Radical Unschooling is taking the Unschooling philosophy of child-led learning and applying it to all areas of life. No rules, books or tests, doing what they want when they want. It is a cutting edge learning revolution sweeping the nation at an alarming rate causing society to be up in arms about it. Few fail to understand what it really is all about, taking only a short clip on television that aired as their bases for judgments.
Imagine with me for a moment a family, perhaps a neighbor down the street even, where the kids live in complete freedom from rules. They stay up as late as they wish as there are no bedtime restrictions that apply. When they get up they grab whatever it is they want to eat as there are no food restrictions placed upon them. They run through the house wild, breaking whatever they wish, hitting whoever they wish, not bathing for perhaps a month or more as they are calling all the shots.
This is a house full of chaos, wild hooligans that are lazy junk food junkies that at age 14 do not know multiplication or division. They can play video games all day and eat several whole boxes of cookies if that is their desire. The parents ignore whatever is going on, letting the kids make the decisions and run the house. The parents are neglectful, raising children that will never be productive citizens or be able to follow society’s rules. They will never know things such as basic math, Shakespeare, George Washington or simply how to function in the real world as an adult with no hope of going to college or get a job.
Now, this sadly is the mainstream society’s view of what radical unschooling conjures up in their minds of what it is and what it may look like. However this image could not be farther from the truth. This is not even close to how radical unschooling works or how it unfolds in reality. While radical unschooling may not be for everyone, it can be a very viable valid option for many others. Yet Society attacks what they fear and what they do not understand. Sadly society is much more accepting of things like Texas approving a new curriculum that waters down and amends items such as the civil rights movement, religious freedoms and multiple other items than it is of radical unschooling.
Look at the illiteracy statistics within public school for instance; which shows 42 million adults can not read at all. It also shows that 20 percent of High Schoolers are considered functionally illiterate by graduation time. Yet this is publicly acceptable by society’s standards? Or does society fear Radical Unschoolers will be contributing to these statistics?
Well let’s take a look into Radical Unschooling, not the image, society sees but a real look into what Radical Schooling is all about. First and foremost while unschooling only applies to learning activities and academic areas, Radical Unschooling applies to all areas of life. It combines unique parenting philosophies that take away the dictatorship, authoritarian principles and removes punitive disciplinary actions. It replaces these tradition techniques with respect for each family member and involves cooperative actions that try to fulfill the needs of each family member in equable ways.
When it is said that radical unschoolers do not use books, this is generally referring to no text books. Most radical unschoolers have a love of the printed word and have ample books within their home based on what they enjoy reading. Stories are read to children quite frequently as well or regular visits to the local library. In some circumstances when a text book is desired for some reason or other by the child, then and only then would it be used. It is viewed that a child will learn to read just as natural as they learned to walk and talk with no coercion, and no manipulation techniques or rote memory such as sight words. By having ample access to reading materials and receiving help or answers from an adult, the child learns to read at an age when they are ready to. Many times the parent is not even aware the child has learned to read until one day the child starts reading something aloud. Books are available that have real substance to them and that are interesting.
Yeah well that may all be fine and dandy you may be thinking but what about the no rules factor? That is insane and just irresponsible! Is it really? Think about it for a minute, raising a child with no arbitrary rules does not mean you will raise a wild child that will wind up in prison for not being able to follow society’s rules. Children learn by seeing those adults around them, many times mocking the behavior they see. If you are respectful to your child as you would be a guest in your house, they in return will be respectful. If you are giving, kind and generous, then your kids in return will be as well. It is well documented children imitate what they see in their home, and in their world so we as adults act as we want our children to act.
When they have no blocks to what they want access to, they have no reason to sneak, lie, steal and as a result, no power struggles. They also do not receive habitual No’s so that when a no is given and explained as to the why of the no, they far more readily listen to the applied no. No rules do not mean they are never given a no, it simply means arbitrary rules are not a part of daily life. When a child requests something and it will not harm themselves or anyone then they are given a yes. Parents become more mindful and conscious of their thoughts and replies and question their answers and ask why not?
Radical Unschooling sees learning simply as a byproduct of living life; it is not the focus however. By giving the child as much access to the world and bringing as much of the world to the child that a parent can, the learning simply will happen. After all the desire to learn is an innate human trait. By being very active and very much a part of the world radical unschooled children learn there are rules and more than socially adept in most situations. They simply do not box their social skills into one age group and are just as comfortable befriending a toddler as they would an elderly person, a young adult and even a few people their age. They are open to any social contact life and opportunities may present themselves to them.
As far as no bedtimes go, so what if the child goes to bed at midnight and gets up at 10am? They are getting the same amount of sleep a public school child is getting, just in a different block of time. They have no reason to have to get up by 6am to go to school or anywhere else. A child knows when they are tired and they will go to sleep without question. However they do not get sent to bed only for a 2 hour battle with the parent of being told to go to sleep! As far as they need to learn how to get up for a work schedule is a ridiculous reason for saying children need to go to bed by 8pm! Today in the work force, you can get any job for any shift you desire. If you end up getting a job on a different shift than you are use to guess what you adapt and so will the child when they are ready for a job! There is not a shift I have not worked and I always adapted and rearranged to accommodate it, this is no different with the radically unschooled child. If there is a need to get up early they will rearrange their schedule to start going to sleep earlier in the evening in order to be able to arise early.
What about their ability to get a job? Well unschooling and radical unschooling are not new. John Holt coined the term in 1977 when he printed his Growing without Schooling Magazine. There are getting to be a number of adult unschoolers now that have shown they had no problems getting work or into college if they chose. Many end up becoming entrepreneurs even. John Holt observed that when adults got out of the way, the child not only made sensible and logical choices but their learning exceeded that of a child’s forced learning by an adult. He also observed they became adept problem solvers and would figure out a way to achieve their goal. This applies to all aspects of living and they will without doubt become productive citizens with much to offer a community.
While every radical unschooled family is unique and different they share one common thing, putting family connections and relationships as a core value. Society on the other hand puts more emphasis on education and family units fall way short on priority lists. Statistically speaking dysfunctional families are now the average American family.72 percent of American families have someone with an addition living in their homes. That is an alarming percentage that should in no way be acceptable! Radical Unschoolers and Unschoolers alike are all about the family unit and building strong relationship bonds with strong feelings of security, unconditional love, respect and joy among its members.
Change needs to happen, the radical unschool revolution has begun, the change for a better world.