How and Why we decided to Unschool?
How and Why we decided to Unschool?
By JINAL GADA
What made us take the unschooling path?
“Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places.”
― john holt, Learning All The Time
The story of Unschooling or homeschooling had started long long ago. Just that I didn’t know that it was called Unschooling.
Before I delivered Khevaansh I was a teacher in a conventional school. Yes there are two types of schools- conventional schools and then there are alternative schools.
I was very unhappy about the whole system of education. I kept doing several workshops and I kept upgrading myself with how to change things, but sadly, I was in a system and I had to follow it. Bolte hai na mera khun kholta tha but I couldn’t help it.
But there were certain workshops and courses which changed my entire thought process
- CIDTT- It’s a diploma course from the University of Cambridge. This really helped me understand how each child learns differently and how being in the system I still can do things differently but in this case the institute and other things have to be supportive. I was not very lucky, I did get support but I couldn’t achieve what I wanted.
- LEAD – I did this and it was so worth it, I was sent by my school to attend this and it was a 3 day workshop. Educators from many countries had come and all put up their perspectives on education and the system. Everyone spoke about the system- how the system is not preparing the kids for the real future – how it is actually is a mismatch. I don’t know if this ever happened again but this was for me and to change my perspectives.
- Waldorf school – I came to know about Waldorf schools through somebody as I was too inquisitive, I went there, met people, attended some events and workshops conducted by two Waldorf schools in Mumbai. I was amazed at how beautifully they took education. So slow and so holistic.
After knowing about Waldorf, I decided to do their teachers’ programme too, but somehow time didn’t support it and I couldn’t join. But I was very sure that whenever I have a child, my child is going to a Waldorf school. It was that time, when I didn’t know the concept of homeschooling or unschooling.
Fast forward, 2016 – I delivered Khevaansh and my research on waldorf education started. Basically just like any other mom, I was trying to find how I can do activities with Khevaansh which are waldorf types – so that I don’t harm the entire process. But I found none, because according to Waldorf, you should just let the children be UnTill they are 6.
But In this whole process, I landed upon homeschooling/unschooling through some Facebook group. Let me tell you I had absolutely no plans on doing this, but I thought what’s the harm in reading and understanding it. And the whole journey began. I kept asking my relatives and friends if they knew anyone who was homeschooling. But I found none.
The whole thing of reading enquiring kept going on. There was a lot of self questioning – how I learnt in school? How much I remember? What is now useful to me? And much more. The same questions I asked my husband too. This was tough but all worth it.
I read in one of the travel bloggers blog post – how they travelled the whole year and just did one hour of schooling each day and the kids learnt it all through travels. I was zapped, amazed and all gaga reading this. I was like wow I want this and only this. The thought of doing a mountain and plateau lesson and visting and being there is so different. I was like I want to do this but I had no courage. I was very very scared obviously because I was schooled and then I schooled kids for many years 🤪😂 so double problem.
Exploring Homeschooling and Unschooling
Then slowly and steadily I kept reading more and more. I must have done endless google searches and read endless blogs. One day I read one blog, where this girl mentioned how her mom died very young and because of school she couldn’t spend much time with her. She wished that she knew unschooling homeschooling and she could be at home, this made me very emotional. I have had a hard time conceiving Khevaansh and I didn’t want this to happen in our life. I want to be with him or at least be around him till as many years as he wants.
Our kids go to school then endless classes and in this whole thing grow up so fast that we start missing them in spite of them being with us. I didn’t want this with my child. I wanted to be with him and spend time with him. (Khevaansh is five and I already feel he is so independent and on his own, that I am so free)
So by now I was like 50% sure I can do homeschooling, because I was confident I can teach my child.
But then unschooling was also something I had read about, till I was not sure about homeschooling, I didn’t even think of unschooling. But slowly I read more and more about unschooling. Endless google search, Facebook search and some whatsapp group. I became more and more confident. Maximum self questioning happened during this time. Because unschoooling was a very huge decision.
Reading books on Unschooling
Then I landed upon the book How children learn by John Holt. I woke up at 5 am to read this book, bcoz Khevaansh was not even 2 and he needed a lot of time from me during the day. This book was just amazing. It gave me all the confidence I needed. Now I was 90% sure of unschooling. But I wanted to meet some people who were unschooling. I wanted to know what would happen in the future. What about 10th 12th and all of that?
Through Facebook groups and Whats app groups I kept asking questions to people who were ahead in this journey. I was very lucky to have a conversation with Urmila Samson too – whose kids are now married or are already in their professional field. They were unschooled. Talking to such people give you a lot of confidence. (I have so much to talk about her but I am just trying to control and keeping up with the blog post topic)
Workshops that helped understand Unschooling
I got to attend kb Jinans workshop- this man is A living John Holt. He speaks so much of John Holt. He says we feel children can’t do anything, they know nothing – we feel children need to be taught but he says children just need to observe and they will do what they want to. He says you just be a doer and the child will become that. His workshop was amazing and I wish to apply 100% of what he says, but since we live in a city life, it’s a little difficult (you will understand if you attend his workshop) but in future I wish to do what he says.
Then came aarohi- ratnesh and aditi are two gems. I have learnt so much from them, I felt it was easiest to follow what they said. Self directed learning – let the child decide and then do what he decides to. If he decides to learn football, teach him yourself or give him a coach or let him decide how he wants to learn? Through YouTube or by just playing with friends. Whatever the child decides, just do that. For now I follow this in my unschooling journey.
Then I met Suvarana, An Unschooling mom to a 9 year old. She had such beautiful thoughts on education. She was unschooling her 9 year old then – she was a vegan too- a lot of our thoughts matched and the journey with her began. I asked her endless questions and pakoed her to the core through messages, calls or by meeting her. She helped me meet many other unschoolers too.
Travelling and meeting people to understand Unschooling
Once you get into the community, you keep meeting more and more people. And you gain confidence. When Khevaansh was 2.5 years old, I travelled until a year with unschoolers or homeschoolers to understand more and meet more people who think alternatively. And this just helped me immensely. I was 100% sure now that I only and only want to unschool – because that was the right way according to me. We stopped this travels only due to lockdown and I am sure in another year or two we are going back to our travels.
You may also like to read a nomadic travel experience I took : An experience of real living – #nomadliving #banzaresoul #caravan2019
I have heard many ted talks too – Two inspirations were – Urmila Samson and Supriya Joshi. Supriya Joshi also helped me open up my mind.
Reading about Manish Jain was very inspiring for me. I had just read about him and the Shikshanatar in my initial journey of unschooling research. But then slowly, when I kept meeting different people kept hearing from different people about him. And I so wanted to meet him. When I met him, I was totally amazed. He has a very different thought process. I am so sure that the more I am with him, the more I am going to learn from him. I am literally waiting to meet him again.
So all of this self research, meeting people, reading on google and reading books – just helped me take the decision. Khevaansh is now 5years old and we are loving the journey.
This is an answer to the question why and how I took the decision of unschooling. It’s not a decision I just took. I have literally learnt, read, researched a lot before taking this decision.