Monday, March 26, 2012

Adult Unschooling

I've been reading about unschooling- which involves various degrees of helping your children learn without formal curriculum. One blog, Sparkling Adventures was particularly fun and inspiring to me- check it out! I wrote a while ago about my interest in (and prejudices around) homeschooling. [to be clear, I'm less attracted to unschooling in a school setting, which seems to let kids teach each other and create self-rule, and which I don't really like.]

A few weeks ago, a mom stopped me on the street with her 8-month old, and asked where I was sending Noah to school. Noah is 22 months old, so I was quite taken aback. I thought I had a few years for Eug and I to make a decision. It made me think a little more, because I want Noah to be connected with a variety of people and so on and so on, and I don't imagine myself being good at running a traditional "home classroom". I also don't necessarily want to go on a five-year wait list for the "best" government school in Cape Town.

Anyway, back at home I started to get to work. Eug and I have fairly regimented times to work- an hour here, an hour there- and there's pressure to make the absolute most of those hours, whether or not one is really in the mood. Such is work life, right? And we're hugely privileged in that we do paid work at most 5 hours/day, 3 or 4 days/week. Yet I would argue I get as much work done as I did when I was in the office for 40+ hours/week, but the work is in intense spurts, followed by other activities.

Anyway, in the midst of rushing to "get stuff done" I wondered how I go about getting the things on my long "to-do" list- whether dissertation, work, or home-related. I've been conditioned that one just buckles down and does it, sometimes without much thought. Yet what I read about unschooling made me to think a little more about what would happen if I paid attention to what I really wanted to do.

The thought that I, too, need to be unschooled a little was helpful. That is, maybe we should sometimes be productive in the ways we feel like being productive. It's a luxury, but it may be in many of our grasp(s?)

I want to pay attention to the bigger picture of who I'm becoming, not just what I need to get done today or tomorrow or next week or next year. The tasks should have that context where possible. (And I'd love your thoughts on unschooling).

1 comment:

copperhead said...

Our oldest son (now 37 years old) was in a small private school for K, 1 & 2. At that time I was reading about home school in Mother Earth News articles by John Holt. Our very intelligent son was failing to learn in school. Only 7 students in the class and he was spending his time in the hall or the principal's office and then doing 'homework' I asked the principal and teacher if we could just keep him at home and use the curriculum. They glared at us and said no one would ever do any such thing. Several months later they asked us to please teach this kid at home. We did. The first year, we used their curriculum. He hated it and so did I. We changed curriculum. He was bored. He was frittering away time and we were both angry all the time. We started doing school work out loud and we used a white board or a chalk board. Finally we dropped the curriculum and his test scores were 100% across the board. He would spend hours at the library. Hours teaching himself computer programming. He wrote operating systems for obsolete an computer because it was all he had. He got an IBM compatible and learned so much on his own. He also studied linguistics. When he was 21 he moved out, got his GED and his driver's license and then taught in a small college. He is now working for Amazon. Our other two children were unschooled as well. They each have their unique bents and have done just fine. Unschooling doesn't mean they won't learn things.