So, we’re just over a couple of months into home ed. If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know that I’ve been sponging up information from anywhere and everywhere about autonomous education. I’m now au fait with numerous terms and ideas that, 2 months ago, I’d never even heard of or would have believed were real words! The idea that people drive their own learning is something that appeals to my sensibilities so I figured that unschooling would be a breeze. Turns out that’s not the case. Letting go of school, and all the attitudes that go with it, is much harder than I imagined it would be. Philosophically, I was on board with autonomous education from the get go yet at the same time I was trawling blogs and websites to find out what an unschooling life looked like. On the one hand, I rejected the idea of any kind of schedule based on the principle that learning should not be coerced yet on the other I was searching for a guide to unschooling for dummies. ”Tell me what to do! Give me rules!” I seemed to be shouting, knowing that that would be counter-productive to autonomous education.
As it happens, going through that process – deschooling, as it’s called – has been absolutely necessary. We’ve not completely found our groove yet, but we are in a much more relaxed state and that is far more conducive to learning than any timetable has proven to be for us. We go with the flow. By reading about others’ approach to unschooling and their thinking about what works, I’ve learned to be selective: picking and choosing what works for our family; figuring out, through trial and error; mulling things over for a few days before adopting them or rejecting them.
It’s mostly been an enjoyable learning curve, however there was one aspect that bugged me. I found some people out there seem to believe that there is only one way to unschool: that there is a prescription, a checklist and if you don’t tick the boxes you are not implementing unschooling. Purists, I would say. Now, I’m all for sharing ideas, thoughts and suggestions on how to help our children learn in the best way possible but what works for one child will not necessarily work for another, as with families. However, I don’t think adopting a one-way-only attitude helps anybody. This little piece sums it up.
So I reiterate my point in an earlier post – trust your instincts. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that. Don’t simply follow somebody else’s method of autonomous education. Find your own way. And, most importantly, let your children guide you.
*I use the terms ‘unschooling’ and ‘autonomous education’ interchangeably as they mean the same thing and sometimes one or the other fits better with the flow of my writing.
**I also use the above terms as a way of categorizing the approach to home education that is closest to the approach in our home but that does not mean we follow any kind of philosophy to the letter. The very nature of this post advocates finding my own way to support my children in being as free and inspired as I possibly can.