When my son was born, I was enthralled with the idea of homeschooling. I read a ton of books about the benefits of homeschooling, the different methodologies, the issues and the like. I loved the concept of a classical education and the idea that content could be catered to a child's interests and focus. Needless to say, I was more interested in secular homeschooling and I was happy to see a lot of support in our area for that (groups and the like), including support programs in our public schools for homeschoolers.
All that said, our children go to public school. It all came down to a few things (without going into too much detail): personality and loss of income. However, we are lucky in that our public elementary school uses some of the curriculum that I would use at home - Saxon and Singapore Math and Junior Great Books for reading. They are able to provide an environment that I certainly couldn't do on my own, as well as services they need.
But, one thing I never could wrap my brain around was the concept of unschooling. Basically, unschooling is centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play and social interaction rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. All of this is facilitated by adults.
I really like the theory behind unschooling, but I don't believe that children would learn everything that I personally think is important to be able to make certain life choices later. In other words, it doesn't provide them with the toolset to do certain things as an adult. I wouldn't want to restrict my children's ability to do anything they wanted to do later in life and that's what unschooling appears to do from my perspective. And, before any panties get twisted, I'm referring mainly to later career choices in math and hard sciences or anything that requires a significant foundation of knowledge.
Good Morning America just did a piece on unschooling. I got the impression they had an strong opinion about it before the interviews and were trying to confirm their pre-conceived ideas about it with the families they chose. They report that 150,000 kids in the U.S. are unschooled.
What do you think of unschooling? For those unschoolers out there, why did you choose unschooling instead of more "traditional" homeschooling? The families that GMA covers do radical unschooling which extends their unschooling ideas to their parenting and they have no rules. Is this common?
Photo by Tup Wanders. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tupwanders/83092660