How Unschooling Changed My Philosophy of Reading

How Unschooling Changed my Philosophy of Reading
Photo by John Noonan on Unsplash

People don’t know what to do with me when I tell them I’m a classical unschooler. The world, it seems, constantly wants to peg us down as either belonging to the classical philosophy or radical unschooling.

We are something else entirely: we memorize, but not too much. We value play and self direction. And because we see the value in rabbit trails and strewing, most of what we learn tends to happen through great conversations.

Taking My Own (Unschooling) Advice

Sometimes, we tend to lose focus, too, though.

I have also been fooled into buying curricula at various times. “Perhaps there really is some secret to this – some system – to learning I haven’t figured out!” I’ve thought. There is some deep understanding that others have that I don’t!

But soon I realize it’s not true. And I tire of knowledge that seems to hang there, disconnected from each other, details of grammar that can’t be applied and put into practice immediately.

So I recently decided to take my own advice when it came to self directed learning. Why not, I thought, use the unschooling advice of simply introducing something of interest instead of trying to remember all the details of how it happened?

Enter Reading with Purpose

The philosophy of unschooling says that it is enough to simply offer readers and learners a “taste” of something. You are not looking for mastery, you are looking for interest. If there is some desire, the learner will pursue it himself.

The classical method says that there are three stages of learning – the grammar stage in which you are just acquiring the basic information, the logic (or dialectic) stage when you put those discrete pieces of information together and then the rhetoric stage when you formulate your own opinion on the matter.

Putting these two together in my classical unschooling philosophy has been the focus of our learning and reading this year. And it made a big difference to how I personally read.

This philosophy leaves me (and my kids) free to explore. It doesn’t matter that we don’t quite “get” it all. We don’t go deep, we go wide. We expose our minds to information we’re interested in and then, when it matters, we go deeper into the rabbit trails.

The best thing about it? It removes fear. Because you read widely, and you read for interest, there will always be something that captures you and chances are good that something somewhere connects to something else.

That’s how the best kind of learning (and reading) takes place.

To see what I’m reading, follow my Goodreads page.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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