Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unschooling gives

My 15 year old is grade 10 at the local high school. She's been attending public school for over two years now. An unschooler up to that point, she tells me that she still considers herself to be unschooling. She explains it this way; "It's my choice as an unschooler to have gone."

I've since been thinking about the idea of unschooling in school and if this is actually possible.
What I see from my daughter's experience is that her unschooling mindset is allowing her to bring to the school context something fresh and stimulating. She, as an unschooled agent is sharing her way of seeing and being in the world; doing things that are helping other kids understand learning in a light that is different from what they are used to.

She likes doing well (that is getting the good grades) but at the same time she knows that it's all a game that she can drop any time she feels like it. She knows that her future success does not depend on the outcome of her marks.

Unlike the kids who when the teacher asked the students what they think school offers them, what's the best part of school, the kids answered, "A chance to get a good job."

"And?" the teacher asked her eyebrows reaching in to her hairline; urging them on.

Blank faces. "You come to school to learn to think." She said, a touch of disappointment.

"No. We don't learn to think at school," the class burst out laughing.

But I digress. Back to what my daughter brings to school. What keeps this kid in school then, is the fact that she is following her interests which currently are rights for gay and lesbians etc and also her current passion which is all things anime/manga-from the graphic novels, to the costume play.

So driven is she that she has gained notice at the top.
The principal stops her in the hall to express his admiration of the work she is doing with the GLBTQ group: "I stand in awe of you," he tells her. The teacher in charge of the GLBTQ urges her to take on even more leadership in the new year. She has already started organizing workshops that the group will be taking to local middle schools to help educate the youth there.

Singlehandedly she has created an anime/manga club against the indifference and lack of support that the teachers showed at first and now in its second year, as a fund-raiser, she has been making holiday greeting cards with manga characters which her dad helped make copies of as well as showing her how to make buttons to sell.

In short, she raised close to $100 for the group in a day through her art, and selling the cards. The only other person to raise money in the group managed a grand total of $1.

This indicates to me that the self directed person that evolved out of unschooling continues to act in the world -even in the restrictive world of school-on her own terms.
I like to think of her as a gift to the school system.

Readers-I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Do comment!


p2.rab said...

for me, (quote), "she knows that it's all a game that she can drop any time" is the clincher.

In the preface to his book 'god Delusion'; Richard Dawkins begins with a story about his wife Lalla:

As a child, my wife hated her school and wished she could leave. Years later, when she was in her twenties, she disclosed this unhappy fact to her parents, and her mother was aghast: 'But darling, why didn't you come to us and tell us?' Lalla's reply : 'But I didn't know I could.'

I didn't know I could.........

Anonymous said...

To me, you can't be unschooling if you are in school. It's just not possible. You are obviously following school rules curriculum etc so I just don't get this idea.

Anonymous said...

It is either choice or coercion.

Most children are coerced into being at school. Your child has chosen to be in school.

She sounds totally amazing and a real gift for that school. I hope that they appreciate her.


Peter said...

My experience as an unschooler is that you absolutely can unschool in school.

That doesn’t mean it is easy, though, and it doesn’t mean you should in most cases. Because if you’re unschooling in school, you’re trying to subvert the system on a personal basis. You’re attending the institution for particular reasons, such as gaining a social life or getting job certification, but you’re rejecting its principles because the principles of unschooling are very much in conflict with the principles of institutionalized education.

More on this:

rfs said...

@p2.rab-Fantastic comment.Thanks for this.
@Anon- your comment shows just how personal the definition of unschooling can be. Thanks!
@Danae-I think you hit the nail on the head. Choice!Thanks for a great observation!
@Peter-Love the analysis. I am heading over to your blog to read more!

rfs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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