Sunday, November 26, 2017

An intriguing blend of approaches

The Classical Unschooler: Education Without School by Purva Brown

This book presents an approach that blends two major, but seemingly inconsistent, approaches to home schooling: classical education and unschooling.

The classical approach sees home education as progressing through three stages: in the grammar stage (covering approximately grades 1 to 4) the emphasis is on learning facts, often with memorisation; the logic stage (grades 5 to 8) emphasises the connections between these facts; while the rhetoric stage (grades 9 to 12) emphasises the application and expression of the facts. The classical approach often uses history as a backbone, and covers the whole of world history a number of times (e.g. once in each stage).

Unschooling might seem to be the complete opposite to this. It emphasises a lack of "subjects", and focuses on topics that the student is interested in himself. Unschooling places a high value on nature study and field trips.

In this book, and also on her blog,, Purva Brown boldly presents an approach which combines the two. In doing so she has done a great service to the world of homeschooling, and her writings deserve to be more widely known. Classical unschooling manages to take the best of both worlds.

So how does it work? It means giving your children access to lots of books. It means reading lots of stories and getting them reading what they are interested in. It often means eschewing formal bookwork and engaging in creative play. Classical unschooling recognises that in young children memorisation is natural and exciting. It's classical schooling without being a slave to curriculum, and unschooling that is purposeful.

This is a slim volume that has been self-published. It does not even have page numbers. But it is still worth reading, and Purva Brown's audacious approach is definitely worth considering.

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