I first wrote about this on http://familyrun.ning.com
Describe what Radical Unschooling means to you:
First I'll describe "Unschooling", which is one of the ways to homeschool. Unschooling can be described as life-long self-determined learning. When someone learns something, in a way that is actually understood and retained, they need to be intrinsically engaged in that thing. When someone tells you "You need to learn this" when you are not interested in it, you may learn enough to pass their test, at least initially, but you will probably not retain it because it wasn't meaningful to you - your brain isn't working to create the strong connections to other things you already know because you aren't truly motivated to do so.
Kids are natural learners - I remember my daughter memorizing complex dinosaur names, not because I made her, but because she was interested in them; she was 3 years old. My son did the same thing with our solar system at the age of 5. It's when we, as parents or educators, get in their way & start telling them what they "should" know that we end up squelching true learning.
Unschooling doesn't mean one never uses more traditional methods of learning, such as going to classes, reading text books or studying something complex. It does mean that this doesn't have to be the only method of learning - in fact, it probably is only necessary for sophisticated material or specialized skill sets. My kids have learned some pretty amazing stuff from rather unexpected sources - & that is the beauty of unschooling - that learning opportunities are everywhere & that the love of learning can be life-long.
So where does the "Radical" part come in? Radical Unschooling means moving past the "schooling" aspect entirely. It's not just about how we home school but how we as a family live together, grow together & make our way in the world together. It's about being fully engaged in your children's lives. It's about helping them explore the world around them - not because they might "learn something" but because it makes life so much better. It's about honoring & trusting their abilities & passions, knowing that these will lead to a richer life.
It's not about "un-parenting", the anything-goes behaviors that unfortunately seem to haunt the image of radical unschoolers. In my family, there absolutely are consequences for each of our choices and behaviors. The key is that the consequences are logical
and directly related to the behavior. Punishments are rarely logical - they are a form of external control. I want my kids to develop internal control, so that they will choose to do the right things even if I'm not there with them.