Okay, according to the "original" definition of "unschooling" at the Yahoo Board I used as My Homeschooling Bible/Resource when we started out on this journey 7 years (almost to the day!) ago, we're still (to my way of thinking) "unschoolers". At that time, unschooling on the Board was defined as "child led learning". Within certain parameters (mainly my OCD and my DH's insistence on Math, English, and Science as "regular" classes) most of what we do on a yearly basis is chosen by the Manlings. Even books and other miscellany for The Core Three were approved and subjected to the test of the Manlings' time and tolerance. In other words, I know my guys. I know what makes them miserable, and I know when they are just giving me a line about how "boring" something is. (Boring here being a subjective term referencing just how much they would rather be playing with their iPods and laptops and other paraphernalia.)
My youngest two like to work together. Manling #3 is content to work below his "grade level" if it means he doesn't have to work through his English by himself. Manling #4 has benefited from this is a number of ways--he's far and away the best speller in the house, knows a good bit of grammar for a boy his age, and realized that all those letters in books spell out wonderful stories and vast amounts of knowledge that he is now able to mine for himself. I won't even comment on the happiness in my heart at the way the two of them work together. On a Perfect Day, the heavens open and angels sing over our dining room table! *cheesygrin* All the other days, we lock the doors and pretend we don't live here!
Manling #2 likes to do his own thing...which generally means trying to buck The Core Three and spend as much time as he can either outside on his rollerblades/bike or up in his room with his head buried in a book that (while educational) isn't going to help his plan to graduate from "high school" before he's 30. He's beginning to realize now that goals are not there to limit him but rather to challenge and prod him on to the next step on his path. He does have a pretty concrete plan of "where he wants to be". We just have to help him get there.
Manling #1...has discovered that when "classes" have a purpose, he's much better pleased to try to comply with a teacher's request. He started VoTech last year and is maintaining a high A average, despite his apparent lack of interest in everything else. My biggest problem at the moment has been his discovery of a social life and the amount of time it seems to be eating up in his schedule. We are going to have another go-round about it post-camp again, I know it.
In the midst of all this homeschooling bliss, something happened.
The definition of 'unschooling' changed at The Board, and suddenly I am confronted with the proposition that our years ought to be "endless summer vacation with learning happening as you bump into it." Or something to that effect.
Taken back just a bit by this shift in the universe, I asked Manling #3 if he thought "endless summer vacation" would be beneficial. He (being of the honest and no nonsense persuasion) blithely informed me that he'd prefer to just go back to public school then. Seems endless summer vacation sounds about as boring as it is trite.
Thing is, the Manlings have definite goals. And while letting learning opportunities happen "organically" SOUNDS wonderful? Sometimes when you know what you want, you need to chase after it....not just pray it turns in your direction. In that sense, we still follow the original definition of "unschooling"...child led learning. They are leading me in the direction they need to go to attain their goals.
And honestly? It's okay if we don't get the "endless summer vacation". We prefer "autumn walks in the woods at twilight" anyway.