My Unschooling Experiment
While many families are busy with back-to-school preparations, my family is getting ready for our first year of full-time homeschooling. But it’s not your typical idea of homeschooling.
Instead of early morning wake ups, we’ll be sleeping in.
Instead of a set curriculum, we’ll be following our interests.
Instead of a schedule dividing subjects into periods, we’ll be exploring topics for as long as time allows.
Instead of grades and tests to meet standards, we will focus on each child’s growing ability.
I’m calling it The Year of the Untigering Mom, my year of experimenting with unschooling.
What is Unschooling
Unschooling is self-directed learning. It’s an educational philosophy that is built on the belief that all children are natural learners. Because of their innate curiosity, children thrive best when given a nurturing environment with the freedom to explore and play through activities that they initiate themselves. Unschooling is learning that is
“有没有搞错啊?!” Are you kidding me?!
The typical Chinese parent views education very differently. Learning is not “natural,” but learned. It can only be achieved through intentional study and hard work. The child is seen as unmotivated and undisciplined, needing constant poking and prodding (or worse) in order to move along. The parents know best and determine for the child what to study, what activities to be involved in, and perhaps even what major to choose in college. Instead of a rejection of standardized benchmarks, the child is expected to excel at and exceed them. Joy is not in the picture. The more it hurts, the better it is for you.
So what does that mean for me to be a Chinese American unschooler? Is it possible for me to somehow reconcile these two seemingly conflicting value systems?
There’s so much about unschooling that I resonate with—the respect of each child’s individuality and interests, the trust in their innate ability and curiosity, and the environment of freedom to learn through the world and real-life experiences.
But as a Chinese parent, I also believe in hard work, perseverance, and parental guidance, even when the child finds it painful. I don’t want my kids to turn out as drifters or bums, unsure of their place or contribution in this world. I still value “success,” respect of elders, and consideration of other people’s desires, not just one’s own.
This year will be an experiment in seeing if these values can actually be compatible.
Is my Asianness at odds with unschooling? Or can it inform the way I unschool?
Do I have to denounce my Chinese culture and become an Asian hippie? Or can I reframe and expand my understanding of my cultural values?
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Stay tuned for more updates on my unschooling adventure!
What questions, fears, or objections do you have about unschooling?