What is the difference between natural learning and unschooling?
by Beverley Paine, Mar 2015
Just to clarify things, I personally think natural learning and unschooling are two different things. Most people use the terms natural learning and unschooling interchangeably. I'm cool with that. It's just that I don't.
Natural learning is something we all do. Learning is natural for human beings. We live, we breathe, we learn. Until we die. Sometimes we're not aware of what we're learning and the role it plays in our lives. Sometimes we are. I find that the more aware of what I'm learning (and why) the more efficient learning becomes.
Unschooling for me is the deliberate choice to not send my children to school, forcing them to learn in a particular way or with particular resources for any particular reason that doesn't make sense to them. Unschoolers offer their children freedom and choice about when, how, what and why to learn the stuff that kids in schools are supposedly offered in the curriculum.
I am a natural learner that chooses unschooling. My daughter was, for a time, a natural learner that chose to go to school. She wasn't there because she had to be: she was there because she wanted to be there. She learned what she wanted and needed, not specifically what they assumed they were teaching her. I don't think I could logically call her an unschooler while she was attending school though. I think anyone can use any label they want to describe what they are doing - and interpret those labels the way they want. I am happy using the terms homeschool, unschool, life learner, natural learner. I'm happy using labels. They don't define who I am, they are simply tools I use to give a shorthand abbreviated definition of a concept.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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