We were having a discussion on one of my lists about unschooling and deschooling. One of the parents said that her son is a “natural” unschooler while her daughter wasn’t.
After talking further, she said that her son was self-motivated to do his schoolwork. Whereas her daughter would “sit around all day and read” if she was left alone. So for her daughter, she assigned math and science. The rest she let her daughter “unschool”.
The truth of the matter is, the daughter is the natural unschooler. Well, both kids are. But the daughter is the one who is challenging her mom’s definition of “unschooling” by doing things her own way. Her daughter is the one who really is an “unschooler”. Because she is the one who doesn’t find interest in the things that one would consider to be ‘school’. At least not at the moment.
It doesn’t matter if she’s an unschooler or not, and the most important thing is to do what works. But if you are interested in what unschooling is, then realize that unschooling is not when a kid is self-motivated to do the things we expect them to be doing. Unschooling is a PARENTAL philosophy first, that it’s OK for kids to learn in their own way. That it’s OK for kids not to learn in the way we think they should.
Unschooling is not a WHAT, it is a WHY. Sorry for the caps. Just wanted to emphasize. Anyway, it’s the kids that if you left them on their own would “sit around and do XYZ all day” that are the “natural” unschoolers. These are the kids that don’t meet our expectations. These are the kids who would prefer to do things their own way that usually doesn’t sync up with the way people want them to do it. These kids, that would never touch a school book, are the kids who have the most to teach us adults about letting go of school.
In my family, my middle daughter, who is 6, is turning out to be the real unschooler, learning by what seems like doing nothing. But she’s the one who teaches me the most, because sometimes I have NO idea how she’s learning. It’s all inside, and in her own way. She’s a mystery to me, and so has helped me face my true perspectives on what it is to learn. It’s because of her, NOT the son who likes to do workbooks and classic “school” stuff on his own, that I’ve widened my understanding of education and unschooling.
My daughter has helped my son too. Because he was so easy to convince to do ‘school work’, that I realized that I still had pretty high expectations of what he “should” be doing. Because of backing off with my expectations on my daughter, I’ve been able to do the same with my son. We still do pretty much the same thing we did before, but the WHY behind it all is changing, and that’s changing my relationship with them…for the better.