"What about using a curriculum?"

If for some local or legal reason an unschooling family is asked to show a formal curriculum, there are ways to describe what unschoolers do in educational jargon. There are some examples, by Carol Narigon, Pam Sorooshian, one from NZ, and one from Italy here:

Unschooling Curriculum.

Designing a description using these examples and your local requirements is not the same as buying a curriculum written by someone who doesn't know your child, and knows nothing of the kind of parent you want to be, and how you feel about natural learning.
Portfolio notes and ideas
Here's a Free Downloadable curriculum by Marion Brady and family. It's more ponderous in wording and concept than unschoolers need, but parents could use it as an idea resource, and as encouragement to continue to explore in all directions as their interests take them. (Backup in case that link disappears)

More about Marion Brady:

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

[Marion Brady] says that a school curriculum:

A. has no clear, overarching aim
B. does not respect the brain's need for order and organization
C. neglects important fields of study
D. disregards the inherent seamlessness of knowledge
E. fails to move students through ever-increasing levels of complexity
F does not distinguish between degrees of importance of content
G. insufficiently relates to real-world experience
H. neglects higher-order thought processes
J. unduly emphasizes symbol manipulation skills
K. has no built-in self-renewing capability
L. is overly dependent on extrinsic motivation
M. makes unreasonable demands on memory
N. lacks a comprehensive vocabulary shared by all educators
O. assigns students an unnatural, passive role
P. fails to put specialized studies in holistic perspective
Q. does not encourage novel, creative thought
R. penalizes rather than capitalizes on student variability
S. encourages simplistic methods of evaluation
T. neglects the basic knowledge-creating process
U. fails to address ethical and moral issues

All of this matters a lot for designing a curriculum that is going to be "used on" students who are required to be "in school." What a great world it would be, if this kind of thinking about schooling was pervasive.

But the ONLY one that really matters to unschoolers is "O" - assigns students an unnatural, passive role.

Unschooling could almost be defined as the opposite of that - it is allowing children their "natural, active role" in their own learning. If we do that well, ALL the rest of Brady's points will take care of themselves.


The discussion from which these things came was on the Unschooling Discussion on google groups, in late May and early June, 2006 and the page on Marion Brady and his work is here: marionbrady.com/

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Rather than asking for a curriculum on an unschooling list—for those who may end up in a similar situation—give us the problem rather than the solution. Asking what other unschoolers would do for a 10 yo interested in physics (and some background to know at what depth he's interested) might elicit some suggestions on how their kids explored an interest like that [Bill Nye, The Way Things Work, Standard Deviants (they have DVDs of lots of subjects) ...]

A better resource for more formal study would be eclectics and relaxed homeschoolers. While the philosophies of unschooling and relaxed/eclectic don't overlap, the people reading on boards and lists do. Unlike most school at homers, relaxed and eclectics are concerned that their kids are enjoying what they're doing (within the confines of their fears about what's necessary.)

I understand that most people move from a more structured approach to a less structured one but in our case it is the reverse.

Unschoolers move from *parent imposed* structure to helping the child explore whatever interests them in whatever way the child is drawn to. (Assuming the child is naturally driven and isn't responding to outside messages about how he "should" learn.) Kathryn Baptista's son took a class at Harvard Extension School at 14 or 15. Pam Sorooshian's 3 daughters have taken many classes at the community college. My daughter Kathryn at 13 & 14 has taken the college math classes her father teaches because she thinks they're fun. Unschooling doesn't mean no structure or no formal learning. It means kids are doing what *they* find fun or meaningful, rather than what their parents think would be good for them to do.