Free learning

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Free learning is learning without constraints of time, space, or subject matter. Free learning is self-learning that is self-directed and self-paced.

Ivan Illich proposed the term deschooling, which means "abolishing compulsory education". John Holt proposed the term unschooling, which means "taking kids away from school". Many educators propose the term "learning via living" or just "living". Others adhere to the concept of "natural learning", "experience-driven learning", "independent learning", or limit the debate to the concept self-directed learning, which is possible in prison too. Self-directed learning is closest to the term free learning, however, it often raises an instant opposition by implying that learning needs no teacher.

Peter Gray in "Free to learn" emphasizes the importance of freedom in education and in the life of a child. Gray's philosophy stems from sheer love for children. This is why I like the term "free learning" instead of unschooling or deschooling. It has been noticed long ago that deschooling and unschooling have many negative connotations. They are associated with rebellion and easily raise opposition from those who don't know the subject, but for whom knowledge or school matter. Even unschoolers object to the need to describe their formula for life by reference to schooling.

Free learning is not an opposition to schooling. It is a positive force that brings forth learning, knowledge, happy lives, and a happy society

Free learning has a major advantage over terms such as self-directed learning or self-learning. The latter two have different definitions, are easily confused, and are weak mnemonically. It is very easy to remember and use the term free learning even if it is not defined as precisely as in this text.

What is the best way to assist a cultural paradigm shift needed for the Education reform? Perhaps a bit of ambiguity is ok? We might speak of "unschooling" when we need to jar somebody's attention, but then pivot back to "free learning" when we need to emphasize that we are a force for good? Please let me know.

This glossary entry is used to explain "I would never send my kids to school" (2017) by Piotr Wozniak