February 3, 2006

Althouse picks up a story from CNN on the supposed "unschooling" movement. 

An extension of home-schooling, "unschooling" is when parents give their children total freedom to learn and explore whatever they choose.

According to the article, unschoolers make up maybe 10% of the homeschool population.  Hardly a movement.  And, as the Althouse commenters are quick to point out, hardly something new, either.  The idea that, if left to themselves, children would naturally grow and learn without the tiresome restrictions and fears placed upon their little blank-slate minds by the adults around them, goes back further than Rousseau’s ideas of utopian barbarianism. 

Granted, a few children out of a hundred would do very well being left to pursue whatever interests them, but those same children tend to do well no matter what system they are under, because they don’t let the system define what they do.  There were two years when my parents strongly considered taking me out of the public school system I belonged to and letting me school myself, but they let me decide to stay, and I don’t particularly mind making that decision. 

I should point out, in case my earlier sarcasm wasn’t obvious, that I tend to believe we would see much more "Lord of the Flies" than Rousseau’s belief in man’s natural goodness if we were to leave children to their own devices.


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