I just read a very insightful interview with “unschooler”, Kate Fridkis by Peter Gray in Psychology Today. Since the point of unschooling is freedom from other people’s expectations and rules, its difficult to figure out exactly what is going on with the interest-led learning movement – each family is unique. They do, however, share something in common with all the other home schooling families – the intense scrutiny of concerned friends, family and complete strangers regarding their socialization. Here are a couple of quotes, but you must read the whole article if you need some reassurance about the choices you are making to let your children be a little “weird.”
As a kid, the world was open to me. Because I didn’t grow up surrounded by a group of my same-age peers, I didn’t feel pressure to change my personality, look a certain way, or suppress interests that might not have been “cool.” So I got to be a lot of things at once that might seem contradictory, but aren’t, really. I was nerdy and dorky and obsessed with fantasy novels (I both read and wrote them), but I was also outgoing and popular with other girls and boy crazy. I always had a boyfriend, but I was pretty innocent. I didn’t feel pressure to be sexual, and I didn’t feel pressure not to be sexual. I could be shy in some situations and daring in others. I felt beautiful, because no one told me I shouldn’t.
As for play—I probably should have included that in the part about what I liked best about unschooling. I played constantly as a kid. I spent days in the woods, alone and with friends, pretending to live in a fantasy world, where warrior princesses and runaway wizards built campfires together and shared whispered secrets about the evil king. Even when I was a teenager, my friends and I wrote short stories and entire sprawling epic novels together for fun, illustrating them with dramatic watercolor renditions of battle and love scenes, and talking for hours on end about plot twists. The combination of play and endless reading is what made me into a writer, I think. I had to use my imagination constantly. And many of my close friends were happy to come along for the ride.
There’s more about how her life experiences translated into a strong work ethic, and details of her transition from unschooling to college and from college to grad school. Read the whole article here: Meet Kate Fridkis, Who Skipped K-12 and Is Neither Weird nor Homeless and check out Skipping School, where you can see more of how her experience with unschooling folds into her adult life.