What are the differences between “unschooling” and “worldschooling”?
The definition to both words are not unanimously agreed upon among the practitioners or communities involved. But here is my take on it:
A general definition of “unschooling” is to live as if school does not exist. There are deeper philosophies at the foundation of the unschooling movement that include supported self-directed learning as an outcome of natural learning, usually facilitated by the parent(s).
Some even incorporate the “child-led” philosophy into every aspect of the learners life, allowing complete freedom not just focused on learning, but within food choices, bedtimes and hygiene issues as well. They are known as “radical unschoolers”.
Others incorporate project based learning or other forms of formalized curriculum into the mix and consider themselves “relaxed” or “eclectic unschoolers”.
There is no one way to unschool. Unschooling is primarily about process not content. The process of learning, the process of knowing yourself, openness, confidence, self-determination, independent thinking, critical thinking….none of which one gets when following other people’s agenda. Making one’s own agenda is what it is all about. This is done not in isolation but in the context of ones family and community. ~Joel Hawthorne
From a post called So, what is unschooling, anyway? I write:
Unschooling is a term that the late John Holt coined in the late ‘70′s to describe learning that is based on a child’s interests and needs. Unschooling does not begin with a parent’s notion of what is important to learn and then turn the choices of how to learn the content over to a child. Rather, it begins with the child’s natural curiosity and expands from there. Unschooling is not “instruction free” learning. If a child wants to learn to read, an unschooling parent may offer instruction by providing help with decoding, reading to the child, and giving the child ample opportunity to encounter words. If the child is uninterested in these supports, the parent backs off until the child asks for help. The most important thing about the unschooling process is that the child is in charge of the learning, not the adult. Unschoolers often do no traditional school work, yet they do learn traditional subject matter. They learn it as a natural extension of exploring their own personal interests.
We have just started our sixth year of traveling and unschooling combined and we’ve transitioned into calling ourselves “worldschoolers”.
Because as self directed learners who travel, there is just a little more to our learning experiences.
We believe once you combine travel and unschooling, we can’t help but to learn from the world around us, amplified through travel. In simple terms, the world teaches.
It’s pretty natural from the standpoint of being an unschooling parent, allowing the environment to guide our learning experiences. Yes, as a ‘parent and child’ who share the world, I have become an unschooled-learner too. But I have made a pretty keen observation recently: Learning happens without the formality of “teaching”, whether a family is unschooling or not. What I mean is that a child develops his (or her) inner-most-core through examples, experiences and the observations of the world around them.
For us, travel has become the expression of that freedom.
Since learning happens naturally, the freedom to be exposed to new interests through travel has literally transformed the world into an interactive classroom for us. We find ourselves stimulated with the newness of our daily surroundings. We have no problems being inspired to try new things and even step out of our comfort zones, deep into the unknown.
But it’s not just about adventure, thrill seeking or superficial travel experiences.
We’ve genuinely been inspired research beyond each experience with a deep desire to know (learn) more .
I am certain Miro’s interest permaculture likely would not have blossomed from our old urban homestead in downtown Los Angeles as easily as it has here, visiting indigenous farms and volunteering in Latin America. Equally, my newly developed deep passion for ancient cultures would not have developed had I not had the opportunity to visit all of the wonderful archeological sites we’ve encountered from Mexico to Peru.
Quite literally, the world has been transformed into a classroom.
What is Worldschooling?
Miro and I and define the meaning of “worldschooling” in this way:
My son and I practice principles of self directed learning known as unschooling….with one clear addition: learning from ideas we are exposed to as a result of our travel experiences.
What does worldschooling look like for us?
Miro and I are self proclaimed “radical unschoolers”, as we move through our learning and traveling journey together. Miro guides his learning through his interests and makes his own decisions about how and what to peruse. And I support him along the way.
Since we’ve been living a “travel lifestyle”, those exposures tend to be daily experiences. In other words, by virtue of being in the world, we are exposed to things, ideas, cultures, environments, history and experiences that may have not been guided by either of our interests, rather guided by travel itself.
We see this as an opportunity to research deeper and investigate wider to place context into our experiences. It’s immersive learning, not necessarily driven by interest, rather driven by experience.
I am the admin of a worldschooling group on facebook, all members are interested in worldschooling in some form or another. Education through travel is our common thread, but even among the 700+ members, we tend to define the term worldschooling differently. Some refer to worldschooling as the act of “unschooling” during travel, while others call themselves worldschoolers as expats who enroll their children in local schools throughout the world.
In my opinion, there is no wrong or right way to apply any of the “unschooling” or “worldschooling” terminology. I believe each family needs to breathe their own meaning into what works for them.
Also, make sure to read the point of view of a 15 year old worldschoolers’ thoughts on wordlschooling :