Unschooling, Life-Learning Autodidacts

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We are unschoolers, life learners, autodidacts. We learn by living, we follow our passions, we self-teach.

It isn’t always an easy journey, the path is fresh and there are few trail markers. There are times when I wonder, “am I doing the right thing with my children?” There are times when I wonder, “are they missing out by not going to school?”

Other times I feel sure of my decisions. When I see my children learning, when I see them speaking with such eloquence, when others tell me how kind and sweet my children are; this is when I think, “yes this is the right thing for us.”

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This really is new territory for me, I was not raised in an environment where I was free to be me, to follow my dreams. I had to go to school, and I hated it. I was a very shy child, and we moved around a lot so school was not a place I liked to be.

Often I would pretend I was sick so I could stay home. While I was home I would draw or paint, I would do things I enjoyed doing. I think back now, if I could have been home and had all that time to pursue my passions and teach myself, my goodness I would be much farther along in skill then I am now.

Most of my learning happened outside of school, at home, at the library. I have learned so much more since I have been out of school. Adults self-teach, why can’t children?

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I truly know that our society is in the shape it is in because of schooling. We take young people, put them in an institution with other young people, and lock them away for 15,000 hours. They are kept from meaningful work, they are kept from the real world. It saddens me to go to town on a weekday and see no children about. They are put away, taken care of, so the adults can work.

We are a people who have been dumbed down. Look at a final exam for a 13 year old from the 1800s to finish school and you’ll see that college/university students would be hard pressed to answer these questions today. Our curriculum has been dumbed down. Knowledge and learning used to be prized. Now we see smart children being ridiculed, and the Jackasses being praised.

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If you don’t think that school is a method of social control, have a look into the history of our modern compulsory school system. Our current school system came from Prussia (now Germany). I would recommend, “The Underground Histroy of American Education” by John Taylor Gatto or, “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” by Charlotte Iserbyt as essential reading material.

You might say, “ok, maybe that was the intention before, but it isn’t now”. And I would say, look at our world. Look at kids coming out of school. Most 20 somethings have no idea how to take care of themselves, or how to have a meaningful life. What are they learning in those 12 years of schooling? Yes maybe some of them are smart, they can repeat facts, and yes some come out of it still intact with their individuality, but most are lost. They have no compass in life, they have no way to navigate through the lies and deception all around us. They have no critical thinking skills, they believe things will make them happy. How is this good for kids?

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The main things you need to learn are writing, reading and basic math. These skills are easy to learn and only take a couple years at the most. Once you have those skills, there is a world of knowledge at your finger tips.  Why then are children spending so much time in school? Do you remember everything you learned in school? Does it enrich your life to know these things? How much of what you remember isn’t even the curriculum? I remember passing notes, and hanging out with friends.

History, geography, science; these are all important. I used to hate learning history, now I love it. When you are force fed a Disney version of history, it seems pretty redundant. When you explore history through your own volition, it becomes mesmerizing. I am not saying that we should abandon learning, or education. What I am saying is that schooling is not education, it is baby-sitting and indoctrination.

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Most people, when they ask me about homeschooling, want to know how to create school at home. We don’t do that. We create a rich learning environment, we value knowledge, we honor each other and we ask questions and look for answers. Education is the result of this. There are no grades, no standardized tests. The tests we take are in life, they are in challenging ourselves to grow and learn. When we apply or knowledge in the real world we are testing ourselves.

A free market in Education could eradicate these problems. Get rid of the compulsion, allow anyone to open a school. There would be so many options, different styles of teaching and learning. If that was the world I lived in, sure my children could go to school, but that is not the world we live in, so they are home. It truly is a treasure to be with them everyday, to see the progress they make. I couldn’t imagine sending them away, it really is so unappealing to me.

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Well I could go on and on about this subject and maybe in the future I will write more about it. Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope that I have helped you at least question the current system and to glimpse another way 🙂

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8 responses to “Unschooling, Life-Learning Autodidacts

  1. We don’t unschool, we homeschool but I’m not sure how much we actually “homeschool”. I use a curriculum that I adore its Charlotte Mason inspiredso its very laid back, we do sit down work for less then 30minutes for my K-er to an hr or hr & a half with my 1st grader. For the rest of the time we explore their interests. We had so many ppl completely against homeschooling now seeing the results & now completely support us.. My kids are independent, secure, inquisitive children who are willing to speak to any adult or child about anything. I enjoyed & shared this post. Thank you for writing it.

    • Yes it is amazing how these children will speak to adults! I see schooled children who really only keep to themselves and their own age range. They often don’t even like to play with younger children.

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