First, the basics: What is unschooling, and is it for you? The method, also known as unstructured, child-led learning, may be unique, but its proponents believe it fosters a love of learning because it allows learning to occur naturally. It first gained traction among homeschoolers; however, other learning environments, such as cooperative schools, are also taking on the curriculum-free model. The about 60 global Sudbury Schools (which are accredited differently depending on location) embrace the model, allowing children to follow their own interests rather than a set curriculum.
There are some requirements for students — participating in the school’s justice committee (the heart of the democratic school model) and attendance, among them — but there are no tests or quizzes, no assignments and no homework. All forms of learning are seen as valuable, and all educational choices are made by the child. Even though Sudbury students aren’t forced to learn, well, anything, there is evidence that shows they go on to lead well-rounded, successful lives and generally don’t have difficulty transitioning into college or a chosen career path.
Sudbury students go to college in high numbers, too — approximately 80 to 90 percent — and a high percentage later seek careers in creative arts or science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), as well as report being entrepreneurial. Overall, they report high levels of well-being, too, according to studies.