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Main Page - Educational approaches - Unschooling


Unschooling is a term coined by writer and educator John Holt. It is essentially synonymous with Autonomous Education (also known as ‘interest driven’, ‘delight-directed’, ‘child-directed’, ‘self-directed’ / (or led), ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘eclectic’.), though there may be differences in degrees of autonomy. The terms ‘unschooling’ may be used for any type of education which doesn't use a fixed curriculum, but may not be completely autonomous. A possible essential difference between the two terms might be that 'unschooling' refers to the practice of autonomous education in a home-based setting, with parents as facilitators, whereas autonomous education can take place in a more institutional setting as well, for example, Summerhill School. Pat Farenga, a leader in the unschooling movement in the US, defines unschooling as “allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.” One advantage of unschooling is that it doesn't require the parent to take on a different role, i.e. a professional teacher pouring knowledge into the child on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional teaching methods on an "on demand" basis, if at all. This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work. So, for instance, a young child's interest in cars can lead him to a study of how the engine works (science), how and when the car was built (history), who built and designed the car (biography), etc. Certainly these interests can lead to reading texts, taking courses, or doing projects, but the important difference is that these activities were chosen and engaged in freely by the learner. They were not dictated to the learner, though parents with a more hands-on approach to unschooling certainly can influence and guide their children's choices. Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. However, this does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student, or parents and children together, decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not "natural" processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn't unusual to find unschoolers who are barely eight-years-old studying astronomy or who are ten-years-old and just learning to read. In practice, Unschooling is the most popular method of home education in the UK (and is encouraged by Education Otherwise), and there is a large Unschooling movement in the US, supported by John Holt’s “Growing Without Schooling” Magazine.

Just wondered what your source was for this statistic, couldn't see it in the article you quote below. As no-one has an accurate way of even recording how many children are homeschooled, how can anyone say unschooling is the most popular method? user:mummypenny


Edited from an article here: http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html


Taking Children Seriously Autonomous education e-mail group http://www.home-education.org.uk/tcs.htm more to follow, hopefully

Essential reading

John Holt Teach Your Own: The John Holt book of Homeschooling (with Pat Farenga) How Children Learn How Children Fail Learning All the Time

Jan Fortune-Wood Doing It Their Way: Home-based Education and Autonomous Learning Mary Griffith The Unschooling Handbook Terri Dowty Free Range Education: How Home Education Works John Taylor-Gatto Dumbing US Down Suzie Andres Homeschooling With Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling Alison MacKee Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves Terri Brown with Elissa M Wahl Christian Unschooling


we (I?) need to do some work on this: if we have two separate pages for unschooling and autonomous education, some of what's written on the autonomous page ought to be here instead, and we ought to add some details about how autonomous education is being used apart from by home educators.