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Why Choose Unschooling?

"A person's freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech."
- John Holt

Why did you choose unschooling rather than some other form of homeschooling?

I always knew that the way "everybody" lived didn't feel right to me. I used to imagine that, when I grew up, I would live on an island with my family. From a very young age I struggled to understand what life really meant. As I grew, I came up with some answers. Life for me is truly feeling the earth underneath me and seeing the things around me. It is enjoying every moment with the people I love. It is making another person smile. It is thinking and dreaming, feeling pain and feeling joy.

When Dagny was a baby, I started to ask myself new questions. Does it matter if we know our multiplication tables? Is accumulation of knowledge the goal of life? Should there be a goal of life? Why should we spend her childhood apart from each other when we both want so much to be together? Can we step off the well-worn path and find our own way?

When I learned that unschooling was a possibility, I was thrilled that we could continue to live as we had been since Dagny was born. I found the answers to my questions, which in reality I had known all along. Children belong with their families. Nothing is more important than living in connection with the ones you love and sharing life's experiences. We can't help but learn as we live full and interesting lives together.

When we rejected the kind of life that comes with a roadmap, we were able to question what it was we wanted from our lives and to determine what we do not want. We want joy. We want to know that we lived consciously and in the moment. We do not want to mold our children. We want them to have the freedom to choose their lives. We do not want to ever feel that we wasted time we could have spent together.

Our major reasons for unschooling have nothing to do with academics, but of course there are reasons we choose not to teach our children. We believe that children (humans) seek out knowledge in the same way they seek out fun or food, and we believe that adults can do a lot to interfere with that desire to learn. We don't believe that repetition is necessary or that there is a list of things that every person needs to know. We believe that turning the relationship of parent and child into a relationship between teacher and student is detrimental. We want our children to own their learning and to learn for their own reasons, not to please a teacher.

Jon and I have determined what it is we live by, what matters, and what does not. It has evolved and will continue to evolve as we face new challenges and joys in our lives. We want to choose the lives we lead, and we want our children to have the opportunity to do the same.

Ultimately I'd say that the reason we choose to unschool is because we want our children to be truly free.

Excerpted with permission of the author from Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life.
Rue Kream is living happily ever after with her husband, Jon, and two children, Rowan and Dagny. She is a passionate advocate of unschooling and respectful parenting.