500 Words on… Unschooling.
You may or may not have heard of it. If you have, but only through mainstream news reporting, it is very likely you have a mistaken concept of this approach to learning, and, often, to life.
There seems to be a rampant distrust of children in modern American society. Children are being sent off to day care, often when they are only a few weeks old. I know more than one child who had been enrolled in a preschool program (referred to as “school” by their parents) before they reached their third birthdays.
We seem to be a nation obsessed with milestones and measurements and readiness and bridge activities – many of the elementary schoolchildren I know bring home summer homework, these days, to “prevent” the “loss of learning” the summer break seems to riddle them with…
So maybe it’s understandable that I have been accused of abusing and neglecting my children, by depriving them of something vital to their existence, because neither of them have ever attended school, and because it haas been years since I sat anyone at the table to “teach” them.
Maybe it’s understandable that I have often been accused of laziness for not requiring Jeremiah and Annalise to do chores, to eat what I serve, or to go to bed at a prescribed time.
Those accusations and misassumptions seem to be based on a view of children that is warped and skewed to see school as part of the natural evolution of children.
It isn’t. Human children, like all young mammals, are intended to learn through play. They are intended to grow in independence, and to emulate the behaviors of the adults around them.
They are intended to be passionately involved in the process of learning, and the learning they do is intended to be immediately relevant to the living of their lives – in other words, children are geared to learn what will help them RIGHT NOW.
No other species sends its young off to be “educated” behind walls, and by relative strangers assigned to the duty, and compensated with money. No other species thinks that what their young study needs to be decided by regulation or committtee.
The schools that seem so intrinsic to life in America today did not exist here at the dawn of our nation. They are based on the Prussian factory schools, intended to create a standardized workforce that knows enough to work, but not enough to agitate any rebellion against the system.
I think they were right.
Here, Jeremiah and Annalise are involved in learning through all of their waking moments. Yes, that learning looks just like play. It looks almost effortless, when all is well – and yet, a great deal of energy and attention is needed to create the right sort of environment, one which can grow and change and accommodate evolving interests, abilities, and circumstances….it takes a good deal of my time and attention, and a willingness to set aside what I might rather be doing in favor of facilitating their learning.
Much in the same way that seeing her young safely to adulthood becomes the focus of any good wild mammal mother.
Just as nature intended.
- O is for Openness (shanjeniah.com)
- Q is for Quizzing (shanjeniah.com)
- J is for Jeremiah (shanjeniah.com)
- Real, Live Unschooling (winging-it.me)
- New Series of Posts (kelliandcharles.wordpress.com)
- Unschooling: Let me school you on this (imperfectparent.com)
- The Benefits of Unschooling: Report I From a Survey of 231 Families (psychologytoday.com)