What is Unschooling? Learning Order Series (Part 3)

We have had the privilege of ministering to a great many families over the years and I must admit that some have caused me to seriously rethink some of my original beliefs about education.

On occasion, we have served families that were in two parts. Not that they were separated, but that their children were in two different age groups. These parents had the first family and years later, for whatever reason, started a second family. Same parents, different batch of children with ten or more years between the first set and the second set of children.

One of these families, that remain as personal friends to this day, is a case in point. They sent their first child to school, found that it was not as good a place as expected, and brought their children home. As usual, they also brought the school home. Trying to do school at home proved to be more trouble than it was worth, so changes were made to the program to better fit the family and student.

Eventually, this family became more home educators than home schoolers as they took on more and more responsibility and independent, family centred, individual programming.

Several years later, the family was blessed with another child and a couple of years after that, another one, creating a family of two sets of children, the older bunch and the younger bunch.

We have all heard how experience is a good teacher and this situation is a good example of this. By the time the family was completing the education of the first family, the second family was ready to begin. However, by now the parents were experienced. They had already transitioned through home schooling to home education and by now were comfortable with allowing the children to simply learn as the opportunities were presented.

As a consequence of the parents being more experienced, older and wiser, the second family was raised in a more relaxed environment, not that the first family was under undue stress, but the second set of children were given the freedom to learn as they grew. The family had become un-schoolers.

I was relatively new to this way of educating at the time, but I soon saw the wisdom to this novel approach. As I became more familiar with the family, I was amazed at how the children were progressing in their learning and soon became not only a supporter, but a fan of the un-schooling method.

Now, remember that I was a public school teacher, not only teaching students at the high school level, but mentoring young teachers as well. With the parents’ permission, I brought a few of these student teachers with me when performing my duties as their facilitator.

Without exception, these students who were indoctrinated to think in the school way, were completely flabbergasted with what they saw and every one of them vowed to incorporate un-schooling within the school once they had the ability. Sadly, I had to inform them that you cannot un-school at school. It is only when not in school that you can un-school. They could plainly see the advantages to the un-schooling method.

As mentioned, I continue to be very much involved with this family. The oldest of the second family, without having used any curriculum, courses, training or programs; without any accreditation or post-secondary courses; and without any type of paper certification, is the genius behind our unique world class web sites and all the technology behind it.

Un-schooling works! It is simply working with a child’s natural learning ability without having to resort to the school’s way of doing things.

It is not un-parenting. It is not un-structured. It is not un-disciplined. It is not un-learning, nor is it un-acceptable. Un-schooling is simply not doing school and it is as diverse in its application as the uniqueness of each child.

Learning naturally as we grow is …natural. I believe that is what was meant to be. No doubt, school will provide you with a lot of information and most students can succeed in school, demonstrating their intelligence and willingness to do as they are told. However, very little of this information is ever used in the average person’s life.

Un-schooling simply cuts out what will ultimately be useless to a particular child. It allows them to play when young, learn as they go and study what interests them in preparation for what could only be, their lives.