The whole world is a school

The whole world is a school

The whole world is a school

Unschooling is an educational philosophy and practice centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences which includes games, play, household responsibilities personal interest habits and curiosity.

Most of the time, work experience and social interaction rather than traditional school curriculum plays an important role in making a person who can make lifes decisions for himself. In western countries there is more stress on such an activity, apart from regular schooling. 

We can see artisans, plumbers, masons, carpenters, tailors and semi-skilled workers in small engineering industries who have learnt their job out of necessisity, but thoroughly enjoy their work. 

One must have seen many young boys working in automobile garages. Over a period, their perfection in the job is so much that they can gauge the problem in a vehicle with just the sound of the engine. All these people have done minimum regular schooling and what they have learnt to do is merely through experience. These are only few examples to tell that these children are encouraged by exploring new things on their own, while being guided by the experts or elders.

Basically, unschooling differs from a conservative shooling where a standard curriculum and conventional graduation method along with its allied features are followed. The regular schooling is restricted to one set level. Well known educationalist John Holt is considered  as the father of unschooling. It is considered as a sub set of home schooling. However, the concept of home schooling is different from unschooling as it too advocates conventional curriculum. While home schooling continues to be a debatable subject, the idea of unschooling has not drawn much attention and publicity.

Many critics of unschooling view the same as an extreme educational philosophy. They argue that unschooled children lack social skills, structure and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market. They also feel that  these children become friendless and may not mix well with children of their own age group.

But children are natural learners. One very fundamental principle of unschooling is innate curiosity within the children which compels them to learn on their own through discovery. Institutionalising children in a so-called ‘one size fits all’ or ‘factory model’ is equal to using their time without purpose. In regular schooling, every child has to learn a specific subject matter in a particular manner and at a particular pace. The interest of the individual or the need is not considered.

Many unschoolers believe that opportunity for valuable hands-on, community based, spontaneous and real world experiences are the games of this system or the method over the traditional education where the opportunity is limited to the four walls of the school building. Unschoolers further argue that if children are given access to the realworld, they will see very clearly the things that truly matter in profession and life in general. 

Developmental psychologists note that some children learn to walk by 8 to 15 months and also begin to talk, while some may take more time than usual. Experts have discovered that natural learning produces great changes in behavior than traditional learning methods. Traditional education requires every child to begin reading at the same time and learn counting at the same time.

Different students have different learning needs. In a traditional learning process, evaluation of every student is highly difficult, if not impossible.

With unschooling, the ability to learn through observation, discovery, and experience make it more likely that the child grows into a complete adult who can find his/her own interests. They can even return to any subject that they feel was not sufficiently covered or may learn a completely new subject.

Children directed to unschooling do not mean that their parents/guardians have no role to play. Their guidance and advice are very much a neccessity. Common parental activity to encourage such children’s needs is a must. 

Here is another real life example of a person, who with only minimal regular schooling, learnt plumbing by working along with his father at a young age. Over the years, his learning was not limited to plumbing. He gained knowledge of every other activity related to civil construction. Now, apart from being an expert plumber, he can assist with architecture, and repair and rectify the problems of an old construction. His perfection and quality of work has turned him into a much sought-after person in our locality. His gauging the problem can be very well-matched with that of good architects/civil engineers who learnt the aspect through traditional schooling.

John Holt believes that in traditional school children are put to anxiety almost regularly as they have to face tests, cope with the failure, punishment and disgrace while severely reducing their ability. 

Proponents of unschooling say individual and child-led learning is more efficient and respectful of child’s time, taking advantage of their interest. This allows deeper exploration of subject than what is possible in conventional schooling.

Unschooling means changing laws to make more schools non-compulsory. It is a form of home education system. 

With this approach, the whole world is a school...

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