Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keeping a record of what they learn

When my teens were younger, our family produced a weekly radio program called Radio Free School. It was a weekly show by, for an about home based learning. It ran from 2002 to 2008 from out of our local campus radio station (CFMU 93.3 FM McMaster). It was carried internationally by other campus radio stations. You can still hear it if you'd like over at the archives at Radio4all.net and search Radio Free School.

Many of you know that the book Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education is a collection of essays derived largely from that part of the show were we interviewed advocates of unschooling and home based education. But the greater focus of the show was around topics that the children came up with. We would ask the kids, "What do we want to have on our show for next week?"  It was up to them to come up with suggestions. Astronomy. Belly dancing. Poo. Bugs. Parks. Mathematics. We would then go out to the community and find people to interview who were involved in the interests we were exploring.

With our help, our children would prepare questions to ask. We would then speak to the interviewee and get a first hand glimpse of what sort of work they were doing. What is it really like to be a conductor? Or an organic farmer? Or a midwife? Or a novelist?
We would also do book and movie reviews.
Now, I listen to their voices on these shows and it is moving beyond words to hear them as they were then. And although we never intended this as a way to record what our unschooled babes were learning, in hind sight, what a great way to document a living, breathing autonomous education in action!
Reflecting on that show today, it was a life shaping initiative for all of us and one of the most significant part of our unschooling journey.


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When it comes to keeping a record in order to show yourself or someone else what your kids are learning it’s something I’d recommend because doing so can make you feel more secure about the process. It also helps you realize how learning is indeed happening all the time—even when we don’t think it is. Even if it’s the case where nothing seems to be happening one week, or even one month, over the period of a year, your notes will reveal that learning was happening—you just didn’t have a minute by minute hour by hour, day by day account. And why should you have? That is not a natural way to learn. All that day to day is the fodder for that time when a ‘big’ event happens, that can be pointed at no one can dispute, ‘learning has happened.’
Since I am a writer, I'd blog (still do). I also kept and continue to keep journals and those are full of the voices of my children and their thoughts.
I am a big one for collecting their drawings, taking photos of the dress ups they would play in, music they would compose, stories they wrote. When they were little, I also collected together their work on learning math in all sorts of intriguing art work and stories and games they game up with.

Kids take note:
My kids also enjoyed journaling time to time. They would sometimes get notebooks and write what happened in their day. They would find images of things they liked/were interested in (from magazines) and stick them into scrapbooks. Anything from dolphins, to diamonds to ice-cream to treasure maps. Even when they didn't know how to write, they would tell the story or what they did, and I would write it down for them.
One daughter filled notepad after notepad of stories and illustrations based off Harry Potter.

Another practical reasons to record your unschooling journey 
Many families record for school transcript purposes should you child want to go to highschool. I brought samples of one of my daughter’s writing (short stories, contests she won, involvement and commitment to dog fostering etc), the zine she produced as a child, documentation of the dogs she fostered etc).

Over the year, when you look at the materials made, discovered, invented, the places you’ve visited, the films you’ve seen, the books you’ve read, the conversations you’ve had, the people you’ve met, you will impress yourself. I guarantee it.

What about you? How do you record unschooling?


1 comment:

suepatterson said...

I love "after the fact" recording. Who has time to plan when we're so busy immersed in NOW?

I'll bet hearing their little voices in the radio archives is just so precious.

OH! Your description of the radio program reminds me a little of BOOMERANG. Did you ever listen to that?

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