Re-Claiming Primary Pedagogical Place: The Lived Experiences of Unschooling Parents
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This hermeneutic phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of parents re-claiming the primary pedagogical place of unschooling. In this investigation, unschooling is framed as a life philosophy and a form of home education that enables children to follow their interests and learn without imposed-schooling paradigms and practices. Unschooled children do not follow a prescribed curriculum. Instead, their education is shaped by a curriculum of learning-through-living with the support of their parents. Through a series of in-depth conversations with seven unschooling parents, experiential re-clamations of primary pedagogical place are brought forth, thoroughly examined, and rendered into five predominant themes. The participants’ narrative accounts uncover the internal tensions that can arise when parents re-side between (un)divided sides in their pedagogical placement. As unschoolers, parents may sway between doubting and believing and may regularly face concerns raised by others about their practice. Parents can find themselves making certain trade-offs to unschool and needing to determine if the costs required to unschool are worth the return of benefits. Additionally, parents may be inclined towards either concealing or revealing who they are as unschoolers, and the practice of unschooling can reveal concealed aspects of the parents to themselves. The lived experience descriptions also provide insights into how parents re-side with their unschooled children. Unschooling parents are called to make ongoing pedagogical decisions while leading and following their children. Also, in the formation of their primary pedagogical identities, unschoolers may find themselves re-siding between the realms of parenting and teaching. In closing, pedagogical possibilities for unschooling are reviewed and suggestions are offered to prospective and practicing unschoolers, as well as other interested parents, pedagogues, and educators. Such considerations of unschooling are deemed especially relevant at this time given that the coronavirus pandemic has led to the sudden, widespread adoption of some aspects of home education.