Unschooler Karen M. Gibson relates how her definition of unschooling has changed as her children have matured into young adults. As adult unschoolers, Karen gives recent examples of unschooling in her and her husband's lives, including studying for Cisco certification tests and employment searches.

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In a society which emphasizes teaching, children and students – and adults – become passive and unable to think or act for themselves. Creative, active individuals can only grow up in a society which emphasizes learning instead of teaching.
~ Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language)

    And The Beat Goes On … Unschooling Adult-Style
    Karen M. Gibson

    Unschooling is child-led, interest-led learning, or at least that is my quick and easy definition. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? But lately I have been thinking that my definition does not fit our situation anymore, since there are not very many children left in the house. It is difficult to have child-led learning without a child!

    So I have been contemplating on what my current definition of unschooling should be, now that my children are adults. How does this sound? Unschooling is individual-led learning that occurs on an as-needed or as-desired basis. What? That isn't unschooling! Isn't that just life? Exactly. Which is why unschooling as a homeschool method held such appeal to me when I first heard of it. It was exactly the way we (my husband and I) already approached life. It was the example we were already setting for our children. It was the way every adult I knew operated. Why should the way our children learned be any different from the way all the adults around them learned?

    I am often asked for examples of unschooling in action. It seems silly to tell others what we do, since unschooling is just living your life, whatever your life might be. My life is going to be different from yours. I can tell you about my typical unschooling day, but it really won't bear any resemblance to what your unschooling day will be like. But I would like to share a couple of examples of our adult lives and how we are learning as we go; not our children, but Bill and I, the parents in the family. Because I consider us unschoolers also, unschoolers for life, unschoolers of life.

    Computers were a new and fascinating technology to Bill when he was in his late twenties. They have been a source of fascination, wonder and challenge to him ever since we acquired our first one in 1985. I remember his father telling him to quit wasting his time playing around with those things. And we laugh now, thinking of what his father would say to Bill making his living doing nothing but playing around with "those things." It was a long transition for Bill, though, from farmer to network administrator. His extensive knowledge of computers has come about solely because he followed his passion, being the unschooler that he is.

    Just this past March Bill added another certification to his resume. He has several Microsoft certifications (MCP, MCSE, MCSA), but felt certain that his current job search would be more profitable if he could add a Cisco certification (CCNA). He researched which certification he thought he would have the best chance of passing, bought two books, and then spent many long evening and weekend hours studying. He passed the test the first time around, which the test proctor said was quite unusual. All of his certifications were earned the same way, through self-study rather than being taught by someone else or by taking a class (although those are perfectly good options if that is they way you learn best or desire to learn).

    One of my unschooling experiences these past several months began out of necessity, although I have discovered that I enjoy certain aspects of the adventure. As you read previously, Bill has been looking for a new job. Due to his busy work schedule, it seemed to make sense for me to assist in this search. As it has worked out, I do most of the preliminary work, searching through the job boards to find potential jobs. I then save them for him to look over and make final approval on whether to submit a resume or not. From there, it is Bill's responsibility to make follow up phone calls, etc. The division of labor has worked well. I enjoy researching, scanning for key words, finding new job boards, and comparing the descriptions of jobs in the different sites to see if they are actually different jobs or the same ones we have already applied to. Those are all aspects of the job search that Bill finds tedious and aggravating. Plus, I have the time during the day to do these things. Otherwise Bill would have to do them in the evening, after work, when he is already mentally and physically fatigued.

    It is amazing how many job boards and search engines there are on the Internet. Everyone has heard of the big ones, like Monster and CareerBuilder. I have found so many that I thought I would put some of the more useful ones on one web page, along with brief descriptions. If you are looking for a job, you might find it worthwhile to check out my Job Search page. Even though Bill is looking for an IT position, many of the job searches I have discovered can also be used by those in other lines of work. So check it out and if you have successfully used another job board that is not on my list, I would certainly appreciate your passing it along to me.

    Do you have examples of unschooling in your adult lives? Or maybe your children are now adult unschoolers? Send me examples and I'll add them to this page.

    Copyright April 2007

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Let's talk about learning and education as it should be, as it can be!

The Teenage Liberation Handbook
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For everyone who has ever gone to school or is interested in the current national debate over educational reforms, but it is especially relevant for teenagers and the parents or caregivers of teens.

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by Mary Griffith
Unschooling, a homeschooling method based on the belief that kids learn best when allowed to pursue their natural curiosities and interests, is practiced by 10 to 15 percent of the estimated 1.5 million homeschoolers in the United States.

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