20 June 2011

unschool monday :: what's in a name?


Big owlet's just understood what unschooling is all about. She understands that there are all different types of home based education. She gets now that some kids go to school, some kids do school at home and some unschool.


I explained it to her about a week ago and asked her the other day what her understanding of unschooling was. She said "Its when you learn what you want, in your undies!" Not far off actually, for most days around our nest...


A little later, I heard her explain to a colleague of Huz's, "I don't go to school... No, I don't homeschool either. I'm unschooled!" Her definition of it is now "when you do what you want to, and you learn all about it". So, yeah, she gets it now.


The term "unschooling" was coined in the 1970's by John Holt. We're actually not that enamoured with the term, because what we do is not necessarily the opposite of school. It seems a little reactionary and not descriptive of our approach to learning... which is just living, I suppose. Actually, it's kind of family learning, because we all learn LOTS. It is also child led, and natural learning and life learning... Anyhoo, we use unschooling to describe it because that seems to be what the majority of people who adopt this approach to learning tend to call it. It makes things easier.


Discussing our approach with big owlet, and giving it a label, seems to have helped her understand what it is that we do just a little better. She understands just how lucky she is to learn in her own time, in her own way and indulge in her interests... in her undies, if she chooses.


  1. I think her definition of unschooling is my favourite one yet!

  2. If everyone were free to learn what they want in their undies - the world would be a much happier and productive place! I think the late great John Holt would appreciate big owlet's definition!

  3. My 10 yo and 7 yo understand pretty well now that we're unschooling and how it's different. I heard them explaining it to a classically homeschooled little girl at our church. I'm pretty sure she was mad jealous. ;)

  4. Just found your lovley blog through "Bona fide Life"
    I've been pondering what unschooling means to our family lately.
    "Its when you learn what you want, in your undies!"
    Sounds much like our home learning style ;)

  5. that definition should go down in history, so poignant :)


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