosophically separate from other homeschoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling. While homeschooling has been subject to widespread public debate, little media attention has been given to unschooling in particular. Popular critics of unschooling tend to view it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that unschooled children lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market, while proponents of unschooling say exactly the opposite is true: self-directed education in a natural environment makes a child more equipped to handle the "real world."[3]


Through the years, I've bumped into unschooling methods again and again.

On one end of the spectrum were families that little more than provided a roof over their child's heads and brought the toys, games, and food into the house.  The children had no structure to their days - the woke and slept as they wanted.  Each were allowed amuse themselves with  anything that interested them on TV or books or Computers.  The children wore whatever clothing they desired, and fixed their own meals - and were allowed to eat a box of cookies for breakfast if they desired to do so.  ...  I actually read about an elite school - 100 students - with this type of plan as their school day.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are families that strictly control everything that their child  does and learns, but there are no text books.  They cook and clean and do lots of chores - but there is also very little play.

Neither of these are what I'm suggesting.

But the thought of unschooling does intrigue me - I've just never been brave enough to completely embrace it.

Unschooling should involve lots of parent directed education, reading, counting, science, history ... but without the rote education of a text book and work books.

Take this family with six children for instance -  - Almost Unschoolers.
The children read, think, learn, create, and they are quite smart.  

Another family blog that does unschooling with their 10 children is Life in a Shoe -

Some other links to explore unschooling blogs ...

So what does a typical unschool look like?

There isn't one.  Every single one looks completely different.  Some travel, some farm, some live in the city, some are highly social, and some never leave home.   Some are highly technical, and some don't even have electricity.  Some are highly religious, and others have no religion at all.

What do they have in common to make them unschooled?

Each and every one of them takes the interests of the parents and the children and the way they live their life from day to day to teach every day lessons in life and living.  The children learn in a very hands on atmosphere.  They don't worry about "the holes" - their goal is to give their child every tool he or she needs to learn and think all by themselves.  They learn history by reading biographies, historical fiction, and visiting the locations for themselves.  They learn science by doing and experimenting and thinking.  They read books and bake cookies and do all sorts of things that parents "want to do" but never have any time for.

These children are given time to paint, draw, create, read, experiment, cook, learn music and foreign languages, they garden and raise animals.  They DO what  they show an interest in and that interest is allowed to consume the bulk of their time - allowing them to gain an adult knowledge of their subject.

Parents often are quite picky about the TV shows and movies watched, they buy tons of deep thinking books, science equipment, and the children are included in every detail of the family life.

One common erroneous thought about homeschooling is that they never use text books at all.  This isn't true, although the text books generally are not used the way normal schools use them.  The students ask to learn a subject (like Algebra) and the parent finds a curriculum for the child to use.  The child goes as quickly as they want.  As children approach Jr. High, most of them will have some idea of what they are interested in doing, and they will pursue the subjects that they need.  For instance, Story has a huge interest in all of her English subjects, because she wants to be an author.

So why don't I unschool?

Personally, I need more structure.  I need a plan.  My biggest downfall is getting so wrapped up in the plan that I fail to stop and let my child learn ... just like a public school does.

On the other hand, our school does have some unschooling characteristics.  I don't grade my kids work much.  The English and the Math are what I keep up with most.  We discuss what the kids are learning - and often in great detail.  My girls read tons, they each have their own blogs, Song raises rabbits and wants to resume raising goats, she writes stories and songs and sews, and she volunteers once a week at a horse therapy place learning to work with horses and special needs children.  Story writes books, knits, crochets.  She loves to cook.  She writes plays and still  plays like a 10 year old.   We have open end learning on many subjects.  I give assignments, and they take the time they choose to do them.  I'm a stickler for Devotions and Bible Memory - but I don't get bent out of shape if they don't know what year General So and So defeated the big army.

The philosophy for this method stems from parents looking around at teens leaving school, unable to remember anything with a few years and not knowing how to find out again if they needed to know.  It came from the age old question, "When I use this in real life?" when parents sat down and thought about the answers.  What things did they REALLY need to know?  What things did they have to learn the hard way because nobody taught them as children.

But I do think Unschooling is an excellent way to break into the homeschooling world, especially if you have a very young child.  It allows the parent to get to know their child and what they already do and do not know.  It doesn't have to cost any money at all ... or could be expensive if you choose to travel or buy lots of equipment.

The biggest danger in unschooling is laziness.  Mankind is ever lazy.  Parents leave the child to watch TV to learn, or computer games.  There is no adventure or interaction.  It becomes one long summer vacation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...