Unschoolers Reclaiming Homeschooling Term

I’ve thought a lot about all the terms for homeschooling: unschooling, worldschooling, self-education, life learning, autodidact,  etc. I just read a post defending the term “unschooling”. Idzie’s a grown unschooler from Montreal who has a very cool blog called I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. She  makes some very interesting points in this post.

When I left school at 15 and started homeschooling I really insisted on using the term “unschooling”. I wanted everyone to know what I was doing was completely different than school. When people hear homeschooling they often think of kids sitting around the kitchen table doing worksheets with teacher Mom, a.k.a. “school at home”.

That was completely different from what I was doing: following my own passions teaching myself or at least directing who and what I would learn from, a.k.a. “unschooling”.

But over the years I’ve had mixed feelings about the term unschooling because as Idzie notes: “[Unschoolers who have issues with the term unschooling] say it’s too negative, or that it’s still using school to define their learning journey. Many unschoolers also say that they prefer to describe unschooling in a positive way to people, explaining what they do instead of what they don’t do.”

That was part of my motivation for coining the term “worldschooling”: I figured the whole world is my school. It’s descriptive and positive.

Still, Idzie, points out most people assume you still do all the school stuff in addition to learning from the world unless you say “unschooling”. Once you’ve indicated all the things you don’t do, you can then get into the things you do do.

I think it’s a good and realistic point.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the term homeschooling in reference to my term worldshooling: if worldschooling means the world is my school, then homeschooling could just mean my home is my school.

Then one could explain, “That doesn’t mean just my house is my school, that means everything that’s around me family, friends, libraries, parks, stores, markets, etc.”And that’s the truth: all homeschoolers learn and use resources from all around them.

Since everyone knows the term homeschooling and it is the legal term it is nice to be able to use it proudly by reclaiming and redefining it.

Then we can use whatever words and terms we like or find helpful in defining how we live and educate ourselves.

I love words!




Filed under homeschooling, unschooling, words, worldschooling

7 responses to “Unschoolers Reclaiming Homeschooling Term

  1. Cheryl

    I tweeted this, but I’ll say it here, too. To me, “schooling” is something that’s done to you. “Unschooling” says that you want to make your own choices. It may be a negative word, but it’s a positive action: An insistence on freedom.

    • Thank you for saying this here too. Unschooling is definitely an insistence on freedom and a very positive thing. I’ve had mixed feelings at times, but I’m definitely for the term overall.

      Here I’m just empowering us to also use “homeschooling” with pride.

      I actually agree that “school”, including homeschool and worldschool, is done to you, in some ways. The point is what kind of home or world is schooling you and how you are working with it and changing it.

      When we acknowledge the role and the power of our environment (for GOOD and BAD) on our lives I think that’s what really gives us the ability to choose what we truly want.

      I hope that makes sense! I’m gonna write a post explaining more of this soon.

  2. Whatever the term, please give an example of an unschooled day when you were in your teens. I’d love to read a full description.

  3. Mark Mathis

    This our third year of homeschool. I much prefer the term Worldschool, we learn something new from the world we live in everyday. It makes more sense to call it Worldschool. The public school system has fallen apart, and there is no hope in sight. I quit school in 1976 at age 16, I stopped going to school in 1975 at age 15 when busing started in Louisville, KY. I would say I gained most of my knowledge through world experience and because I wanted to learn. My parents were not well educated, so I wasn’t taught at home. My wife and I put 2 daughters through public school and we watched the decline. Our 10 year old will be Worldschooled and she is well above the 5th grade level where she would be in public school.

  4. Sarah

    Thank you for another perspective. I wish I didn’t have to label what we do at all. When you say the word “unschool” it seems to me that people immediately dismiss anything else that comes out of your mouth. They start formulating reasons and replies to come back at anything you say. I’ve tried to explain that we don’t “school” we “learn” but with no luck. Mainly I get negative feedback from my explanation, but then my daughter who is 10 opens her mouth and people can’t help but be impressed 🙂 Or my son who is 4 demonstrates that he can count to 100 and actually even higher, or my 2 year old starts singing the alphabet or counting…I didn’t set them down and “teach” these things, they learned from asking questions and from each other. I’m sure I’ve helped it along, because of my own natural curiosity, but that is all. Math is my one hang-up in unschooling. I can’t help but worry that they will miss out on some things if I don’t teach them, but I think that is simply a byproduct of my own formal education.

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