Friday, June 15, 2007


"Let the questions be the curriculum." Socrates, (469-399 bce)

As amazing as it is that I would day by day grow even more comfortable and into unschooling, it is happening.
Today I can attribute my sudden burst of enthusiasm to Evie, and before her a couple of days ago Melissia (who wrote her take on formal education in an online group), and a day before that was someone whom I cannot recall, but had this quote in their signature. (When I find who it was, I'll replace this with her name.)

Let the questions be the curriculum.
A concept I believe well in, and have for quite some time.
The thing that really solidifies it for me (and is really starting to for dh) is that we have these amazing and unlimited resources.
Edie's son asked her "Do ants sleep?"
Several years ago this question would probably have taken quite some time to answer. I think maybe we may have found the info in an encyclopedia, but maybe not. If not, such an obscure question could have taken several days to answer - maybe even a hand-written letter to a nearby university's entomology professor, provided none of your library's resources were forthcoming with the requested information.

But now it's so easy!
We quite literally have the world - any pertinent information that we require - Right At Our Fingertips.
There is simply no reason that I can see (other than it costs time, energy and money for a parent to learn and educate at home) to stick a child in a room full of other children to learn things.
First - it's pretty well accepted that the learning "time line" is arbitrary. So the only benefit of encouraging rote learning within that time line is a matter of pride, as far as I can see. It's really of no benefit to the child - as the child will forget the information commonly, or if given the choice, the child will learn it on his own... and at exactly the right time for him.
Second - it's just not necessary to place a bunch of children in one room to share very limited and hard-to-come-by resources. Supplies are abundant. Books are everywhere. It's so easy to find a reasonably priced microscope, and art supplies, and math manipulatives, and abacuses, and so on. Even if one's budget is tight, you can use water and measuring cups, science experiments, library books, free day at museums and zoos, build bridges with coins, nature walks, and on and on.

So the only question that remains is "Will he ask the questions?"
Every parent knows that children ask questions. It is what we humans do. There is something in us - maybe simply evolution, maybe spirit, maybe self-preservation, maybe it's a grander version of animal instinct - I think we all accept that we're different from all other earthly life forms. Regardless of different beliefs about whether there is spirit or not - people are different. Because we are Thinkers.

So the answer to that is.... Yes - but even greater and more important and life-changing ones if the world is an interesting place. If he is encouraged his interests. If she is allowed to pursue passion. If he is permitted exploration of his own thoughts.
People ask questions regardless of their enchantment with the world around them.
But when one is fascinated, the questions are fascinating.
When one is full of joy, the questions are joyful.
When one's life is rich - the questions are even further enriching.

Letting "the questions be the curriculum" is a celebratory and extraordinary way to embrace one's life, and to find happiness.
I believe it is also the key to discovering one's remarkable Self.

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