Unschool for High School

Unconventional learning while traveling

When my family started traveling my sisters (middle and elementary school) and I (high school) had to stop going to public schools. We tried to do online schooling with our district for a week or so; however, the time commitment and in-flexibility of this type of education proved to be almost as impossible to keep up with while traveling as regular school. Prior to leaving home we had already looked into a couple of methods of unconventional education and decided to switch to unschooling.

What is unschooling?

In short, unschooling can be described as the opposite of the public school system. There is no set curriculum, no deadlines, dates, or grades, and no teachers. The student is completely in control of his/her own education. In a public school, I would go to seven classes, five core classes and two electives, for fifty minutes each. Then, five hours of homework every night, tests, quizzes, finals, projects, required reading… you know the drill. Five days a week, for the entire year with exceptions of week long holidays and summer break. Now as an unschooler, I learn anything and everything I want. I can spend endless hours researching the origins of human civilization, or anatomy, or reading classics simply because I think they are interesting, and not because they are required for me to learn.

Transitioning:

For myself, the transition from conventional to unschooling was challenging. This transition is informally known as deschooling.  My sisters and I took a break from school completely after our last semester of regular school ended. I worried for a long time about how I would go to college, or get a job, or stay on the same level as my peers. I also worried about how I would be motivated to learn and what I would learn. I was unsure of how I would grow up to become the educated adult that society expects me to be without the constant guidance of the educational system.

It turn out that humans are actually a very naturally curious species. Without the restrictions of the school system, I have read, written, and been more excited about learning than I ever was while going to school.  Ironic, right?

Why unschooling is great

I don’t feel exhausted and mentally drained after spending countless hours in a classroom, and hours more at home doing as much work as possible to keep up with my 4.0 GPA and the hundreds of thousands of other 4.0s in this world all racing each other to the top of a ladder built not from excitement about learning, but from playing the system.

Instead, I feel empowered, independent, and smart. I feel grateful for an opportunity I was afraid of at first and took for granted, an opportunity to learn about the world in a way that the classroom cannot teach. As kids, we learn to play the piano, or paint, or cook, because it is what is interesting to us. Why is it that everything else we get to learn is closely controlled starting from five years old? For most of human history, learning was fluid and self motivated. This is how scholars such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Mozart, Einstein and Benjamin Franklin learned. I am excited to keep traveling and learning about the world, and I hope you feel inspired to do the same.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment if ya like 🙂 -Izzy

Some cool resources: 

Khanacademy.org — lessons that teach pretty much everything and lots of cool partner content

Alison.com  and Coursera.org — offer free college level courses  from prealgebra  to buisness to neuroscience

Ed.ted.com — Talks and lessons to getcha thinking

freerice.com — learn a bunch of subjects while helping end world hunger too

Goodreads.com — If you are looking for some interesting books

Overdrive downloadable library — hundreds of free ebooks and audio books to rent. All you have to do is put in your library card number.

Selfmadescholar.com — even more online classes that arn’t college level

Shmoop.com — a good resource for history, language arts, and test prep