Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Explaining Unschooling to Strangers

Emily and I were at the dentist yesterday, and in between breaks while gouging between my teeth with a very pointy metal pick, the dental hygienist would ask me some questions, make small talk. She asked if Emily was on break--and had already asked if we still homeschool. So I said that, well, "We don't really take official breaks (cause we don't _need_ to), but yeah." And kind of let it go at that.

Then she asked, "how's that work?" I wasn't sure exactly what she was talking about (how does homeschooling work from a legal standpoint? what does the parent have to do? do you take official breaks, etc?), but I just said that we don't do text books or specific programs of study.

So then I had a brilliant (in my mind anyway) thought of how to explain it without explaining. :) I had started telling her that the kids learn about what they're interested in. THEN, I said, "They basically are doing independent study." I LOVED IT! Doesn't it just sound so easy when you put it that way? And nobody is going to really question what that means--I mean, independent study sounds so schooly, right? More like college I guess, than elementary/middle/high school stuff, but still. Ok, some people will ask for more information, but if they're really that interested, I don't mind going into more detail. But saying independent study sort of takes the parent-as-teacher out of the picture.

So, that's what I'm going to say from now on when I'm asked--we're unschoolers--and if they dig a little--they do independent study. :)

Ok, what do you guys say when you're asked??

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debra said...

Independent study: brilliant, Silvia!
A great answer. I used to say things like interest based learning, self directed learning. Once said that my daughters were quite young, I said that they were autodidacts.The woman who asked looked at me, perplexed. "Aren't they too young to drive?" she asked.

Magic and Mayhem said...

Just wandered in off a Twitter link and think it's brilliant too. :) What a great way to describe it!

bethgould said...

Silvia, I'm with Debra & Magic and Mayhem. Brilliant way to describe unschooling! We just started unschooling last week when I received my excusal letter from the school district, and before that my 16 yr old daughter had been enrolled in school online for a year. When she was not promoted to the next grade for the second time since middle school, I finally said "enough is enough"! Becca is way happier now, and I just wish I had researched unschooling years ago instead of just a couple weeks ago.

Last weekend we were doing Meals on Wheels with my mom, and she asked how her math class was going online, and other school-related questions. Becca looked at me in the rearview mirror with a very worried expression, so I told my mom that she was doing well, and Becca said the same. I've been nervous about telling family that Becca is now unschooling, not knowing how to explain because not one family member will have anything positive to say about their views on it. Now I'll tell them that she is doing independent study homeschooling, and doing very well!

I'm so glad that I came across your blog, yeah!!!!!