Whether unschooling is a fad or not remains to be seen. What is clear is that the philosophy behind it is flawed and the concept itself is irresponsible. There are many educational philosophies in academia and the world at large, some good and some flawed. Most of them turn out people who can at least function in the real world. Unschooling is too new a philosophy to have much data, however, it is difficult to believe that children who are products of this thought process can have much ability to be successful adults.
The philosophy of unschooling is that children should be able to learn what they want, when they want and how they want. If they don’t want to learn anything, well that is okay too. This begs the question, “What if they never want to learn anything?” How does an adult make it in a world when they never had to learn to read, get up on time, meet a deadline, solve a problem, or rationally present an argument. Worse yet, how does a person who never had to do anything ever develop initiative to strive for success or the ability to deal with failure.
Many unschoolers say they are a break off of the homeschool movement. It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between unschoolers and homeschoolers. Homeschooling parents actively teach their children based on their own particular desires for their child’s education. The point is they actively teach their children. Whether they are receiving a Christian education, wish to have more input in their child’s instruction or simply feel that their children work best in a different environment, it is not a Laissez-Faire mentality. Many of these children score far higher than even traditionally educated children.
Unschoolers eschew testing of any sort and in fact may apply the philosophy to all areas of life. A family practicing this philosophy may not have rules in any areas; no bedtimes, no limits on television, no chores, and no rules. Children may like this for a very short time because it’s fun. However, children need structure and balance. There is no reasonable parent that would give their child ice cream for every meal because the consequences would be a sick child who was nutritionally malnourished. The analogy can be made that unschooling is the educational equivalent of giving your child ice cream every meal.
This is irresponsible and some have argued lazy parenting and it does not grow a child who will be able to function in the world in which we live.