Darn you, unschooling. I wish you never existed.
You’re a misnomer and you’re terribly misunderstood. You send incorrect messages and just confuse people. From what I can tell, hardly anybody understands you. Except for your close friends, people don’t really seem to like you, either.
It’s not your fault. In fact, it’s not about you at all. You inherited this problem. It was a good idea at the time. But times have changed. Nobody meant to hurt you or anything…it just, kinda…happened.
I’ll get right to the point…((deep breath))…it’s your name. I mean, unschooling? It’s so wrong. I’m sorry, but your name just makes a big mess of everything. You might as well call youself nonschooling for gosh sakes. I mean, that’s what a lot of people think you are anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I know what you’re doing, and I really, really, really like you for it. Really I do. But not everybody “gets” you the way I do. Did you ever think about that? I think that’s why you’re always getting yourself in trouble on TV and everywhere. I mean, you’re already a little bit hard for most people to understand. And then — with that name – it just makes things even worse.
Plus — and I don’t mean to be selfish or anything – but having you in the same room as homeschoolers gets everybody gets all worked up about what I do, too. So, really, you’re not just harming yourself. By association, you’re kinda hurting me, too.
See, here’s the thing. To most people, unschooler means NO SCHOOL. As in, THE OPPOSITE OF school. You know, like un- anything. And that wouldn’t be so bad if that’s all it was. So, you don’t like school. People could probably handle that.
But the problem is, that most people think that no school equals NO LEARNING, too. There’s the problem. It doesn’t send the right message. So now, if you keep that name, you’ve got everybody all mixed up, thinking unschoolers aren’t going to school so they’re automatically not learning. Get it?
So I have a plan. I notice other people use terms like child-led, interest-led and curiosity-driven to describe what you do. Those are kinda nice words, don’t you think? I mean, they’re sweet and cute, they’re positive and upbeat, and — most importantly – they definitely imply learning. Don’t you think?
So, I’m thinking we stop calling you unschooling. Since that’s not really what you are anyway. And instead, we start calling you by some other name. I personally like interest-led the best, but I can even come up with a few more if you don’t like those. In fact, I scribbled out a list the other day. Here it is so far:
- Freedom to learn
- Learning without boundaries
- Learning when I’m ready
- Learning because I want to
- Researching stuff I want to know
- Loving to learn
- Doing my thing
- Cultivating my skills and talents
- Living my real life
- Learning as I go
I know a lot of those don’t sound like real names and they aren’t really official or anything, but maybe it can help you pick the one you like best. The thing I liked about my list was that it kinda makes every child seem like an unschooler in a way, doesn’t it? Heck, by those definitions, probably every human is an unschooler, too.
Bottom line, we seriously need to change your image. You’re not helping yourself by holding on to ancient history. Plus, you’re bringing me down along with you. Give it some thought would you? And if you come up with any better names, would you add them to my COMMENTs, too?
Author’s note added 17 October 2012: This post is about the term ‘unschooling’ — the word itself – and is not an opinion nor a commentary on unschooling itself or those who consider themselves unschoolers. The message is about public perception, image and home education PR. Click the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ tag, the ‘unschooling’ tag, or others to find additional posts of this kind, should you be inclined to continue reading. For the reader’s information, unschooling is legal and practiced in all 50 states, and around the world. ‘Natural Learning’ (just another term) has occurred since the beginning of mankind, and is as fundamental a trademark of being human as are other natural behaviors. Perhaps the only ‘problem’ with unschooling is its name, if this is indeed a problem, as the benefits and outcomes of unschooling have been amply demonstrated and are evidenced daily by the grown children raised in unschooling families. As with everything homeschooling/unschooling/anyschooling, however, there is no universal best choice. Readers are encouraged to choose the lifestyle that works best for them.