April 22, 2010

ABC on Unschooling

Because ABC's Good Morning America did a story on unschooling this week, lots of people are talking about it. And because most of the comments are negative, accusing parents of neglecting their children and raising misfits, here's our chance to clear up the misunderstanding. We've got emotionally stable, healthy, enthusiastic children who love learning and love life. How many public school teachers can look around their classrooms and find even one of those? How many parents wish they could say that about their own kids?

As I've said many times here in my blog, interest-led learning (or unschooling) is an educational philosophy that starts with the child and his natural bent, gifting, calling, whatever, and moves forward from there.

What is the purpose of education? What is the best way to educate a child? Those are the fundamental questions we parents must answer. As a student in a teacher education program, I remember my professors saying, "Always ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing."  Don't give kids worksheets just because it's in the curriculum. Ask yourself why. I also learned that the kids who turned out best had high parent involvement and individualized instruction. Sounds like interest-led learning to me. 

My mantra through the years has been to Maintain the Joy of Learning and the Joy of Childhood. Respect your kids as uniquely created human beings who have something to offer the world, and don't let them play in traffic. :)

If your family follows an Interest-Led Approach to learning, leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can show off what we do!


Erin J said...

Interest-led learners here and also an education major in college. I prefer to think of it as a "tailor-made curriculum."

To me the most important part of an education is the awareness of what's out there and a delight in learning. The older model that children are empty cups to be crammed full of facts is changing. Learners need to refine skills such as math or music or reading by practicing, of course, but there is not a specific quota of knowledge to pour into them, then we're done. We teach them HOW to learn, WHERE to find information and set them free to explore it!

As for assessment, that comes by observation and knowing the children very well. When such assessment is used, formal tests become unnecessary or redundant.

Rana said...

The purpose of getting an education is to gain knowledge in the things that interest us, not just general knowledge. The best way to educate my children is to give them the freedom to pursue what interest them and to find books, people, or what ever instrument is necessary to fulfill that thirst for them. For our family this is the best way to learn.

Unknown said...

My sister called to inform me about the story run by GMA. She was really upset. She is a therapist in the public schools with two little ones in the public schools. She is also my strongest supportor. She told me, "When you first told me about this philosophy years ago I wasn't sure it would work to just trust your children. But now that your kids are older and I have seen it work, I think all kids should have this opportunity." I agree. Watching my children wake up with joy for life, learning and themselves is the greatest thing to come out of unschooling. I wouldn't do it any differently.


Tereza Crump said...

interest led learning here too. I got 4 children under 7y.o. My first grader is doing 2nd and 3rd grade work. She is sewing and crafting all the time. She is very social and loves to talk. She loves to make money and save it as well as give it to missionaries. They are all into computer and teach each other the letters and numbers. My almost 5 years old is reading a little bit because his big sister does. They all take books to the bathroom when they sit on the "thinking chair." They spend time there doing their business and reading. they "play" all day. Inside creating things or outside. it's fun to watch them learn freely without restrictions or interferences. :)

Anonymous said...

This story got the blogrolls a'hopping this week for us interest-led learners, didn't it??!! ;) I, of course, had my own take on it, too! http://topsytechie.wordpress.com

Jennifer said...

I love your mantra! So funny. :) We're interest led learners here too and we love our life www.toadhaven.com

Anne Dye said...

We are a very happy interest led family of six!Thanks for your blog. It is great to see living proof that unschooling/interest-led education really works!

slim pickins said...

i've been following your blog for a long time, gaining reassurance and inspiration from your family (thank you!!), so i'll speak up as a member of an interest-led learning family!!! we're on the beginning end of things, with a 4 and 7 year old, but so far...so good!


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