A professor once told me in all seriousness that the universe is as infinite inside our heads as it is outside. I thought he was goofy. But as I’ve gotten older and my personal model of the universe has continued to expand, I’ve come to understand what he meant. Inside, each of us is building an internal “map” or grid of information. The more bits and pieces we have, the easier it is to connect them. School tries to build the same structure in all students, or at least tries to supply them with a set of matching parts sufficient to build a rudimentary model of the universe, but each student ends up creating and working off his own map.
Unschooling allows free use of any and all bits of information, not just school’s small set. A grid based first on cartoon characters or the history of ice skating can be expanded just as well as one built on a second-grade version of the discovery of North America and the made-up characters in some beginning-reader series. If the goal is to know everything, and if each person’s internal “universe” is unique, then the order in which the information is acquired isn’t as important as the ease and joy with which it is absorbed.