There are so many ways to educate your child, but unschooling might be the most provocative. People assume it is what is sounds like – you are a negligent parent who not only does not send your child to school like ‘normal’ people, but you don’t even educate them at home! If you did, you certainly would not call it UNschooling!
There are many reasons people object to unschooling, but one of the most common reasons is the myth that students will not be well-prepared for adult life. (Wikipedia)
This begs the question, what exactly DO students need to know in their adult life, and what is the best environment in which to learn it?
Children Have To Know How to Get the Job Done
In the adult world, people seek a career in a field that they are interested in. Think about your own degree and compare it to your current job. I doubt that much of what you learned in college is actually applicable to that job. More likely, you got the job because of your degree in general, and then you were trained to do that job the way the boss wants it done.
In other words, you followed your interests, and worked out the details of the job while on the job. In other words, the education you received in a public school did not fully prepare you for doing the job – only for getting the job.
At the elementary and secondary school levels, what is learned about life? What is taught about doing a specific job? For that matter, what is taught about getting a job? I work part time at a local fast food restaurant, where every one of my co-workers is young enough to be my child. (Seriously, I am older than all of their mothers!) The biggest problem I see with these employees is their utter lack of respect for both the job and the supervisor. They seem to think they are entitled not only to the job, but to being treated “fairly,” and not having to “work so hard.”
Could they have learned this in a public school, where the task is handed to them with detailed instructions, depriving of them of the necessity to think? At school, they are told when to be where, how to do the assignment, and even where to sit! How does this prepare them for getting a job done, without such specific direction, and doing that job well?
Pursuing Education by Following Interests
Contrast the unschooled child who is allowed to follow their interests (much like the adult who is seeking out a career!). Let’s say, for example, the child wants to study horses. In order for him to learn much of anything at all, he is going to have to learn to read. He accepts that challenge in order to meet his own goal.
Perhaps he is allowed to own a horse. In order to accept that responsibility, he will have to learn how to feed and otherwise care for the horse. This will involve using mathematics and science, among other things, to accurately measure feed. The child will have to earn enough money to pay for the feed and will gain an understanding of the economics involved. Perhaps he will also realize he has to learn some geometry in order to build a shelter.
The horse may get sick and need medical attention. The child becomes interested in what the vet is doing, and even learn to do some care himself. This requires him to study science. Perhaps all of this will lead to a college education in veterinary medicine, and eventually to becoming an entrepreneur. Perhaps this phase will burn itself out – but the knowledge obtained throughout the process will be useful in future interests.
While the public school student is trained to memorize facts that they are not interested in, the unschooled child learns to set goals, learn what is required to achieve them, and to get the job done right without a great deal of supervision. Which would you rather hire for your business?