What Is, And Isn't Unschooling

Unschooling isn't so much a method, as it is a way of looking at learning. It's seeing the learning in everything. To me, it's much more than just dropping the curriculum, although that's an excellent place to start.

It's changing the way you view learning and education.

It isn't leaving your children to find their own way. It isn't brushing them off and doing your own thing while they're off on their own trying to make sense of the world.

Unschooling is trying to be a present and mindful parent. It's spending time with your children, being involved in their world and inviting them into yours.

Sandra Dodd:
"It's like "just say no." Just say no to school years and school schedules and school expectations, school habits and fears and terminology. Just say no to separating the world into important and
unimportant things, into separating knowledge into math, science, history and language arts, with music, art and PE set in their less important little places.

Most of unschooling has to happen inside the parents. They need to spend some time sorting out what is real from what is construct, and what occurs in nature from what only occurs in school (and then in the minds of those who were told school was real life, school was a kid's fulltime job, school was more important than anything, school would keep them from being ignorant, school would make them happy and rich and right). It's what happens after all that school stuff is banished from your life

Anne Ohman:
"Unschooling is active, not passive. It's only passive in that you don't do school. But it requires an active effort on your part to shift your own perspective and your old definition of learning. You need to work on seeing learning happening in what your children love to do. It requires active effort in connecting with your children as they are right now. It requires active effort in finding things in the world that you think would be of interest to them. It requires active effort in giving them as much of the world as you can and letting them choose from it what they love. It requires active effort in basing your life in Joy and Love."

Unschooling my children is enabling me to see that learning is everywhere. The more they are out of school, the more I see the curiosity and spark in their eyes.

Unschooling my children shows me that learning is fun and enjoyable. Learning is not filling in a bubble on a test. Learning is not being told to memorize a bunch of facts that they could very easily find, in a matter of minutes, online or in a book if they needed it.

Unschooling my children lets me see that their interests and passions are valid and important.

Unschooling my children is enabling me to see them...for all they are and all they can become.

Unschooling my children his enabling me to see that life really is for living and exploring and singing and creating and discovering and trying and doing and being.

originally written in 2006: updated in 2008


Anonymous said...

hi! liked this post. neat! learned a lot from it.

got here through blogging chicks blogroll. happy blogging!

Joanne said...

Thanks for stopping by. What's the link to your blog so we can visit? :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just wanted to say thanks for writing this quick explanation! We have an 18 month old boy, and we are going to homeschool him, but I kept coming across this word 'unschooling' and thinking "what is that? Sounds good!"

So now I know, thanks! Debs x

Anonymous said...

You have great reasoning for doing what you do and I think it is wonderful!

Unknown said...

Great article; I'd love to unschool my son but it's quite difficult for the moment. We're working to get it legalized in Spain.


sundar said...

Hi..came across your blog and found it to be very interesting..I have added it to my list of favourtites..Kindly add three of my blogs to your list and give a link back..


piscesgrrl said...

Yay! Keep spreading the good news! Unschooling ROCKS.

Joanne said...

:-) It sure does!

Arp said...

Seeing things through my children's eyes has made a huge difference in my life, starting with walks in the woods with my son when he was 2 and seeing all the different things he was curious about. It piqued my own curiosity quite a bit.

I've been reading Rue Kream's book recently and the light bulb really went off in my head a couple of weeks ago. Your last line really sums it up - I have such a difficult time trying to articulate what unschooling is. I think I just know it when I see it ;-)

Joanne said...

Hi Arp, nice to see you here. :-) Rue's book is on my list on books-to-buy. :-)

chamé said...

well said. very inspiring! I love reading your entries. I'll add you to my list of favorite links. thanks :)

Joanne said...

Hi Chame. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

Anonymous said...


I am so happy to have found your blog! I resonate with your philosophy. As a recovering teacher, I feel strongly that our education system is in final crisis stage and is about to crumble, hopefully to be re-conceptualized in a completely new way. As more people like you step up and change the paradigm for their children, we pave the way to broader definitions of what it takes to raise conscious, competent, creative, and compassionate citizens. I look forward to poking around here some more. Feel free to visit my blog, "Taking the Lid off the Sun" at http://shinebrightly.wordpress.com.