Unschooling High School
If you are planning to homeschool through high school, have you considered unschooling? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but, unschooling is a viable option that you should not summarily dismiss either. If you are a homeschooler, or are considering homeschooling, and you have not read John Taylor Gatto, now is a good time to start. Gatto, once New York’s Teacher of the Year, became a vocal advocate of allowing kids to figure things out on their own. His arguments are sound and interesting, even if, in the end you don’t agree with all of them. If you have a teen who truly hates school, is gifted and/or learning challenged or who is particularly passionate about one subject, unschooling might be just the ticket.
Dumbing Us Down is perhaps Gatto’s most famous book. If you cannot find it in your library, pick up a copy online. It’s well worth the money spent for dinner table discussion value alone. However, you may find yourself agreeing with Gatto’s premise that institutionalized school distorts the learning process leaving high school students/young adults without purpose, connection or focus on the future. If you find yourself nodding and agreeing as you read, however, it’s worth taking a look at some of the links on this page.
So, what does homeschooling high school look like? Are you giving your teen permission to watch bad movies, play video games and sleep as much as he likes? Are you dooming him to a life of “You want fries with that?” Well, no. Unschooled teens are entrepreneurs, artists, writers, scientists and explorers. They have the freedom that other teens only dream of – with your permission. If you decide to try unschooling will your teen automatically be inspired and passionate? Probably not. If you have been following a formal curriculum or if your child has been attending a traditional school up until now, it’s going to take a bit of time for both you and your teen to adjust.
Unschooling is whatever you make of it. You might find your teen flitting from interest to interest at first before finding his focus. Take advantage of opportunities like internships, apprenticeships, dual enrollment and specialized classes in particular subjects. Check out the site Learn in Freedom to read about ways to free your child and your family from the bonds of traditional education. Embrace today’s technology and all it has to offer anyone willing to learn. No need for a set curriculum, a set schedule or even a set plan. Take a leap of faith and give your teen control of his own future.
Unschooling is giving your child charge. You are not dooming him to being excluded from college admissions – nor are you dooming him to the one-track path of high school to college that our nation is currently hyper-focused on. You are not limiting his opportunities, instead, you are opening all sorts of doors, windows and ceilings – giving him freedom to explore his own interests and talents while deciding on his own to fill in any knowledge gaps. (It’s amazing what a teen will and can learn on his own when he discovers he really needs it!)
Do some reading. Talk to people in your homeschool group or in one of the online forums. Unschooling is a scary decision because it is so far removed from the norm. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding choices you and your teen will ever make.