Saturday, November 09, 2013

Can someone else please unschool my kids?

Q. Learning from a place of passion and love. Learning by following your own interest and curiosity. Community supported and engaged learning. Unschooling. I really want this for my kid. I've heard of all the benefits: kids become better at self-starting, develop character, learn tolerance, maintain their love of learning, hone their skills and apply their creativity... It sounds great but I don't have the patience for it. Nor the time. Nor the skill set. What I'm really asking is can someone other than me, the parent, unschool my kids?

A. Why not? The arrangement is not dissimilar to when a tutor might be hired into the home.

Q. But I thought it had to be the whole package—isn't the point that you have that special bond with your kid: YOU know your kid better than any teacher can ever know..and all that? Doesn't farming them off to be unschooled by someone other than the parent disrupt that bond?

A. While a parent will know their kid in a way that a teacher, coach, education facilitator etc does not, it is not always the case that the child's 'interest needs' are being served sufficiently by the parent.
'Special bond' or not, often, personalities clash, or there is not enough time in the day to focus on that child (other responsibilities, children etc). More often than not, the kid needs a greater network of community members. The parent is not and should not be the 'be all, end all' for the child's education. That is too much of a burden.

Q. So can you share some scenarios where unschooling can happen without the parent as a facilitator or the child's education?

A. I personally don't know of any families where the unschooling is facilitated by someone other than the parent. I do know that parents who unschool often get together and share activities that kids can choose to engage in or not. There are many arrangements that are available, from co-ops, associations, free schools, learning studios, casual drop-ins, and hang outs, and more and more of these are cropping up across North America.  Increasingly, we are seeing opportunities for older kids especially to do self-directed learning guided by people other than mum and there is a burgeoning of 'alternatives to high schools.'



Derek Luke said...

Hi All,

I just wanted to say that I'm a big supporter of Sudbury Schools and I'd like to open my own some day.
I think, personally, that the unschooling movement is very important and that more children should have that kind of learning opportunity far more often. Sudbury Schools do a good job of bringing many of the same principals as unschooling to students.

Mike Sadofsky said...

In addition, Sudbury Schools provide a community of youth of mixed ages, interests, and backgrounds as well as staff members whose relationship with youth differs markedly from that of parents who may "unschool."
So while Sudbury Schools may be looked at as a form of "unschooling" by some, in my opinion they offer a much richer developmental environment.

beatrice ekoko said...

@Derek-thanks for the comment. I hear good things about Sudbury schools and yes, more freedom in schools to learn what the student is moved by, is absolutely a step in the right direction.

beatrice ekoko said...

@Mike-Note that unschooling parents ideally facilitate learning for the kids, but they are by no means the only adult in the child's life and we strive to use the community as much as possible- all ages!!

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