We are a diverse community of unschoolers from all over the world coming together to share our knowledge and experience unschooling.
What is Unschooling?
Unschooling is a style of homeschooling that allows the student’s interests and curiosities to drive the path of learning. Rather than using a defined curriculum, unschoolers trust children to gain knowledge organically. Unschooling is life! It is the best way to prepare & equip kids for the real world and give them the freedom to express themselves while pursuing “their” passions. Schools and Curriculums teach kids to be consumers rather than creators. Unschooling is not unparenting, it’s the exact opposite. Unschooling is living and learning naturally without coercion. Unschooling is Montessori for homeschoolers, but Montessori Schools Are Scams even more so than public schools. The road less traveled…
"The goal of unschooling is not education. It is to help a child be who she/he is and blossom into who she/he will become. Learning happens as a side effect." ~ Joyce Fetteroll
“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” ~ H. L. Mencken
“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” ~ John Holt
“Education now seems the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and ‘fans,’ driven in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve ‘education’ but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves.” ~ John Holt
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." ~ Oscar Wilde
“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.” - George Whitman
“Great education defies structure because it is always (always!) individualized, personalized, interactive, nimble, responsive and inspired.” ~ Oliver DeMille, [The Student Whisperer: Inspiring Genius]
“If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would create something like a classroom.” ~ John J. Medina, Author of the New York Times Bestseller, [Brain Rules]
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” ~ Doris Lessing, [The Golden Notebook]
“Everyone who has ever been to school knows that school is prison, but almost nobody beyond school age says it is. It’s not polite. We all tiptoe around the truth because admitting it would make us seem cruel and would point a finger at well-intentioned people doing what they believe to be essential. . . . A prison, according to the common, general definition, is any place of involuntary confinement and restriction of liberty. In school, as in adult prisons, the inmates are told exactly what they must do and are punished for failure to comply. Actually, students in school must spend more time doing exactly what they are told than is true of adults in penal institutions. Another difference, of course, is that we put adults in prison because they have committed a crime, while we put children in school because of their age.” ~ Peter O. Gray, [Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life]
"This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term “unschooling” has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn’t use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t require you, the parent, to become someone else—a professional teacher pouring knowledge into child-vessels on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an “on demand” basis, if at all. This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work. So, for instance, a young child’s interest in hot rods can lead him to a study of how the engine works (science), how and when the car was built (history and business), who built and designed the car (biography), etc. Certainly these interests can lead to reading texts, taking courses, or doing projects, but the important difference is that these activities were chosen and engaged in freely by the learner. They were not dictated to the learner through curricular mandate to be done at a specific time and place, though parents with a more hands-on approach to unschooling certainly can influence and guide their children’s choices.
Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. However, this does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student, or parents and children together, decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not “natural” processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn’t unusual to find unschoolers who are barely eight-years-old studying astronomy or who are ten-years-old and just learning to read." ~ From [ Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling ] by John Holt and Patrick Farenga
“The simplest description is that Unschooling means a way of bringing up children using free play and child-directed activity to develop the child’s own individual talents and creativity by supportively following up the child’s own interests – without coercion, compulsion, manipulation, regimentation, constant testing and grading and rank-ordering, or top-down authoritarianism.” ~ Kytka Hilmar-Jezek, [99 Question and Answers About Unschooling: The World Is Your Child’s Classroom]
“Unschooling works well when parents are interesting, positive, thoughtful, considerate,
generous, passionate, honest, respectful individuals.” ~ Deb Lewis
Unschooling means learning …
what one wants,
when one wants,
in the way one wants,
where one wants,
for one’s own reasons.
~ Mary Griffith: The Unschooling Handbook
Unschooling is self-education. And self-education is simply the practice of freedom. Learning is freed from an artificial, externally controlled context to become again what it has in actual fact always been — a natural, spontaneous process; part of the whole experience of being alive.
The word “unschooling” was coined by author and educator John Holt, appearing for the first time in issue #2 of his newsletter, Growing Without Schooling, published in November, 1977. Holt wrote, “GWS will say ‘unschooling’ when we mean taking children out of school…” but before long the term was being used to indicate any non-schoolish approach to learning. John Holt has said that schools are unfocused learning because kids are not learning from their own motivation, but rather forced to learn subjects that may be of no interest or use to them. Unschooling is focused learning where kids are motivated to learn, by their own free will, subjects that they are passionately interested and curious about so they pickup and learn things much faster.
Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)
The Natural Child Project
Alternative Education Resource Organization
Home School Legal Defense Association
Why do people choose unschooling as a way of learning?
There are lots of reasons which we will share here.
1) Parents want to ensure their kids are learning what they want to learn,
not what someone else forces them to learn. Parents don’t want their kids to be brainwashed as most schools are not educating kids, they are indoctrinating them.
2) Values | The culture of schools impart very poor values on kids such as greed and consumerism.
3) Parents that understand that public education does not set their kids up for the real world, but actually does the exact opposite, significantly limits a child’s opportunity to learn in the real world limiting their real world experiences. Unschooling opens a child’s imagination to a world of different possibilities.
4) Religious reasons since most schools these days are religiously intolerant.
5) Parents that want to raise entrepreneurs love unschooling because it encourages
all the building blocks of pursuing your passions. Children who are empowered are more much more likely to start their own businesses. Whereas schools make good employees that will feel comfortable with a job in a cubicle, unschooling creates entrepreneurs.
"Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune." ~ Jim Rohn
"I didn’t fail school, school failed me.
School fails entrepreneurs everyday,
because it’s not built for entrepreneurs,
it’s built for workers." ~ Gary Vaynerchuk
"Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t." ~ Unknown Author
"Karl Marx, a visionary, figured out that you can control a slave much better by convincing him he is an employee." ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb
6) Bullying | If you haven’t seen the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”, you should because it shows the drama and bullying that are all too common at schools and how it affects everyone, even those who you don’t think would be affected. The whole culture of school is based on bullying from the top down, making kids do things they would not have done naturally takes away their choice, essentially forcing them to do something, so it’s not surprising they act out by bullying others kids because this is exactly what schools are teaching them. This is why John Holt said the following:
"Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing or bullying. We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do, and all we need to do, is bring as much of the world as we can (to them); give children as much help and guidance as they ask for; listen respectfully when they feel like talking; and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest." ~ John Holt, “How Children Learn”
“This idea that children won’t learn without outside rewards and penalties, or in the debased jargon of the behaviorists, “positive and negative reinforcements,” usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we treat children long enough as if that were true, they will come to believe it is true. So many people have said to me, “If we didn’t make children do things, they wouldn’t do anything.” Even worse, they say, "If I weren’t made to do things, I wouldn’t do anything.
It is the creed of a slave.” ~ John Holt, [How Children Fail]
“Compulsion – nonconsensual education – requires violence; it requires complete control over what students put into their brain, the people they are exposed to, the places they are authorized to be, and oftentimes, with free lunch programs, what food goes into their body. Compulsory systems are resentful of families who do not enforce homework or dress code policies; are reluctant to allow parents into its buildings except once or twice a year on special “open house” days; and fear parents who choose to homeschool.” ~ Brian Huskie, [A White Rose: A Soldier’s Story of Love, War, and School]
7) Schooling kills a child’s free spirit
8) Many parents are still recovering and deschooling from all the damage their schooling caused them so they don’t want to force their children into the same system of abuse
9) Living outside the box | School constrains learning, that is its purpose.
"Homeschooled children have greater potential to work outside the box because they are educated outside the box." ~ Thomas Purifoy
10) Self Discovery
11) Institutional Systemic Racism | Many people choose to empower their kids by unschooling them for this very reason because of major disparities in schooling across the nation.
12) Politics | Schools are not apolitical and they could never be, most everyone working at schools are completely absorbed by politics. The entire school system and curriculum is a result of politics. The great thing about unschooling is that it is apolitical, unschoolers can rightfully choose whether to engage in politics or not. Unschooling attracts all political parties including libertarians and anarchists. When schools lean one way or another, which they all do, they become indoctrination centers for a particular political party.
"Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim." ~ Elie Wiesel