Teacher-free school 

Street Smarts

"Unschooling" lets students select and manage their own learning activities; adults merely "consult." Is this a realistic alternative to traditional education?

click to enlarge Carter Young

Carter Young of Old Colorado City is a charter school teacher

How necessary is the traditional school structure to the average student? The average kid isn't likely to provide enough structure for him- or herself.

Is "unschooling" realistic? It depends on how committed the parents are to providing their child a sufficiently structured alternative.

How well would you have fared in unschooling? Horribly. I had ADHD. I bounced around a lot. I wouldn't have focused on anything.

How would you have spent your time? In sordid activities.

Would you have acquired the skills needed for college or the workplace? Definitely not. I needed direction.

click to enlarge Sue Richardson

Sue Richardson of Manitou Springs is an EMS educator

Is self-directed learning realistic? It depends on the interests of the child and on the willingness of the parents to provide guidance. No matter what the approach, though, we make our own educational opportunities by complementing adult guidance with our own initiative.

How would you have fared in an unschooling milieu? I would've done well. I'm non-traditional by temperament. I seek opportunities to learn in whatever environment I'm in. I would've needed guidance here and there, though.

Would you have studied subjects you didn't like? Probably not.

Describe the school you attended. It was an urban school with abundant cultural differences. It enabled me to experience a lot of different faiths, beliefs, ways of seeing. It broadened my view of the world.

Describe how it felt as a kid at the start of summer break. A huge sense of relief. A chance to go outside and have fun, relax, do whatever I wanted.

click to enlarge Scott Johncock

Scott Johncock of the west side is a dairy employee and filmmaker

Is unschooling a realistic approach to education? I don't know. I do know that public schools are stuck in a rut. They could do a lot better.

How would you have fared in an unschooling scenario? Given the choice, I would have done nothing but arts and crafts all day, every day. I didn't like school. I had no interest in it. A highly motivated student might do well in it, though.

If it weren't required, would you have studied subjects you didn't like? Absolutely not. I barely did anyway, even when expected to.

Describe how it felt to be a kid at the start of summer break. Next to Christmas, it was the best day of the year.


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