Unschooling is easier to define by what it is not than by what it is. Unschooling is not school. Unschooling is living a life without school. If school didn’t exist, how would you live your life and would you still be able to learn?
Decades of schooling would have us believe that you have to attend school to be able to learn. That within the walls of school lie corridors of learning where you have access to experts and curriculum who will guide you through the set tasks and activities required.
Within schools there are many teachers and specialists available to navigate its pupils through years of academia. They rely on those pupils having a working knowledge of reading and writing and maths as a means of imparting and evaluating knowledge from a young age. There is also a long standing notion that ideal learning stance is sitting down, sitting still, and looking directly at the teacher.
The use of curriculums sets out learning in a linear format and breaks down everything into sequential chunks that are taught at specific ages. Each stage is preparing you for the following stage and the use of goals and learning outcomes are used to maximise learning and ensures that pupils are on track to succeed.
Success if measured in various ways. If you are able to learn the curriculum content at the rate at which it is taught then you are considered to be on the right path. Anyone operating outside of the desired paradigm is labelled, deficient or gifted, accordingly. Testing is a frequent measure of individual success in schools and having the ability to commit content to memory is paramount.
This is how schools operate and what schools requires of pupils.
But what if you were to question this societal norm? What if you stepped off the conventional treadmill? What if you didn’t have to learn the way someone else set out for you? I wonder what learning would look like?
Unschooling is living and learning without school. It is directing what and when and how you learn yourself. It is freedom to learn at your own pace without peer comparison. Unschooling is challenging what we think we know about learning and watching our children’s natural abilities and interests unfold.
“Unschooling is, at it’s most basic, about learning without a curriculum, without a teacher-centered environment”Pam Laricchia, Free to Learn