Lisa Nielsen: 20 Characteristics of Unschoolers, Why it Matters

DigitalEd is interested in Lisa Nielsen’s post on Unschooling because many of the source blogs are related to elearning. Be sure to check out the sources listed here and the variety of students that make up Unschoolers; world travelers, music enthusiasts, artistis, athletes and many more.
Some innovative educators are perplexed as to why someone like me who has a career vested in the educational system is interested in sharing the idea of unschooling. I’m interested because the rouse is up. Many students who are in and graduated/dropped out of school realize that what they learned didn’t prepare them for life and sucked the passion and love of learning right out of them….In my short time exploring this model of learning, I’ve discovered that grown unschoolers posses many of the following characteristics.
20 Characteristics Common Among Unschoolers

  1. They are driven by passion.
  2. They have a love of learning.
  3. They want you to know that school isn’t the best place to learn lessons on socialization.
  4. They are happy.
  5. They have interesting careers that they enjoy.
  6. They are artistic in some way.
  7. They they are creative.
  8. They have a concern for the environment.
  9. They consider learning in the world far more authentic and valuable then learning in the school world.
  10. They are white. At least all the ones I’ve read about. Looking to be proven wrong here.
  11. They deeply consider whether college is the right choice for them rather than it being a given.
  12. They have no problem getting in to college and many do so before they are 18.
  13. They appreciate some aspects of formalized schooling in college if they’ve decided to attend.
  14. They advocate for themselves and their right to a meaningful curriculum in college.
  15. They don’t believe that they are an exception because they are especially self motivated, driven, or smart, though they like to be called that. Rather unschooling has empowered them to be this way.
  16. They shrug off the criticism that they won’t be able to function in the real world. Unlike functioning in the school world, learning in the real world prepares you for the real world.
  17. They don’t expect learning to come just from a parent, adult, authority or teacher. They know how to independently tap into many resources for learning and discovery. Adults are just one resource.
  18. They are often defending the fact that they were unschooled, but know that if you knew what it was really like you might be jealous.
  19. They are adventurous. For some that means local adventures, and others world adventures.
  20. They are grateful that they were unschooled for the most part.

So, there’s a quick recap of what I’ve learned from reading a couple dozen blogs (which you can visit here) and profiles (stay tuned for an upcoming post) of unschoolers. They don’t all have all these qualities, but most have many of them. A similar list of students from compulsory schools would look very different and might be a fun follow up post. So, unschoolers, if you’re reading this, how’d I do?

Katie Vander Ark - Getting Smart

Katie Vander Ark

Katie is an education and innovation enthusiast.

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