How To Unschool : A Guide To Unschooling Part 1

This is 2 Parts series document on detailed guide to how to unschool: To see second part of the series, see How to unschool Part 2.

I have written about it before on the blog How to Unschool your child and Guide to Homeschooling Methods.

By Leo Babauta:

There’s nothing I get asked about more as a parent than unschooling, and nothing I recommend more to other parents.

It’s an educational philosophy that provides for more freedom than any other learning method, and prepares kids for an uncertain and rapidly changing future better than anything else I know. My wife and I unschool four of our kids, and have been for several years.

And yet, as powerful as I believe unschooling to be, I’ve never written about it, because the truth is, I certainly don’t have all the answers. No one does.

The beauty of unschooling is in the search for the answers. If anyone had all the answers, there would be no search. And so what I’d love to teach unschooling parents and kids is that the search is the joy of it all.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: what is unschooling? Why should you do it? How do you do it? What should you read? We’ll talk about all that today.

What is Unschooling?

First, it’s a form of homeschooling. But there’s no easy answer to that except in comparison to regular schooling. There’s no one way to do unschooling, and people who do it often do it for many different reasons in many different ways.

However, this is how I describe it — in contrast to school:

  • While school has classes with subjects, unschooling doesn’t.
  • While school has goals set by teachers and the school system, the unschooler (the kid) set his or her own goals.
  • While in school, knowledge is handed down from the teacher to the student, in unschooling the student is empowered to learn for himself.
  • While school has specific books or sets of learning materials, unschoolers can learn from anything — books they find, things on the Internet, siblings or parents, the outdoors, museums, people working in interesting fields, anything.
  • While school is structured, unschooling is like jazz. It’s done on the fly, changing as the student changes.
  • While students in school learn to follow instructions, unschoolers learn to think for themselves and make their own decisions.
  • While students in school are asked to learn at pace arbitrarily set by administrators, unschoolers learn at their own pace.
  • While in school, learning happens in the classroom at certain times, in unschooling learning happens all the time, and there is no division between learning and life.

Let me emphasize that for a minute: in unschooling, life itself is learning. There is no “doing school” … you are learning all the time.

Unschoolers learn just like you or I learn as adults: based on what interests them, figuring out how to learn it on their own, changing as they change, using whatever resources and learning materials they find, driven by curiosity and practical application rather than because someone says it’s important.

This is how I learn as a self-employed writer, as an entrepreneur, as a parent. It’s how our children will learn when they’re adults. Why not have them learn like that now?

Why Unschool?

Let’s think about what school is about: preparing kids for jobs (and life) in the future … a future that’s probably a decade or more away. Now think about a decade or more of change: how many of us predicted 13 years ago what life would be like today? Did we know about the economic recession, or the changing job market, or the fact that things like smartphones and iPads and ebook readers would be so widespread? And that’s just the start.

If we can’t predict what our kids’ future will be like, how can we decide today what they should be learning to prepare for that future? We’re preparing them for today’s jobs, not tomorrow’s jobs. School teaches kids a set of facts and skills that they might not need in the future.

Unschooling takes a different approach: kids learn how to learn, how to teach themselves. If you know how to learn and how to teach yourself, then you are prepared for any future. If in the future the things we know are obsolete, then the person who knows how to learn anything will be ready to learn whatever is in use in the future. The person who only knows how to learn from a teacher will need a teacher to teach him.

More reasons to unschool:

  • It’s how entrepreneurs learn. Schools prepare kids to follow instructions, like good employees, while entrepreneurs take charge of what they need to know and make decisions for themselves, navigate through uncharted waters. Unschooling prepares kids to be entrepreneurs instead of robots.
  • It’s much more natural. The school system is a fairly modern invention, and isn’t how humans have learned for the majority of our history. Unschooling is the learning method used for most of human history — including by people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Mozart, Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.
  • It’s freer. The structure of school is good for people who like decisions made for them, but if you like making your own decisions, and figuring out things based on current needs, you will want more freedom.
  • We learn with the kids. While in school, many parents are removed from the learning process, and ask the teachers to take responsibility for their kids’ education, with unschooling you learn with your kids. The most important learning I’ve been doing is learning about learning. We figure out, together, how people learn, what’s the best way to learn, for each kid.
  • Learning is unlimited. In school, learning is limited to the classroom and homework time. Then kids believe they stop learning and they can go play and live life — as if learning is boring and they only do it because they’re forced to. But unschoolers learn that learning happens all day long, every day, no matter what you’re doing. If you’re not studying a textbook, does that mean you’re not learning? Can’t you learn from playing games, going for a hike, talking to strangers? How about from figuring out how to cook dinner, or fix a broken faucet, or make a fort? Learning is all around us, and it’s fun! That’s what unschooling teaches us.
  • You can find out more about unschooling  here.

Source: Zenhabits.net

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