In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on April 11, 2011, and was written by Kimberly Sharpe for An Unschooling Life.
Most of the unschooling parents today have had to learn to trust and let go of our own “old school” conditioned beliefs on learning. It is very natural for a parent to have some uncertain feelings when allowing their child the freedom to learn and grow in an environment that they themselves never experienced. If we can achieve a level of trust, we as parents can relearn our own love of learning and enjoy this natural process with our children.
What does deschooling mean?
For many of us that went to school, we learned that “learning” required a time, a place, and a ton of homework. For me, it was a negative experience and I loathed the weekly ritual. Our “free-time” was either scheduled, earned, or usually from some form of a reward either for our good behavior or for selling boxes of candy to raise money for the facility. Deschooling for parents involves the process of allowing yourself to let go of your own baggage and notions about education.
Fortunately, both of my children, Autumn and Chloe, are natural- learners. Over the years, they both have taught themselves most of what they know, either from library books, websites, weekly field trips, and living life NOT behind a fence for 35 hours a week. They even have their own eBay business just for kicks. While living side by side with the girls, and by allowing them to pick and choose their activities, my old “schooling ideas” thankfully have become a part of my past.
Related: Sandra Dodd’s page on Deschooling
Tips for deschooling
Being able to seek what is enjoyable for us to learn about is so important. Watching and evolving with my children as an unschooling parent has been such a rewarding and educational experience and continues to be a way of life for myself.
By allowing myself to let go of the old institutionalized methods that I attained from attending a private school and a public school, and by having very disciplinary type parents, I have rediscovered that learning is a fun part of life, not a required activity to achieve a grade.
While Autumn and Chloe are such different human beings with completely different likes and interests, unschooling has allowed each of them to evolve into such interesting and happy people. Thankfully by researching and learning about deschooling, my participation in this phenomenon called unschooling would never have been attained if I hadn’t deschooled along with my children.
I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite unschooling pioneers. John Taylor Gatto, from “How public education cripples our kids and why.”
“After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”