In our discussion during Podcast #10 about education, I remarked that I don’t remember much, if anything, that I “learned” in school. As a matter of fact, most of what I know and use now, besides the basics, I learned after I graduated. It’s not because I was a bad student. I actually graduated with honors. It’s because, for the most part, I wasn’t learning, I was memorizing. If I learned anything, it was how to pass a test!
During the podcast, I brought up “unschooling,” which is a non-traditional philosophy of education. It’s also an easy idea to make fun of because the idea of not attending school regularly is ridiculous, right? That idea is mostly for religious zealots and militia members, right? Sometimes our conditioning gets the better of us and what is “normal” rarely gets questioned, and for the last couple hundred years, traditional schools have been what’s normal. Step outside and question why we do what we do and whether or not it is working.
Here is the definition of unschooling according to Wikipedia: “Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.”
Unschooling is not about foregoing education. It’s about recognizing that school and education are not necessarily one and the same. As a matter of fact, I would argue that traditional schooling methods (even homeschooling, which is frequently just traditional schooling done at home) often get in the way of a well-rounded education. Unschooling is not for everyone. However, the sooner it is looked at as a valid form of education, perhaps even a more effective form of education, the sooner people will begin to question how and why we school the way we do, and then perhaps change will come, because our school system needs it. Maybe we’ll stop raising so many mindless drones who memorize facts to get through the system, all the while learning very little and developing a disdain for “education” and losing the ability to learn.
Our discussion of this topic begins around the 39 minute mark…