An Interview With Grown Unschooler, Author, and Speaker Idzie
|“Without the competition, stress, and shame often induced by trying (and sometimes failing) to learn things in a school setting, there’s just so much less pressure and so much more joy that can come from learning.”|
A: I definitely plan to unschool my kids, although when they’re older, they’d be free to make their own choices about whether they would go to school or not. When they’re younger? I don’t know, and I don’t think that’s a question I’ll be able to answer until I do have kids. I think it would depend on my child and the general situation, as well as the school options available.
Q: What did your parents, family, and friends think about you being unschooled, in the beginning and what do they think now?
A: Honestly? For the most part I don’t know. Perhaps surprisingly, unschooling isn’t something I discuss regularly with people who aren’t interested specifically in homeschooling or alternative education. One close friend whom I’ve known for years still likes to mention that my sister and I are unschoolers when introducing us to new people, since he seems to find the fact either an interesting anomaly or an important part of our identity. I’m not really sure which. My mother was the most enthusiastic advocate for home education and later unschooling, and that hasn’t changed to this day. My father’s feelings have gone up and down over the years, I believe, sometimes worrying, other times feeling better about things. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty mixed bag.
Q: Which are, in your opinion, the most important features of unschooling, the ones that make a real difference for life, for unschooled children, compared to the public schooled kids?
A: Firstly the flexibility and personalization of unschooling: The fact that each and every unschooler is learning about different things in a different way, guided by their interests, their needs, their family, and their communities. To me that’s something truly special, the ability to have so much choice and options in what and how you learn from a young age. I also believe that this can contribute to a healthy community, with a variety of individuals who have different skills and strengths, who are confident in what they know and are good at.
And secondly, being able to learn in an environment that feels safe with support that feels nurturing. Without the competition, stress, and shame often induced by trying (and sometimes failing) to learn things in a school setting, there’s just so much less pressure and so much more joy that can come from learning. If you don’t have that terror of failing in front of a whole bunch of others, if you don’t have a teacher watching you with eagle eyes and standardized tests measuring whether you’re doing well enough, it can be a lot easier to take risks, try new things, and explore new skills without fear. I believe getting to choose which environments (classes, coops, groups, home, libraries, community centers) feel good to be in is a really powerful thing when it comes to emotional health and growth. It’s important for kids to branch out, and take on new situations as they feel ready and able to, instead of being thrown into an environment that might be causing a whole lot of stress and anxiety with no option to leave it.
To sum it up, I think the biggest difference with unschooling, as opposed to schooling, is that each unschooling journey is entirely unique and built around the needs and desires of the learner. Children are allowed to grow and learn in a respectful and caring way that promotes well-being.