Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That u-word again

I haven't mentioned to the kids that we're trying this whole unschool thing out. Last summer we tried "homeschool" and it was an unmitigated disaster. I didn't want to saddle them with my wacky experimentation this time and since this entire educational philosophy is very holistic, I thought we'd try it without them knowing we were trying anything at all.

Unfortunately I underestimated the keen eyes and mind of Mindie. She's on Facebook and asked me yesterday about all the sudden new friends popping up on my Facebook page. I tried to shove it off as "this group I joined" but she wasn't about to be blown off that easily. After many questions that I answered as vaguely as possible, I finally told her the group was for Christian unschooling. "Un-what-the-huh?"

I explained some of the educational philosophies. "There's an educational theory that if you leave a student alone to pursue what interests her, encourage her, equip her to follow those interests, and then let her fail or succeed on her own without forcing her to study things she isn't interested in or ready to absorb she will eventually learn the things she needs to know without hating the learning process or clubbing her brain into mush along the way."

"Hey, I like that theory!" But I wasn't ready to let it pass so easily now that we were talking. I decided to play devil's advocate.

"Well of course you do. It's an excuse to do nothing, right?"

"No way! You could learn better this way. And you wouldn't be doing nothing, you'd be learning, right?"

"What if you decided that all you were interested in was playing Guitar Hero?"

"Yeah, that's fun," she started, "but I couldn't do it for like a whole year."

"Just a whole summer?"

"Yeah, but it's summer. I have to let my brain breath from all that stupid stuff they keep cramming into it at school. Besides, you know it won't last all summer. In a few weeks, I'll be ready to do something new and different."

"You think so?"

"Well yeah! Once I really 'get it' I'm ready to learn something new. That's why I hate school so much. They never let you stay on something long enough to really get it but then when you finally do they keep making you do it and do it and do it even though you already know how!"

"Ok, but how would you know what to learn if nobody told you what you were supposed to be learning?" I posed.

"Hmmmm...good question. I guess I could learn the things I need as I need them."

"But if you need to know how to solve an algebraic equation, are you going to have time to go learn how to solve it?"

"I dunno. How often am I going to need to know how to do that anyway?"

"I do pretty often. Like when we're going to San Antonio and I want to figure out where we'll need to stop for gas so I can plan when/where we're going to eat. I have to figure that we leave Lamesa with a full tank of gas that'll comfortably get us about 300 miles. But it's about 350 miles to San Antonio. So how shy of San Antonio will we be when we need to fill up? And what time do we need to leave Lamesa for us to hit that point around a meal time?"

"Yeah, but Mom you don't need ALGEBRA for that. Just - y'know- logic and math stuff."

"Sweetheart, algebra is just APPLIED 'logic and math stuff'"

"Oh. It never seems that way to me."

"That's because school presents it as these equations with no context. And besides, you haven't had 'the click' yet for algebra. You know, that moment where it finally makes sense?"

"And that's why we should be doing the unschool thing!"

That's my girl.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! My son had about the same reaction when he saw the group on my FB.

    I don't know how many times I have tried to explain to adults that don't *get* algebra that they do it all the time. Its just figuring out what you don't know using what you do know.