Defining Natural Learning, Unschooling, Deschooling and School-at-Home
by Beverley Paine
I'm very interested in the discussion on definitions as I'm writing an introduction to homeschooling at the moment...
I've always felt that learning naturally is simply learning. It doesn't matter how you do it - what tools you bring to your life to help you learn what it is that you need to learn, or when you use them. I've always found that more conscious the process is the more effective it is. Learning can inlclude tutors, books, television, institutions and it can include fitting in with other people's agendas as all learning is in some way a social act. This understanding of natural learning I have uncovered through analysing the learning processes of myself and those around me.
Unschooling to me has always meant rejecting the notion that one has to be taught to learn. It perplexes me to see unschooling described as 'child-led' - though it is imperative that the child participate fully in the responsibility for his or her education. I see unschooling as 'family-centred'. I see the family - no matter how structured - as the central socialising unit, and thus cultural centre, in society.
Deschooling to me means that period of time between leaving school and finding one's innate learning style and preferences and working out the best way to move forward with educating outside of the school environment. It is the shedding of the assumptions about education and how it is delivered to both children and adults.
The terms Home Education and Homeschooling encompass not only children learning at home, but children learning in the community and the environment. For many of us this community has been broadened by the use of the Internet and cyberspace. Some of us are privileged to travel extensively with our children. Home Education is not HOME based in most situations.
School-at-Home - which is the most dominant form of educating children at home - is the application of school methods of education in the home environment. It's a very successful alternative educational approach and for many it is the first step in a wonderful journey that moves slowly but surely towards trust in learning naturally.
I personally embrace all kinds of education - even school education - and wish that all people had the ability to chose what suits their individual children and family situations. We have the ability to support, rather than judge, each other. I am wary of saying that one person's approach or choice is less suitable than what I do or what I see others doing.
I personally have moved through all the above 'approaches' and have settled on learning naturally as it allows me to do whatever I feel is necessary to learn. I definitely don't define natural learning as 'child-led' as at 46 I am natural learner!
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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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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