Unschooling Defined

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A lot of people have chosen to homeschool their children today.  Some of these parents are using what is known as the “unschooling” method in order to do so.  This method focuses on the child’s natural interests.  As such, an environment is created for them wherein they will be able to learn things on their own.

John Holt is the man who actually coined the term “unschooling.”  He was an educator who began fighting for school reform but ended up warming up to the idea of homeschooling.  While he thought that this was the best option for educating children, in the end he wound up favoring unschooling even more.  This can be seen in some of the books that he wrote, such as  “How Children Fail” (1964)How Children Learn” (1967) and “The Underachieving School”(1968).  He also created an unschooling magazine entitled, “Growing Without Schooling.”

It is important to understand that homeschooling and unschooling are two completely different things with the main difference being that homeschooling follows a specific curriculum.  Another difference is that in homeschooling parents act like the teachers and counselors while with unschooling children are free to learn those things that they find to be useful or important.  As such, parents only offer advice whenever they are asked for it and otherwise they stand firm in their belief that whenever they give their children freedom, their children will choose to learn.

Most unschooled children learn via the hands-on method.  They go to the library, visit museums, read books, ask questions and do research online.  This type of real-world experience takes precedence over using any one form of curriculum.  How this works is if a child is interested in something such as computers, then they may choose to:

  • Research what computers do and how computers work, which counts for science.

  • Learn who invented computers and what computers were like, which will count for history.

  • The research and note taking that are done would count for English and, of course, there is also reading involved.

This may even encourage your child to study computer programming or design.

While you may think that unschooling would be a drawback whenever it comes to college admittance, this isn’t the case at all.  There are actually a lot of colleges that like unschoolers because they are self-motivated and have a love for learning.  This makes them ideal candidates for a college education.  They simply need to present the college with a portfolio that contains their CLEP achievement scores, samples of the different types of work that they have done, letters of recommendation and notes of their special achievements.

One of the unschooling groups that you may wish to meet up with in Pittsburgh is the “Keystone State Radicals.”  http://familyrun.ning.com/group/keystonestateradicals  While this group hasn’t had anything going on over the summer, in the past they have had monthly events such as ice cream socials and music fests.

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