(Updated January 2013)
As some of you know I’m in the long process of writing a book called: (from) Unschooling to College; An alternative to the educational rat race. This blog supports this project in couple of ways: first, it allows me to keep writing on the subject of natural learning on the internet, and second it allows others to read and give their opinion while sharing their experience with unschooling.
In “Sandra Dodd’s big book of unschooling”, Sandra writes: “Unschooling is arranging for natural learning”. I like that definition and placed it as one of the quotes in the beginning of my book since it addresses the main premise of the book that the ability to learn anything and everything is something we are born with. In other words, it comes naturally. We will not have survived as a species without it.
In 1995, when my boys were 8 and 5 and we were still living in Israel, I started a magazine called (loosely translated): What comes naturally, a magazine about alternative education. I am now translating some of the things I wrote because they capture well what I then observed as the learning process that “naturally grown” children –those given the freedom to play and explore to their heart content – go through.
At this point in my life I’m in a place to share all that I have learned about learning during more than 25 years of living unschooling and many more years of being involved with alternative education. I am a mother of three who have all been unschooled since birth. My older son is 25 years old. He graduated from college in 2008, worked for a couple of years and then decided to go back to school to get his MBA, graduating in 2012. My middle son is 22 and has graduated from college in 2012. Both have been successful in their studies and are now working and living on the east coast of the USA.
My youngest daughter is nearly 11 and is taking me again through the uncertainties and wonders of the unschooling process. As a mom I need (again) to center myself and block my personal and cultural fears and trust the process of self-discovery and learning that she is going through.
Both my boys grew up unschooled, doing what grabbed their interest and basically teaching themselves throughout their childhood. Both have never taken a test or experienced any traditional schooling until they were 16+ and decided to take some courses at the community college. Neither of them or any other grown unschoolers I know have had any more trouble than traditionally schooled kids finding their way through college or through an adult work environment; on the contrary.
While proof to children’s ability to teach themselves complex ideas with minimal or no instruction is coming to us now from very poor areas around the world (see “Hole in the wall experiment” and “One laptop per child” experiment); there also exists a growing body of experience and know-how from parents and children practicing unschooling for many years now. With minimal interference many parents have allowed learning to continue to occur naturally, from babyhood to adulthood, with amazing results.
And while there are no guarantees in life, unschooling has already proven to offer a sane alternative to the current educational system without realizing one of parents’ biggest fears: a son or daughter who cannot make it in this complex world.
It is a process that calls for trust and a willingness to chart your own path rather than follow a traditional one, but if you are game – it is well worth the journey.
Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoy reading through and I welcome your thoughts, comments and stories. They will benefit all who visit here as well!