Thursday, November 10, 2011
What We Gain: Empowering Unschooling
There's all this chatter about the academics that are lost when kids unschool; "This kid can't write worth squat. He's 12!" A valid concern for those who are worried that unschooling ways will drag the country back into the Dark Ages. I hope they are as worried for those kids that go in for 12 years of public education and still can't read.
The chatterers have no idea of the context this child is growing up in. If they were to wait a few years and revisit the child they might see another picture all together.
In the mean time it might be worth reflecting on the following: Who is this child? How is he? What is he doing? What interests him? Is he happily pursuing his interests? Is he getting out there and growing that interest and taking time to nurture it? And equally important, is he confident and giving and kind?
Take my friend's son. He is 11. He enjoys playing sock puppets and stuffed toy animals with his younger sisters (9 and 7). By the way, the sisters sew these well crafted toys entirely by hand.
The nine year old has just launched a little business of her own.
Together they have enlightening games and stories that they continiously develop. He then takes these to the computer and creates animation videos.
His sisters in turn draw constantly. They tell complicated stories through art. Their work is sophisticated and detailed and beautiful.
How many 11 nearly 12 year old boys do you know who enjoy playing with their younger sisters?
Both sisters are at the stage where they are breaking the reading code.
So okay- they don't know grade 3 or grade 5 math. Yet. And I am sure that with her business venture, the 9 year old will grow her math sense at lightening speed.
In fact, as with my own daughter (who is working on her piano pieces for an upcoming recital as I write this)- now that she has decided she wants to try out high school next year, we have started working on math together. It's going well because she is motivated.
Aside from a few workbooks here and there over the years, she has done very little formal math-there was very little interest. I have always been aware of this but have kept the 'mat' door' opened- be it in making sure there are math opportunities (yes- even flash cards), math games, chess which she loves, art that has a mathematical component and even literature and ideas that are math based.
So what do we gain when we unschool?
We gain and retain a strong sense of individuality. Our kids need not hide who they are nor what they are interested in.They are free to be. This is empowerment at its purest.