A Thing to Learn from Unschooling

My friend Ella, who is a school teacher, had told me towards the end of last year that I had a huge task ahead of me if I had decided to create my own school curriculum. She had exhorted me not to try and invent the wheel and to keep it as simple as possible. She pleaded with me to get a hurry on the task. I just wish people would understand that ‘simple’ just isn’t the way I operate!  I want to be creative! I want to make my own way in this world! I have been like this since childhood and I ain’t gonna change now! 

My neighbour Tracey is also a school teacher and she had kindly offered to help me with writing up the curriculum and planning for the year. I was thankful but not entirely sure I wanted somebody else to know in great detail about what I was planning or not planning. To be honest, I’m a little bit of a private person when it comes to my ventures and I just don’t want the feedback (or criticism). Reason being that I rarely jump into new ventures and adventures without heavy research of all the pros, cons and in-betweens to begin with. By the time I’ve made a decision and announced it, it’s very much set in stone for me.

When we were away on our trip, my mother in law Louise, who is also a school teacher explained to me that school teachers don’t limit the child’s learning to academic learning but rather see it as a wholistic paradigm – meaning that the child gains so many more things from attending school. 

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I wanted to say, “My wholistic is bigger than your wholistic.”

Of course I didn’t. One must use self-control in society and put on a polite and cooperative smile.

I’m just starting to see that I will not be receiving open support from school teachers all-round, that’s for sure. We have vastly different perspectives, that’s why. And for that reason alone, an agreed fusion between homeschooling parents and institutionalised teachers will never work. In the end, the teachers surrounding me will just have to have a little faith because I am pretty confident that I am going to LOVE this gig and it’s going to be frgn awesome for both my daughter and our little family.

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All in all, I am still working on my Homeschooling application. I have discovered that it is actually more difficult than you’d think. Mostly because it is hard to get onto paper what I have in my mind. I know exactly and perfectly how I am going to deliver my teaching to my child. (I realise that every Homeschooling parent’s plan changes along the way). But how to get that down on paper?

In my search for ideas on how to write my statement, I have been searching through the many Homeschooling Facebook Groups I have joined. One of them is an Unschooling Group. This is different to Natural Learning. From what I gather, Natural Learning is the acknowledgement and understanding that every facet of life present an opportunity for learning. I really resonate with that. I love learning. My life purpose is learning. Continual learning. I am always researching a topic of interest or another, and I read and I self-inform and I gather information. It’s my life hobby. So I totally resonate with Natural Learning.

Unschooling? Not so much. I really hope I’ve glimpsed an extreme of the philosophy, but if the snippets of Unschooling forum discussions that I have read so far are anything to go by, it seems to me that Unschooling is allowing the child free reign to self-learn. (Sounds great in theory).

Or in my more sinister way of viewing it at first, I saw it as the lazy parent’s great Out where they don’t have to take the child to school every day – because who wants to do the dreaded school run, right – so they choose Unschooling where they don’t have to teach the child either cos the child can have free reign to do whatever the hell the child feels like doing at any point in time and the parent can pretend it’s called Learning. Overly sinister much? Perhaps.

It was just that when I read about an 11 year old boy not wanting to learn anything because all he was self-choosing and self-directing to do was to play console games all day, I wondered, “What did you expect your 11 year old would do when given free reign – choose to create new policy and become the next president?”

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I get that there are different modalities of anything in this world. Different paradigms and perspectives. Different shifts in society and with that comes different opinions, beliefs and philosophies. I’m all for everyone having their own views in this world, and to live their own lives and walk their own paths according to their gait. I’m just saying that Unschooling is – clearly – not for me.

And smack-bang: I’m the intitutionalised teacher with cane in her hand. “Don’t invent the wheel,” I say. “You need to give your child a wholistic approach to learning,” I say.

“But maybe our wholistic is bigger than your wholistic,” replies Unschooling.

Whatever, I retort.

I proceed to gather a few examples of curriculum statements, thinking that it will be easy to just edit as I need to. And I am under the false assurance that, voila, I will be able to present someone else’s edited curriculum statement. Now there’s a great example of not inventing the wheel, Ella!

But I discover that this isn’t how it works either. And I will tell you what I discovered – quite simply, every parent / home educator is different; every home is different; every family is different; and every child is different. Quite simply.

I quickly learn that Unschooling must totally work for those families who Unschool! While I’m all wrapped up in judgment here in my little corner of not having begun the Homeschooling journey yet, there are parents who have probably been Unschooling for 20 years and who have perfectly able and capable children-turned-adults creating policy and becoming the next president. Because those very parents made their own mark in the world!

I realise that I could learn a thing or two from them. Perhaps I could learn that one must make waves if one wishes to gain momentum in this world. One must step boldly forward and do it all on one’s own. (I still don’t think the 11 year old will become the next president unless taught how to make wise independent decisions, but that’s just my haughty opinion remaining).

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So I am left to my own planning.

Now if I could just pick my teenage brain from the 1990’s who was great at planning, self-organisation, ticking lists off, completing projects on time and actually going to bed early, I might be half as successful as I was back then.

At 1:15am, my teenage self could really help me right now.

Oh wait, she’d have been 5 hours asleep.

It’s definitely my own gig here.

 

 

 

 

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