A related issue came up on the Unschooling Message Board I oversee at iVillage. Another mom posted:
"I went to a mom's group and the topic was using books to teach your children to read. Most of the ideas presented were things I just did when playing with my kids. But I never considered it teaching them to read.
"... do you think your children just learned or did you teach them? Also do you think maybe the difference is in the definition of teach? "
I too have told people that I didn't do anything to 'teach' my kids to read, yet when asked for suggestions for reading-readiness activities, I discover that over the years I've done lots of things that other parents would consider part of a 'teaching reading' program.
What I think is going on in my head relates to what I think of as the crux of unschooling. It is absolutely parallel to what occurs in fully unschooled children. They see no distinction between living and learning, between work and play and education. They don't know that figuring out the origin of the word 'gargoyle' is language arts, history and mythology. They don't know that making a picture with a compass and ruler is geometry and art and fine motor skills. It's just life.
Similarly, an adult who is fully in the unschooling mindset and whose child is of the same mindset sees no distinction between living alongside a child and teaching, between work and play and education.
Just as children are hardwired to learn (naturally, unconsciously, simply in the course of life), adults are hardwired to teach (naturally, unconsciously, simply in the course of life). It is only when we make the choice to separate learning from living that the distinction between teaching and parenting becomes relevant. When we don't cleave reality into Learning vs. Living, there's no need to cleave our parental interaction with our kids into Teaching vs. Just Being a Parent. The line seems artificial, fuzzy, and beside the point.