Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why I Unschool

Here's a piece that I wrote from Parents Canada magazine. I am very pleased with the piece and that it got into a mainstream magazine. It's my unschooling story.
Unschooling: A step further in self-directed learning.

It’s early winter and I’m a volunteer at the local elementary school. I have high hopes of becoming a school teacher and want to gain some hands-on experience. Inside the classroom, 28 little children sit in their chairs, working on their ‘paper cutting skills.’

I glance up from supervising a child when a most wondrous sight catches my eye: snow flakes are softly falling outside the window. Great, fluffy flakes float gently down from a purple sky. It brings to mind a cherished snow globe I had as a child. It was a famous landmark – the Eiffel Tower I think – encased in a plastic dome. When I shook it, the little white flakes would descend in a swirling mass, to land at the bottom. Then I’d do it all over again. The toy would amaze and amuse me for hours on end.

It’s a magical world, but the teacher has a different opinion. She hurries over to the window where the children are already gathered to watch the snow fall. Swiftly, abruptly, she draws the curtains closed. “The children are getting distracted,” she says.

The suspicions I had been harbouring about the nature of schooling and how it might actually prevent learning are being confirmed in this very classroom. These curious minds are missing out on experiencing falling snow. They don’t get to observe, engage, or be awed by it. Judging by the looks on their faces, they know they are being cheated but can’t do anything about it. Instead, under the teacher’s management, they must return to their seats and complete the assignment before the bell rings. At that point, they will move to the next learning opportunity that’s been prescribed for them.

My hand hovers uncertainly over my pregnant belly. Is this what awaits her?
Read more here:


Anne said...

I LOVED this article soooooo much! Especially the line "Once unschooled, always unschooled." I'm a Mom to 4 unschoolers and my 2 oldest are about to start their second year of public school. I was so concerned when we first sent them off to school that it would be a destructive experience. Instead I believe it has just served to broaden their horizons just a little further and reaffirm their own attitudes, ideas and responses to life even more. You can put the unschooler in school, but you can't put the school in an unschooler.

Anonymous said...

Unschooling seems a little elitist to me. Talk about an unlevle playing field!

rfs said...

@Anne- thank you for your lovely comment!
Glad the article was of help to you.

rfs said...

@Anon- You are correct in saying that unschooling creates an unlevel playing field out there. Elitist-maybe true as well. It is certainly something I want to write about in an upcoming post. Look for it.

Anonymous said...

You're writing is inspirational. Thank you so much and thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there. I am new to unschooling and this blog is a big help to me.

Anonymous said...

Your wonderful, honest and articulate article, which I read the week before school, really hit me like a tonne of lead. It helped inform my decision to move my child to an alternative school: And after week #1, my child is now the happiest kid around. The school environment is welcoming, inclusive, caring and happy. Not home or unschooling, but another great option for parents seeking something different--a kindler, gentler, more creative place for your kids to spend the day. It's about finding a good fit for your child. What is so elitist about that? In fact, I would say that the current system of Early French Immersion is elitist and streams out/ostracizes all kinds of kids for all the wrong reasons. Good on you, and thanks for sharing your story.

rfs said...

@Anon-Wow! What an honour to have inspired your decision. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank can't be easy to take the non-traditional path -- I'm already discovering that myself! (which is why I'm posting anonymously)

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