unschooling

Learning by Leaning

IMG_2619One thing I’m constantly grateful for in my job is that I’m surrounded by education-related content, and even better than that, I have opportunities to meet with educators from all over the U.S. At our spring meeting in DC, while catching up with my teacher friends, the one question almost all of them asked was, “How’s unschooling going?!”

There’s two things I loved about that: 1) they were genuinely excited and curious, and 2) it was an opportunity to share perspectives and get ideas. Some of them are familiar with unschooling and some aren’t, but all of them had great ideas for me to bring back home—innovative, engaging ideas from their own classrooms that work well with their kids.

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unschooling

No Need to Justify

Mixed Media Art by Maia and AliyaI’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about our unschooling adventure. “How’s homeschooling going?” people ask, not realizing (or remembering) the difference. And what’s struck me is how strongly I feel the need to explain what we’re doing and how it’s going, as if to provide enough detail to justify the whole thing—and sometimes, I realize, it’s as much to convince and reassure myself.

After each interaction, I take a step back and question it. What am I trying to prove? Why not just say, “great!” and move on? I feel a responsibility to not only be honest, but to be specific, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s partly due, I’m sure, to the fact that in my circles, education is a big deal and I wouldn’t want those around me to think it’s something we’re taking lightly. And of course, so many of us were raised in a traditional public or private school setting, that the idea of homeschooling, not to mention unschooling, is murky, uncharted territory.

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unschooling

Diving into Unschooling

diving into unschooling

I wrote my first post about unschooling and how we were thinking about ways to homeschool a little less than three weeks ago, and pretty much right after I wrote that, it became clear we would be jumping in head first, sooner than later. As the testing began and the pressure rose for our first grader, her days became more miserable and her nights filled with stress and anxiety. We found ourselves thinking (again), surely there must be a better way. So we took the plunge and pulled her out of school.

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unschooling

Unschoolery: A Look Beyond Limitations

unschoolery

Our oldest has just entered her fifth year of public school with our middle child entering her second, and it's becoming more and more clear, every day, that much of what I read about school from around the country is true for us: public education is broken. I am not an education expert, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems to be that even at some of the "best" schools, education and learning is still about getting good grades to get a good job to make money to buy stuff. And how to get good grades still looks very similar to my primary school education 20+ years ago. In fact, the rubric for success in school is basically the same, too (i.e. turn in your homework, do well on tests, don't rock the boat, etc.).

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