When I first heard of “unschooling” I was skeptical.
I still am skeptical of their particular techniques and attitudes, but no longer due to the term “unschooling.”
It seem to me that the model for schooling was very powerful tool for society in the industrial age, but in the information age things could be, and IMO should be, done so much differently that kids will learn a new set of skills.
For example, we can find things on the web in five minutes that used to take a multi-hour trip to the Library and then success was less certain. These things have not been factoring into education in any meaningful way, as we continue to teach kids in ways that discourages skills they need for the new social and political realities.
Moreover, I think that “schooling” of children often does them as much disservice as service. Children are taught one set of values and demonstrated many others – and that’s just by the authority figures. Children learn how hypocritical teachers are by the time they are out of high school, and I think that “normal” school actively nurture distrust of each other and a propensity to always “reach up” for human beings with higher “certified” power whenever there is any sort of conflict or issue with another person, directly contradicting the teachings of the Bible.
One philosopher Alan Watts compares it to the salting of meat that used to be done to preserve it. Education is like that; they teach you certain skill which help you survive, but it also leaves a nasty flavor that has to be rinsed. Personally I think the educational system – not just public or private but our whole attitude for it – has a tendency to crank out generations of increasing lovers of bureaucracy and seeking comfort in “experts” of various types, and is completely contrary to Christian unity.
So they have a great idea, but I don’t know that the way they choose to deal with it are necessarily what I’d choose. My own children are all pretty high achieving in school, but at home and with their friends we have been able to keep their view of authority in perspective with human behavior – something I consider critical and something the schools themselves – even Catholic schools – tend to destroy.