Unschooling – What are your thoughts?

A friend from her blog showed these two interviews to an unschooling family aired by Good Morning America.

Link to the first interview.

Link to the second interview.

This blog has compiled several reactions to the interviews by mostly the unschooling community.

Not long ago I read the two books by Levison (A Charlotte Mason Education, and More Charlotte Mason Education), and one of her points is that if we follow her principles,our kids will have schooling in the morning, and unschooling in the afternoon, meaning a more structured time in the morning (and not excessively lengthy in the early years, progressing to more as they reach adolescence) with an afternoon to pursue their hobbies and interests. Also from “When Children Love to Learn” I read that Charlotte Mason didn’t like young people to be idle at all, which it’s not to confuse, in my interpretation, with running from place to place to activities parent or adult initiated. In “When Children Love to Learn” it’s also clearly stated that if WE don’t succeed in presenting the students with a wholesome and rounded education and EXCLUSIVELY follow their own interests they will leave things unexplored, undone, and their education will be incomplete.

Back to Levison, she also believes that unschooling is too extreme, that well educated people that have been guided into different subjects and disciplines, will have the life skills some unschooling parents talk about wanting for their children, and ALSO an education that will enrich them and easy their way into college studies or whatever their future goals are. Levison says if we are too relaxed we’ll feel guilty, and if we are too rigid we’ll burn out. She says mothers have approached her with feelings of guilt for letting years pass without being proactive or responsible of their children’s education. In these parents second interview, listening to the mom I perceived some subtle attempt to justify the fact of having let go of her children’s academic pursuits. What she says is very right and interesting, but I don’t see how that conflicts with a more intent study of things. Some of us don’t see this as black or white, school as we know it or no school at all. I don’t like the word homeschooling for that matter, I like the term EDUCATION. If I do my job well, my daughters will keep their love for learning, and that will encompass academic pursuits coming from within, not arbitrary assigned. My role is not that of a ‘traditional classroom teacher’. I wonder how much this mom is involved in her children education, since the interview was so poor, I’m left with no much to form a fair conclusion. I may be wrong, in one of the comments they said how they were studying a map when they did that 2 month trip, but I still did not see that she has a time a day when to develop and foster this love for learning.

Education is valuable in itself, not just to go to college. I still read Plato, learn about blog design, photography, economy, politics, even if my next 15 years will have a lot of washing dishes and folding clothes, I’ll continue with my education, even if I’m not earning a PHD, or if I never write a book or give a conference. For me the Charlotte Mason approach is not my ultimate goal, her principles and writings are a means to achieve that relationship with God, and to have godly wisdom (versus human knowledge) and build our character in our homeschooling, goals for which CM and Ambleside in combination with other resources, our own judgments, decisions, and doings, will help us achieve.

There is another problem that I see, WORDS, LABELS. You may call yourself a Charlotte Mason homeschooling parent and be very different from another one who makes the same claim, another can call herself unschooling, relaxed, or structured, but how different or how similar are we? Many of these unschooling families do more teaching than they think, but they don’t use any textbooks at all, and some associate themselves with a child oriented parenting style, like the ones in the interview. I wish they had shown us more about the family with young children in the first clip, but their appearance was too short.. You could see them at a farm, engaged in true learning, and also you saw the boy eating a doughnut (I felt bad because my girls just had a pop tart for breakfast and we make attempts at eating healthy), and the mother saying “if he wants to eat a doughnut”, giving the impression that’s all they ever eat. How sad they truly didn’t have relevant questions for these families, but rather rhetoric and destined to get just a disapproval from the viewer. At least we have the blogs to get a more accurate picture.

My conclusion is that homeschooling is becoming more accepted, and unschooling is now the ‘demon’ of the so called home educating movement. Whether I share with them or not, I do know something, that the MEDIA is not making them justice, they boast about being biased, as if inviting us to have that bias as a great one to share. Being honest I do not agree with their parenting philosophies, neither with their educating philosophies much, but ultimately, do I think they have their right to do what they do with their children? The ‘mainstream part of my brain’ tells me they are making a mistake, but the independent thinker and rebel in me tells me that YES, they have their right, of course, to do what they do (actually our laws allow them to do it and they don’t await permission, even if public opinion condemns them). And while it’s not something that I envision for my children (as they won’t embrace our goals and practices, I’m sure), who are we to say that their way is CRAZY, and public schools are SANE, why isn’t it their rights questioned? Since when all the schooled children make it to college, life ‘normal’ lives, or are well taken care of by their families? Unschoolers make us uncomfortable, they question our principles and believes in a more poignant way than the ‘common homeschooler specimen’, they are still a ‘rare avis’. It’s sort of  “you can educate at home as long as you do what we do in the schools”, but questioning schools and NOT DOING anything that resembles them, that’s still anathema, even in the USA. (That’s not an option in many other places, so today I’m celebrating our right to be CRAZY).

So, what are your thoughts?


6 thoughts on “Unschooling – What are your thoughts?”

  1. Home schooling is a lot of work, but a better education in the long run.
    I’ve enjoyed looking over your blog. I came across it through another blog I follow. I am now a follower of yours as well. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become one as well.


  2. While I can see where unschooling could seem nice, but I personally think that it is not for our family.

    I just say (and stand firm) that you have to line your Home and Homeschool with the Word of God.


  3. No Ordinary Me : your welcome. I'm with you, it's our goal to line up our Home and Homeschool with the Word of God , as you say. I'm not implying the unschoolers don't have this goal, but I mean to say that taking a more active and intensive part in their education (with curriculum, practicing certain things for certain subjects, etc) is a better route for me to achieve our final goals and reach our destination.


  4. Silvia, very interesting post! Unschooling has never felt “right” to me. It seems like: Hey, forget school! I'll just play all the time! School, schmool!

    But there are days when I admit it looks a tad tempting.

    I also do not care for the term “homeschooling.” I prefer “home education,” which is the term preferred by my friends in the UK.


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