I’m sitting at a park. 20-30 moms around. The boys are discussing the parameters of a nerf war. There are a variety of ages of children frolicking. Boy and girls having a wonderful time. There is no cookie cutter uniform of clothing type or hair style – each family has it’s own flavor.
The moms start to talk – and the subject comes up – What do you use for homeschooling? Now, it sort of depends on what kind of day I am having, or what sort of conversation I want to have – how I answer this one. Today – I’m surrounded by 30 homeschool moms – and I don’t feel like talking about curriculum choices or academic levels – so I simply say – I’m an Unschooler. Yes, it does put me in a box – but it is an un-labled box of –un.
I could choose ABeka, Sonlight, Lapbooker, Charlotte Mason, ACE, Charter School – and you’d have an idea of how I spend my day. But when someone says – Unschooler – see? You’re not really in a box. You’re out in the open.
Many people seem to think that Un-Schooling means Un-Learning – Non-Teaching – lazy, Un-Disciplined. I shout – No. Our day is full of schedules, topics, ideas activities. It will just never ever look like “school”. When we need to learn something – we will use a tool. We will not be a slave to that tool – or obedient to the letter – and we may use the tool outside it’s intended use – like my meat tenderizer to hang the thistle seed nail .. .
But when you need to learn piano – you find a teacher or book or video. We use mentors, guides, tutors, videos, books, and yes, curriculum.
What brings this up today? I’m still on the look out to find great blog posts that would have helped me out when we were just starting out and I read this great quote:
“Learning how to transform mere ignorance into mystery, simple not knowing into wonder, is a useful skill.” In a blog post – The Difference Between Knowing and Learning .
Most main stream school buildings are there to set goals for young children, before meeting them, and then spend the year filling them with information so that they can test out to prove that the school met it’s goals.
In my unschooling, relaxed, eclectic God Centered Learning – I let the Lord direct the goals through prayer, reading and research – and discussions with the family – and then we find the tools to help guide us towards reaching these goals – and then the use of the skill or the creativity of the skill shows us that we no longer need to intensely focus on it. Un-Schooling.
If I know I’m sitting in a crowd of Nature Loving Book Readers – I love to say Charlotte Mason – so we can have a 2 hour conversation about living books. Or – I like to say Classical so we can talk about Latin and Literature – Or ACE – so we can talk about specialized units of learning – or Timberdoodle – because – they make learning fun and disciplined all at the same time.
But when the answer is Unschooler – it usually means I get 2 smiles 7 snarky glances – and 2-3 quizzical looks – and I get to sit back and enjoy listening to them convince each other that Unit Study is better than Project led, or Ambleside is better than Sonlight.