From Akilah Richard’s ‘Fare of the Free Child’ podcast: Unschooling is both a learning-centered and learner-centered way of living with children. As unschoolers, we don’t see school as the primary place to learn and everywhere else as places to take breaks from learning. We don’t suffer from summer learning loss and those types of ideas. Unschoolers use all resources available to explore and build upon anything of interest to them, so plenty of my time and my husband Kris’s time, is spend observing what our girls are really into, and helping them find resources to go deeper into whatever their interests are. Sometimes, it’s just listening. Like, when they find a language partner online who lives in Finland and wants to learn English in exchange for teaching Finnish, which happened with our 10-year-old, Sage. She was so excited, and wanted to tell us all about their first session, so we listened. And we asked questions, and she didn’t need our help at all. Our only job with that interest is to check the safety component (like looking in on the chat on occasion and hitting the translate button in the room to make sure we feel comfortable with the interaction. Our other job is to keep paying for internet access so she can continue her studies. And in that space, we also get to offer guidance on life skills like discernment, because ultimately, that’s the only “teaching” that we do—we help our daughters understand and practice discernment as they discover and develop themselves. So, we give examples of what someone in a chat might say if they’re fishing for more than what you want to offer. We talk about safety stuff, like not giving anyone online your personal details outside of your email address and Skype handle. And they get help from their homies too. I think one of the most widely understood ways of explaining it is that children who are unschooling learn the way most adults learn—out of a sense of curiosity and necessity. I was talking with someone the other day about how I learned WordPress and basic web design as an adult. I started a blog, it gained some traction, I wanted to build a better blog, and though my husband, Kris, is a graphics and web design guy, he wasn’t gonna be available to address every single change I had, or every single idea I wanted to test out. So, I went online, found tutorials, tested shit out, made mistakes, talked to folks, talked to my Kris, took some webinars, and figured it out. I went to school, grade school and college, but nothing there could have prepared me for the particular interest in WordPress, for example, because it hadn’t been invented yet. And today, in many cases, so much of what our children learn in school will be outdated and highly irrelevant by the time they become adults. Not to mention that so much of what’s taught in school is mandated by the state, without much input from teachers, and stops teachers from using adaptive methods to facilitate learning in the classrooms. And to be clear, my family is not anti-school, we are pro-learning, and for our daughters, like many children, school was not an enhancement to their learning journey, it was a limitation, because it put unnecessary boundaries and segmented blocks of time around their ability to explore and process the information they had gathered. It limited their resources to the person assigned to teaching them, who may not know anything about the things our daughters develop interests in. And on top of that, school gives a lot of busywork, but calls it necessary, whereas most of us as adults know good and well that so much of what we were forced to learn in school is not what we use to thrive today. …shit about your child or your interests or your culture. All that to say this: unschooling is about relevant, highly-customized learning experiences that become a normal part of living. So much like we adults when we start a new project or…..
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