A reader asks, “What about classes, teachers, and curricula when you’re unschooling?”
I know there are some within the unschooling community who are going to disagree with me on this. They believe any teaching, any classes, and any curricula is antithetical to unschooling. This is actually one of the reasons I prefer the term “self-directed homeschooling”.
I don’t see taking classes, having someone teach another something, or using curricula as necessarily incompatible with unschooling.
Can it be? Absolutely – if the ones doing the learning aren’t the ones choosing to take the class, choosing to have someone else teach them something, or choosing to use curricula. To me, the presence or absence of the consent of the ones doing the learning is what determines whether or not taking a class, having a teacher, or using curricula would still qualify as unschooling.
If your unschooled child is interested in taking a class, even if that class is at the local public high school, all that means to me is that the child is self-directing his own education and has decided a class would be worthwhile.
If your unschooled child asks someone else to teach them something, teach it to her, for cryin’ out loud. Yes, there is a difference between learning and teaching. Teaching someone something doesn’t necessarily mean they are learning anything. However, if a child is asking for explicit instruction, I find not providing it (if you’re capable of doing so) extremely disrespectful.
If your unschooled child wants a piece of curricula to help him master something that’s important to him, let him have it. Let him read it and use it the way he wants to. Jarrod and I both infinitely prefer to read something when we’re trying to learn something new. Erica prefers video. Curricula is one option. A resource.
As I see it, unschooling is essentially freeing children to learn the same way we do as adults.
As adults, we recognize a need or a desire to learn something. Then we go out and locate the resources and materials we want.
As adults, we can choose to utilize any resource we want. Maybe a class is the best way. Maybe direct one-on-one instruction is the best way. Maybe a book is the best way. Maybe a video is the best way. Maybe trial and error all on our own is the best way. The point is that we aren’t beholden to any one method or resource; your child shouldn’t be, either.
We attend class, we study, or we practice until our need or desire has been satisfied. Then we move onto the next thing.
So will our kids if we respect the process.