Homeschooling, and specifically Unschooling have been in the news quite a bit. It is portrayed as being unparenting, unruly and even...feral. Here is one article posted on ABC news.
Headline: No Testing No Books No Bedtime. Lets start with the books. Nowhere do they say in the article "no books." In fact, look closely at the video and you will see a bookcase in the background of one of the clips. I am sure there are more in the house. No Testing...NCLB. Need I say more? No Bedtime... We have odd hours here at The Andrews Academy but we do get our 8-10 hours. Please don't call before 9 am.
This is all very timely for me. A few weeks ago, a person approached me offering to test my son. I told her that my son is behind in some subjects and ahead in others. We were 180 degrees apart from each other in our thinking because she took that as meaning there was a need to fill in the gaps. She said testing would identify those shortcomings and then her testing program could "print out worksheets to fill in the gaps." To me, the gaps are meaningless. We have goals. Andrew does not know those goals. I 'guide' him to meet those goals but usually he learns facts and skills best when self directed. (Relationship learning is a different story...and another post.)
As I am writing this Andrew is laughing like crazy while reading Henry and the Clubhouse. When I tried to direct him to read that book, it was tedious. When he was in the mood to do it, he could not put it down. It isn't always that he does not want to be led (although that is an issue and RDI is getting at that.) I think we all have to be in the right frame of mind to learn. My schedule is not always Andrew's. He is a night person...I am a morning gal. He likes background noise. I can't stand it. Sometimes we are hungry or tired or just cranky. That is not the best time to learn.
Just today we had a few more unschooling moments. On the way to the zoo Andrew was reading his Bible. He was reading the parable of the seeds..changing seeds to popcorn. He was explaining and reading out of the book that "sometimes we only go to God when it is convenient." And then added.."that's a fair weather friend." I asked if it was in the book. He said no. He thought of that on his own. Quite a good connection I think. Something we could all noodle on.
It was sprinkling when we got there and he said.."Mom! You should have looked for nimbus clouds before we left." I can't tell you the number of times I try and teach him this type of science info but when he reads and discovers it for himself it seems to 'take.'
Tonight dad opened up a fraction book for him. He turned to a different page and decided to do pentominoes. I am not even sure what that is but spell check seems to think it is a word. I guess I should go look it up.
And right now he is thoughtfully going over why he might have been born with ears, after saying "God gave us ears to hear." And he isn't saddened by it..he's just..thinking.
In the article she talks about giving her kids as many cookies as they want. I don't let Andrew do that but I do offer up many choices and sometimes let him eat more of things than I would choose. (Sometimes I eat more than I should of the wrong things...I digress.) But with this method of choice, he has just this week eaten swiss chard, tomatoes, basil and cliantro from the garden. Just a few minutes ago I was sitting here with my ice cream and Andrew asks for a peach. Like I said, we all make choices.
We don't 'unschool' and I am sure most true unschoolers would not even like to put us in the same sentence. But I think we bend more to this than to true 'school at home' folks. I do think many different educational frameworks are valid and I am thankful that we currently live in a country where it is legal to homeschool how we believe we should. The key truly is to ask God's guidance on how to raise our specific child and then follow His lead.
Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6