Thursday, May 31, 2007

Supplementary Unschooling

The last month or so I've been thinking of others who are homeschoolers - ie 'school at home' style educators, and how they must view unschooling.
If they read my blog from back to front, they would probably think something like "that's all fine and good, but not enough. Never enough!"
I was checking out a couple of blogs this morning, strangers blogs, places I've never before visited.
One of them mentioned that they were now done with school for the year, and that they would now practice unschooling ways for learning over the summer. The writer even said something about celebrating, and hoping that these fun days would sustain the relationship with her children during later trying times.
I'm trying not to get too specific here, it is not my intent to appear to be bashing another's ideas or ways. What I'm trying to do is to broaden and explore my own fascination with, and understanding of learning.

It seems to me that a lot of home educators really like the idea of child-led learning. It affords them freedom and they recognize that children get enthusiastic, and absorb information in this manner at an astounding rate. They (parents) get to taste and feel the beauty of it, and they don't feel pressure to steer the exploration into a particular direction. They like the peace of it, I think.
But I'm wondering what really stops them from believing that it's enough.
Again, I'm not meaning to examine this in a condemning way, or to say that these parents are wrong.

I do wonder what that element is, though. Is it mostly fear? Fear that the child won't be a success? Fear that they'll not know how to get along in society? Fear that they'll have to support them for the next 60 years?
Or maybe it's pride. Having a child that is well above grade-level. One that stands out from his peers. Obviously special. I think we all want that, we see the beauty and greatness in our children, and want the entire world to recognize their shininess.
Maybe it's just personal philosophy.
Some people think (I am learning) that children, and people, should be controlled. That without rigorous practices, they'll just become horrid monsters who cannot be controlled. Or else just spin off the earth.
But I'm being pretty extreme in this supposition. I'll reframe it. I think some (most!) people believe that there are certain things that you just have to do in this life, and school is preparation for such a life.
Which is a strange notion to me. I mean, it seems like it's akin to preparing someone for the death of a loved one. I don't mean one who is dying, but one who is alive and well. A "bad things happen" mentality. As if we don't experience pain, disappointment, and a gamut of other unjoyous things every day of our lives.

I don't know what it is.
And it's not as if I am not familiar with any of the above emotions. (except the controlling part, I give children and people much more credit than that.)

It makes me feel sad, though, that people would find a peace and happiness in this way of learning with their children, and then discount it, believing for whatever reason that this happiness, or any other, is not what life is about.
If not joy, then what?


Sarah said...

Hi Stephanie! I'm the one who sent your post to Unbridled Learning the other day. I'm sending this post as well, because I like it! Please feel free to submit posts that you like too!


Stephanie said...

aah, the mystery is solved.
Thanks, Sarah!

KMDuff said...

Maybe people just haven't ever questioned the need to learn the things that the institution of school says that we need to learn at certain ages.

Of course, if they are really essential things, wouldn't they arise naturally in child's learning? Maybe it does have to do with thinking children can not be trusted to learn all they need to and make good choices. There was a great article in Live Free Learn Free called "Starbucks Worthy" that discussed it some too. Interesting stuff.

Stephanie said...

In response to kmduff:
I've been thinking a lot about this, lately. Mainly as I review my posts on olm, and think how satisfied and fulfilled I am with our learning.
When I take a step back, sometimes I think - oh, wait, this might just appear as "playing" to another.
They might not see the learning to use words instead of hands to communicate, or hear the "Maddie, could you please stop that?" Instead of the "well she started it!"'s.
Might not see the beautiful and patient way dh handles a frustrating situation.
They probably don't see the fascination with the jumping spiders, or hear the conversations about what the furry little things eat, and how beneficial they are to the garden, and how they are our friends.
I sort of assume that others have at least a basic understanding of the ways of our world.

But I suppose that's alright, if they are curious, they will learn.
Thanks so much for this comment!

I'm always so astounded and amazed when others bring up something that seems so poignant to my thoughts.