Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unschoolers do Science

I've just been perusing an old Life Learning Magazine (July/August 2004) and came across an article by Jan Fortune-Wood, a free lance writer and parenting adviser, who home educated her own four children in Britain.
Fortune-Wood's article talked about plunging into degree level subjects without any background in the subject and not only finding "understanding, but also fascination."
It sort of speaks to some of the questions people have about unschooling not being up to tackling the sciences.
She asks,
"How does years of reading stories, doing the odd kitchen experiment, baking cakes, watching TV, talking, talking and more talking, become (with what seems like extraordinary rapidity when we haven't been able to witness the internal gestation) a love of philosophy,....a thirst for and understanding of complex scientific methodology and principles.....?"

She continues with;

"Children don't go from having no knowledge to university level science courses, but they can go from no formal study to university level science courses when they are accustomed to learning by living and when they are accustomed to the notion that whatever problem is facing them can be solved-in short when they are used to thinking they can do anything they are interested in and have enough passion for."

At the time of writing this, Fortune-Wood was happy to report that her "ultra laid back" household was now a hive of activity with her assisting with pre-university and undergraduate level courses in biology, science, philosophy and art while striving to maintain the autonomous environment in which "above all conversation predominates."

It comes down to what I've being thinking about recently and what the authors of Freakonomics have written about parents in their chapter 'What makes a perfect parent?' what really influences how your child will be as an adult is actually the person you are, not what you do.

This is important in the context of unschooling parents: Are you curious? How do you approach problems? Are you always challenging yourself or and learning new things? Are you reflective? and so on.
As Fortune -Wood concludes in her essay, "Flourishing educationally is not about preset outcomes, but about achieving whatever an individual wants to achieve. Years of formal preparation, constant testing and monitoring, and tuition by those who set themselves up as the guardians of knowledge are not the secrets of education after all.
The secret is to do whatever you want when you have the passion to do it.
The secret is having parents who may not be experts, but are as open-minded as their passionate, creative, inquisitive children. The secret is that life is the arena for learning."
Way to go Jan!

1 comment:

Ann said...
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