‘Unschooling’ Can Have More Than One Definition

Homeschooling is booming nationwide.

Over at Instapundit, Sarah Hoyt has an article linked about the subtle difference between Homeschooling and ‘Unschooling’.

In that article, a reason for the homeschooling boom is found in Hoyt’s linked article which include Common Core, NCLB and ‘rigidity’ of public schools:

At the same time, trends in homeschooling in general indicate steadily increasing numbers that government agencies, such as the Census, attribute in part to disaffection with Common Core and the No Child Left Behind Act (the standards movement). New York magazine cites increasing rigidity in traditional schools as a reason growing numbers of middle-class students in New York are staying home. Richard Stackpole, assistant dean at the University of Cincinnati College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, says that he has seen the numbers of homeschooled students in college increasing—in fact, he would like to attract more to UC.

For those who haven’t heard the term ‘unschooling’ the opening of the article that Hoyt links to has a brief description:

Like money that grows on trees, it seems like a child’s impossible dream: not to go to school today, next week, next season—to stay up late, play Minecraft, read comics, climb a tree, with permission to boot.

But for some children this is no fantasy. As the number of homeschooled children grows nationwide, so too does the number of “unschoolers,” families whose children follow no formal curriculum, unless the children themselves devise it. Instead of going to school, the kids plan their own day and largely do what they want. While they do sometimes take organized classes, it only happens when the child wants to. There are not a lot of statistics available for unschoolers—the U.S. Census counts them as homeschoolers—but anecdotal evidence suggests unschooling appears to be largely the purview of middle-class families with educated parents.

In short, it’s really sort of a montessori version of homeschooling where the kid chooses their interests.

Personally, I think that style is a bit over the top — especially for younger children who, by nature, need and like a certain amount of routine.  For kids in high school, I can see some value to it. Having said that, teenagers need monitors more than babies do sometimes.

Note the attachment of ‘middle-class families’ in the last sentence. That’s a pretty wide net these days.

Another Definition of Unschooling

While unschooling has an official definition, I consider myself to be unschooling my own child every day after he comes home from public school.

My definition of unschooling is more along the lines of deprogramming my kid.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our school. We’ve loved our teachers both past and present. It’s not them.

It’s Common Core and the subtle trickle of social justice agenda issues into his learning.
If we get one more anti-bullying kit or questionable climate change assignment, I might lose it.

I’ve  had to unschool (deprogram) my kid each day for the last two years in math because Common Core had so thoroughly screwed him up.

He was trained to do math a certain way and show his work using a particular strategy or ‘he’d get in trouble’. He couldn’t just do the problem the way best suited to his individual needs.

We had many, many homework sessions in first grade where he would totally just melt down. It was then that I began unschooling him and in second grade, his anxieties were much less.

How did I do it? How did I unschool him?

It took multiple conversations and a few months of tearful hugs, but I was successful in instilling in him the basic understanding that the school and/or teacher isn’t always right about everything. They are not the ultimate authority on his life and learning — HE IS.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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1 Response to ‘Unschooling’ Can Have More Than One Definition

  1. Oak says:

    How many times have parents heard, “that’s not the way the teacher taught me!” Schools train children that teachers are the authority figures and as Al Gore said, “there are some things you know, that your parents don’t know.” We send our children to school and tell them to listen to their teacher and they do and then we’re surprised at how much work it takes to deprogram them…


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