‘Unschooling’ In The Context Of Growing Mental Health Concerns Among Indian Students: The Journey Of 3 Middle-Class Unschooling Families
India’s education system has often been critiqued for aspects of rigidness, competition, work overload, hierarchic power, and lack of creativity, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety in students. Interestingly, alternative education approaches have come up in the past few decades in response to formal education, including the rise of unschooling. In this article the self-reported journeys of three unschooling parents are analyzed to bring insights into 1) what role stress and anxiety might play in the decisions of Indian parents to choose unschooling, 2) how key advantages and disadvantages of unschooling are shaped and recognised by unschooling parents, 3) how personal experiences of ‘stress’ are appreciated and experienced in Indian unschooling family contexts, and 4) what distinctively different processes are evident in the upbringing process of unschooled children, compared with those existing in formal education systems. Results reveal that a sense of tedium in formal classrooms, as well as a problematisation of stress, motivates parents’decision for unschooling. Social pressures and challenges are experienced, yet also welcomed by parents as part of the unschooling journey. ‘Stress’ is differently framed and experienced in the stories of unschooling parents, emphasizing the stress which is evoked through unrestricted self-governed learning processes, as opposed to ‘distress’ experienced in systems of directive and sometimes coercive learning. Finally, this article reflects on aspects of ‘trust’ and ‘self-agency’ which were found meaningful in unschooling and how to potentially encourage such notions in formal education settings to prevent mental health issues in children and youth.
Emma Emily DE WIT, Daniel EAGLES, Barbara REGEER
Home-Schooled Students And Their Teachers: Provoking Curriculum Together Through Child-Driven Learning
Child-centered and child-driven learning can provoke the creation of curriculum that is responsive to students’ particular learning needs, is engaging and meaningful, and promotes learner agency. Homeschool settings provide opportunities for parent/educators cognizant of child-centered and child-driven curriculum to meet students’ interests, readiness, growth, and educational drive with responses tailored for each unique situation. This learning space can allow for the relationship between the parent/educator and the student to continually revisit and revitalize learning, expanding on shared experience and potentially spanning the developmental years of the student. The lines between educator and student become blurred as the educator is directed by the unique interests and educational needs of each student. Research into the field of homeschooling curriculum can inspire discussion and innovation in more traditional educational settings. In this paper presentation, the authors will discuss the literature on child-centered and child-driven learning. Next, stories from real homeschools illustrating the co-creation of child- centered curriculum by both the educator/parent and student will be shared. Finally, the presenters will kindle a lively conversation with all participants about the role of students and teachers in curriculum creation, student-centered and student-driven learning in homeschools and in public schools, and imagining the possibilities of both contexts.
Karen E. EFFORD & Dr. Katherine BECKER
Designing A Space For Thoughtul Voices: Aligning The Ethos Of Zines With Youth-Driven Philosophical Inquiry
This article strives to lay some necessary theoretical groundwork for justifying an alliance between zining and youth-driven “philosophical inquiry” (Lipman, 2004)—two important practices that operate outside the mainstream yet can shed light on conventional (mis)understandings of youth by illustrating innovative ways of designing space for young voices to emerge and thrive in their educational experiences and beyond. By highlighting the shared ethos between zining and philosophical inquiry as practices that foster meaning-making, this article aims to emphasize their common participatory, do-it-yourself, experimental, politicizing and transformative features, while noting the challenges involved in extending them to the context of childhood. Further, it illustrates how aligning zining and philosophical inquiry can contribute to a re-envisioning of children by portraying them as capable cultural producers and social historians of their own discourse communities. Lastly, it explores issues of adult authority, suggesting conditions that may help to authenticate the philosophical use of zines with youth.
Natalie M. FLETCHER
Framing Unschooling Using Theories Of Motivation
As more families consider alternative learning approaches such as unschooling, little is known about the role motivation plays in self-directed education. Synthesizing major concepts of several theories of motivation (transformative experience, self-efficacy, self-regulation, expectancy-value theory, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation), the research demonstrates that unschooling is a viable approach to learning. Motivation requires goals, activity and commitment to achieve outcomes (Schunk, Pintrich & Meece, 2008) and within the context of unschooling, the literature demonstrates that individuals sustain motivation so they can achieve certain tasks. The findings demonstrate a need to invoke students to follow their aptitudes and curiosity outside of the rigid structures of conventional schooling, potentially altering the current landscape of education.
Dr. Whitney SHERMAN