Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't tell me I don't unschool

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.

Excuse me.

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?


  1. Yeah. I definitely think you can use books/curriculum materials, and still call yourself an unschooler.

    I think it's LESS unschooling when parents refuse to let children use such materials.

    Unschooling is letting children learn the way they want to learn.

  2. The thing is Mandy, people can suck. They think they have the right to say whatever they want to you. Dont let some uppity homeschooler boil your blood. You are doing for your children the BEST for your children and are damn good at it. Love ya girl.

  3. Hi, I read your post on Un-Schooling and think that whomever that lady was needs to do some more research before she starts casting out who someone is and how they live. Next, I would like to say that although this makes you upset you should always do what is best for your children. I actually homeschool myself and we just use a mix of things, this is our first year so I didnt buy a huge curricula to use however I plan to next year buy another mix of things including math u see and handwriting without tears etc...I think children all learn differently and some parents that do homeschool are a bit harsh about their days and how much "work" the kids have to do! I feel worse for the lady inquiring about homeschooling...she must have left with mixed emotions on the subject! Either way you handled it well and maybe you should print off the definition of un-schooling and next time it comes up just hand out a card(: hope you have a blessed day! great blog!

  4. People and their big opinionated mouths. *sigh* Like they can know what you do in your home before they ask! Like there's only one way to unschool!!

    I don't claim the label anymore, for simplicity's sake, but I think you have every right to. I think you're an awesome unschooler who takes every opportunity to feed your children's minds and hearts well!

    I am praying for Hunter and your whole family as you wait for healing! (((hugs))))

  5. GEEZ...sometimes mom's can be so harsh! I will tell you, that is the very reason it is hard for me to find other mothers to hang out with. What preschool class was it? We should meet up whenever things are good for you guys! Always keeping you guys in my thoughts...

  6. The labelling obsession in homeschooling is so crazy. I always feel like I have to explain and qualify which kinds of unschoolers/homeschoolers we are and which we aren't. Frustrating!

  7. I often say we use curriculum, not follow it. Likewise, I provide curricular materials, not assign them.

  8. Very annoying- but don't take the labels too seriously (as that rude woman seems too). Continue to do what is best for your family. "unSCHOOLing" for my family means that we do not pattern in any way what a traditional school does. That does not mean I can't have a predictable rhythm to our days and that does not mean that we can't use any book we choose to...even a curriculum. The difference is that we rule those things, they don't control us.


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