Having spent most of my early career as a university professor, I was skeptical of unschooling. Over time, I have met several adults who were unschooled, and I am not nearly as skeptical as I once was. However, the scientist in me wants more than just a few anecdotes about unschooling. I want to see studies, and there haven’t been very many. One small study in Canada showed that while traditionally-homeschooled students were academically superior to their publicly-schooled peers, unschooled students (the study calls them “unstructured” homeschoolers) were academically inferior. The authors point out that their unschooling group was too small to make that conclusion statistically significant.
Of course, it’s not clear what “academically inferior” means when it is applied to unschoolers, because the goals of unschooling are rather different from the goals of public schools, private schoools, and traditional homeschools. Thus, I want to see a lot more studies of unschoolers. I would like to know more about the parents’ goals, the outcomes (academic and non-academic), and the adults that it produces. Fortunately, I recently stumbled across a study that was published four years ago, and it sheds some light on unschooling and those who practice it.