Unschooling “Except For”

There’s actually a separate name for “partially unschooling.” Relaxed/Eclectic is its own brand of homeschooling. Because it’s so eclectic (drawing from many sources), people tend to swing between gleaning from more traditional homeschoolers and gleaning from unschoolers. I think that actually the majority of homeschoolers fall somewhere in this framework. But as many people reflect when they say “we unschool except for… math/English/that one thing,” R/E tends to rely on traditional academic categories and assumptions, rather than the assumptions that are the driving power behind unschooling.

In order to think “unschooling except for,” which is extremely common in wider homeschooling circles, people have to constrain their definitions of unschooling mostly to how much bookwork is or isn’t used. Going deeper than absorption method allows both unschoolers and eclectic people to get a better sense of the underlying principles of unschooling, so they can choose the methods that best suit their own family philosophy, rather than skipping along the surface of method approaches.

So we always answer questions about how to unschool that last subject or two with, “try deschooling more.” 🙂

We answer like this because in years past we went through a very trying year+ of trying to determine why we were investing energy into moderating a group labelled “unschooling” but going all kinds of directions that conflicted, either philosophically or in actual, open conflicts (which was also quite upsetting to witness). That was really crippling to the group’s ability to help people understand unschooling clearly and make informed decisions about it. So we chose to specifically focus on helping people understand how to move further towards an unschooling philosophy, not just a curriculum-free method of imparting their educational values.

So please don’t be put off if the answer to “how do I unschool a subject?” isn’t the answer you were expecting! In unschooling there are no subject categories, so there’s no way to give an accurate reply without leaving our philosophical basis–which is the opposite of why we give our time to help.

Deschooling is the years-long process of learning to see those “subjects” in their natural context, in connection with many other aspects of real life and inseparable from them. It lets us see when a type of knowledge is useful, and when it isn’t necessary. And it lets us see how that knowledge’s form differs from traditional theoretical explanations, as is very common with subjects like algebra, which permeate life but are incredibly divorced from when first learning in the basics of formal theory.

It’s so much more powerful to learn to see real life and the everyday world, and then pick up formal tools if and when needed to manipulate and interact with the world.


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