Lists are fun. I like writing lists. So here are a couple of short ones on what Unschooling is, and is not.
5 Things Unschooling Is Not
- Homeschooling (in the emphasis-on-"school"-sense): Usually considered a subset or method of home education, unschooling is nevertheless it's own unique philosophy, and one that shows little similarity to the philosophy of most home-schoolers. Using the two terms interchangeably doesn't really work much of the time.
- Forced "learning": If you're being forced/made to do anything "educational" against your will, it isn't unschooling (though it may be relaxed homeschooling, or something similar).
- The same for everyone: People sometimes like to latch on to something one unschooler says about the way they learn, and apply it to ALL unschoolers. When in reality, in my mind one of the greatest things about unschooling is that no two journeys are the same. As truly unique-to-the-individual education, every unschooler will be learning in a way that suits them best!
- Teacher-less: It certainly can be, but unschooling can also involve plenty of classes, teachers, tutors... If chosen by the learner, teachers can be a wonderful resource for unschoolers!
- Individualistic: Or at least, I think the best way to approach unschooling is to realize that there are wonderful communities and resources out there to help you in your unschooling journey: everything from other unschoolers to give support, to the myriad of wonderful activities, groups, communities, etc., based around any interest you might have. Unschooling doesn't mean going it alone: it means taking advantage of the vastness of the world around you.
5 Things Unschooling Is
- Exciting: When learning is chosen, and you realize that you really can pursue any interest you have, learning is fun, and learning is exciting!
- (Re)claiming your time: Doing what you really want to be doing with your time. I think it was Grace Llewellyn (although I could be wrong) who said something alone the lines of "what is life but time?", in reference to the fact that schools steal your time, and thus your life. An unschooler has control over what they do with their own time, and thus their own life. They can dive headfirst into something and spend hours daily on that one subject, or they can research something for ten minutes before deciding they've had enough for now.
- Empowering: It feels good to know that you control your own learning, that you're steering your own course in life. It's empowering to be trusted in doing so, and to feel confident that you're more than capable of living life your way!
- Gaining the tools needed to create a better world: A common criticism of unschooling is that unschoolers will never learn to do anything they don't like. Though that's a false idea, I think it is true that since unschoolers are used to living a life that makes them happy, they're far less likely to just settle for the unhappy existence that so many people in our culture think is unavoidable. Unschoolers know that there are better ways of living, so they're much more likely to work hard to make those better ways of living available in their (and others') adult lives as well!
- Respecting people of a wide age range: When outside of the false age segregation and imposed authority of school, you have the opportunity to interact on an equal footing with virtually every person you come across. Because of this, instead of only making friends with people their own age, or very close to it, unschoolers value friendships with those from a wide age range. The more we limit ourselves in our choices of who to spend time with, the more barriers we place between people, the fewer wonderful folk we'll connect with. Realizing that people can be our friends no matter their age opens up so many wonderful opportunities for connection!