Unschooling is unique approach to learning that’s challenging the way we think about education. And for many students, it’s the only way to learn.
Rather than a methodology by which certain children are “educated,” unschooling is a lifestyle that allows students to take complete control of their learning by encouraging them to pursue individual interests and curiosity. There is no set curriculum. Instead, students become self-directed learners.
The unschooling mantra is that time and open minds are ultimately the best teachers. Supporters say the approach is “natural” learning, which sounds good, but no matter the educational system, learners must actively absorb and interact with material to truly, deeply learn it. Unschooling works, subscribers say, because kids learn all sorts of facts, concepts and skills within a rich context that is driven by the student.
While certainly not for everyone, some aspects of unschooling can enrich the conventional classroom.
Trust and go with it
Human nature and a supportive environment launch learning well before the formal education process begins. Think back to all the things kids absorb in the early years before formal education begins.
Sure, unschooling makes some in the education establishment uneasy, but is it really that radical? Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College and a leading expert in the field, doesn’t think so.
Foster independence. In traditional school, students are often dependent on others to tell them what to do and when. Instead, teachers can encourage children to explore, discover and develop their own passions and talents. Educators should trust students to learn independently because they are interested, not because they are directed to do something.
Unleash the power in the palm of their hand
Technology is foundational to unschooling. It’s often how students connect to the outside world, and it provides the tools students use to tap into instructional sites, do research and complete projects.
In the traditional classroom, technology can be integrated more frequently to address the ISTE Standards and allow students to:
Make meaningful connections. Help students create their own personal learning networks, giving them access to experts, authors and others who share their passions. Geography is no longer an obstacle. Instead, students learn with and from the great minds around the world.
Think critically about their future. Enable students to share with an authentic audience, which just may lead to a new business or a social movement.The future of the job market is more entrepreneurial in nature. Students need to take charge of their education to take charge of their careers.