Kids Don't Need School To Learn

Kids Don't Need School To Learn

I’ve recently been thinking about schooling options for my daughter, Abigail. She’s only two years old, but I can tell that she’s already learning so much. It seems like every day there is some new word or phrase that she’s picked up. It’s fun to watch how interested she is in learning, and I want to be able to help cultivate and grow that desire.

My wife and I decided long before we even had kids that they would never set foot in a government school. Weapons of Mass Instruction and The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto opened our eyes to the insidious roots of public schooling in America. Men like John Dewey and Horace Mann envisioned public school to produce a docile and pliable populous and thus an easily managed workforce. The public “education” system is one where the state is idolized, and individualism, religion, and reason are scorned and rejected. There’s no way my children will ever be a part of that. We knew that our choices were limited to private or homeschooling.

My research lately has caused me to doubt the efficacy of the traditional schooling model, even in a private setting. Requiring children to keep rigorous schedules and strict curriculum and coursework can suck the desire for knowledge right out of them. Children naturally seek to learn and discover new things, but when we try to force on them some arbitrary framework of what we think they should know we begin to destroy that natural curiosity.

Unschooling is a term I’ve heard mentioned many times in the past, but I’ve never really looked into the ideas behind it until now. I’ve learned that it could just as easily be described as life-long learning because there is no set ending point. You try to structure the education experience to be in line with the regular routines of life. As children live and grow, their interests determine what they learn, and so they never really stop learning. This serves to concretize the learning process and motivates them to pursue what they find inspiring. Of course, parents still play a role, but it’s more supportive, helping them when needed but letting them choose the direction.