Last week I took Ronin and Drayken to a special class here in the Boro. It's for preschoolers and because Hunter is a big kid, I had never wanted to drag him in there for fear he'd be bored so we just never went. Well, I tried to strike up conversation with a couple of the moms. One of them asked me if I homeschooled and I said yes. And the other mom was a homeschooler too. Because of a comment the mom made regarding co-ops and how they are too rigid, I stated that I am actually an unschooler and yet I loved my co-op. She proceeds to tell the other mom (who is inquiring about homeschooling and who has never heard of unschooling) that I educate my kids WAY differently than she does and that I would never use a curriculum. I interrupted her right there. I said that I do in fact use curriculum. The difference between me and her was that I chose the curriculum with my kids, we do it whenever they want to do it and if we've decided together to do, let's say, Math U See the next morning but something else comes up (be it a chance to play with friends, take a neat field trip, or play an important video game) then we will simply just drop the books in favor of something else. Ain't no big deal. She informed me that we aren't unschoolers then and instead we are relaxed homeschoolers.
So because we use something in our home that is otherwise referred to as curriculum (but to me I just call it a frickin' book) then we aren't unschoolers? That makes no sense. To me unschooling is about control. I don't take control away from my kids. They get to pick when and how they learn. If they pick a curriculum, is that not still valid unschooling? If they ask me to get out math so that they can work on it, doesn't that qualify as child-led? I don't get it.
Look at it this way.
What if my husband and I decided together to read a book about marriage and meet up once a week to do a workbook together? Would that mean that my husband was "schooling" me? No, it would mean that we are in a relationship. What if my husband read a great book about, oh let's say, nutrition? And he came to me and said, "Mandy, you just have to read this book." And then I did. Does that mean he's schooling me? No, it means he's a friend sharing something with me and I valued his opinion. My children and I are in a relationship with one another. Sometimes that means we watch tv. Sometimes we take walks at the park. Sometimes we get out certain books and do things in those books together. Some of those books might be called curriculum. Does using curriculum make us schoolers? I think not. I think it makes us resourceful, interested learners who find something nonthreatening and valuable in "schoolish" materials.
So don't tell me I'm not an unschooler or maybe next time I'll tell you what you are not. Like, um, nice?