As an unschooler, I am personally not too concerned with what isn’t or is a “learning experience”. I believe that you learn something from every experience. But I thought I would show some ways that social media can be used in ways that anyone on the homeschooling spectrum could get behind (at least I hope so!). And even if you agree with me, I think they should be useful in learning new ways social media can be super useful.
This list highlights websites/apps that would not be thought of as “educational”. Just your average Facebook, Twitter, that sort and a few others that I’ve thrown in.
1. Receive Feedback. Social media is a great way to get feedback. I love New Moon Girls (a website for girls between the ages 6 and 16, roughly) for feedback because it’s easy to post writing or art and ask advice. But Facebook and Instagram would work as well, and YouTube for videos. Opening yourself up to the world is tough and vulnerable, you should be prepared for some negative comments. But, as you’ll experience negative people or views throughout your life, it’s great practice to deal with them. I’m going to write a whole post on receiving feedback, so watch out for that. All this talk about receiving brings me to my next point.
2. Learn to give feedback. It’s really important to know how to give helpful feedback. Your feedback should be wanted, so make sure that the person is asking for comments. Than be careful about what you say. I’m going to expand on this in my feedback post, so I won’t go into too much detail right here.
3. Learn how to debate kindly. This is a very important skill to have. And the internet is a great place to cultivate it. Tread lightly as you start learning, you don’t want to offend someone while learning the skills. Learn from others. Both in a “wow, that person just disagreed with me very respectfully” way, and in a “wow, that really hurt my feelings” way. Pay attention to how the comments make you feel, and emulate the ones that you like. Recognize why you didn’t like others as well.
4. Connect with others like you. Sometimes it’s hard to find other unschoolers (or whatever kind of homeschooler you are) in your area. That’s a great moment to turn to the internet! Check out Facebook groups devoted to unschoolers, YouTube channels of other unschoolers (just search, “unschoolers”) or look for unschooling blogs (perhaps not strictly social media, but useful nonetheless).
5. Gather resource and idea suggestions. You can find resources everywhere. But social media is a great place to start. Search “unschooling” on Pinterest to find boards devoted to unschooling (here’s mine). Look at those Facebook groups to see if they have resources or suggested links. Chat with the friends you’ve made based on suggestion 4 about resources they like.
6. Follow topics and people with interesting thoughts. You can learn all kinds of things about history, current events, and basically anything else, just by following something. Follow some who wrote a book you like. Follow someone you know just writes things you’re interested in. Follow a topic you care about. The possibilities are endless.
7. Gain insight. Social Media is a great way to hear other people’s points of view. Someone who is your friend on Facebook might have completely different views than you on an issue. You can learn so much by reading carefully what they have to say and really trying to understand that perspective. Be sure not to criticize their opinion though. If you want to comment, think long and hard about how to say it respectfully, in a way that encourages an open conversation. (that brings us back to #4)
I hope these tips help you both except social media as not always bad, and use it to it’s fullest extent!