I’ve been in school almost my entire life. I started preschool shortly before turning 3. I started elementary school at age 6. I followed the standard path through middle school and high school and then went directly to college. After college I earned two Master’s degrees and then a PhD. Even after that I didn’t want to leave. I now teach at a university.
As you may have guessed by now, I love school. I’m good at school. I’ve learned a lot through school. So it comes as a surprise to some people that I have chosen not to send my kids to school. Instead, we’ve embraced the philosophy of unschooling. Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that rejects the idea of replicating the school environment at home in favor of self-directed learning through living and engaging fully with the world. Below are eight of the biggest reasons why we’ve chosen unschooling for our kids.
1. I want them to learn how to learn.
In traditional schooling, there is a heavy emphasis on following directions. It starts in kindergarten and often continues on through high school. Even in most college courses, the recipe for success is laid out for students. Do the assignments as directed and get an A. Congratulations. You’ve succeeded! I can follow directions like a boss, which is one reason I did well in school. Give me an assignment and I will follow instructions to a T. Unfortunately, I’ve found that this skill is next to useless in the real world (aside from tax filing). It also becomes less and less useful as you progress in school. In fact, the further along I got in school, the more schooling began to resemble unschooling. Once I started working on my dissertation, there were no more assignments to complete according to instructions. It was suddenly up to me to ask questions and then answer them. This was a big shift for me and I spent a couple of years floundering with lack of direction before figuring out how to handle self-directed learning. An unschooled person will have a huge advantage in this regard.
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