One of the first terms I encountered when I seriously started researching homeschooling was “unschooling”. I admit that my initial thoughts were along the lines of that sounds dodgy. But because I’ve resolved to be as informed as possible when it comes to making decisions about the girls’ education, I dug a little deeper.
At its core, unschooling is basically student-driven learning. Instead of following a curriculum, students learn through play, household chores, travel, and interaction with others. Their areas of study are defined by their personal interests and supplemented with elective classes if desired.
The phrase “unschooling” was coined by educator John Holt in the 1970s, so it’s not exactly a radical new idea. Critics of the philosophy are concerned that the students lack structure while its proponents argue that the nature of its self-directed learning is ideal for handling adult life in the real world.
I like the idea of there being no division between learning and life, and I think it’s important that my children learn to set and meet their own goals and learn how to teach themselves without being spoonfed information by others. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m quite ready to embrace the idea of jumping into unschooling from the get-go. (Because all we’d be learning about would be princesses. And fairies. No jokes.)
I think we’ll work better with some kind of structure to our days, at least in the beginning. Of course, by we I do mean me. Perhaps when the girls are in high school and (hopefully) more responsible, we’ll lean toward unschooling. For now, I think a curriculum is the way to go. I know I’ll be more relaxed if I can plan ahead and have a goal to work toward.
Are you an unschooler? How does it work for your family?