First of all, I believe the methods are largely determined by the goal. My goal is for my kids to reach heaven. That rules out any educational method that fosters self-will or its manifestations, like pride and sloth. I don't want my kids to receive a great academic education and use that as an excuse to pat themselves on the back and look down on anyone else. I don't want my kids to be driven and perfectionistic. I don't want them to be arrogant. Neither do I want them to be impulsive, to follow the appetite of the moment, to be sterilely curious and intellectual thrill-seekers.
What I do want:
- I want them to love God and progress in virtue.
- I want them to set high standards for themselves but be patient and meticulous about how they reach those standards.
- I want them to be motivated to learn, not jaded and uninterested by anything that seems that it could be difficult.
- I want them to have an ability and desire to continue to learn and grow and improve.
This summer I read "Homeschooling with Gentleness" which is a brief read but makes a case for a Catholic approach to unschooling. -- personalistic, family-ordered, with the final goal being a good education. I had been growing concerned about some trends I was noticing in our homeschool. I felt I was putting my role as Mom on the back burner. I was not discipling so much as administering. I had little energy to spare for listening to the kids or following their interests or encouraging them to expand their horizons. We weren't talking much, and I was always in a hurry.
Plus, I realized I had three teenagers who could do standard household chores pretty well but weren't learning as many "deeper" life skills as I had wanted them to, because things like that take some quality time and I felt like I always had to be on to the next thing.
So those are the things I am looking towards unschooling for:
- Pursuing personal interests, making discoveries.
- A mentoring relationship with my kids.
- Some joy and time to just sit and watch or listen.
- Some real-world, not-specifically-academic experience.
- Self-direction, self-understanding
- A voluntary choice of the better over the worse, with learning and everything