What Is Unschooling?

Amanda Sharma
Aug 7, 2018 · 2 min read

Unschooling is the opposite of dogma.

Unschooling is taking all of the words like “never” and “should” out of your vocabulary and replacing them with a lot of sit-back-and watch.

Unschooling is trust.

Trusting that the newborn who entered the world knowing nothing but his mother’s smell, his father’s voice, his sister’s laughter, and learned, in such a short amount of time, to crawl, to walk, to speak an entire language, will continue to pursue with curiousity and purpose anything and everything which he is surrounded by.

Surround the child with good things, and she will soak them up. Offer them to her like a buffet of interesting information, let her pick them up along the way of your adventures like puzzle pieces. Leave her free to sort the pieces into piles and put them together in the privacy of her own mind.

Unschooling is not a system of “don’t”s. Don’t use a curriculum. Don’t pick up a workbook. Don’t do anything which might be construed as teaching.

Here’s my dogma: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you don’t.

Unschooling is a system of do’s. Do step back and give the child freedom. Do trust that they will learn everything relevant to them, in their own time. Do answer as many of their questions as you can, always. Do take tremendous joy and effort and delight in offering them pieces of the world. In adventuring with them. In discussing things with them. In asking them their thoughts and ideas, and listening, honestly listening. Do be your child’s partner, and a good, kind, generous leader. Do find and use any tool that brings delight, and use it, until it ceases to bring delight.

Unschooling is not a system. It is the term for a desire to have no term. It is living. It is taking that box in which we’ve placed everything that we call ‘education’ and dumping it upside-down and mixing the contents up with all of the other things which we just call ‘life’.

And just as the infant who watched your mouth move as you formed words grew into the toddler who asked you “what this?” About everything, so will the child ask you for information about the input he receives.

Make yourself available to answer those questions. Many answers you won’t know. Take joy in seeking out the answers together. Build on knowledge like constructing a sand castle.

Dogma is everywhere, and it only ever stands in the way of direct perception. Of your child, of yourself, of when and where learning is happening. Dogma is the opposite of unschooling.

Amanda Sharma

Written by

I live off-grid in a yurt on a mountain-top in the Pacific Northwest, where I freelance, Unschool my kids, and teach at The Village School, a democratic co-op

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade