Christian Unschooling... How Can That Be?
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By Jeanne Musfeldt
Before I explain the title, let me take a minute to introduce myself. I am Jeanne, and my husband is Rick. We live in Iowa and we are homeschooling our three children, Evan, who is going to be 10 in July, Cora, who is 8, and Brenna, age 6. We live out in the country—with cows for neighbors.
I’m an impulsive kind of gal not too big on making plans. For example, I have been known to gather up the children and go to Kansas City to the zoo for the day. I always call Rick at work and make sure it is ok with him. He laughs when I get what he calls a ‘wild hair’. For me, it is taking advantage of learning, everywhere, and every way that God blesses us.
We have been homeschooling the children since birth. We started out homeschooling ‘officially’, when Evan turned 5. I turned to many of my homeschooling friends looking for guidance. They gave me catalog after catalog of homeschooling curriculum. I remember looking at all of the catalogs thinking, "Is this all there is? Can’t I homeschool my children the way I think is best for them, and for me? Can’t we just learn from things as we go? Do we have to be a mini-school in our home?" I had never heard of unschooling at that point. Not so wisely for us, I chose to buy ABeka phonics, math, and spelling.
I can recall saying to my children, "Hurry up and get this done so we can do some fun stuff and learn!" We wanted to go out and do nature hikes, to play games like Monopoly, to read and play and enjoy life! But, I allowed the curriculum to become the taskmaster.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a curriculum hater or anything like that. It just isn’t God’s plan for OUR family. I have no problem with other people using curriculum. However, I do see it as tragic when there is no time to stop and visit with friends from a foreign country because the social studies book has to be done. To stop the child from writing to a pen pal because the Language Arts book needs done. I did things of this very nature just two years ago. I wanted Evan to stop playing Monopoly so that he could get busy on his math book. What kind of sense does that make? That is how we became unschoolers.
How can a Christian unschool? Isn’t that a term coined by John Holt? Doesn’t that make me a humanist? Yes, John Holt did originally coin the term. I do not agree with his theories. My children are not innately good. I have this book in my house that proves it: the Holy Bible. I am not a humanist, not at all. I believe in God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and his Son who died for my sins.
How does unschooling line up with Biblical principals? Well, I believe that we are to use the things God has given us to the best of our ability. For our family, teaching as we go along is the way God has planned. How did Jesus teach? Did He get out the latest books the priests used? Or, did He teach the disciples using stories about the birds of the air and the sowers of the fields?
Let me give you a few examples of things we learn as we are going through day-to-day life. Just last week, my son, Evan asked me how they painted the lines down the middle of the road. I did my best to explain it to him, and I think he got the idea. But, God was watching out for us. On the way home from a friend’s house, we saw the men painting the turning arrows. We pulled over and jumped out of the van to watch for a bit. One man came over and explained a few things to us. They were using a large stencil. The first man put the white paint down. Then, the second man went over it with tiny glass beads. He told us the beads are what make the lines appear to ‘glow’. How is that for educational? They used a garden hose type tool to do all this. They worked quickly and efficiently.
Now, I know there was learning there, because for the next few days, they told everyone and anyone about the street painters! That is the way it is for us, all the time. We don’t depend on the curriculum companies to provide our learning experiences.
We trust God. He never lets us down.
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