Marginal, unschooling? Certainly. But the educational movement is on the move, believes Quebec sociologist and anthropologist Marike Reid-Gaudet.
President of the Association québécoise de l'école à domicile for four years, Ms. Reid-Gaudet published in November the results of research conducted on parents who practice non-schooling in Quebec. “Research on homeschooling has been published before, but never yet on the unschooling population in particular,” she explains.
According to the Quebec Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 1,275 students were recognized as homeschooled in 2014-2015. Of this number, which are educated according to the principles of unschooling? Quebec does not keep statistics on this.
A movement from the United States
Unschooling has existed among our American neighbors for 40 years already. One of the leaders of the movement is the American Peter Gray, professor at Boston College in Massachusetts and author of the blog Freedom to Learn on the Psychology Today website. According to him, the next civil rights movement will be dedicated to freeing children from compulsory schooling.
A self-described “evolutionary” psychologist, Peter Gray believes that the modern school enslaves children. “In the hunter-gatherer era, education did not pass through the student-teacher bond. They let their children be children. They come into the world with nurturing instincts that underpin self-directed learning, such as curiosity, playfulness, sociability, tenacity, and planning. »
Non-schooling: recent in Quebec
In Quebec, the movement is about 20 years old, says Marike Reid-Gaudet. For her study, the UQAM sociology researcher met with this first cohort of young adults, aged 17 to 23. “As part of my research, I wanted to find out what the values, ideas, educational practices and culture of the whole family were. What led them to make this life choice? says Marike Reid-Gaudet.
Ms. Reid-Gaudet conducted interviews with some thirty Quebec families: “I wanted to obtain the subjective experience of each child and each parent. »
Of all the parents interviewed, only one dad had unschooled while living in the United States. All the other parents were in school. “I found that, and it is corroborated by other research. Often, it is over-educated parents compared to the average of the population who will not send their children to school. One can begin to hypothesize that unschooling, as well as homeschooling, becomes a consequence ofour modern, highly educated societies. These parents, who have been in the education system for a long time, have questions about education in general. This may seem paradoxical, but it is only if we do not see it as the evolution of a thought”, elaborates Marike Reid-Gaudet.
Some studies on self-directed education
In the late 1990s, Sugata Mitra, an education technology teacher, conducted an experiment in India. At that time, computers were not as common as they are today. The majority of children in New Delhi had never seen one. He made one available to them, where he worked. Sugata Mitra discovered that young people gathered around the computer, and that they learned together. Nearly 300 children without computer literacy learned to use a computer in a matter of weeks.
According to researchers at Boulder University in Colorado, young children who have more free time and are allowed to play without adult direction will be better off achieve their goals as adults.
In 1986, Peter Gray conducted a study of graduates from Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. The administration of this primary and secondary school is democratic, the learning environment is self-directed. The researcher discovered that the children of this school today hold all kinds of jobs. Many have even attended college and university.
Written by Mariève Cloutier
To consult on Planète F
Learn everywhere except at school
Democratic School 101