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Why unschooling doesn’t mean uneducated

3 years ago

Tania Sullivan writer
Tania Sullivan HomeEd mum of 12, writer, Kent, UK

There was recently an article in the Daily Mail regarding a mother who ‘unschooled’ her children which had its commenters up in arms over how her children would grow up to be unbalanced, unsocialised, uneducated and unemployable.

Unschooling is not, as the article said, a new concept. It has been around for many years and is simply a way of educating a child by focussing on their interests – or even on what they are interested in today. With no set work, no workbooks to complete, no timetable and nothing planned, this obviously unfathomable method to some allows a child to explore their interests and natural curiosity, and seeing where it takes them.

Unschooling works because it’s so natural. However, it is just one way of home educating a child. Home education has been consistently successful for committed parents and encouraged, inquisitive children because it caters to every need, ability and talent - something schools cannot do.

Yet, we are so conditioned to believing that the only way a child can learn is via a lock-step method along with a couple of dozen other children the same age (who they may or may not have anything in common with), by rote and repetition in subjects they may or may not use in the future, may or may not be interested in and may or may not have any relevance to what the next new government says a child needs to know.

There is no better way for anyone to learn about something than when they are interested, but this takes time, flexibility and resources – things that schools do not have but home educators do.

Everyone has different skills and weaknesses. All children have a talent wherever it may be. Unschooling doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning how to read, how to write or how to add - it means that they are doing it freely, suiting the individual and in a way that they enjoy which doesn’t make it feel like work. It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

If schools could replicate that for classes of thirty children and achieve the same levels of success with child satisfaction thrown in, I’m sure they would.

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