My husband thinks that the name "Unschooling" is a "turn-off" to people; and I think perhaps he is right. The term "Unschooling" says in an obvious way what we are not doing, and perhaps falsely implies that we are "Unteaching".... AND it says nothing of what we ARE doing.
He says "Unschooling" could feel like an insult to someone who is schooling because it is like saying "I am doing the opposite of what you are doing".... leading to the question of the schooling parent "Well, what is wrong with what we are doing? What do you think is so wrong with school?" And reasonably could lead to feelings of offense, or defense.
Some other terms for what our family is doing are "Natural learning" and "Enthusiasm-based learning". These terms say something about what we ARE doing, and what we value.
Natural Learning says "We will learn together."
Schooling says "You will go to school and learn with other children your age."
Natural Learning says "What would you like to learn about?"
Schooling says "We will teach you what we want you to know."
Natural Learning says "What are you curious about?"
Schooling says "We will teach you what is in our curriculum, and you can be curious on your own time. After your homework is done."
Natural Learning says "What do you think you will need to know? And how can I support you in learning what you need to know?"
Schooling says "We know what you will need to know, and we will teach you."
Natural Learning says "I trust you. I trust that you will learn what you need to know, and that you will learn it in the way that you learn best."
Schooling says "You are not to be trusted with a task as important as learning. You are irresponsible, ignorant, and naive. We will teach you what you need to know, in the way that works best for us, and that we feel is best for the majority. If we trusted you to such an important task, surely you would miss something."
Natural Learning says "Everyone is unique. Everyone learns differently, in ways that are unique to them. Learning is everywhere, and in many forms. Kinesthetic, auditory, visual.... learning is messy, hands-on, experimenting; as well as book learning."
Schooling says "Everyone is the same. Everyone learns the same. Learning happens in the classroom. Learning looks like reading and writing; with the occasional experiment for 'science'."
Natural Learning says "Learning begins in the womb, and continues for the rest of our life. Learning is life. Mentors are everywhere."
Schooling says "Education begins in pre-school and continues through high school and collage. Learning happens at school, and at home when doing homework. People of the same age should be together, and should be learning and able to learn all the same things. Teachers are at school. Lessons are in curriculum."
Natural Learning says "Learning is learning, and all areas that are important to the learner are important. Learning includes reading, writing, and math, as it is important and applicable to the learner. Learning also includes spirituality, relationships, learning how one learns best, seeking and developing mentor/learner relationships, reflecting and being aware of learning, goal setting, questioning, researching, creating, problem solving. Learning is endless and without bounds!"
Schooling says "Learning is divided into subjects; with a time and place for everything. The most important subjects are: Language, Math, Science, Socials, PE. Every other kind of subject is extra, an elective; and is not as important."
Natural Learning says "Public school is great, and curriculum is great if it is the desire of the learner; and if it is what works best for the learner."
Schooling says "You can't possibly keep up with other students, unless you are on curriculum. Work hard so you don't 'Fall behind'."
Natural Learning says "Developing a Love of learning is the most important thing. With a love of learning, learning never ends. A learner has the power to learn anything they need to know. The learner is empowered!"
Schooling says "Everyone is being graded and marked, compared to everyone else. Learning the curriculum and getting a good grade is the most important thing."
Natural Learning says "Learners have the right to be with their families as much as they need and want to. That it is natural to live everyday life with people of a variety of ages, learning from each other, and together arising from both curiosity and passion."
School says "Students need to be with other children of their own age for much of the day; learning from knowledgeable and trained teachers to learn important curriculum and develop proper social skills."
Natural Learning says "Learning is an organic, natural process, like growth."
Schooling says "Learning is from books, and teachers hold the knowledge. Students must be encouraged and bribed, threatened and rewarded."
Natural Learning says "A learner can learn from anyone! A teacher, a mentor, another learner, a book, an activity, an animal, an experience...."
Schooling says "Asking a classmate for help is cheating."
Natural Learning says "Learning often comes from making mistakes."
Schooling says "Mistakes are wrong. Your grades will go down."
Natural Learning says "Our children's learning is like a 'Fire waiting to be lit'."
Schooling says "Children are like 'empty vessels waiting to be filled'."