24 May 2012

Unschooling?

There are many many reasons why parents choose to home educate, like wise there are also many and varied approaches to the 'delivery'. Some choose to have structure perhaps using topics, lesson plans or directed learning and may follow a curriculum such as Steiner, Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason or the National Curriculum itself to name but a few. Others choose to have no structure at all or maybe somewhere in the middle mixing both approaches.

To have no structure at all may seem like a huge leap of faith especially since a school environment is highly structured in comparison. We are a society that measures and compares. We have league tables and targets for so many aspects of public life. Taking an unstructured approach makes measuring progress difficult or well nigh impossible, it has no place, and for those that choose this route that is the intention. The learning is wholly child centred, it can happen at their pace, little if anything is taught. If this seems like an unattainable direction think back to your child starting to walk or talk, did you teach them these skills? Having autonomy over your learning and the direction it takes, allows confidence to blossom, you will never be put into the position of being expected to learn something that you are not ready too. You are always engaged whole heartedly with what you are doing. Perhaps this seems utopian and unrealistic, I disagree. If we view particular tasks and activities as negative and a drudge every time we do them they will forever remain that way, especially if they are something that we need do on a regular basis. I have always viewed this approach as an autonomous one but I was talking recently with another mum who is home educating about radical unschooling. It seems that this is another way of labelling an autonomous direction, one which was coined in the States, but does not really seem to have been embraced in the UK. There is a wealth of information out there about it, including forums and blogs. Like autonomous home education it is a way of life which you embrace as a family.

When we started our official home education journey (at the time that my eldest would have been starting school) I tried the structured approach, I lasted only a few days before I realised that my eldest did not want to be taught by me, and would prefer that I returned to being just mum. I have not looked back since. I did have a few wobbles in the beginning when I worried unnecessarily about the whole 'measuring' and comparing with other children of the same age. But I soon realised that there was little point in worrying, learning is going on all the time in our house, I am learning too! So to return to radical unschooling, it sounds like an interesting ideology one which I will now devote some time to investigating. Do you have any knowledge of radical unschooling to share?

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