In my last blog post I posed the question of homeschooling, specifically unschooling, as threatening the nation state. To define ‘unschooling’ it is a mainstream sub-classification of homeschooling describing individuals who are taught without a prescribed curriculum and often through real life experiences. Unschooled children are, therefore, not learning government mandated curriculum which is otherwise learned in public schools.
Romero (2018) describes unschooling as rebellion against the nation state. He states, not only are ‘unschoolers’ rejecting the curriculum, they are also rejecting the institutional power inflicted upon students through government mandated curriculum that pushes the goals of the nation upon children. Wardekker (2001) offers an alternative explanation to government mandated curriculum stating that conformity is a strength with regards to education as it creates unity within the nation state, and the nation state is better able to achieve it’s goals. The nation state mandating school curriculum can be seen as both a positive and a negative thing depending on whether the nation states values align with the personal values of its citizens.
Conformity in education may create a mentally united nation-state, but our students are disadvantaged by having to learn things they are not interested in, and will therefore, never use in their lives again. Our education system is over run with government agendas and standardized testing to further homogenize the learning environment. Mampaey (2016) offered the example of universities becoming increasingly homogenized through standardized testing and standardized curriculum so that universities are comparable and competitive. Schools are becoming bureaucracies that capitalize off the production of knowledge that occurs within in them, either monetarily or by the indoctrination of future citizens.
Unschooling is an educational option that provides parents with the opportunity to educate their children in an individual manner that relates more to the individual child’s interests and less to the governments agenda. Petrovic & Rolstad (2017) describe unschooling as a truly democratic education, where neoliberal values are not pushed on children. Unschooling promotes autonomy within education; autonomy of thought, learning and the curriculum that is taught.
Autonomy, and learner centred learning fosters intrinsic motivation because it draws on the individual’s desire to learn and there is no external reward or punishment based on the performance of the individual on whatever evaluation method is prescribed (Riley, 2016). The current schooling system does not foster intrinsic learning because progression through the education system is based simply on how well an individual is performs on standardized tests based on the government mandated curriculum they are required to learn.
Standardized, government mandated education does ensure that individuals are all learning the same things. Unfortunately all individuals do not want or need to learn the same things as we are not all going to have the same careers or the same skill sets. It may be hard to regulate what is being taught in the home it even if nothing is taught, at least a child’s desire to learn will not be destroyed by the use of extrinsic motivation such as grades, and their self-esteem will not be destroyed by a constant comparison to others.
Mampaey, J. (2016). Are higher education institutions trapped in conformity? A translation perspective. Studies in Higher Education. 43(7): 1241-1253.
Riley, G. (2016). The role of self-determination theory and cognitive evaluation theory in home evaluation theory in home education. Cogent Education. 3: 11636551.
Romero, N. (2018). Toward a critical unschooling pedagogy. Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning. 12(23): 56-72.
Petrovic, J. E. & Rolstad, K. (2017). Education for autonomy: Reading Rousseau and Freire toward a philosophy of unschooling. Policy Features in Education. 15(7-8): 817-833.
Wardekker, W. L. (2001). Schools and Moral Education: Conformism or Autonomy? Journal of Philosophy of Education. 35(1): 101-115.