Unschooling Part 1: Why?

Unschooling is a topic that’s getting more and more attention, and it deserves it.

There is no other trend in the world that fills me with more hope than the prospect of a world where more and more children and adults discover how to build lives that really and truly work on every level.

My wife and I have been unschooling our girls since they were born because we have learned from hard experience that traditional education does not prepare students or adults for an uncertain and rapidly changing world. 

Here in this blog, and at the Vaikido Hero Unschool, and on our program the Vaikido Hero Unschool The Show I am going to unpack unschooling from every angle imaginable. 

In this post I am going to talk about WHY.  Why unschool?  Why on earth should we abandon the education system and buck the tide?  Why should we take 100% responsibility for our children’s life preparation?  Why?

Why Unschooling?

The short answer is “Success is Broken”.  By that I mean that the definition of success and our supposed approach to realizing it isn’t working.

How do I know that traditional education doesn’t work? 

Simple: I watch adults, because adults are the down stream consequences of our education system. 

Education design should begin with the end in mind.  What are adults struggling with and what do they need to live great lives?  Answer those questions then check to see if our education system is addressing them.

So did our education system prepare today’s adults for successful lives?  The news reports and statistics answer this question unequivocally: NO!

And nothing has changed to make me believe that our school system today is preparing our children to succeed in 30 years + in the future anymore than it prepared adults 30 years ago for today.

In this post I am going to focus on ‘relationship skills’ a.k.a. ‘socialization’.  (leave a comment below if you’ve been asked how you are going to ‘socialize’ your children without the ‘help’ of the school system – go ahead, vent, let it out ;)

The media reports the struggles of society individually and collectively every minute of every day.  Life isn’t easy or perfect, but a society with as many resources as we have should not be struggling to the degree that we are in so many areas.

By the time we become adults we should have really solid relationship skills – despite the claim that school socializes children, relationship skills are not taught in school, which is why there is a $1 billion + private education industry called self-help.

I have been to presentations where teachers tell the parents how they are preparing their students and I have seen how they actually handle situations.  Much of it sounds very nice, but most of it boils down to some version of ‘play nice and get along’.  (Which sounds reasonable until you actually look more closely.)

But outside of the classroom I see little to no evidence that children have actually learned how to actually ask for that they want, negotiate for it, and coordinate the delivery of it. 

Think about that for a moment. 

Everything breakdown adults encounter involves interpersonal conflict.  And every conflict is about transacting with one another in some way.  People want or need certain things and they need other people to cooperate to get them.  When we can’t clearly ask for what we want, when we can’t negotiate for it, and when we can’t coordinate it’s delivery, we get pissed off and the fun begins.

“Johnny and Sally play well with others” is usually a way of saying that Johnny and Sally are learning to not speak up for what they want, to not make waves, and to not insist that others do what they said they would do.  And that’s the real world right there.

We spend more time on math tables, spelling tests and lunch than we do on THE most important aspect of life; transacting with one another in order to accomplish things so that we can get back to what we really want to do and prosper.

It’s that simple.

Unschooling is far superior to traditional education for the simple fact that parents can make sure that their child has the space to figure out who they are, what matters to them, and to learn and practice it.

But, Unschoolers beware, by the time your child is 18, they need to also already have done many hard things including becoming a solution to the concern of others and transacting real dollars for their efforts.  In other words, they need to be skilled at working with others in real situations and real life consequences.

Our traditional school system shelters children from reality in ways that boggle the mind.  Unschoolers must not make the same mistake dressed up differently. 

The reason we must unschool our children is that the evidence is crystal clear – doing what we’ve been doing will get us more of what we have been getting.  And I don’t want to keep graduating children into the world to repeat the insanity we see in the news every day.

Stay tuned here for many more posts about unschooling.