It’s not that I never liked school. Sometimes I think school never really liked me.
I don’t blame my teachers, my classmates or my parents, but I do think school as an institution – as a concept – never truly got me.
Recently I’ve seen the word “unschooling” trending in some corners of education media, so I looked it up. Wikipedia defines unschooling as “an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.”
That struck a chord with me since I have been pursuing chosen activities as a way to learn and grow throughout my school-age years and even today well into my career. I have always been driven to learn about things that interested me, subjects that engaged me and topics that made me want to know more.
Conventional schooling rarely gives students the freedom to pursue their passion. I am not suggesting people shouldn’t have certain core skills, but I am certain many of those skills can be acquired beyond the four walls of a traditional classroom.
Unschooling students “learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction,” Wikipedia states.
When I was a student in high school, I recognized I would not be successful if I followed the lock-step approach my classmates were taking. Instead, I was able to participate in a program that took me outside the classroom and put me in the control room of a local cable access TV station. There I learned the fundamentals of video production, including everything from lighting, camara work, video editing and even how to direct people on set.
That experience allowed me to launch my own production company and later to help found JazzJune as its CEO. While school won’t ever go away, we hope that what we’re building at JazzJune lets those who would thrive in a non-traditional and unconventional education environment.
With the curveball that the COVID pandemic has thrown us, this is the perfect time for us to unlearn old habits. Let’s think about new approaches to learning, including unschooling.