Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Unschooling Ordinary Kids

I seem to be taking a very long time to get around to actually talking about our unschooling experience! There's really is lots to share, and it has been wonderful. But what I want to talk about today isn't the various things that my kids actually spend most of their time doing, but rather the faint, lingering worry I still have, about things that they're not doing.

I've said before that there are still a few specific areas which I'm too nervous to un-tether; hesitant to let them to float off in whichever direction the unschooling breezes may take them (or not take them, as the case may be). Arabic and math, for now, are still tied to pens, pencils and curricula. 

But there's also one thing that I still haven't completely resolved in my own mind, about unschooling in the big picture. I can see how unschooling would be a perfect fit if your kid is a genius (as is clearly the case in one of my favorite unschooling blogs). I can also see how unschooling would be wonderful if you child had a very clear passion, a particular interest or topic which he pursued in such depth that he covered all kinds of skills along the way. (All topics, as far as I can see, end up being interdisciplinary when you really go deep into them.) 

It seems to me that it would be easier, as the mom, to have an idea of where your child's education was headed, which surely must be reassuring. Either you can see that she is clearly ahead of grade-level in everything, in which case she is clearly doing just fine setting her own course; or else you can see that she is headed towards becoming the world's leading authority on car design, or endangered reptiles, or the history of the Aztecs. In which case you can probably predict what general direction her education is going, and what kinds of skills she'll likely pick up along the way. 

But what about - well, just regular kids? Kids who are bright and enthusiastic, with plenty of interests and hobbies, but no clear, burning passion that illuminates their learning path? Kids like mine, in other words. Sara, at Happiness is Here, recently wrote a wonderful post highlighting the advantages of unschooling in ordinary, childhood life, but I find I don't have quite Sara's faith when it comes to the future. I can see that each day is full of learning, exploration and growth, but still, I do sometimes find it unsettling that I have so little idea where we're headed. 

Neither of my girls, for example, has ever shown any particular interest in any non-fiction topic. For years, I have artfully strewn fascinating picture books on every conceivable subject, from science to history, from the familiar to the exotic. Occasionally they have shown mild interest,  but they've never picked up a topic and run with it.  We've explored science museums and taken nature walks for years,  without ever sparking  strings of questions that they can't wait to find answers for. They don't wonder aloud about why the stars twinkle, or what our neighborhood looked like long ago. 

So, if we're not going to be covering history or science or geography or social studies in a  traditional curriculum...  then what will they end up learning, and when?  I do  trust that they eventually will  want to find out more about these areas, and that they'll ultimately learn more that way than they  would if I took the reins and decided for them where their interests should lie...  But just in the interests of  full disclosure, before I start describing the joys of our unschooling adventures, I wanted to admit that yes, I do sometimes  worry. A bit. Not much. Less than I used to. But I haven't quite perfected the art of enjoying the ride to - well, wherever it is that we're heading to :)

No comments:

Post a Comment