What is this Unschooling thing?

What is this Unschooling thing?
October 7, 2009 Colleen Emery

So, “Unschooling”. It is a term that is often misinterpreted and misconstrued. To some, this term concludes that there is no schooling, therefore no learning. To others it may mean some odd ‘hippy’ expression that is synonymous with the counter cultures’ radical approach to life itself. And yet to others maybe this term brings a fear of too loose of an approach, no discipline, no accountability.

What does this term mean to us? It means taking out the institutionalized approach to organized school and replacing it with a rhythmic, organic flow that emphasizes the natural ability to absorb information, digest it and actually learn it. I mean really learn, on a cellular level, not just on a surface, repetitive, regurgitative  level. We are learning at home and essentially homeschooling however we are not following a set curriculum, rather, piecing together an overall experience of learning from several themes and initiating these themes through several methods resulting in a varied, diverse day unique unto itself.

Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Pam Sorooshian that I found to be very succinct in its description of Unschooling.

Principles of Unschooling:

Learning happens all the time. The brain never stops working and it is not possible to divide time up into “learning periods” versus “non-learning periods.” Everything that goes on around a person, everything they hear, see, touch, smell, and taste, results in learning of some kind.

Learning does not require coercion. In fact, learning cannot really be forced against someone’s will. Coercion feels bad and creates resistance.

Learning feels good. It is satisfying and intrinsically rewarding. Irrelevant rewards can have unintended side effects that do not support learning.

Learning stops when a person is confused. All learning must build on what is already known.

Learning becomes difficult when a person is convinced that learning is difficult. Unfortunately, most teaching methods assume learning is difficult and that lesson is the one that is really “taught” to the students.

Learning must be meaningful. When a person doesn’t see the point, when they don’t know how the information relates or is useful in “the real world,” then the learning is superficial and temporary – not “real” learning.

Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of “side benefit.”

Learning is often a social activity, not something that happens in isolation from others. We learn from other people who have the skills and knowledge we’re interested in and who let us learn from them in a variety of ways.

We don’t have to be tested to find out what we’ve learned. The learning will be demonstrated as we use new skills and talk knowledgeably about a topic,

Feelings and intellect are not in opposition and not even separate things. All learning involves the emotions, as well as the intellect.

Learning requires a sense of safety. Fear blocks learning. Shame and embarrassment, stress and anxiety – these block learning.

We are rejoicing in our decision to school the Pickle at home and are enjoying our early days of exploration of this adventure. Homeschooling is such a misnomer as we are so rarely at home. Our community is our classroom, but that is fodder for another time…
I leave you today with a lovely picture of autumn’s beautiful splendor taken on the west side of The Land

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