Unschooling has been receiving a lot of attention lately. A recent Homefires teleconference on the subject attracted a national audience larger than the phone connections could handle. The Montrose Alternative Education Examiner recently interviewed Liesl Greathouse, a Montrose teen and lifelong unschooler to get a first-hand account of this kind of alternative education.
To you, what is the difference between homeschooling and unschooling?
Homeschooling is the act of parents taking their children out of ‘normal’ school and teaching them at home, but keeping most of the main elements of ‘normal’ school: textbooks, grades, tests, specific time each day spent on “learning”, etc. Unschooling is the act of letting a child spend every moment learning, without putting it into a specific box. No tests, no grades, textbooks used only when needed. Life is an unschoolers school, and every moment is a lesson.
What did you like about unschooling? Would you recommend it to others?
I love the fact that in unschooling I can learn anything I want, any way I want, any time I want to. My parents merely gave me a list of books that they wanted me to read and let me have (mostly) free rein with everything else. I would definitely recommend it to others, especially families who do not want to send their kids to public school, cannot afford private school and are afraid of taking on full responsiblility as ‘teacher’ in homeschooling and following the public school outline. Unschooling may seem frightening to many people, but once you are doing it, you begin to realize that this is the best ‘system’ for most people, and can be a ton of fun for all involved.
What is a typical day like for you?
Unschoolers have few typical days. The main part of my day is spent reading, working on the computer and helping around the house. I do take more formal classes with a wonderful teacher that I have known for years, but she is very flexible and interesting, allowing her students room to explore. Other than those few things, my days can vary in what I do.
What activities are you involved in?
I am mainly involved in helping organize the Fashioned 4 Fun program in my area, helping to teach young girls modesly and social skills, while having a lot of fun along the way. That takes up most of my spring and summer. I also volunteer at my local library. That gives me an in knowing what books are soon to be on the shelves, so I can read them as soon as possible.
In order to create income, I write mini webpages called Lenses on Squidoo.com . The site gives me the opportunity to write about a lot of different topics that I love.
What are your goals for the future?
My ultimate goal is to get married and have a family, to become a housewife. As I am still waiting for Prince Charming, I am currently focusing on writing a novel (one of my main goals in life) and helping the young ladies in my area learn about modesty, relationships and abstinence.
To you, what is a parent’s role in the unschooling/homeschooling process?
Parents play a vital role in unschooling. They are the ones that set the example for their children about learning and exploring the world. If a child’s parents are not interested in anything, or are not pursuing their passions, a child will not be able to see what true learning looks like and will have to rely on other examples in order to pursue their interests. Also, parents are a child’s first teacher and therefore set the tone for a child’s entire life, especially in the early years. My parents are both involved in things that they enjoy and they have always provided an example to me on what learning looks like. They gave me the tools to pursue whatever my heart desires.
As a mother who has spent nearly 30 years homeschooling/unschooling six children, this writer wholeheartedly agrees with Ms. Greathouse. How would it be if American (and world) citizens were more self-motivated, self-directed and willing to serve both family and community?
Do you know of anybody in our area that you would like to see profiled on these pages? Contact me with your suggestions. Comments are always welcome.