Saturday, November 26, 2011

Un-academic Unschooling

You can not 'make' someone un-academic or 'non-academic' because you unschool and do not follow standardised curriculum. 
People who gravitate towards the academics do so whether or not they are following a curriculum. Just as following a curriculum does not make you academically inclined-as 'school-thinking' relentlessly proclaims. 
Just as ramming kids into day care does not prepare children to be more successful in school- that is 'improve school readiness.'  The notion currently being bandied about in the news that hammering kids with facts at earlier and earlier age will have the positive effect of making them more academic, and as a result, do better in school, and go on to earn more money and... happiness-I guess.
But what about preparedness for actual life- of which school severs kids from-cutting them off from the ebb and flow of the day to day world?
Take my poor little nephew. Did I say little? My mistake. He is four; twice as old as the school pushers say kids should start school. In his school, they get homework. Empty pitchers all, these children are ordered to comb through newspaper size print and circle every letter 'a' those unfortunates can find. 
Rather than being busy at their play, making little games up, drawing, painting, kicking a ball around, singing, dancing, doing nothing, they not only have to do tedious busy work at school, but they must take it into their homes and do more of it.
I am reminded of the wonderful book I am reading with my daughter-Charles Dickens' Hard Times. I can't help thinking that all we have gained about children and how they learn-and how they are people too with rights and wants- all that is slipping back into that era so well described with Gradgrind and the Bounderby in two simple words: "Never wonder." Not when you are two, nor when you are twelve. Not when you are five and seventy. Just don't do it.
Of course this type of thinking can't understand that unschooling can produce an academically minded person- if that is what the person wants. And if that person is growing up unschooled, it is likely that they are not even bothering with the distinctions between academics and non academics. They simply go where they are interested in going.
This means that you can develop an academic interest where you might never have had such an interest before. Just as you can develop a non-academic interest when you are more inclined towards academics. One is not better than the other.
We are creatures of learning and thankfully, we have more opportunities today to explore and to discover our interests like never before- in spite of all this craziness going on with respect to early childhood education.
I look forward to a time when what will matter will be the individual's interest and that, like unschooling already does, what will be fostered in children is their passion -and not a label assigned to them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We spend more time telling kids what to do than actually listening to them and taking our cues from them! Thanks for this post.

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