Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When unschooled wants to be schooled.

Without a doubt the time between ages 11 to 13 are the toughest for unschoolers. At this point kids start going, "Eh- I'm not learning as much as the kids at school. I'm bored. Nothing much is going on."
Expect to hear your usually happy unschooler complain that they want to go to school.
A little bit of preparation to meet this challenge is a good thing.
In 2005, I interviewed Sandra Dodd a seriously experienced mama and author who knows about this stuff for a radio free school show (To listen go to http://www.hwcn.org/~ap951 /three.html and click on show # 32).
The transcript was also published in Life Learning Magazine July/August 2005.
Here's an excerpt from the the interview:
"There's a learning curve that I see with unschooled kids and that is that they seem to be ahead [of their peers in school] for the first few years and then there's a period of time,roughly from about nine to twelve years of age,when they seem behind. And then after they are 12 and 13, zoom! They look ahead! They seem to be ahead again."

"In school,there is a period when children are 11 or 12 when they've just been crammed full of math facts,and geographical facts...and they just seem full to bursting with knowledge, and the kids at home might still be playing with pokemon or coloring books, and they look up and the school kids are naming places and things they don't know, they're reading text books and doing long division or writing cursive-things that you can see from across the room. "What are they doing? I don't know what they are doing. I can't do that!"

"But then what seems to happen with the unschoolers I have met and talked with, is that when their kids got to be 13 or 14, a kind of maturity comes upon them and they say, "Oh! I guess if I want to learn cursive, I'll just practise it, Is this it?" And they do it. They look at something and they say, "Is that all?" And they figure it out on their own how to do math.
They start to develop their own map of the world and history of the universe and stuff;all of the facts are starting to gel in to a model of the universe. They are understanding a lot of things and making a lot of connections. And about that time the kids as school get all burned out and realize that all the facts they are learning are only leading to another year of facts. It's like Rumpelstiltskin: "Oh you turned that straw into gold? Next room. Bigger. More straw. Oh and by the way, you don't get to keep the gold." While the unschoolers are saying,"Oh yeah! This is cool. I'm glad I didn't go to school!"

Another thing I've noticed is that when they get to be 13 or 14, they've either gotten a job, gotten a really cool volunteer position, become involved in a hobby they have so that they are in a position of teaching whether it is karate, or horseback riding, or ice-skating. They've gotten to the point where they know enough that they are a senior student and they are given a position of responsibility. If they are given something real and they are given the kind of responsibility that is given to and adult, in a way it makes them an adult. They feel that shift of not being one of the kids anymore.
And you see a change in their posture and their bearing and the way adults treat them.
..So while school kids are at the point of greatest dismay with public schools the kids their age who are unschooled are saying, "Hah! I wonder if I should go to horse camp of if I should take a college class..... and the kids in school don't have any of these options. So at the same time that they are made small, the unschoolers have been made large."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is really helpful. If and when my kids start asking to go to school I'll be able to explain why I'll say 'no.'

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I used to really lightly homeschool my kids (ALMOST unschooling, but not quite), and when they were young they enjoyed it. But a time came when they said they wanted to go to school. I couldn't bring myself to deny my kids a different kind of education, even if it was one I didn't completely agree with. I'm really glad they went, even though they eventually came back to homeschooling. In giving your kids adult responsibilities, you also have to let them make adult choices. Letting them go off to school for a few years let them fully experience what the world was like, good and bad, and now that they're adults they've thanked me for it. If your kids want to try out school, let them. They'll most likely come back to you anyways.

rfs said...

Two of my three go to public school now. This is their second year.
I really hope that after the thrill wears out they will come back to natural, interest based, unschooled learning.

Sandra Dodd said...

The link doesn't work, to the recording, but here's one:
http://sandradodd.com/radio
and
http://sandradodd.com/radiotranscript

Sandra Dodd said...


The link doesn't work, to the recording, but here's one (here are two, and if you can delete the comment above that didn't light up, please do)

http://sandradodd.com/radio
and
http://sandradodd.com/radiotranscript

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