unschooling in Canada, also known as Natural Learning, and Non-Coercive Education
Creating Our Own Structure in Education
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The Kids in the alleyway at the Pacific Brimm, Parksville, British Columbia,

Kids need time to be free, to relax and to create

Unschooling is a generic term for a form of homeschooling in which, loosely speaking, education happens without the use of a schedule, curriculum, testing and grades. It's an approach which is used in varying degrees by different families. Unschooling is child-led education, so if the child chooses to go to school, they are still unschooled, as they were not coerced or persuaded to go there, but chose to do so of their own free will. Unschooling is the rejection of an imposed education. Other synonyms are natural or non-coercive learning, auto-didactic, self-learning, free range organic education.

Nobody wants to be just another brick in the wall. Yet a good solid wall is a thing of beauty and each piece of it is valuable. Like a strong community, the wall may shelter us and give us a place to hang our tools and art. Nobody wants to be processed in an assembly line, to be used in building a wall they didn't ask for. There is good reason for the resounding popularity of the Pink Floyd song after all these years. We want to create our own structure and be responsible for our own lives.

Canadian families, along with their counterparts throughout the world, face many challenges in making decision about their children's education. As young families in Canada, we've all learned the importance of quality and quantity time, bonding, attachment parenting, breastfeeding and healthy eating, so there is a precedent to continue that interest into the arena of their education. We all love our kids and while we may be struggling with our own issues in becoming the good parents and people we would like to become, we take our responsbilities to our youth very seriously.

Some families choose to use the public school system, and some choose alternatives including private school, Waldorf and Montessori schools, homeschooling, unschooling and distance education, or a combination thereof. Some see the necessity of separation of school and state. Some want a reduction in government interference in their educational choices, while retaining public schools for those who prefer to leave it to educators and teachers. We are all concerned about labels our kids are given, including ADD, ADHD, OD, 'unteachable', 'bad attitude' etc. The drop-out rate for kids is high; many later turn out to be gifted and brilliant despite those labels. Yet all kids are gifted and brilliant in their own right when given a venue for their talents, and given the patience and attention of at least one devoted caring adult. We care about our youth's self-esteem. Adults and kids alike all feel safer in a non-coercive environment. After all, who likes to be forced to learn anything?

We want freedom of choice, but we also want safety and a level of containment which is minimal. Families, adults, youth and young children alike want guidance from experienced and skilled people in a variety of skills. As tax-payers, we want democratic access to resources, yet in the spirit of decentralization and self-respect, we do not want to be told what to do every step of the way.

With Canadian contributions to this site, I hope to explore some of these assertions.

Anita Roy, site publisher

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Design by E-Tango, Anita Roy, Nanoose Bay, British Columbia
Special Thanks to Mehdi Na´mi

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Unschooling Canada