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Unschooling

Jan Mayrhofer By Jan Mayrhofer on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 14 | Education & Learning Expertise:

When a family decides to homeschool their children, for whatever reason, they are beginning a journey whose paths may lead in a variety of directions. They may decide on a strong academic approach, which will involve choosing a curriculum, setting up a schedule, being very disciplined, and basically having "school at home". For some families, this alternative to public school is the best fit. At the other end of the homeschooling spectrum, however, lies the concept of unschooling. Children that are learning in this kind of an environment are allowed to pursue their personal interests as far as they might lead. The premise here is that a person learns best when he is interested in the subject at the time it is being learned. Teaching does not happen on a timeline. There is no pressure to learn particular subjects in a specific order. A child learns at his own pace without being labeled "special needs", "slow learner", "challenged", or any of the other stereotypes that can stigmatize a student for life.

With some two million homeschooled and unschooled students currently in North America, we can assume that society has accepted that there are viable alternatives to the public school model. Though it has become a way of life in modern society, public schooling may not necessarily be the best fit for many children. This also means that the "school at home" model won't be either. Parents today are becoming more and more aware of the different learning styles their children may have. It is rare for a public school to take this into consideration when planning their curriculum. It doesn't really work for large groups. But many savvy parents have made the decision to let the child lead his education by his interests. This method has become popular enough that there are unschooling support groups cropping up in homeschool circles everywhere.

For an interesting article by Peter Gray, a psychology professor at Boston College, click here.