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Friday, November 08, 2019

The “Unschooling” Movement Lets Kids Direct Their Learning—And Shocker, It Works | Culture - Parade

The other day I mentioned to my 6-year-old son that there was a rare tornado in New Jersey near where we live, which led to him asking tons of questions about tornados, which led to me answering those questions, which led to us watching videos of tornados and him asking a bunch more questions, continues Parade.

Photo: iStock
We talked about why they usually don’t form in New Jersey, and why they’re more common in the middle part of the country, which led to us looking at a map of the United States and talking about geography. 

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve been down one of these information rabbit holes with your children, too. And if so, here’s a surprise: You’ve unschooled your kid. 

What is unschooling? 
As with homeschooling, unschooled children don’t attend public school. Instead, education happens through kids’ natural curiosity and love of learning, with parent support but without a curriculum, lesson plans or tests. “Instead of sitting at a table with a textbook, we allow them to delve into their own interests in any way they can,” says photographer Philan Tokarz, who along with her photographer husband, Aaron, and three of their children ages 7, 9 and 11, have traveled the US in a “skoolie,” or rehabbed school bus, since June 2018. “Unschooling allows us to lead a life of travel and adventure as we see the country. They have seen many fascinating landscapes during this time and learned much about their surroundings and our earth.”...

But how do you know they’re really learning? 
Unschooling parents say they don’t need a test to tell them whether their kids are learning: They can see it with their own eyes. But it’s true that reimagining education in this way goes against commonly held beliefs about school. “Unschooling is a stripping down of everything the public education system has told us that learning ‘needs’ to be, and just allows us as parents to fully trust in our children’s capabilities as unique learners,” McDermott says.

It would be helpful if there was more robust scientific research on unschooling, but the national data just isn’t there—not to mention the near impossibility of testing children whose parents reject testing. But, Boston College professor and unschooling advocate Peter Gray conducted two surveys, one of 232 parents and one of 75 unschooled now-adults, and found that the vast majority of those reported positive outcomes, including 83 percent going on to college. In some ways, unschooling may actually prepare kids for college because of its focus on self-motivation and personal responsibility. 
Read more... 

Source: Parade