The Unschool

What is an unschool? A form of education that is totally based around a childs interest in learning. The belief is that a child will naturally learn what they need as they need it.

These students do not seem to 'do school' at all. But in reality much is being learned in a natural way. With strong parental involvement and encouragement a child will educate himself.


  • Follows natural stages of growth.
  • There is little preplanning involved
  • Takes advantage of a students interests. If you child's is interested he will retain much more information.
  • Can create self learners and life long learners.


  • May neglect some subjects.
  • Is totally child centered. (whether this is a con is debatable)
  • It is hard to quantify learning
  • It is hard to explain to others.

My thoughts.

Many families are what I would call relaxed or use an identity based type of teaching. I believe there is a difference here.

It seems a true unschooler would not enforce any kind of learning... they would encourage learning in all areas of need. This would be done in such a way that the student would naturally desire to learn what he needs for life.... it is the deciding what areas are needed that may pose the differences of opinion.

This quote from John Holt explains this well. John Holt is often thought of as the father of the unschool movement.

Since we can't know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.

Done correctly, I can see how this would be very effective. Ideally it would be wonderful if our children naturally wanted to learn everything they will need in life.... However I just can't help but wonder if this is realistic. Maybe for some children it is. In my experience my children need to be given certain courses of study... whether they want it or not.

If you have insights to add, contact me. I'd love to hear your experiences to share.

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