Unschool

OPB | Aug. 4, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:43 p.m.

Would you, or do you, unschool your children?At a dinner party recently a friend of mine mentioned that she plans to homeschool her four children. When pressed she described a situation where her kids will actually direct what they want to learn, and when. And she had a name for this particular brand of homeschooling: unschooling.

I had never heard of unschooling before, so my interest was piqued. Since then I’ve discovered that there are actually many communities of people here in Pacific Northwest who choose to keep their kids out of traditional schools and, instead, educate them at home, without a formal curriculum or plan.

From what I can tell so far, socialization appears to be one of the biggest reasons for — and against — unschooling. Advocates say that age segregation and the low proportion of adults to children found in conventional schools don’t prepare kids for the real world. Critics say the opposite: that the lack of connection with kids of their age adversely impacts the development of unschooled kids.

Many questions come to mind for me: What’s an average day like for an unschooled child? (Is there an average day?) How is it different from homeschooling? What happens when an unschooled child applies for college? And at a time when public schools are criticized more and more, what might unschooling offer that our public schools can’t?

Would you — do you — unschool your children?

Photo credit: Luck is a Virtue/Flickr/Creative Commons

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