Education Week has published an article about unschooling, ‘Unschooling’ Stresses Curiosity More Than Traditional Academic by Michelle R. Davis. You may have to have a membership to sign in (it is free) to read the December 20th report, but it is worth taking the time to register.
Ms. Davis first tells us about Nicole Pucket’s family of Washington state:
On a typical day, Ms. Puckett’s childrenwho range in age from 4 to 17 and have never gone to a traditional school might watch a few hours of television, read the Bible, amuse themselves with video games, play with their siblings, practice the violin, or learn Russian. On many days, they’re out of the house visiting museums, going to concerts, or attending theatrical plays.“I believe that each child is gifted, but each has different gifts,” said Ms. Puckett, who sees it as her job to help facilitate the learning that her children choose. “When I see them veering toward something, I guide them toward it. If they’re showing no interest, then we don’t do it.”
This child-led method of home schooling means that what children do during a typical school day is entirely up to them. In an era of increased standardized testing, top-down curricula, and the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, unschooling is attractive to some parents, who say learning should be a more organic, curiosity-inspired exercise. Advocates say it allows children to become passionate about, and invested in, their own learning.
Ms. Davis also addresses some of unschooling’s critics. Here is just one:
But critics, including some of those who opt for more-structured home schooling and proponents of “child centered” classrooms in regular schools, say that there are risks involved, and that learning deficits can result from letting children basically learn whatever they want. Nel Noddings, an education professor emeritus at Stanford University, describes herself as an advocate of child-centered education when it is done right. But she said unschooling raises many questions of concern.
You can also listen to an interview Ms. Davis conducted with Jane Powell, a Bowie, Md. unschooler.
All in all I think it is a fair report.
Posted by Mary