When talking with other people about unschooling, the idea of unschooling is often met with awe and and agreement, however, the practice is often regarded as just not a possibility… at least not for “their” children…
“If I didn’t sit my kid down they would do nothing all day”
“I let my kid do what he wanted for a whole week and he played video games all week.”
“My kids just don’t have the motivation to learn things they don’t have to learn.”
After years of being schooled ourselves we have been taught that being forced, or at the least being “taught”, is the only way to learn… We were imprinted with the idea that school was the place to learn, it was often boring and mundane, but it was necessary, and we had to be there or we would be nothing when we grew up…
and of course we always looked forward to summer vacation so that we could do “nothing”…
but did we do nothing?… did we learn “nothing”? or was it just that it looked like nothing because we enjoyed it and we were not learning in the traditional sense, and we didn’t have anything to “show”… at least not if someone is looking at it from a schooling perspective.
I am saddened to see that so many people just do not have confidence in children, some seem to think that unschooled children are just some other species of kids that are always wanting to do projects or wanting to “school” themselves… and I agree that there are some that probably do, and as kids get older then it is even more probable, but honestly in our house it isn’t like that, and I know that in the homes of other young unschoolers I know, it isn’t like that either.
What often happens is that for those who have tried to unschool for a short period after having “schooled” is that they don’t give their children or themselves the adequate time to deschool. As Sandra Dodd sums up beautifully “Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life.”
A child may look like they are doing nothing but are they really? Are they honestly sitting there staring into space? and if they are, are they really thinking about “nothing”?
A child may play video games “all of the time” but are they really not learning anything? Do you really think that once the novelty wears off that they won’t move on, or if they don’t, isn’t it possible that their interest may stem into something else.
What does motivation look like? Isn’t it more likely that children are motivated but it is just not in what the parent thinks they should be motivated about. Can it be that when a child shows a bit of interest in something that the parent takes things over instead of helping to guide anf therefore the child loses the interest because it is not theirs anymore.
I truly have confidence in the fact that kids want to learn and they are always learning. I have confidence that my kids will go into adulthood with all the knowledge they need to have. I think that everyone, homeschooling or not should have more confidence in children’s abilities and love of learning.
It saddens me to hear parents have so much lack of confidence in their children because though I have to agree that it is an ongoing struggle to put preconceived notions about education aside at times, it is the children who are losing the most.
The thing is, I don’t think that unschooling is for all families, but I do think that all children can be unschooled. I would rather hear that a family chooses not to unschool because of various reasons (lack of confidence in themselves, need to control, belief in traditional education etc) then to hear them blame their childrenby saying that they are just not able to learn by themselves.