The homeschooling movement in the US seems to be growing as more schools offer online teaching. There seems to be a long tradition of not trusting state run institutions and in many states parents can opt to keep their children at home. In Europe this phenomenon has not made much of an impact since the whole concept of keeping children out of school is illegal in many countries, including here in Sweden.
However I was not aware of a an extreme variation on homeschooling called unschooling until I came across an article about it in the Baltimore Sun, From home schooling to unschooling. Homeschooling is still based on a curriculum decided by a school with most teaching and learning being on-line. Unschooling, on the other hand, opts out of even that connection with the education system. Here it's the parents who are completely responsible for their children's education. Parents take their children on outdoor excursions, involve the kids in all aspects of housework and gardening and generally encoursge the kids to learn what they want at their own pace.
To succeed with unschooling parents have to be highly capable in child psychology, pedagogy and management and most importantly should not have regular employment that takes them away from their kids for long. It sounds very idyllic in the article and reminds me of the education principles within varoius hippy communities in the late sixties. The children, however, will be seriously deprived of learning how to interact with others and will probably not be exposed to opinions and information that their parents do not agree with. The potential for indoctrination is very high and I would guess that one main reason for choosing unschooling is that the parents consider the school system in some way dangerous and do not want their children to be exposed to the "wrong" ideology.
As ever, there are elements of this style of education that are appealing; encouraging curiosity, breaking out of the restraints of the classroom, integrating learning and living. However when looking at the typical daily routine of unschooling as desrcibed at the end of the article I would say it closely resembles a pretty normal Saturday or Sunday routine for many regular families. The key to an all-round education is the combination of learning in different environments (school, home, outdoors) with a wide variety of people (family, friends, class, self study) and with a variety of activities (discussion, reading, instruction, work, experimentation). Cutting off any of these components is deprivation and the unschooling principle seems to me to be lacking in several key learning activities.
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