…you say ‘Unschooling’, I say ‘Autonomous Education’. Doesn’t have the same ring to it but hopefully the analogy resonates with you in some way. ‘Unschooling’ is the US version of the UK’s preferred ‘autonomous education’. The two terms describe the same approach to home education and although I find the american version lends itself to my natural laziness (it takes much less effort to say – and type), the tiny patriot in me (who sounds remarkably like my ever-so-fiercely-English dad) won’t allow me to commit such an act of treason as to use an ‘americanism’ over the UK’s tongue twister.
For those of you familiar with an autonomous approach to education, I won’t attempt to bore you nor embarrass myself with amateur attempts to explain the philosophy. For those of you who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, here is a list of links you can click so that you can gain some sort of understanding about what autonomous education entails, from a more expert source than this blog. For those of you who neither know what the term means nor can muster the energy to click the links, a very basic explanation for autonomous education would be informal learning.
The girls and I have been deschooling (taking time to adjust to an informal learning setting) for just over a month. For them this has meant acclimatising to the removal of school structures, expectations and pressures – so far, so good. In short, they’re having a ball. For me it has been a somewhat more testing process. I have been reading almost constantly; questioning every reaction I have about what the girls are learning, what they ought to be learning and whether or not this should even be of any concern to me; analysing and challenging my own views about education and learning; and discovering a whole world of home educating families, groups, facebook pages, blogs, books… In short, I, too, am having a ball.
Here are some of the things we’ve been up to…
Playing in the snow, making grated cheese sandwiches, riding bikes may seem like everyday activities because, well, they are! Learning isn’t confined to a classroom: people are constantly learning from what is relevant to them and what excites them. I’ve found that those who excel at something do so out of necessity or passion (the latter being the greater driving force of the two). I believe my children will gain the skills and knowledge to a) function successfully in society and b) live happy, fulfilled lives through indulging their curiosity; pursuing their interests; and making choices. In other words through, simply, living.