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Educational Philosophies

Education and learning and methods on their delivery is a currently a heavily debated issue; perhaps, the most debilitating topic is the issue of the dogmatic and structured traditional teaching and the ‘enforced’ type of learning associated with it. School is viewed by radical educational theorists as ‘self-limiting’, ‘factory-like’, and ‘psedo-automaton’ compared to the naturalistic methods which can be learned through unschooling.

This unprecedented notion of systematic instruction mandated by the ‘authoritative’ school is far-fetched from the reality of educational practice. Unschooling is an ineffective method of learning if compared to formalistic and well-structured traditional type of learning. Education involves the transmission of knowledge, proper conduct and technical skills via the educators and the totality of learning process. It seeks to cultivate skills, trades while at the same time developed the mental and moral faculties of the learner (Ball, 1990).

Just how efficient is unschooling attaining the objectives of education? I posit that for a learning method/theory to be truly objective, then it must fulfill the objective of good education. The unschooling deviate from the conventional types in that they capitalized on ‘naturalistic’ method of learning which may be experiential, voluntary and non-restrictive. More so, such method is far removed from the school premise and is regulated and/or guided by the parents (Reimer, 1971).

However, there are many problems associated with such liberal and radical type of learning which includes the following: (1) it produces holes of learning indicating incompletion in the learner; (2) the non-curricular based activities required for the learner makes it difficult to be managed by the educator [in this case, the parent]; (3) the no time restraints associated with it makes the learner difficult to cope up with the ‘education’ of his/her age brackets and at the same time, presents time management problems with the working parents; (3) the child cannot visualize the needs and reality of life which is not easily learned through simple interest and motivation; (4) it fosters problems on social interaction, the necessary social skills and values within a more realistic environment; and finally (5)it is not acknowledged in the career world.

With no disrespect to the parents of the Unschooling learner, I say that such method is insipid and totally unsuited for a learner who must adopt with the ever-changing demands of the world. Unschooling produces holes of learning indicating incompletion in the learner. Through unschooling, the child gets to pick only the subject/s that he/she perceives is interesting (Reimer, 1971). At what cost? His/her lack of education in the ‘uninteresting’ subjects creates holes or gaps for his learning unless an educational professional controls what material is needed. Take for instance, the Unschooling learner is only interested and motivated to learn arts, sports and history. What about Algebra, Calculus, Grammar and other subjects which are required for the entirety of the development of his/knowledge.

The goal of learning process is to develop a wide array of knowledge which the child can use for the future (Ball, 1990) but with Unschooling, such idea is neglected since the child ‘self-restricts’ his/her propensity for educational capacities by learning only things which would interest him/her. Argumentatively, giving free reign to the child would make him/her neglect educational endeavors in pursuit of the un-educational endeavors like playing unless coerced to do otherwise (Reimer, 1971). This gives credence to the negative sides of overdemocratizing education. Within a more structured realms of the conventional school, the child can learn a wide array of subjects and the instructors regulate the balance between learn and play (Graham, 2005). The non-curricular based activities required for the learner makes it difficult to be managed by the educator. Herein educational management is heavily questioned.

The absence of structure in this type of education not only presents problems to the educator and how he/she will cope up with the interest of the child (Reimer, 1971). What if the learner is interested in science for one day and wants to set-up an experiment and by the time all the resources and materials are gathered his/her attention has moved to mathematics? It is an accepted notion that the attention span of children is short-lived (Ball, 1990) but how does the educators cope up with this problem especially if their goal is to appease the interest of the learner? The lack of schedules and giving the child an authocratic reign over education puts a lot of pressure on the parent-educators (Unschooling, 2008).

How would they prepare what they teach within the shortest space of time? Additionally, education requires knowledge transmission. What if the Unschooling parent-educator lacks the necessary technical skills (and knowledge) for proper instruction of a wide array of subjects? Take for instance, the parents are not good with mathematics but the child is supremely interested in that subject, so they would try to teach the subject to the learner. The output is horrendous if one reflects the fractured and probably erroneous transmission that is going on between the learner and the unskilled instructor. Is this what they call the appropriate method of learning? I say no.

The no time restraints associated with Unschooling makes it difficult for the learner to cope up with the ‘education’ of his/her age brackets and at the same time, presents time management problems with the working parents. Lack of schedules and deadlines produces time problems. At the pace of the learner, a simple five-hour learning of basic algebra can stretched to months. The parent-educators do not discouraged slow-paced learning so the child, acting on his own interest, will inevitably opt to take things slowly (Unschooling, 2008). The ouput: the knowledge abilities of the slow-paced unschooling learner are far behind the appropriate knowledge that should be instilled at his/her mind appropriate for his/her age (Dewey, 1928).

This is equivocal to saying that an eleven-year-old Unschooling slow learner has knowledge that is comparable to a nine-year-old grade school learner. This does not bode well for doing a job later in life (Dewey, 1928). Additionally, the unschooling method requires huge time investment and monitoring on the part of the parent-educator who must cope up with the non-static interest of the child (Unscooling, 2008). What if the parents is working? How would they manage teaching and working at the same time? Such is the cost of slow education. The child cannot visualize the needs and reality of life which is not easily learned through simple interest and motivation.

While it is true that at an early age the child can easily point out his/her interest, he/she does not necessarily know or can determine the skills and knowledge that would benefit him/her the most (Dewey, 1928). What if he likes mathematics but does not like writing? Writing is a very important skill which must be learned by the child if he/she wants to cope up with the demands of the world? Additionally, child-cratic mode of learning will present problems for him/her in the future when he/she is working under a boss. Because Unschooling education promulgates child will, then his/her follower instincts will be crushed. The child-learner has to learn how to be a leader and at the same time be a follower. Unschooling fosters problems on social interaction, the necessary social skills and values within a more realistic environment.

Ordinarily, schools provide a setting for socialization. This is not to say that the school ground is perfect but nonetheless, it is social learning ground that is an ideal archetype for future interactions (Graham, 2005). This is notably absent in Unschooling were the only social interaction available is the family and a limited set of friends and acquaintances. Within this limited range is limited culture, limited socio-economic groups and limited worldviews. This is a highly unlikely setting to develop or hone out the social skills of the child. It also presents other problems like creating peers or even having stable peers for the future (Dewey, 1928).

Outside the setting of home, how will an Unschooling child interact socially if he/she is totally oblivious to the presence of different classes of people with various attitudes? School socializing system is not perfect but it provides social stress which can develop the social skills and the adopting capacities of the child (Graham, 2005). Put it this way: school teaches Darwinian survival and unschooling hones down social instincts because the environmental setting is not normal. The development of good values is an absolute necessity for life. Can Unschooling teach values to the children if they allow them free reign of all activities and thus decide what is right or wrong? Perhaps not.

Values education is just not theoretical learning but it must also be through experiential learning. Good values are ingrained with social interaction, reacting to certain events which only the vast copula of circumstances/events the school can provide. This does not imply that schools can produce good values but rather they provide a setting for the child to choose his/her own set of values (Graham, 2005). A child manning his/her own education has the tendency to adopt values which are intrinsically selfish and self-centered since he/she has adopted one-man-ship during the entirety of his/her learning process. Unschooling is not acknowledged in the career world.

Because unschooling is not a formalized and institutional education (Dewey, 1928), it is rarely acknowledge by universities and employees. This is the reality of life: everything has to be legalized especially if it involves education. Unschooling do not provide diploma and the necessary documents and naturally, universities and employers would doubt their credibility since there is an absence of tracking system for skills and knowledge. The world is truly running on a capitalist system whether we like it or not. If the parents really wants their child to succeed, or in the very least adapt, to the demands of adult life then they should enroll them in schools.

LASTLY, I conclude that learners should not go for Unschooling because it is an ineffective method of learning if compared to formalistic and well-structured traditional type of learning.


Ball, S. ed. (1990). 1990 Foucault and Education: Disciplines and Knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge. Dewey, J. (1928). “Dewey’s Warning to Radicals in Education”. The Elementary School Journal, 28(9). Graham, P. (2005) Schooling America: How the Public Schools Meet the Nation’s Changing Needs. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Reimer, Everett (1971). School is Dead: Alternatives in Education. Garden City, N. Y. : Doubleday. Unschooling. (200? ). Retrieved September 17, 2008 from unschooling. com

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