Why We Continue to Unschool

After being politely quizzed about home education by the Podiatrist this week at L’s appointment and needing to try to explain succinctly in a few sentences that we don’t have a curriculum, we don’t do school at home and no our children aren’t isolated I have been feeling even more curious about how our un-schooling journey will unfold now we have teens.

The friendly Podiatrist who was also an educator previously and appeared pro-home education still said to L “Is it a day off today?” and “I expect you must do some studies”.

I didn’t respond, I didn’t have the energy. We just kind of sniggered. It’s hard for people to get their head around and I understand that. For the record, NO we don’t study and every day is a day off at least from the studies you assume we must undertake. Or maybe it’s every day is a day on from our perspective that life is learning and given we are breathing, we are living and therefore learning!

We do not sit down at desks trying to digest information from text books, answering prescribed questions for the purposes of demonstrating that we know something nor are we practising to pass an examination in a school curriculum subject. I do not stand around teaching them a subject for these purposes either. I could elaborate on the reasons why we don’t, but often experience of something is the best way to learn so until you try it, it’s hard to comprehend how we might consider it.

For us, making it up as we ago along has been our pathway. We duck and dive and dip in and out of so many different things but equally we spend vast amounts of dedicated time practising our individual interests. This is dedicated study just not in the way people generally define study. The main difference is really that the children have choice, they spend time immersed in activities and interests that they enjoy and therefore learn happily as they go along. We make plans and equally seize the moment. We stay home, we go out. We have some regular activities that shapes some routine including work but then we may grow beyond these and change comes along again thus our routine looks different.

Inspiration, interests and learning happens just out of living and the daily challenges that life presents. There is always something to learn and often it’s something more valuable than a fact or even knowing your specialist subject. Not that facts aren’t useful or indeed fun and I’m certainly not knocking specialist information (we could pass GCSE’s in MTG, Minecraft, History, Anime, Drama, Monster High and being twins if wanted), but you know what I mean. Learning to be more patient, learning to be less or more impulsive, learning to be less or more cautious could all be very valuable at times and these are things amongst many other life lessons that some of us have to learn if naturally we are one thing or another.

Life seems a little like putting a jigsaw together except it’s a bloody great big jigsaw with so many pieces and connections to make. You can’t possibly expect to make all those connections fit at the same time and certainly not just through childhood. Nurturing life learners is really where we are at and has been since removing ourselves from the school system. I say, ourselves because it’s not just the kids that get removed. Parents are very much part of the school system alongside their children and equally have to leave the idea of schooling behind.

Talking to the diverse bunch of adults that we meet in our home ed world reinforces the fact that everyone has their own unique story to tell so with 7 billion on the planet clearly there are more ways than one standard to live a life and thus learn!

This is where De-Schooling comes in to play. De-schooling is very much about the parents as it is for the children. In many ways it can be harder for us as we have been *schooled* for longer. For us our de-schooling continues all these years on. The more we de-school our mindset the more it seems that there is little chance we will return to a schooling choice. We are in it for the long haul.

I still believe that learning is down to the individual and what we decide to take from any given opportunity is an internal and unique decision. Really all we can do as parents is to continue to offer our children a variety of opportunities and exposure to the possibilities of life within our own constraints. By stepping out of our own comfort zones ensures our own personal development and if our children are exposed to their own parents taking these steps I can see how leading by example could positively influence their own choices.

Maybe there will come a time whereby a focused time of study for a subject to pass an examination maybe necessary to get us where we need to go, or maybe it’s simply desired. For us, facilitating and supporting these decisions alongside our children is what we do. Who knows what the future may bring? The fact is we may all just decide to continue down a different path altogether and yes that might be weird or scary to many but if we see happy people engaged in life and growing nicely as a result then we will remain walking the path less trodden.

Happiness is always our goal.

6 thoughts on “Why We Continue to Unschool

  1. Katie

    Great post Angela – Even our most unschoolish of unschooling friends seem to cave into classes in the teen years. i too am curious to see how it will unfold.

    1. Angela Post author

      Thanks Katie. I feel like I need some support here too. Need to tap into some people with experience of the teen years who haven’t gone for all out classroom study. S has an Art Tutor for want of a better description. Actually it’s a local artist/fashion designer who is happy to give her time 1:1 (which I pay for of course) to guide, pass on tips and expertise and help nurture the specialist interest which is Anime but it couldn’t be further from school type study. She also does Theatre of course which couldn’t be facilitated any other way and there is no way S would give this up – it’s a total passion. Then there’s L. We have thought (together) about having the opportunity to study something in Politics/Citizenship/Law/History so he can argue and debate about topics which interest him but you take one look at a curriculum and it seems to knock all the fun out of it. I really don’t know how things will unfold but am just going to sit back and see what happens. He said to me yesterday *Mum, I want to go to Covent Garden* and I think “Yes! Let’s just continue following our noses…”

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  3. Clare Kirkpatrick

    Nosying around your blog! I loved this post 🙂 It really echoes my feelings too. I’m excited about unschooling during the teen years and try hard not to be anxious. I know of many completely unschooled or autonomously educated now-grown people who are doing very happily in life. Like you, our goals are happy, engaged children. I worry much less than I ever did nowadays – living in the moment is the key I think: asking myself if everyone is doing ok right now and responding accordingly….and focusing on our relationships and connection. I know learning wil always be happening but even more so when people are happy and feeling loved and secure.

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