Children should learn to read, write, or count, only when they’re good and ready. And if instead they demonstrate an interest in dinosaurs, video games or cooking, they should learn about those things first, according to “unschooling” advocates. Unschooling is an educational approach that follows the philosophy of letting children decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and making that learning an organic part of daily life.
In an era of increased standardized testing, top-down curricula, and the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, unschooling is attractive to some parents, who say learning should be a more natural, curiosity-inspired exercise. Advocates say it allows children to become passionate about, and invested in, their own learning. But critics, including some of those who opt for more structured home schooling and proponents of child-centered classrooms in regular schools, caution that unschooling risks not exposing children to diverse ideas, and not preparing them for the structured environment of college and work.
What do you think? Do the benefits of unschooling outweigh the risks?
A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.