There are so many definitions to unschooling. You can find them everywhere and they all do a perfectly fine job of explaining unschooling.
And yet, knowing full well how to define unschooling, I’m still not happy explaining it.
Because most definitions describe unschooling as a movement, a form of education or a belief on how we raise children. Our short answer usually sounds a bit like this:
Unschooling is hands-on, experience-based and interest-led learning. The world is our classroom and everything in it our curricula.
Oh, but it’s so much more than that!
That answer really only describes how our child learns. It doesn’t describe how we live, how we view the world around us, how we strive to treat one another or parent organically or what any of this looks like.
Unschooling As A Life Philosophy
We believe in unschooling as a whole life philosophy, not only a method of parenting or a view of the natural learning process.
It’s a method of living; how we view and approach life. We unschool ourselves, our relationships, our jobs…recently I’ve even begun unschooling my body. And it’s radically changed (and still changing) our lives.
To us unschooling is not only about our children, it’s about all of us. It’s about our life.
Unschooling your whole life means…
- Seeing no division between child and adult, regardless of ability or experience. All should be treated with the same equal respect and consideration.
- Trusting all people of all ages are natural learners, born with an innate curiosity and an earnest desire to learn, even if it requires a bit of excavating for some of us to rediscover.
- Knowing that all people are inherently good. A learning curve on societal rules or boundaries, or a personal struggle due to past history does not make them “bad”. We all do the best we can with the tools we have.
- Thinking all people, regardless of age, have a purpose and that that purpose may seldom, or often, or never, change. And the best determiner of that purpose is the person in question.
- Believing in the wildly passionate pursuit of interests, supporting those interests wholeheartedly, and trusting when an interest fades.
- Disbelieving that interests are only valid if they come with monetary or status gain. We do things for the love of what we do and trust how our needs are always met.
- Not condoning the subjugation, squashing or criticism of individuality or diversity. We allow for difference of opinion, we see the underlying needs of others and we validate their particular experience.
- Not creating division between various subjects or activities. All of life flows in and out of all of life. The subject of “math” doesn’t exist but we find numbers and patterns in everything.
- Adamantly disagreeing that life should consist of unenjoyable work, that we should always follow all the rules or do things the same way everyone else does them. Feverishly questioning anything that tells us otherwise.
- Trusting in ourselves first, each other next and all others last.
- Respecting the boundaries of others and ourselves.
- Taking responsibility for our choices and our life. It’s all about authenticity and empowerment.
- Seeking our own life and not settling for someone else’s. Supporting others who do the same.
- Building off our individual interests, creating a rich, diverse and engaging environment in which we can all thrive equally.
- Respecting one another’s personal Truths or choices. But drawing definitive lines where the boundaries of another are being crossed.
- Standing up for the little guy, especially the one without their own voice.
- Knowing that life is good. Messy. Imperfect. Wonderful. Sometimes heart-wrenching. And loving it anyway.
How can you possibly explain all that in one short answer? It’s impossible to describe what this looks like when someone asks. Because unschooling is just life and although you can define life and you can explain it, it’s still something that must be seen and experienced to fully understand.