Unschooling is based on the idea that kids can and will direct their own learning without the confines of a school-imposed course of study and without the pressures of standardized, stress-filled testing. It follows from the observation that children are naturally curious - learning is really what they do virtually all the time.
I can speak about my own school experience - I have generally negative memories of it, even though I was almost always a straight A student. I was never challenged (I don't think I ever had to do anything at home), I felt tremendous pressure to compete with other students, and what I maybe learned best was how to respond to authority figures in a way that won me their approval.
Unschooling is undoubtedly not for everyone. What is? But maybe it also follows that a formal school setting is also not for everyone either. Throwing this info out here is not meant in any way to trash teachers or the NEA or anything like that. Many teachers are wonderful people who work very hard to give their students every opportunity to grow and learn as individuals. But we would be foolish not to question the idea of universal public "one-size-fits-all" systems of education. Only through such questioning and experimentation do we ever truly learn.
Many unschoolers and their parents have been strongly influenced by The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn (Lowry House ph.541-686-2315). What follows here are some links to sites that can tell you more about unschooling as well as sites created by some unschoolers.
Is No School Better Than Your School?
The Unschooling Homeschooler
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