Imagine a school where the students choose their own activities based on interests, where they learn through natural, real-life experiences, responsible household management, and work experience.
It doesn’t sound so terrible, does it?
Enter ‘Unschooling,’ a not-so-new movement where students learn at home and from members of the community in a student-led way. The term 'Unschooling' makes it sound as if students are being taught to forget all they know about everything, when it actual fact, it’s just about forgetting to sit at a desk and copy from a white board.
Unschooling has been closely linked to relaxed Homeschooling and has been a thing since the beginning of time, whereby parents, family and community members took it upon themselves to educate the children and young people of the community.
In fact, the idea is so good, even larger schools are taking the concepts on and have revamped the idea of student-driven, community-based learning into something called Big Picture Education (a great direction for many students). You’ve got to love this stuff!
Students are given the opportunity to drive their learning based on interest, then can speak to trades and business people, do short courses or activities, and launch into massive projects with their 'mentors' as a guide. Families can even opt to have a teacher backward map the curriculum or help develop projects.
If the idea of Unschooling (or even Homeschooling) sounds daunting, it can be! It's important to talk to people and check that undertaking the task of your child's education is in everyone's best interest - including yours.
For those who have the time, money and bravery to homeschool/unschool or both, it’s a great option to weave into other more structured programs. Who's to say you can't do it all?
It's important to know these options are legal in Australia:
“Unschoolers are as accountable to the government as homeschoolers, and can show “educational progress” (as defined by the state) just like children who learn by textbooks at home.” - http://whyunschool.info/
One particular study on the challenges and benefits of Unschooling stated that the positives can well outweigh the challenges.
Homeschooling and Unschooling seem like difficult concepts to grasp for those who have not experienced what an effectively run Unschool household can look like, but if you're ever curious, ask around - it’s more common than you think, and people are open to talking about their experiences.
(Teacher and Mum of 2)