"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

A Different Perspective On Education: What’s Up With Unschooling?

Is it possible for one to learn and grow without traditional schooling? Some parents and educators have questioned this themselves, leading to the philosophy of radical unschooling. This term grabbed my attention just a few days ago. What a unique, strange concept. I, as I am sure is the case for some others, have never considered educating children in ways other than the curriculum of America’s education system. Homeschooling, I believe, still lies under the category of the traditional classroom; or it can be viewed as a variation of it, where children are still presented with material the government expects them to learn well enough to meet standard on national assessments.

So what is unschooling exactly? It is essentially an unconventional way of acquiring knowledge. Unschooling can be thought of as independent or self-directed learning, where children are encouraged to grow and learn naturally through life experiences, pursue their own interests, and ask questions. With unschooling, everyone has his or her own path in acquiring an education; there is no one simple formula.

Many believe that our nation has defined what education is and that education in America rests on the notion that children will not pursue an education on their own. But the philosophy of unschooling believes contrary; kids are naturally inclined to learn, explore, and are innately curious beings.

This seems very interesting to me. I undoubtedly hate doing calculus homework but that doesn’t mean that I don’t’ enjoy learning or don’t have the desire to learn, it just means that I’d rather acquire my knowledge in different ways.

I think this is what unschooling is about, and it forces us to ask one question. Why are we forcing children to memorize, to read and take notes from textbooks, and to take tests if that is not the way they desire to learn? Most people may answer, ‘well that is just how you learn, gain an education, and become successful in life.’

I may sound like the philosoraptor here, but why does America’s curriculum have to be the only means of educating individuals when there are certainly other ways people can learn? Humans learn on their own through real-world experiences, by playing, experimenting, and following their passion; this is how we learn even before we enter preschool, so I wonder why our curriculum does not center on this notion. If it did, there would be an additional option to mark on my multiple-choice exams:  there are many possible answers.

What is your opinion of unschooling?



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