Monday, September 14, 2009

autonomous education - unschooling

Autonomous education, usually called "unschooling", but also known as "interest driven", "Delight-directed", "child-directed-", "self-directed-" / (or led), "natural", "organic", or "eclectic".

These terms may be used for any type of education which doesn't use a fixed curriculum.

A possible essential difference between the two terms Autonomous Education and Unschooling, might be that 'unschooling' refers to the practice of autonomous education in a home-based setting, with parents as facilitators, whereas autonomous education can take place in a more institutional setting as well, for example, Summerhill School.

Autonomous education does not require the teacher to pour knowledge into the child on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an "on demand" basis, if at all.

This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work.

So, for instance, a young child's interest in cars can lead him to a study of how the engine works (science), how and when the car was built (history), who built and designed the car (biography), etc. Certainly these interests can lead to reading texts, taking courses, or doing projects, but the important difference is that these activities were chosen and engaged in freely by the learner. They were not dictated to the learner.

However, this does not mean Autonomous education can not include traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student decides that this is how he wants to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not "natural" processes, but children studying autonomously nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn't unusual to find children who are barely eight-years-old studying astronomy or who are ten-years-old and just learning to read.

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I'm a mother of two beautiful children. We are parenting in an autonomous way, not schooling and learning by living, taking each other seriously and all of our needs into account. So our life is very rich and exciting as we have the time to 'smell the roses' :-) and live in the moment, 'going with the flow'. We are part of a sustainable community. It's wonderful to live in harmony with the earth and for the children to grow up conscious of their environment. I'm a Yoga Instructor and BodyTalk Practitioner ( BodyTalk stimulates your body’s innate ability to heal itself on all levels and no other modality has ever made that much sense to me...hence why I've become a practitioner:-). I also work as an independent Sales Advisor for the Learning Ladder, promoting and selling educational books and toys, facilitating get togethers in people's homes or public centres, as the products are only available via direct selling and it's something that the kids and I do together to 'earn' our home library. With two little children, my main yoga practice is 'living my yoga' in whatever I do.

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