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Unschooling Interview: Q&A With Harshita Arora
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Unschooling Interview: Q&A With Harshita Arora

What was the catalyst that lead you to choose unschooling for your family’s learning and educational needs?

I was in a traditional school in India until September 2016 and dropped out of school then and have been unschooling myself since then. I’m currently 17 years old and dropped out when I was 14 (almost 15). 

I had developed an interest in programming and computer science when I was ~13 years old thanks to my CS teacher in middle school. Within a year of learning programming and building projects, I started working as a freelance software developer. In order to devote all of my time to my interests in programming, I started looking for ways to stop going to school. After weeks of searching online and reading up Quora, I got in touch with two people who made a great difference in my life: Aayushi Pandey and Supriya Raj Joshi. I learned about Aayushi from Quora; she dropped out of school in 3rd grade and had done amazing things like becoming the youngest published author in North India. I asked her all about the exams I could take without being enrolled in school (she was doing IGCSEs and A-levels). 

I also got in touch with Supriya Joshi — whose older daughter, Malvika Raj Joshi was in news at the time for dropping out of school in 8th grade, winning IOI medals, and getting admitted to MIT. Supriya Joshi runs a homeschool in Mumbai where she helps other homeschooled/unschooled kids with her advice, resources, and acts as a supervisor/counselor, reviewing and signing the students’ transcripts when they apply to college or any other programs.

So the reason I chose unschooling was that I was passionate about computer programming and wanted to focus on it full-time. 

Prior to your venture into unschooling, did you have any preconceived ideas, beliefs, or notions about what unschooling entailed (positive or negative)? If so, have any of those beliefs or ideas shifted?

I don’t remember anything specific. I’d always been focused on my projects, learning, and other work. I am and will always be a big fan of unschooling. 

What have been some of your favorite strategies, tools, or resources that you’ve employed to make unschooling a successful fit for your family?

My family does not really participate in my unschooling or learning much. I also live away from my family now (I immigrated to San Francisco from India when I was 16 years old). But general strategies, tools, and resources that I’ve learned in the process of self-teaching myself: 
 
1) Khan Academy is a great resource for learning the fundamentals of most topics: for both STEM and Humanities. 
 
2) It’s harder to remain accountable and on schedule for your learning when you don’t have school every day. One way to keep yourself accountable is to register for exams like AP or IGCSE and A-levels, etc. — exams are also a great way to test your knowledge in a subject. 

How has your family’s experience with unschooling been so far? Have you encountered any obstacles or challenges? What milestones and successes have stood out to you?

My experience with unschooling has been pretty good! I can’t think of any challenges that came due to being an unschooler. 
 
Since I started unschooling, I got a lot of time which allowed me to do things like intern at Salesforce in winter 2016, attend MIT Launch program in summer 2017, build a mobile app that was acquired by Redwood City Ventures and featured in a bunch of media outlets and on the Apple App Store, intern at DoNotPay in summer 2018, and do independent brain-computer interfaces research (which is my focus right now). 

What questions do you receive most often about unschooling your family and how do you address those questions?

The most common question that I get asked is, “How did you convince your parents to let you drop out of school?!”

What have been some of the most rewarding moments of your unschooling journey?

My career successes were the most rewarding. 

What advice would you give to someone considering unschooling or just beginning their unschooling adventure?

I’d suggest having a solid plan for continuing your learning while pursuing whatever interest you’re dropping out of school for. I’d stopped studying everything but programming and CS for 2 years which turned out to be a bad decision. In the last year, I corrected my mistake and learned Calculus, Chemistry, and am now focusing on Physics.  

What key skills and traits do you feel unschooling has instilled in your child/children/family?

Independent Thinking and Maturity (by spending most of my time with adults like scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs). 

What has been one of the most powerful insights you’ve gained from unschooling?

Lots of learning in the last few years! I try to share them online on platforms like QuoraMedium, and my blog

What do you feel is one of the biggest myths about unschooling?

Can’t think of any myths about unschooling that people have! Most of my friends want to unschool themselves but their parents won’t let them :/ 

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Launched by a community of families to provide unschooling resources to those seeking alternate educational options and and applicable real-world experiences for their children.  We focus on being a safe place where you can read and share unschooling stories, connect to like-minded families, and gather resources related to helping children thrive in the unschooling philosophy.