We don't watch TV much these days but we did happen to see this segment on unschooling on the project where it was described as "stupid" and "irresponsible" by panel members.
I don't identify as an unschooler but I respect the diversity that exists in the homeschooling community and embrace many natural learning approaches in the way we home educate. I've seen the merits of unschooling in my own boys through what they create in their 'free' time. I see their passion and enthusiasm when they pursue something that interests them rather than something I've told them to learn and it takes learning to a whole new level - a much higher level.
In defence of unschooling is "stupid"..........
To be fair, an unschooler saying they let their children do what ever they want does at first, sound crazy. However, what others imagine this to look like is usually incorrect. Unschooling doesn't mean letting kids do whatever they want whenever they want with no rules, structure or discipline - it means trusting that children learn quite naturally and organically at certain stages of development and are capable of directing their learning much in the same way as educational philosophies like Montessori and Reggio Emilio (that many wealthy private schools use in early learning) do.
Although homeschooling is still taboo, the figures show that more parents are considering alternatives to mainstream education through schools such as Montessori. These schools often take a more child-directed approach to learning which appeals to parents. This is exactly what many homeschoolers and unschoolers are doing.
In defence of unschooling is "irresponsible"........
In order to see alternative education as irresponsible we must believe that a mainstream education is the only way to learn and that without it children will fail.
Unschooling doesn't provide a child with a perfect education - but neither does mainstream school or any school option for that matter. Unschooling (with perhaps the exception of radical unschooling) simply take a different approach to learning that supports a childs innate desire to learn about the world around them. Unschooled children are not being ignored or left to play video games all day - they have committed parents who are strongly connected with them and their learning needs. If they want to learn an instrument then a parent will faciliate that by finding a teacher, if they have a question about crocodiles then the parent is there to answer it, if they want to play basketball then the parent finds them a team. Unschooling is only irresponsible if the parent is completely disconnected or absent from the child.
In defence of "Parents should be parents not educators.."
It seems a commonly held belief that parents are useless once the child turns 5 when they go to school to be educated by experts.
Well, guess what? I'm the expert on my child. I'm not the expert on year 12 physics but right now, I don't have to be. I know that one of my children is beautifully creative and that he is easily discouraged. I know he likes to 'think' in peace and quiet and that he absolutely loves numbers. He is strong-willed and fiercely independent. I know my other child has an amazing ability to memorize facts. In fact, he likes memorizing things! Just this week he told me he knew the name of every current player in the AFL (football) and guess what, he does! Now...just to channel that brain power in to something more useful... :)
As parents we shouldn't doubt the call on our lives to teach our children as they are ours for a reason. We are the ones chosen to impart love, wisdom and guidance to these precious little people. This is not a responsibility we should be coerced into delegating to complete strangers under the guise they are better of with the 'experts'. We need to regain confidence in our ability as parents to create a valuable, stimulating learning experience at home for our children.
Unschooling, like homeschooling, will always be a subject of division as we battle our often pig-headed opinions toward what learning and education should look like.