First the description which was at the yahoo groups main page, and then one we considered and decided against, and then a longer more philosophical one in Joyce's words (for philosophers to read, and engineers and poets.)
Although unschooling is often described as a homeschooling style, it is, in fact, much more than just another homeschool teaching method. Unschooling is both a philosophy of natural learning and the lifestyle that results from living according to the principles of that philosophy.
The most basic principle of unschooling is that children are born with an intrinsic urge to explore -- for a moment or a lifetime -- what intrigues them, as they seek to join the adult world in a personally satisfying way. Because of that urge, an unschooling child is free to choose the what, when, where and how of his/her own learning from mud puddles to video games and SpongeBob Squarepants to Shakespeare! And an unschooling parent sees his/her role, not as a teacher, but as a facilitator and companion in a child's exploration of the world.
Unschooling is a mindful lifestyle which encompasses, at its core, an atmosphere of trust, freedom, joy and deep respect for who the child is. This cannot be lived on a part-time basis. Unschooling sometimes seems so intuitive that people feel they've been doing it all along, not realizing it has a name. Unschooling sometimes seems so counterintuitive that people struggle to understand it, and it can take years to fully accept its worth.
The purpose of this list is to move out of our own comfort zones as we critically examine our beliefs, ideas, and viewpoints about learning, and seek a deeper understanding of unschooling and more respectful relationships with our children.
Please read for at least a week or two, before posting, to get a feel for the list. New members are on moderation, to avoid spam and other disruptions. "List Posting Policies" can be found in the files area of this list or, along with other list information, at: sandradodd.com/lists/info.
Unschooling is the confidence to trust that young people will learn what they need from living their lives in freedom and joy. An unschooling parent is a facilitator and cheerleader who embraces life and learning with curiosity and enthusiasm. An unschooled child is free to choose the what, when, where and how of their g—from mud puddles to Shakespeare to Spongebob Squarepants! If this sounds like it's for you or you'd like to find out more about how video games and life in general are filled with learning, come join us!
As discussed on this list, unschooling is *not* defined as the free learning kids do outside of parent-directed learning, nor is it done on a part-time basis. We think unschooling requires a mindfulness and participation beyond simple considerations of academic material. It is a way of living and learning together.
Anyone with an interest in unschooling is welcome to join this discussion, but we ask that you keep in mind the list's purpose: to discuss unschooling in ways which will help us all become better unschoolers.
We advise reading for a week or two before posting to get a feel for the list and its members. New members are on moderation at first, so that the list avoids spam and other disruption. If you have questions about this list please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A more detailed description:
Unschooling is the environment we create for natural learning to take place, not a process applied to children. It is children living life in a rich atmosphere of freedom, joy and deep respect that nurtures who they are and allows them to grow into who they will be. Learning happens as a side effect.
Unschooling is so intuitive that many find they've been doing it all along without realizing it had a name. Unschooling is so counterintuitive that many find it a struggle to objectively question what they believe about learning and parenting.
Natural learning is so easy babies do it as soon as they are born. Natural learning can be so difficult to trust it can take some people years to fully accept its worth.
Many people come to unschooling lists with the goal of giving their children the best life possible. On the other hand many people recognize that unschooling will give their children the best life possible and come to unschooling lists with the goal of getting to unschooling. While the goals look similar, we have found some of the first feel it necessary to publicly proclaim that they are rejecting aspects of unschooling. Everyone is free to pick and choose what they find useful and to question what they don't understand, but we do ask that you respect those who are trying to get to unschooling and pick and choose quietly.
As discussed on this list, unschooling is a way of life. Unschooling is not defined as the free learning kids do outside of parent-directed learning, nor is it done on a part-time basis.
On this list, our approach to helping people create an unschooling home is to help people critically examine their beliefs, ideas, and viewpoints about learning and parenting. Everything that might make unschooling and respectful parenting more difficult will be examined and questioned.
While no one who unschools needs to apply unschooling to parenting, unschooling parents who adopt more peaceful parenting practices find it actually helps them to unschool better as well as improves their relationship with their kids. We feel there are enough places on the internet to discuss conventional parenting practices and we seek to offer a place to discuss ways of applying the unschooling philosophy to parenting.
Everyone who is interested in unschooling or finding out more about it is welcome to join. But be aware that the list is for those who are seeking a deeper understanding of unschooling, a more respectful relationship with their children, to move out of their comfort zone to reach for something better. That means, though we recognize how hard the journey is and how far people come to just let go of one schoolish thing, this list can't offer on line support for people who are pausing at some comfortable spot on their journey towards unschooling. We are here to support those who are actively pushing beyond their comfort zones.
One day Schuyler went on a rant... and ended up describing the discussion lists in a sharp but interesting way here.
More (and mushy) information about the list is at "Great Feedback " (the righthand column)
More information on the UnschoolingDiscussion list