Monday, August 28, 2006

My definition of unschooling

On an unschooling Yahoo! list I subscribe to we were asked for our definition of unschooling. I have a really hard time with that question because unschooling means so many things to me. This is what I wrote--typos and all:

"I really like the definition of unschooling:

"Unschooling (also sometimes referred to as "natural learning", "child-led learning", "discovery learning", "autodidactic learning", or "child-directed learning") refers to individual self-education. Under unschooling education, parents may act as "facilitators" and may provide a wide-range of resources to their children.

Proponents of unschooling have a variety of reasons to support their position. A common belief underlying their reasoning is that curiosity is innate and that children want to learn what is necessary to become an adult. Some argue that institutionalizing a child in what they consider a factory model public school, or any form of compulsory schooling, is an inefficient use of a child's time. Proponents contend that such an education is made to be "one size fits all" and is oppressive for forcing a child to learn regardless of his or her interests. Proponents also claim that individualized, child-led learning is more efficient and respectful of a child's time, takes advantage of a child's interests, and allows learning and deeper exploration of subjects than what is possible in formalized education. The subject matter is less important than the child learning 'how' to learn. This ability to learn on one's own makes it more likely that later, when the child is an adult, he or she can return to any subject that they feel wasn't sufficiently covered and learn the material."


I think as the years go by my own personal definition is more than words could ever describe. Unschooling is an overflowing joy and deep respect for infant's, children and adult's innate abilities. It is an unfolding sort of process that no one can know where one idea or interest may lead. And if we interfere by pushing our own agenda or wishes onto our children or another adult we confuse/disturb the beauty or the process and talents of our kids. We make it hard for them to hear their own voice and callings. If we support, love, and help them get from point A to point B with respect for that natural process then we are fascilitating and not disturbing the unfolding of their being.

For instance I think if I were to try to push Holden (4) to learn things he is not ready for, rather than letting him learn things at his own pace, I could create phobias, anxiety, health issues and dislikes for him. This goes for reading, writing, or learning to ride his bike without his training wheels. Or sleeping thru the night before Camden (1) is ready.

Another reason we chose to unschool is because I personally feel drained if I am constantly trying to force my beliefs, ideas, wishes, etc. onto my kids. Anything I have to force or "motivate" anyone else to do takes away from the joy of life for myself and the other person. This goes for anything I want them to learn or do for me in general. Life becomes a "chore" for them and for me. It becomes just one more hurdle to get thru before we or I can have fun.

I would rather learning to take place via having fun and real life experiences. It makes learning memorable and enjoyable. And it is a lot easier on everyone's nerves.

A side note: Holden put on a camoflauge jacket with lots of green colors on before he went outside. And Camden (2 in Oct) walked up to me and said get on green coat mommy. I have no idea how he knew Holden was wearing a green coat but he wanted to put on a green coat too. And I didn't ask Holden to put on a coat. If I had he would have probably been irritated at me. If learning can just happen on it's own and better than when it's forced, why force it?

I was watching a video about homeschooling on this weekend. A teen boy was making a presentation in front of an audience at large church and at the end he said something like, "a child who is homeschooled is said to be like a spark being ignited vs. a bucket being filled. " I like this theory very much!

The best I can do is try to live an interesting and happy life and let my kids come along for the ride--so to speak. And when life is boring it will give us all time to digest what we have been doing and allow us time to hear our inner callings and desires. "

(Photos: Holden with a grass snake he caught and released in our backyard last year.)

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