Exploring Unschoolers’ Experiences In Learning To Read: How Reading Happens Within The Self-Directed Learning Environment
Unschooling is a form of homeschooling where learning occurs not through the following of a set curricula, but instead through real life experiences. Unschooling parents do not try to replicate school or school-like activities at home. Instead, children are in charge of their own education, and that education usually naturally fits with their own intrinsic motivations, preferences, and learning styles. This is quite different from what we may see or experience in the public school classroom, where curriculum is strictly adhered to, and testing is the way a student’s learning is assessed. In this study, how and when unschoolers learn to read without a set curriculum will be explored. Twenty eight unschooled adults (age 18 and older) were interviewed and asked to recall their experiences with reading and learning to read. Through these interviews, the author sought to explore how reading can be learned naturally, without adult intervention; and how this may effect later motivation for reading, writing, and other academic endeavors.
The Experiences Of Progressive School Students
Progressive schools have shown a remarkable resiliency in recent decades, continuing to operate as an alternative to the public schooling system. This study draws upon interviews with graduates of one small progressive school in Upstate New York to investigate how their schooling affected their subsequent lives. Alumni were asked to describe their educational experiences and the advantages and disadvantages they provided them with as they went on with their lives. The former students’ comments were overwhelmingly positive. Four advantages are described here—Community, Small Setting, Freedom, and Trust, along with two disadvantages– -Limited Extra-Curricular Opportunities and Limited Socialization The author draws upon the work of Mollie Gambone and her, “ Trusted to Teach: An Ethnographic Account of’ Artisanal Teachers’ in a Progressive High School,” to frame the results. Connections between her work and the interviews of these alumni are provided.
Thinking Skills, Academic Intrinsic Motivation, Academic Self-Concept, And Academic Independence In Homeschooled Children
The purpose of this study was to examine thinking skills, academic intrinsic motivation, academic self-concept, and academic independence in homeschooled children. Homeschooled children ages 6-12 years old (N=46) completed the Test of Problem Solving 3: Elementary (TOPS), which measured the following thinking skills: making inferences, sequencing, answering negative questions, problem solving, predicting, and determining causes. The Homeschool Motivation Scale measured academic intrinsic motivation, academic self-concept, and academic independence. Parents completed a brief questionnaire. The results showed that homeschooled children’s TOPS scores were significantly higher than those of the test standardization sample for all six subscales and for the total test. There were significant positive correlations between TOPS total test scores and both academic intrinsic motivation and academic self-concept scores. TOPS total test scores were not consistently related to parental teaching techniques. This research suggests that thinking skills may be more advanced in homeschooled children than in children attending public schools.
Richard G. MEDLIN and Jessica L. BUTLER
Unexpected Path To Free Range Learning
This is a condensed version of an interview with Laura Grace Weldon, author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, by Rebecca Bohnman on The Luminous Mind podcast. Weldon discusses her family’s shift from schooling to homeschooling to unschooling. She also describes using research to shake off a conventional school mindset, the benefits of diversity in homeschooling/unschooling groups, recognizing knowledge networks, and more.
Laura Grace WELDON