One of the major setbacks of unschooling according to critics is that it doesn’t provide enough education for unschoolers to compete in the real word. The idea that children learn things ‘haphazardly’ in an unschooled environment could mean that there would be gaps and holes in his knowledge and understanding about factual matters most of which can be acquired in a controlled learning environment such as schools.
But perhaps the most common issue with regards to unschooling is that unschooled individuals might not develop socially or lack social skills because they seldom interact with their peers or with other people outside of the family.
Let’s try to find out whether these claims can be substantiated by facts or if they are just speculations. We will cite some of the works and academic research on the topic of unschooling from reputable sources and their conclusions about the subject.
In a study by Sarah Turner (“Unschooling: How Learning through Living Leads to Happiness”) she found out that among the families whom she interviewed about unschooling their children tend to socialize more often with other unschoolers and homeschoolers. (They’re not exactly alike. We’ll talk about them later.) This, in a way proves that unschoolers do have social skills, but they are molded much differently compared to the competitive and attention-seeking culture of most schools.
She also found out that unschoolers are more focused with what they choose to learn. At first they may try out different activities which they might be interested in, but eventually they would focus their attention on things they like the most. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s reading books, watching TV shows, or playing games. Nothing goes to waste because every activity they choose is a learning opportunity. They also acquire a sense of value for learning per se because they find it more enjoyable and satisfying in an unschooled environment.
Peter Gray and Gina Riley conducted a similar research on the topic and discovered that most of their respondents (83%) went on to pursue college and half of them (50%) actually managed to get a bachelor’s degree or even higher. Since college is more about self-learning and self-interest, it fits right in with what they’ve been doing all along. In fact, they didn’t find college to be academically difficult at all. The only thing they have trouble with is their professors trying to impose on them what they should learn and how they’re supposed to deal with the subject.
So what jobs do these unschoolers eventually land on? This is what they found out. According to survey 80% of successful individuals in the creative arts are from the unschooled group. Unbelievable? Some people may think it is until they realize the level of freedom and motivation these unschooled people have in pursuing their own interests and how long they had been doing it.
The rest of the unschooled professionals goes on to their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, all of which have to do with problem-solving, discovery and innovation – the very nature of what unschooling really does. Name some of the greatest scientists you know, and you’d probably stumble into one who is unschooled.