Can Unschooling Be a Christian Thing to Do?

the prayer continued by ☻☺(CC BY-SA 2.0)

When a child has been controlled all her life, she just might grow into the kind of adult who says, “Nobody is ever going to make me do what they want ever again. From now on I’m going to do what I want.”

She might close herself off, stand well back, not let anyone get too close. Because you never know what other people might want her to do. Even someone she declares she loves.

“If you think I’m going to iron those shirts for you, you’re wrong! You can do them yourself.”

And it’s not just physical work she will refuse to do for someone else. She’ll keep a guard on her emotions too. She might grow into a prickly independent person, not trusting, suspicious of any overtures of real love.

“I can do that for myself! I don’t need anyone!”

She’ll want to be the one in control.

How can there ever be real love when there is control? We were all born free and we all have great dignity which should be respected. I don’t think we have the right to control anyone. 

Real love is all about giving ourselves freely to other people, without counting the cost to ourselves, without expecting something back. No one has to make us do what is right. We choose to do it.

I want my children to grow up to be loving and giving. I don’t want them to be concerned only with themselves, not willing to reach out to others. But I can’t make them into that kind of person, by force.

I have to give my children the freedom to choose and in so doing, I give them the opportunity to give freely of themselves.

Sometimes people question whether unschooling is a Christian thing to do. Isn’t it irresponsible? Surely all that freedom will make children self-centred and concerned only for themselves? We should tighten up, do our parental duty properly, instead of taking the easy way out. 

But what could be more Christian than respecting another person and loving them freely? And what could be more difficult? Because our children will only learn what true love is really all about, by observing our own example of self-giving.

I think unschooling is totally in line with the Christian way of life. Not everyone who unschools is a Christian. But every Christian can unschool.

At least that’s what I believe.

You can also find me on my Stories of an Unschooling Family Facebook page., Youtube, Podbean and iTunes!

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    • Wendy
    • February 15, 2015

    This is interesting because I found your blog by looking for an answer to this specific question (and then thinking you were Susie Andres!). My gut feeling was that it must be doable, but I really wanted to see it in action with a faithful Catholic. What would it look like? Not so much that I needed to do things that way, or that I needed to see it done "perfectly"! But I needed to see someone doing it who wasn't atheist and/or New Age.

    What I like most about unschooling, is that it seems to me this is the way God deals with us. He gives us a (shockingly irresponsible!) amount of freedom, lots of opportunities, and lots of strewing. He also supports us a great deal through the process, but in non obtrusive ways. He helps us in the ways that we are willing to accept help.

    1. Reply

      That's a lovely way of looking at it Wendy.

      • Beate
      • February 16, 2015

      I love "shockingly irresponsible!" So very true. I brought that up in a meditation on the Forgiving Father with a handful of parents. He gave his son the inheritance despite knowing the outcome! A challenge to us all.

      Btw, Suzie doesn't blog but she does sometimes pop in on the Unschooling Catholics Yahoo group :-).

    2. Reply


      I like the idea of being mistaken for Suzie! Have you read Suzie's book 'Homeschooling with Gentleness'? It's been a while since I read it, but I seem to remember she went through all the Church teachings carefully in order to show that unschooling doesn't contravene any of them. A reassuring book.

      I started unschooling surrounded by people who might be described as atheist and/or New Age. Although they were very friendly towards me, I didn't feel I belonged, and decided the whole unschooling thing wasn't for us. We later moved back to unschooling but yes, I had this idea it wasn't for Christians.

      I also love "shockingly irresponsible"! Yours and Beate's words give us a lot to think about. Thank you!

  1. Reply

    I did a course last year, run by a child psychologist who said that the most greedy children, say around the food table at an event, were often the ones who had very controlling and strict parents. I thought over some of the kids events where food was present and she was pretty right in most cases. I remember thinking why are some of these kids eating and grabbing so much on their plates like little savages, their parents would be horrified, knowing how strict their parents were on them. I think I might be too easy going on mine, they are always the first to offer to go without at an event to make sure the other kids get something.

    1. Reply


      You have very sweet girls. Hearing they are the first to offer to go without doesn't surprise me at all. Too easy going? Not at all! Obviously they can make the right decisions without you controlling them. Perfect, I'd say!

    • Faith
    • February 15, 2015

    Not long ago I was rooting around the Catholic blogosphere and I came across an article that talked about how Catholics can't unschool. They then proceeded to act as if in order to unschool you have to somehow embraces all the New Age, etc attitudes that might go along with a stereotypical impression of an unschooling family. But no one ever thinks the opposite way. So if you are a groovy, vegan, back to nature, we only use solar family (for an example) no one says: you can't unschool if you are a vegan! Because vegans have strict rules about what they eat and therefore you can't unschool. Unschooling happens within a family. If the family is Christian then unschooling takes place within that landscape. Unschooling just means letting the kids learn from life as much as possible. How does that contradict Christianity? I think what has happened is there are some folks who are very vocal in the unschooling world who maybe are a little bit more into promoting controversy rather than being good evangelizers. That is why I appreciate you Sue, because you are a regular person, without an agenda, who just has found a wonderful way to be as a family. And you are talking about it and how you got to this point. I love it!

    1. Reply


      I found a similar article about why Catholics can't do Charlotte Mason!

      I get scared sometimes by some of the unschoolers out in the blogosphere. They are so militant. Even their language reflects this attitude. They would never accept me! I think if I had an agenda it would be to get everyone to think about love which sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of the heap in our busy high expectation world. I'm not interested in defining unschooling rigidly and then making sure we keep out those people who aren't toeing the line properly. Rather I just want to promote a way of life which seems to me to be filled with great love. I guess that's why I think it's a very Christian thing to do!

      Faith, your comments and kind words have made such a difference to me recently. They encourage me to keep sharing. Thank you so much!

    • Beate
    • February 16, 2015

    The Holy Spirit has a particular plan for our children, sometimes that may mean stepping out of the way so they can hear His voice and not just ours.

    1. Reply


      Your words are worthy of writing out and posting somewhere prominent so they can reassure us when things get tough. Can I make them into a meme and share them?

  2. Reply

    I find it interesting that this is even a question among some people. It has me asking: Does going to a denominational school, such as Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist schoo,l make one a Christian? If you go to public school does that mean you're not a Christian? I don't think so. I think of Christians as being open-minded and seeking truth and knowledge to better oneself and one's world. That, I believe can be taught in any kind of educational environment with teachers who live that paradigm.

    1. Reply


      I think you are right. Christianity can be found in any environment, and so it is to be expected it will also be found in unschooling. I guess the problem is unschooling has a poor image for some people. They connect it with elements that are not Christian at all. But no one group can claim it for themselves. We shall be Christian, and even Catholic, unschoolers and I think that's quite okay!

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