Homeschooling, Unschooling, and Inspiring Life-Long Learners
“Right now, families across the world are questioning the education system. They have a choice and that choice is either homeschooling or self-directed education.”
Are you pursuing alternative education with your family?
Or are you still on the fence and feeling terrified of ruining your children?
If you are, don’t stress, it is not an uncommon feeling for parents at the best of times, let alone when you choose to live outside what society considers ‘normal’.
TK Coleman and Isaac Morehouse are a dynamic duo who spoke to Galileo at this inspirEd Clubhouse event about their own alternative upbringings and how they informed their opinions about education today.
To say this was an interesting discussion is an understatement!
The friends shared such wisdom and passion but more than that, they offered support and understanding for parents wanting something different for their kids but feel the strain of going against societal norms.
As TK so aptly explained, “it’s always difficult to have the kid that’s different from all the other kids. Even if you love your kid and support your kid, that’s a very challenging thing to deal with. So it’s natural to worry a lot about your child, is my child a little too different? I know it’s good to be different, but is my child a little too different? And so it's easy to fall into the habit of prioritizing the very qualities that are the antithesis of what it takes to be successful in the real world.”
So if you are a parent trying to embrace it all - different education, different kids, a different way of life... then this chat is definitely for you!
Curiosity is vital if you want to homeschool your child
TK Coleman was raised in the church but credits his parents for his open-minded approach to education today, saying they encouraged curiosity.
“They were not defensive or angry when I had curiosities about anything, whether it was verses in the Bible, or questions about school, questions about conflicts, or even questions about insects. Whatever it was I was interested in, they encouraged me to be curious about it. They encouraged me to ask about it. And they not only gave me good answers, but they also knew how to amplify my curiosity, by encouraging me to explore places where answers could be found beyond themselves, through relationships with other people, good literature and things along those lines.”
He believes that curiosity is at the heart of learning.
“I believe that, at the end of the day, education begins with the curiosities of the learner, and everything that we want to teach matters only when we’re able to find a genuine point of connection between what we want to share and what intrigues them about the universe.”
You don’t need to be qualified to embark on an alternative education path with your child, you just need to be interested in them, curious about them, and allow them to explore their own interests and curiosities.
Independence and homeschool without curriculum
Isaac Morehouse was homeschooled and is now homeschooling his own four children. He says he grew up with very unstructured learning because his dad needed care after a car accident, and his mom had a lot on her plate.
“Lots of socialization, not a lot of curricular structure, but a ton of household chores” is how Isaac describes his homeschooling experience.
“I grew up with a huge emphasis on work ethic, huge emphasis on independence from a very young age, making ourselves breakfast, and being responsible for taking care of ourselves. I always got jobs at an early age and earned money.”
This independence and work ethic inspired the entrepreneurial spirit in Isaac, and he says, “because of that when I finally got some sort of intellectual interest or even entrepreneurial interest, I knew how to pursue them independently because what I had was independence.”
The value of being ‘imbalanced’ when exploring homeschooling
Isaac asked TK a significant question about the value of being imbalanced in relation to learning. The idea is that you could go down a rabbit hole when learning about a particular subject, fully immerse yourself in it and master it.
TK says this is the best kind of learning and an important skill for adulthood.
“Because in the adult world, we want people that are so focused on what they do best, are so focused on what they love, that they bring a quality of energy to it”.
Many parents worry about their kids not having diverse interests and focusing on one topic where school is thought to offer a “well-rounded” education.
Isaac mentions that there are often conversations about how traditional school impedes learning, like Sir Ken Robertson’s famous TED talk, but rarely conversations about the positives of falling down a creative rabbit hole when learning.
“When you master something, it isn’t just the thing itself. It’s the art of mastering something, and that’s transferable to everything”.
As parents, it’s easy to become preoccupied with what they aren’t learning rather than what they are learning.
Isaac reminds us that when taking a deep dive into a topic, they “know how to push themselves, how to master things, how to get good, how to work with their own limitations, how to have self-discipline and that’s transferable to everything. I think that’s something that is easy to miss as parents.”
Do you want to homeschool your child and offer them learning freedom?
Daniel Prince shared a quote from Plato that rings as true today as it did in 430BC, “knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind”.
So self-directed education is an amazing option for families wanting to offer their kids learning freedom.
TK says “most children haven’t had an opportunity to have the leash come off long enough to even experiment in a way that helps them understand what their own curiosities are”.
Kids need time to explore, to investigate, to play, to be bored.
They need to be given the option of exploring all the things that interest them, so they can discover what really sparks joy.
Like Galileo, a self-directed learning journey means kids have access to a wide range of topics and a supportive community while discovering their passions.
“So never be too quick to assume that you already understand what your child’s passion is, what your child’s interest is. You can only witness or observe what their true interest is when you create the space where you give them the opportunity to experiment for a sustained period of time.”
Why are parents still hesitant to dive into homeschooling?
Why are you unsure about homeschooling?
TK and Isaac provided answers to this question that were honest, real, and thought-provoking.
Daniel asked Isaac why so many people were still buying the school/college product when it has been shown that a college degree is not necessary for the job market.
“They buy it because of the social status, not the employment status, not the opportunities that open up for your working life but because of the social acceptance you get with it and the pressure you face without it.”
And that is a truth bomb if ever I heard one!
No one wants to be a bad parent! And society deems anything alternative as bad, or at the very least, not good enough.
This is particularly true for mothers, who seem to bear the brunt of the guilt, stress, and disapproval.
But will school provide the best opportunities for our kids?
TK says, “school often teaches things like fitting in, knowing how to conform, knowing how to follow rules, knowing to not stand out, except for areas like running a little faster, scoring more points at the same game. But in the adult world, the kinds of things that it takes to be successful and to be healthy, and to be happy are the things like learning how to create your own games, rather than competing with other people at already existing games. Learning how to navigate the difficult process of embracing what it is that makes you weird and different.”
There is no time for dreaming, exploring, or joy in the current school system.
This is tragic because those things will allow our kids to discover themselves and their interests.
When given time and space, “they are acquiring skills, they are acquiring concepts, they’re acquiring metaphors, ways of looking at the world, ways of engaging the world, that will be transferable to what they do. And those are going to be the very things that make them interesting”.
Is alternative education the best future for our children?
Isaac and TK both believe that alternative education options are the learning of the future.
TK says, “I believe that the hope for education lies in the direction of charter schools, homeschooling communities, unschooling apprenticeship programs, and other voluntary models for alternative education.”
Isaac created Praxis, a college alternative that is dedicated to changing the way we think about education. Like Galileo, Praxis allows for self-directed, hands-on learning that is geared towards skills and entrepreneurial thinking.
Isaac said that college is unnecessary, but “it’s about taking the risk and responsibility of creating an alternative so that other people have something to choose. Because when people feel like they don’t have options, they’re going to do the same old thing, even if it is unhealthy, even if it is less than ideal.”
Galileo and other online platforms, like Praxis, are the alternatives we need for the future.
So consider this: an alternative learning journey with your family
It can seem like too big a task, a little too out there.
But really, it’s not that bad!
There are so many alternative education options available to suit your family and they all come with an amazingly supportive community of parents and facilitators who only want the best for you and your family.
Can you say the same about school?
There is a wide range of homeschool resources available, and you really have nothing to lose. The school-system safety net is there, but you won’t need it.
There is so much to gain by offering your kids learning freedom.
… The ability to become life-long learners who know their own minds.
… The opportunity to learn skills they will actually need for the future.
… The joy that comes from having autonomy and independence.
This inspirEd event was a treasure trove of knowledge shared with honesty and insight.
So if any of this resonated with you, dip your toes in. It might surprise you how good it feels!