One possible reason for people's strong opinions is that (in my short experience) there IS no absolute definition of Unschooling or Natural Learning. There is much written about these philosophies, and excellent books and websites with support, tips and terminology. But the extent to which it is applied varies a lot. Even the principles behind it are elusive, and by their very nature these methods are open to interpretation and individualised implementation. And THAT is what I have found so confusing, yet also comforting.
I could call us eclectic tidal lifelong learners, but eclectic home schoolers is easier. I'm not a Natural Learning or Unschooling purist, but it is an important part of the big picture of learning for us. Here are some WONDERFUL articles about N.L. and U.S. on blogs I read regularly and find inspiring:
An Unschooling Life
(NOTE: I have other favourite blogs too, so forgive me if I've left you out!! I'm sure some of you have related posts and I spent ages sifting, but ran out of time before I found them. If you've written an article about what Unschooling and Natural Learning mean to YOU please put a link to it in the comments!)
These people have tried to explain what Unschooling and Natural Learning mean to them, and I've been encouraged by their example, seeing how they exercise their freedom of choice, to persist in finding my own way of home schooling, without pressure to use the labels in the same way as anyone else ... unless I want to :)
In the past two years I kept trying, but feeling it was impossible and futile, to define my home education philosophy. I'm not 'there' yet, but am glad to say I've learned a lot along the way and have gained a little more confidence. Amongst the many lessons learned, I've realised:
* Our homeschool will be whatever we need it to be, in order to reach the goals we (as a family and individuals) are working towards. Flexibility is one of the reasons we home educate, and we're free to change our methods to adapt to emerging interests, embrace opportunities and go with the flow of our life.
* Other people's opinions DO matter to me. Not in a weak, submissive way, but as part of the way I relate to people and view society. I'm capable of standing up for what I believe is right. Being able to articulate WHAT we do, WHY and HOW, in a concise way, is something I will probably continue to strive for, whether it's possible or not.
* I can't please everyone (and even if I wanted to it would be impossible), but I'm responsible for the choices I make on behalf of my children. I believe I'm accountable to God, my family, the government and to some extent, fellow home educators. I can explain why I reached this conclusion, but won't get into it now. It's a big responsibility to raise children and influence their perception and place in the world.
In Part Two, I'll share what Natural Learning and Unschooling mean TO ME, and how they fit into the big picture of my education philosophy.
I may even write Part Three, which would be an example of how it all pans out during a typical week.
Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear people's thoughts about this!