Why Every Parent Should Consider Unschooling

Have you ever heard the name Gillian Lynne? She is a very popular choreographer who was part of the Cats and Phantom of the Opera. What is interesting is that if she was a kid today she would probably be diagnosed as someone who has ADHD.

Gillian was simply restless when she was young and she couldn’t spend much time focusing on one thing. In addition, she was upsetting other students. Mrs. Lynne was labeled as “hopeless” by the educational system. This is something that happened back in the 1930s when Gillian was only eight years old. That’s why her mother decided to visit a specialist in this field.

This specialist was talking with Gillian for about 20 minutes before telling Gillian to leave the room in order to have a private conversation with her mother. He also turned the radio before they moved to another room where he and her mother could watch Gillian’s reaction. She was dancing to the music around the room.

The specialist commented that Gillian is not sick and that she is simply born as a dancer. His advice was to send Gillian at a dance school.

This story was presented by the famous educator and author Sir Ken Robinson in his TED speech in 2006 called “How schools kill creativity”.

Sir Robinson is viewed as one of the best creativity experts in this area and he is known for his efforts to raise awareness among parents about the importance of changes in our school systems.

According to Robinson, modern school systems are suppressing creativity in children and young people. In this way, the schools are destroying their talent and interest too.

A unique approach to learning

The United States school system has implemented several programs like Common Core (which some people call Common Conformity) and No Child Left Behind (which actually left a significant number of people behind). These programs have encouraged many parents to look for other solutions for their children’s education.

For example, homeschooling is a type of education that lets parents choose curriculum appropriate for their children’s religious association or learning style or preference. In this way, children are more interested in the things they learn and in most cases they get higher grades compared to their peers who choose public schools.

However, there are many experts who consider the use of any type of structured curriculum and all sorts of testing can suppress children’s creativity. Parents who agree with this theory are seriously interested in unschooling – one of the latest trending educational philosophies today.

Unschooling is actually a type of homeschooling that is focused on providing greater freedom for the learner. Unschooling doesn’t have a structure at all; it is a little bit difficult to make a definition of this method of learning.

However, Leo Babauta, one of the parents who support this method, provides some information that shed more light on unschooling. He says that the greatest advantage of practicing unschooling is the process of finding answers.

If we have all the answers close to us, we won’t be encouraged to look for answers. This search itself make children love learning.

Instead of talking about what unschooling is, Leo Babauta tells us what it is not:

  • Goals and objectives set by the school system, structured curriculum or teachers;
  • Classes with strict subjects;
  • Knowledge that’s passed by a teacher;
  • Learning in a pre-designed way, pace and at specific time of the day or week;
  • A defined set of chosen educational materials.

Unschooling supports:

  • Creativity, curiosity and innovation;
  • Blending of learning and life;
  • Learning at learner’s pace.

According to Babauta, the benefits are numerous:

  • Individuals that practice unschooling are constantly learning while other learners “have” to learn only when they in the classroom.
  • This is a more natural way to learn new things and this type of learning is not something new. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci, Tolstoy, Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Mozart were some of the famous people who were schooled in this way.
  • Children are encouraged to teach themselves and they actually get practical knowledge that can be used in the future. We are living in an age where things are moving forward at great pace. We don’t know what we will need in ten years from now. Unschooling prepares children and young people to learn quickly without any assistance.

What most parents and people believe is that the obedience that is promoted in conventional educational system certainly doesn’t help anyone, apart from people who look for unnatural structures, conformity and mediocrity. We should always think about the case of Gillian Lynne and how her and her mother’s defiance against the standard system can provide some outstanding results.

Her mother was prepared to take a risk and the result was amazing – Gillian was able to come up with some of the best musical theater productions ever. She has thousands of fans and she is rich. If she was born today and her mother was just like most modern mothers, she would have probably started taking meds and visiting different psychiatrists.