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Deschooling 101. Blog. Podcast. Video. Image on left of students in a classroom with hands raised high and teacher in front. Image on left of dad cooking in the kitchen with his child. HomeSchoolThinkTank.com

You might be wondering about deschooling. Maybe you’re asking yourself these questions.

  • What is deschooling?
  • Is deschooling different from unschooling?
  • Should I deschool my children as I start homeschooling them?
  • Where did the idea of deschooling come from?
  • What is Deschooling Society & who is Ivan Illich?
  • How do I deschool my kids?

If you’re curious about this thing called deschooling, you’re in the right place. You can read this article, listen to podcast episode, or watch a video near the bottom of the page.

Deschooling After Schooling

It is often said that when a child transitions from going to school to homeschooling, that the child needs a deschooling period.

What is Deschooling?

Here are some simple ways to explain deschooling.

  • Deschooling is about breaking free from the mindset that children develop when they go to school.
  • An adjustment period between leaving public or private school to actually beginning to homeschool your children.
  • Deschooling can also be a time for you and your child to connect.
  • Time to dream, visit, learn, make plans, and prepare for your new homeschool lifestyle.

Why Deschool?

If you’re children have been in school and are struggling with their education, then you might want to consider deschooling them. In addition, if you’ve strictly adhered to homeschool curriculum and you’re kids are struggling or bored with the curriculum, deschooling might be something for you to consider as well.

Another sign that you might want to deschool is that you and your child are struggling over school or curriculum. Is your child bored, struggling, or in tears? Are you stressed out, tense, or yelling over school? Is school exhausting for you or your child?

If you’ve answered, “Yes,” then it might be time to deschool. On the other hand, if you’re child is doing well, then you probably want to stay the course.

Deschooling 101: What it is and Why You Need to Do It Before Homeschooling

Deschooling Definition

While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not offer a definition for deschooling, we found a definition in the Online Etymology Dictionary. If you aren’t familiar with etymology, it’s basically studying the history of a word and tracing it back to it’s origin.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Deschooling is the “act or process of removing the function of education from conventional schools to non-institutional systems of learning.”

In addition to defining the word, this dictionary also mentioned that the word was coined in 1970 by Austrian-born U.S. anarchist philosopher Ivan Illich.

What Is Deschooling?  Quote by Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Traditional Public School

In a traditional school setting, children wait to be told what to do and what to learn. They not only wait to be told what and how to learn, but they are told when to learn, and how much time they have to learn. In addition, children are also told when they can use the restroom, get a drink of water, eat, play, and speak.

Oftentimes, the child’s innate desire to learn and care for themselves is squelched in a system of traditional education. While unschooling parents may guide their children with intention, they allow their children to follow their innate desires to learn and care for themselves.

Homeschooling Types Styles Methods

Deschool for Curiosity

When a child is deschooled, they are given the space and time not only to become curious again, but to follow their own body rhythms again as well.

When children are in school, they are often told what to do, what to learn, and what to think.

However, when a child is homeschooled, they have far more time to do what they want and explore ideas that interest them.

In essence, homeschooled children have the time to be curious.

Listen to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast!

Who is Ivan Illich?

In 1970, Ivan Illich wrote a lengthy paper called Deschooling Society.

Ivan Illich coined the word deschooling and subsequently has had an impact on how many families around the world begin to homeschool their children.

The introduction of Deschooling Society opens with the following words.

“I owe my interest in public education to Everett Reimer. Until we first met in Puerto Rico in 1958, I had never questioned the value of extending obligatory schooling to all people. Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”

Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society.
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Deschooling Society. Chapter One: Why We Must Disestablish School

In the first chapter that’s entitled, Why We Must Disestablish School, Ivan Illich says the following.

“Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance.

Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success.

The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.

His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value.

Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.

Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.”

Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Decide if Homeschooling is Right for Your Family

Ivan Illich Continues…

“Rich and poor alike depend on schools and hospitals which guide their lives, form their world view, and define for them what is legitimate and what is not. Both view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one’s own as unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion. For both groups the reliance on institutional treatment renders independent accomplishment suspect.”

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More From Ivan Illich’s Book, Deschooling Society

“But in both places the mere existence of school discourages and disables the poor from taking control of their own learning. All over the world the school has an anti-educational effect on society: school is recognized as the institution which specializes in education. The failures of school are taken by most people as a proof that education is a very costly, very complex, always arcane, and frequently almost impossible task.

School appropriates the money, men, and good will available for education and in addition discourages other institutions from assuming educational tasks. Work, leisure, politics, city living, and even family life depend on schools for the habits and knowledge they presuppose, instead of becoming themselves the means of education.”

This should give you a good idea of where this paper is going. It’s an intriguing read to say the least. Below the video, you’ll see how you can read Deschooling Society.

Video about Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

How to Read Deschooling Society 

Buy the Book on Amazon. Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich.

You’ll want to have a little time, some peace and quiet, and a comfy chair before you dive into this philosophical and thought provoking read.

Unschooling vs Deschooling

If you’re new to homeschooling, you may have also heard of the word unschooling. Sometimes parents wonder about the differences between the words unschooling and deschooling. Let’s take a moment to help you understand the differences between these words.

Unschooling is about approaching education with a vastly different mindset than is prevalent in a school environment. Deschooling is about breaking free from the mindset that children develop when they go to school.

What Is Unschooling? Homeschooling 101. Podcast Episode.

Traditional Schooling

In the conventional school system, children are taught to wait for a classroom teacher to tell them what to learn and when to learn it. At school, children learn to ignore their own curiosity and follow a path of education that was created for the masses rather than following their natural curiosity.

Unschooling

The idea of unschooling is that children are given the free time to learn in a more natural way. While a parent provides general direction, unschooled children follow a natural learning path. They are frequently allowed to make their own choices and learn in their own way.

We have gathered many more resources about unschooling for you here.

How to Homeschool Your Kids: Step by Step Guide to Homeschooling Your Children. Blog, Podcast, Video at www.HomeSchoolThinkTank.com

Deschooling After Schooling

It is often said that when a child transitions from going to school to homeschooling, that the child needs to be deschooled.

Why?

Because school is not the equivalent of education or learning.

To be educated or to learn, one doesn’t need to be in a school environment.

In essence, a child needs to rediscover the love of learning that they were born with, but was likely schooled out of him or her.

Deschool to Start Homeschooling

In a traditional school setting, children wait to be told what to learn, how to learn, when to learn, and from whom they should learn. In addition, they’re also told how much time they have to learn. Finally, children have to get permission to do the most basic things like drinking water, using the restroom, and speaking.

Frequently, the child’s innate desire to learn and care for themselves is dampened in this system of traditional education.

Deschooling is one way to help your child begin to free themselves from the mindset that is developed in school.

Video about Deschooling: What it is & How to Get Started

Reasons to Deschool Your Family

If your children have been in school and are transitioning to homeschooling, then an important step to consider is deschooling.

Transition Time

There is a period of adjustment that happens when you take your children out of a formal learning environment and begin your homeschooling journey. During this adjustment period, you’ll want to take time to set up your environment. While we’re not suggesting that you follow a school-at-home model, you’ll want to make your home an inviting place to learn in. You might need to help your child clean their room and create space for projects and activities that your child would like to do.

Connection Time

Another reason that you might want to deschool is to connect with your child. If you and your child have tension between you, then it might be time for a decompression period.

At HomeSchool ThinkTank, we have a saying, Connection Before Curriculum.

To homeschool successfully for the long haul, you will need to develop and maintain a strong connection with your child. When you are going through the process of deschooling, this is an excellent time to reconnect with your child.

This is a time for you and your child to dream, visit, learn, make plans, and prepare for your new homeschool lifestyle.

By taking the time to deschool, you and your child can begin to envision a new way of learning as you embark on your homeschool journey.

Connection Before Curriculum

Parents Deschooling

While we tend to focus on our kids, most parents need to go through a deschooling process as well. As parents, most of us attended public school.

If schools are good at doing one thing well, they teach us that to get an education, we need to go to school. As a result, before the pandemic, most parents had been so well conditioned that they didn’t even question whether their children would go to school. It’s simply what we do when kids turn five years old, we send them to school.

You might think deschooling is just for the kids, but in reality, most parents need to go through a deschooling process as well. As parents, most of us attended public school and are products of the public school system.

Our society has been well conditioned to believe that school equates to education and that we should do as we were taught in school. It’s incredibly difficult to break away from this school mindset.

If you are reading articles like this or listening to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast, then you are likely in the process of deschooling yourself. Wrapping your mind around the world of homeschooling or even unschooling requires a major paradigm shift.

Changing the way that you think is hard. Shifting to true homeschooling or even unschooling your children is even more difficult. While much of the world thinks that they have homeschooled during COVID, the truth is that doing public school at home is not homeschooling.

What Is True Homeschooling Blog, Article, Video

Why Parents Need to Deschool Too

While we tend to focus on our kids, most parents need to go through a deschooling process as well. As parents, most of us attended public school. If schools are good at doing one thing well, they teach us that to get an education, we need to go to school. As a result, before the pandemic, most parents had been so well conditioned that they didn’t even question whether their children would go to school. It’s simply what we do when kids turn five years old, we send them to school.

Shifting Your Mindset

Exploring homeschooling is one of the first steps to deschooling yourself. When you’ve grown up in the public school system, it is incredibly difficult to break away from this school mindset.

If you are reading articles like this or listening to the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast, then you are already in the process of deschooling yourself. Wrapping your mind around the world of homeschooling, deschooling, or even unschooling requires a major paradigm shift.

Shifting the way that you think about school, education, learning, and even homeschooling is difficult. While much of the world thinks that they have homeschooled during COVID, the truth is that doing public school at home is not homeschooling.

Explore the differences between school, education, and learning with this article and podcast episode.

What do you believe about education? Blog, podcast, video. www.HomeSchoolThinkTank.com

How Long Should We Deschool?

Many parents end one school year and use the summer break to deschool their children. If you’re starting to homeschool at another time of the year, a good rule of thumb is to do a month of deschooling before settling into any specific curriculum or homeschooling style. The important thing about this period of deschooling is to get a better understanding of your child’s interests and natural learning process. Every child learns in different ways. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that you have the opportunity to help your child develop a natural love of learning. Homeschooling gives you the opportunitiy to offer your child the ultimate individualized education plan. Take advantage of it!

Video about Deschooling: The Why and the How

How to Deschool Your Children

If you’re considering giving your child the space to deschool, you’re probably feeling a little anxiety about it. Here are some steps to help you get started.

  1. Visit this article about How To Homeschool.
  2. Learn about your state’s homeschool laws.
  3. If you need to meet your state’s homeschool requirements while deschooling, focus on concept based learning rather than curriculum based education.
  4. Get your child involved in their own education. The parent’s role is to be a guide and help provide opportunities for your child to learn.
  5. Make plans with your child. Downtime and the freedom to be bored can be part of the plan. We generally discover new ideas and interest when we have time to reflect.
  6. Start exploring educational opportunities with your child.
  7. Have fun on your deschooling adventure!
HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Cover: Homeschooling with Jackie

Educational Opportunities For Your Homeschool Family

  • Go to children’s museums.
  • Seek out other new museums.
  • Visit the library.
  • Go to the recreation center.
  • Join a local homeschool group.
  • Seek out youth programs.
  • If you go to church, join their activities.
  • Watch documentaries.
  • Find educational YouTube channels and videos.
  • Go to nature center programs.
  • Take local classes.
  • Sign up for online classes.
  • Learn with family and friends.
  • Read books.
  • Volunteer for an organization that aligns with your interests.
  • Travel when you can.
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