Black & Abroad: What is Unschooling?
I’m Black and abroad. I’m a digital nomad who travels full-time with my daughter. We love being Black and abroad and I love connecting with other families who are Black and abroad and exploring ways to educate their children. I’m a product of public schools and I thrived there but it was mainly due to the fact that my mother is and has always been my fiercest advocate in all things but especially education. I’m raising my own daughter with a love of education and knowledge but taking a different path than my mother did with me. I’m a digital nomad who slow travels with my daughter. We live in cities and towns all over the world for an average of 6-10 months. I am unschooling her.
Black and Abroad: Unschooling for Beginners
Many parents like myself are looking for nontraditional ways to educate their children. Some families like our are Black and abroad, others are n their home countries searching for options. One of those ways in unschooling.
I cringe when I see children on social media spending hours in online classrooms. To me that is a recipe for teaching children how to hate school.
I understand that many parents feel they have no other choice and feel ill equipped to teach their children at home themselves. I didn’t move abroad as a Black woman for my daughter to look at a computer screen all day. I move abroad as a Black woman for a level of independence and freedom.
One of the ways that I am educating my daughter while we are abroad is through unschooling. It is considered by many to be a subset of home schooling. The term itself was coined in the 1970s by a guy named John Holt. It involved the radical and unorthodox idea that children can dictate their own learning.
Has your child ever been passionate about something? Truly passionate?
Take for example me. As a kid I was obsessed with dinosaurs (think Peppa Pig’s little brother George obsessed). My mom recognized that and encouraged me to learn as much as I could about dinosaurs and you know what – I did.
I studied the history of the earth and why the dinosaurs became extinct. I learned the different subspecies if dinosaurs and the difference between a herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. I learned about bones and fossils and what a paleontologist does. And I learned all this at 4 or 5 on my own because I was interested.
Reimagining Education: Unschooling
Now imagine you have a child who is passionate about rap music (don’t roll your eyes, it’s a legitimate musical genre). What if they started studying rap music like truly studied it. They learned it’s history in urban communities. It is and has been the voice of activism. What if they learned how great rappers like Jay-Z and Tupac use of double entondres. And what if they continued studying and learned about griots and the history of oral story telling in African societies. Would you still think studying rap music was a waste of time?
Children who are unschooled learn through their natural life experiences. These can include things like travel, play, chores, personal interests, books, elective classes, mentors etc. The unschooling learning style believes education and learning is deeply personal and thus a child is encourage to explore what is of interest to him/her.
I’m raising a global black woman. Her ability to think critically, be well informed and passionate about learning is paramount. For me unschooling is one of my tools to allow her to do this. What do you think of unschooling?