Amy Harrington, Esq. is a SENG board member and SENG Model Parent Group facilitator, homeschooling advocate, and an eclectic unschooler of two profoundly gifted children. She is an attorney, writer, and blogger (Gifted Unschooling) who is passionate about the future of self-directed education. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Atypical Minds, which provides coaching and guidance to gifted families in their quest for alternative education and school accommodations.
Most people are familiar with homeschooling, but the idea of ‘unschooling’ remains a mystery to most. As Amy explained, “Unschooling is a philosophy that entrusts children to find their own passions. It is child-led, passion-led, and interest-led learning. Unschooling generally rejects a traditional schooling mindset and the tools that go along with it – curriculum. The child is in the driver’s seat of their own education. Children are autonomous learners SUPPORTED by parents.”
The discussion then turned to ‘deschooling”. According to Amy, “deschooling is letting go of a traditional schooling mindset and learning to trust the process of getting to unschooling philosophy. It let’s everyone relax, detox and figure out what they are interested in learning. We shed our old mindset and embrace freedom.”
What is the role of a mentor in unschooling? Mona Chicks explained, “Mentors play a huge role, as they help the child learn about the real stuff in their chosen field. They provide outside input, too.” Amy told us that “Not everyone has mentors while unschooling but my kid has enjoyed working with many professors and entrepreneurs.”
When it was suggested that a compromise or blended learning scenario could be used to ensure comparable results such as regular education and outside-of-school enrichment, most unschoolers disagreed. They believed that for profoundly gifted students and prodigies, school was actually detrimental. Many referred to a ‘healing’ process that their children went through after withdrawing from a traditional school environment.
A transcript of this chat may be found on our Storify Page.
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About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org