A consensus definition for unschooling

The term, "unschooling," emerged as a starting point to imagine something different than schooling. I heard that the term "unschooling," started as a joke, like "the un-cola," but it stuck.

I prefer "whole life learning," or better yet, just "living," but those terms probably give even less indication of what the unschooling approach really means.

I've heard unschooling defined a number of ways, not all of which I agree with. Some definitions, perhaps especially the ones that come from people just starting to explore the idea, miss some important points.

One of the best definitions I've read came from, not surprisingly, a lifelong unschooler. Idzie of I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write., explained at length in "Unschooling is Not Relaxed Homeschooling."

Based on a consensus compiled by Idzie, there can be no part-time unschooling (i.e., unschooling at certain times or of certain subjects). That would fall under relaxed homeschooling. No judgment intended. Just a mislabel.

Like Idzie, I've spent a lot of time responding to common misunderstandings about unschooling. These misunderstandings don't generally go very deep into the philosophy. They're based upon brief observations and quick assumptions. I don't make these responses with the intent to convince anyone to unschool or to suggest that anyone is wrong. I just want people to really know what they're talking about.

Just so you know, unschooling parents do not impose educational agendas on their children, not even part-time. I don't ever coerce my children to learn things. I believe that would disrespect them, disregard their feelings and needs, and harm their self-confidence. I believe that taking charge of one's own education ( read: one's life) is part of healthy self-development.

I respect my children's personal, individual paths in life. I respect their interests, choices, and ideas about success. They are my friends and I want to be a helpful and supportive friend to them, too. Talk of not being a friend to one's child is just awful, if you ask me.

You might also like: "Swallowing Unschooling Dogma," Life Learning Magazine.

1 comment:

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