Willed Learning (or Unschooling) and Art/SEL

Kharazmi, L. (2020). Willed learning and art as a way for young people to express their feelings. Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning, 14 (28).

The author of this article homeschooled her son through COVID 19, and decided to switch to a more willed learning, or unschooling type approach. She documents this time through journaling and self-reflection.

In March, when COVID 19 closed schools, Kharazmi and her 6 year old son were planning to homeschool. While everyone was transitioning, mom studied while her son played. She did experience some guilt in not formally “homeschooling” and so shared with her son that soon, they would start “school”. Son, through his drawings (which are shared within this article), was visibly upset. Of course, one could assume that the emotions were not only geared towards school, but also towards the entire situation – as everyone’s lives have been affected by COVID.

With homeschooling not working, mom decided, with her husband, to try a more willed learning (or unschooling) approach she had been reading about. Throughout this time, she documents her son’s adventures in nature, art, and clay. She notices that learning in unschooling is not linear “Some days he wanted to learn about the galaxy, the next day he wanted to play with his play doh” (2020, p. 43). But he was clearly happier (and she publishes his drawings as an example). Throughout this reflective article, Kharazmi describes her own process of reading, reflecting, and “deschooling” herself.

(Un)fixing Education

Kuntz, A.M. & Petrovic, J.E. (2017). (Un)fixing Education. Studies in Philosophy of Education, 37, 65 – 80.

In this philosophical article, Kuntz and Petrovic introduce the concept of unschooling as a possible panacea to fix the broken spaces of school. They see school as an extended bureaucratic process, one that is fixed on a current system of rules, grades, and classroom-based instruction. Unschooling is then introduced as the most democratic type of education – based on the work and ideas of Illich and Holt.

Overall, Kuntz and Petrovic (2017) posit that if we really want to reform schools, there needs to be some significant changes. Specifically, the authors would like to see more play, and more infusion of community within schools (field trips are great examples, but we can take that notion of “infusion of community” way further). Kuntz and Petrovic would also like to see schools less fixated on grades and test scores (something Alfie Kohn has been a proponent of from the very beginning). Finally, the authors call for more freedom of movement and freedom of communication within schools. Radically public schools would move way beyond the classroom walls – to further engagement with the natural world and with the community around them (both referring to “people resources” as well as “volunteer/work-based resources”)

Unschooling Motherhood

Reference: von Benzon, Nadia (2020). Unschooling motherhood: Caring and belonging in mothers’ time-space. Gender, Place, and Culture. Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0966369X.2020.1784100

In this article, von Benzon reviews the life worlds of unschooling mothers, reviewing 14 blogs authored by unschooling moms residing in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.

The author highlighted three main findings:

  1. Unschooling was a “Time – Cost” for mothers, as unschooling moms spent a significant amount of time not only caring for, but educating their children
  2. However, unschooling also created a “Time Liberation” for mothers, as they got to live their lives outside the traditional school schedule. This gives unschooling mothers the ability to maximize the time they are able to spend with their children, and also allows them to travel freely both locally and internationally.
  3. Unschooling blogs were “Time Marking”, allowing mothers to experience time uniquely through documentation on their blogs. Blogging also gave unschooling mothers the ability to create a sense of belonging and identity through social media platforms.

It is essential to note that the authors of these blogs were not informed of their participation. The author felt no need to do so, as she was a “lurker”, and not a commenter/participant within the blog. The author also kept the blogs she compiled data from anonymous.

Overall – it is an interesting piece, especially considering the discussion of the “Time Cost” of unschooling for mothers in particular.