Unschooling: Frequently Asked Questions



Since unschooling went public, people started hurling questions, accusations, and criticisms about this ‘radical’ practice of educating children. Is it legal? Why even do such a thing? What sort of people would come out of it? What about their future? What place will they have in our society? And the list can go on.

We’ll try to answer some of the immediate concerns about unschooling and what you need to know if you’re planning on to start unschooling your child.


What exactly is unschooling?

To answer this question, we need to go back to the person who originally coined the term in the late 70s. John Caldwell Holt referred to it as ‘education outside of school’ and ‘not exactly school.’ In other words, it’s a kind of learning where children are not confined to a particular ‘place of learning’ and can freely do whatever they want insofar as getting the right information, knowledge, and skills are concerned.

It’s not ‘exactly school’ in the sense that unschooled children are not required to sit for hours doing school work like most schoolers do, and it does not have any grading system to determine their level of competency.


Is there a difference between homeschooling and unschooling?

In fact there is. One major difference is that homeschooling is still considered as ‘schooling’ for several reasons. First, parents who chose to homeschool their children are required by law to submit some kind of curriculum after which they would report to rightful authorities about their children’s progress. Another is that homeschoolers still do some sort of school work.

This time, however, they’re free to learn as much or as little as they want with their own learning resources and they may choose do so at their own pace. Think of it as doing tutorial classes at home. Unschooling, on the other hand, doesn’t have any hint of structured learning. It’s “living your life as you learn” and “learning as you live”. No lessons, no exams, no grades. Your child learn things the way nature intends it to be – out of his own curiosity and propensity to learn.


Is it legal?

In some countries, unshcooling is perfectly legal. In certain American states, they would allow unschooling but they’d fall under the category of homeschooling. This somehow makes unschooling a subcategory of homeschooling although they are not essentially the same thing.

But for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say that unschooling is a form of homeschooling. Other countries that allow unschooling include Canada, Mexico, Colombia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Japan, South Africa, as well as some European countries. You can check it out at http://sandradodd.com for more details.
Why do parents unschool their children?

Parents of unschoolers were interviewed about their decision to unschool their children and their answers usually point at the shortcomings of the present educational system and its damaging effects on the child’s perception about himself. Schools can’t get away with the fact that they’re going to be dealing with children of different skills, interests, and personalities.

But to make things worse, they’ve created a system that pits one child against another by subjecting them to tests that favors only those who are good at it. What about the child who got an ‘F’? He would wrongfully think that he’s a failure and that would probably stay with him if not acted upon by his parents.

If you think you’re child deserves a better way to learn, you might consider unschooling as an option. Learn more about unschooling and look at it on both sides to see if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.


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