Is Unschooling a Good Idea?
January 03, 2012 at 10:47 AM
As our children are growing up, we don’t have too much choice in their education. We can choose which public schools they attend by where we choose to live, or we can decide to pay for them to go to private school. Alternatively, a growing number of parents are taking their children’s educations into their own hands by homeschooling them. Homeschooling is very different from traditional schooling, but it generally contains the same or very similar education subjects and methods. But there’s also another subset of homeschooling that doesn’t get much mainstream discussion. It’s called “unschooling,” and many consider it to be a very viable and effective method of education. Is it really a good idea?
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling disregards a traditional education that is led by teachers or parents. When children are unschooled, they are the leaders of their education, and their parents are merely considered facilitators of it. The philosophy of unschooling essentially relies on the naturally inquisitive nature of children. It believes that children can teach themselves through their curiosity and eagerness to explore the world. It focuses on real world learning experiences, and it allows the child to dictate his or her education by deciding what they do, or don’t, want to learn about. Rather than force a child to follow a set curriculum, children are encouraged to explore their interests. They learn through play, social interaction, work, and real life experience.
What are the Advantages?
Unschooling is considered a radical method of education, but there are many strong supporters of it. Many adults who were unschooled as children are happy with the way they grew up. People who support unschooling believe that unschooled children are more independent and open-minded than their peers. They believe the children are happier because they aren’t subjected to the pressures of traditional schooling, like tests and grades. Children can learn at their own pace and according to their personal interests and skill levels. They are encouraged to meet new people, take on responsibilities, and seek answers to their questions.
What are the Disadvantages?
Unschooling is not for everyone. If parents choose to unschool their children, they must be willing to take an active role in assisting their child whenever possible. They must be available to teach their children the things they want to know and facilitate their learning by taking them on field trips or introducing them to knowledgeable people. People fear that unschooled children will not learn important skills like reading or math, even though that’s not usually the case. One disadvantage of unschooling is the stigma attached to it. Its very name doesn’t make it sound like a viable method of education, and many people are judgmental.
Is It a Good Idea?
No one can say for sure whether unschooling is a good idea or a bad one. It’s a very different idea, but that doesn’t mean it has less merit. Its value depends on what one thinks is a true measure of a successful education. If you’re interested in unschooling, you should learn more before you consider undertaking it, just as you would research what school to send your child to.
Lisa Hann is a mother and a writer. Her love for research has provided many opportunities to explore alternatives to traditional education and tools. One of her favored online tool for grammatical correctness is Grammarly grammar checker. This article was proofed with Grammarly to reflect excellence and consistency in writing.