by Scott Hughes

Generally, deschooling refers to the mental process a former student goes through as they shed the effects of institutional schooling. Ivan Illich popularized the term deschooling in his 1971 book called Deschooling Society: Social Questions.

Some people incorrectly use the term deschooling as synonymous with unschooling. While unschooling refers to an alternative form of learning than traditional schooling, deschooling refers specifically to the process of undoing the effects of schooling.

After taking their children out of school, families notice that their children need a period of adjustment in which they get used to living without reinforcement of standardized, regimented education in controlling schools. Deschooling refers to that period of readjustment.

Deschooling generally happens on its own with time, but it can involve the use of tools or other intervention. This happens by helping a person to reject the tenets of school. Also it happens by helping the person recognize the flaws and drawbacks of conventional schooling and recognize the merits of alternative learning methods such as unschooling.

The former student must participate in their own deschooling. In other words, you cannot force a person to "deschool." Obviously, a person cannot adjust to the absence of coerced learning by being forced. Of course, just giving a former student time will let the person deschool on their own.

The deschooling process may start naturally in school as indicated by smart schoolchildren who start appearing more and more unmotivated, inattentive, and rebellious in school. Younger schoolchildren our less likely to have started rejecting the imposed authority of school and their rigid curriculums and schedules.

It takes time to adjust to freedom.

I hope this article answered all of your questions about deschooling. If you have any remaining questions, or if you have any comments or suggestions, please post them in our Education and Learning Forums.

Any questions or comments?
Discuss this and more at our Education Forums.