Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Finding Your Path Through Unschooling

We’re all led to believe that to succeed in life we must go to school, study hard all the way to college, and get a degree. It’s understandable. Truth be told, the world is geared toward a kind of grading system that we’re all made to compete in. And after graduation, we’re all pushed to the hungry corporate world, scared, and often unprepared.

Many believe that traditional schooling is the (only) ticket to a better life. Maybe because it’s the safest and “guaranteed” choice to meet the qualifications of our dream jobs. Along with that is the blind dependence on the system. It’s not easy to let go of something we’ve worked so many years of our life for, is it? But there’s a new trend among those who’re bold enough to try it. It is known as unschooling.

A radical approach to learning

Unschooling is like a 180-degree shift in the approach to learning. An unschooler doesn’t follow any curriculum or defer to his or her teacher. The unschooler is the master of his or her learning, and parents are just the facilitators. Some call it “child-led” education, as it banks on a person’s intuition, curiosity, and hunger to explore.

Studying is cumulative in life. Kids could do baking one day, or playing musical instruments the next. Even when running errands, an unschooler can pick up some new bit of knowledge.

Learning happens in all areas of life, not just the classroom. (Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Learning happens in all areas of life, not just in the classroom. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The parents’ role is to watch over and observe the unschooler’s interests, and then provide the necessary resources and environment for their children. They’re merely guides to the students’ creative process. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the unschooler has to be the one to put the pieces in the right order.

The concept is not entirely new. John Holt, the author of thought-provoking books such as How Children Fail and Learning All The Time, indicates the inherent flaws in the traditional education system. He coined the term “unschooling” back in 1977. “Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places,” he believed.

Holt’s philosophy still lives on through his organization, Holt Associates,, which is currently under the direction of Patrick Ferenga.

An everyday way of life

There’s no right and wrong in learning. It all depends on the child’s capacity to learn and develop skills. Everyone has their pacing and temperament when it comes to education.

Traditional schooling has proven itself effective for being systematic and teaching the new generation to conform. Among many of its flaws is its “compete to win” culture, where the excellent students are rewarded, and the failing students are shunted aside and frequently derided.

(Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Traditional schooling has proven itself effective for being systematic and teaching the new generation to conform. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Likewise, unschooling is a refreshing take on learning. Its focus, right from the start, is to develop the student’s interests and passion, and polish their critical thinking skills. Anecdotes from unschoolers say that their transition to adult life is seamless because of their education. This innovative approach to learning could be a new norm in education.

But by no means is it a perfect educational approach. First, it takes a great deal of parental commitment. Second, is the possibility of gaps in knowledge since the student picks his subjects. They also have to motivate themselves. And lastly, a skilled person on a particular matter is still essential to educate a student.

Be it traditional education or unschooling, guidance is imperative for a child’s development. But remember, as Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

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Raven Montmorency
Raven Montmorency is a pen name used for a writer based in India. She has been writing with her main focus on Lifestyle and human rights issues around the world.

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