How do you define unschooling?
A: It means not going to school! Un-schooling. That’s what it means.
J: It’s just really really fun and I love it.
O: Unschooling is where you can choose what you want to do. You can choose how you want to learn. So if there is a project you want to do; you can choose it. That’s what I really like about it.
What is something that you enjoy getting to do now that you couldn’t do before unschooling?
A: I don’t think I could do all of the cooking I do. I don’t think I would get much time to do drawing and things I like. Like cooking, and swimming, and going on the cloud swing, stuff like that.
J: Play Minecraft. I couldn’t play it because I was going to school everyday.
O: I didn’t get to learn the things I really wanted to learn. I didn’t get to choose what I would like to learn and be able to run with it. I had to learn the things they wanted me to learn.
What is the biggest challenge for you with unschooling?
A: I think it would be community. It depends, if you are in an unschooling community it’s different than unschooling on your own or with your siblings of course. You don’t socialize with so many people, I’d say.
J: There’s not really one. I don’t have one. Maybe to be the best I can be.
O: Maybe sometimes when I see other kids my age and they can do lots more things. Like they know all the times tables and I don’t…I sometimes feel like I’m not learning enough and I should learn more. But we all learn at our own speeds. So, I just have to tell myself that I’m learning enough in my own time. I tell myself we all learn different things because they also have something they can’t know but maybe I do. We all just have differences.
Would you change anything about unschooling?
A: I wouldn’t do anything but I might add some things on. If I was someone who did a project on unschooling I would make like unschooling big schools. It’s ironic but you can go if you like. (A place) where you hang out and do your unschooling and if you want there’s projects.
J: No, no, no, no, no.
O: It’s all mainly my decision..so. There’s nothing really to change if I’ve decided it.
What is your social life like? Do you see a lot of other people or do you feel lonely?
A: Well I don’t have many friends around here. I mainly socialize when we go to circus and stuff because I have my friends there. I’d say I got a few friends but I don’t socialize as much as I would like to.
J: It’s just a mixture. Sometimes this happens, sometimes that happens, it’s random.
O: In the school year when I go to clubs I get to see my friends..they come to our house then we all go to circus together and to clubs. Its nice, in the summer we can hang out with all of our other unschooling friends and sometimes we come to their house or they come to our house.
How do students in traditional school respond to learning about how you get to spend your time?
A: Sometimes kids can be unfriendly maybe because they are jealous or because they are just unfriendly. Most of them aren’t unfriendly.
J: Well, most of them are like “You’re so lucky.” But a few of my friends are like “You’re missing out so bad.” They like are jealous, they just don’t say it and they say, “I know all of this..do you know like 25+43…” I just sort of ignore it..I don’t say “I should have gone to school.” I say more like “I can learn in my own time, I choose what I want to do to, it’s my life.” And I don’t take my own blame.
O: If I meet children and they ask me “Where do you go to school.” I say “ I don’t go to school” They often really say “Wow you’re really lucky!” Some children who go to school often act out a bit by being mean and saying “do you know this, do you know that.” I think they can be a bit jealous. They don’t often like talking about it. If you mention it they just change the subject. I have some friends but mainly my closest friends are unschooling friends, friends who don’t go to school.
Have you ever had anyone respond negatively to learning that you unschool? Specifically in front of you.
A: Not to me, no.
J: I think so. I can’t remember.
O: To me, not really. They do sometimes do subtle things like try to test you. Try to see if you know this, if you know that. But no, I haven’t had loads of people say negative things about it.
What advice would you give someone your age who was leaving traditional school to pursue self-directed education?
A: I don’t think I would give them any advice. (lots of laughing) It depends what situation they’re in…if they want to leave it I wouldn’t give them any advice because they are so happy for getting out of school. Or if they really love school and have to come out of it I might say 的t’s fine….I would say find some clubs to go to like circus clubs or dance clubs.
J: I would say, “You choose. It’s your life you can choose what you want to do.” Simple!
O: I would just tell them to do what they like. If they like something, carry on with it. And don’t try to do anything to try and please someone else.
If it was up to you, what would you change about traditional schooling?
A: I would try to change the teachers I think. Not being so strict and going like this and like this and blah blah blah…If you want to do something they would help you and be really friendly and if you didn’t want to do something, they’d be cool with it and fine. It’s fine if you don’t do anything for a week or a month or a year and its fine if you do something for a year or a month or a week and they help you with it. That’d be a good teacher. Oh! And they give you lots of sweeties.
J: I’d change that they’re not so aggressive because they normally shout a lot and stuff. And I really don’t like that.
O: I would let the children design the structure and figure out what they want to do. And I would make everyone on the same page, the teachers aren’t in control of the children. They are all the same, so they can choose what they want to do.
Do you have any favorite moments since starting unschooling? (special projects, trips, activities, etc?)
A: We did an unschooling group with our friends and they would come over here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and we would spend the day doing projects. Stuff like that was really fun. And then oh..its all fun, really.
J: Maybe one of my birthdays. It was a really fun party and there were all my friends and it was really fun. It was just a party and we do what we want.
O: I just love dressing up. I choose a character from history, I research it, write about it, draw about it, then I dress up as the character. I’ve dressed up as a Georgian Lady, Amelia Earhart. My sister dressed up as one of the suffragettes. Yeah, I like doing that a lot.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future, lets say once you are no longer living at home?
A: I want to be happy, I want to be doing stuff with the circus.. I don’t know.. I’m too young.
J: I hope I’ll be next to a beach and next to a city in the middle of them both and I have like my own beach house made out of wood and stuff. As well as I’d like a lot of my friends around. That is what I’d like.
O: I don’t know. I’ll just do what I like.
Are you happy with your life?
A: Yes, I am. I think I am. I hope I am.
J: I’d say so, yeah.
O: Yes! Very, very.
This interview was by Marissa Griffin. She interviewed our three children who are twin gorls O and A ages 12 and J is 9. She herself went to a free school where she chose her own education and at present she is having a Workaway experience here with us.
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