Unschooling is an educational method that replaces formal teaching with individualized learning through curiosity-driven experiences. It’s estimated that as many as 13 per cent of home-schooled children learn through unschooling.
Unschooling is the idea that children can direct their own learning, at their own pace, without the rigid structures of formal education. Instead of following curricula, students are given a supportive setting that fosters their natural curiosity about the world.
It’s believed that this curiosity can develop into formal learning, even without formal schooling- hence the term “unschooling.”
The idea behind unschooling was first coined by American educator John Holt in 1977, with the released of his magazine, Growing Without Schooling (GWS). This publication focused on how children can effectively learn outside of a school setting through homeschooling and unschooling.
Holt produced many other professional works on non-traditional education, and his voice is widely revered in the home-schooling community.
How does it function?
The way in which a child learns is largely determined by their personality type and learning style. In a traditional classroom, personality and learning type are not always considered when the instructor is teaching. For example, a visual learner may be at a disadvantage if the teacher uses an auditory teaching style.
Unschooling promotes individualized learning by allowing the learner to make their own choices regarding what and how they learn. The role of the parent is to provide the learner with an environment that fosters their natural curiosity. This may involve providing activities and support that help develop this curiosity into learning new things.
Generally, parents who choose to unschool take a more hands-off approach. For example, unschooling doesn’t rely on workbooks or textbooks. Instead, learners may choose to use any of the following methods to find new information:
There are no tests or grades to measure competency. There are no deadlines or goals set by the teacher. Any personal goals are decided on by the learner and are worked on at their own pace. With unschooling, the learner continues to learn naturally through interactions in their everyday life.
Homeschooling vs Unschooling
To put it in a nutshell, Unschooling is dictated by the child's interests and is less structured than is homeschooling. Homeschoolers are guided by state and national standards- parents plan lessons, assign homework, and grade assignments. Unschooling is whatever the student wants it to be!
Is unschooling or homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in USA. However, each state has different laws regarding what type of structure is required when homeschooling your child. If these requirements are not met, you may be reported to the state for educational neglect.
Most states require parents to teach specific state-mandated subjects, use written curricula, and keep detailed records. While unschooling is not necessarily illegal, the relaxed approach may make it difficult to meet legal mandates.
Home Schooling is not widespread in India, but it has been gaining importance in recent years in metropolitan areas, especially Bangalore, Pune, and Mumbai. At present, homeschooling is not regulated by any of the government authorities. As a result, homeschoolers do not have to be registered with any of the present government agencies or authorities. Homeschoolers usually follow the CBSEC curriculum or curriculum of their respective states. Children who are homeschooled can appear for board examination conducted by NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) after the age of 14 years or IGCSE International General Certificate of Secondary Education) examination, which is an internationally recognized qualification for secondary students.
With the advent of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, there has been rising confusion among homeschooling parents.