Monday, September 7, 2009

Some days I feel myself resisting this unschooled life. Unschooling tells me that if long division never presents itself in real life then we are fine not to learn it. But will my kids do well on the ACT that they will have to take to get into college someday if I don't teach them long division. And if I were to teach them long division when should I do it, how often should they practice, how often should they review to make sure they retain the information?

I realize that the real struggle I'm having right now isn't with long division it is with trusting this process. The real question is if insist on them doing certain things because I find them important will I hinder their overall desire to seek information on their own? I think the answer is yes, they won't embrace life and learning in the same way if I hold onto these things just to make myself feel better. It would be as if we had decided to become vegetarians but I insisted that they must eat a little chicken three or four times a week for their own good. If I insist that the math (or science or social studies) book is too important to skip then they they aren't really unschooling any more than the chicken eaters are really vegetarians. That would be okay if I really thought it was best for them, after all I don't want to base my decision on whether or not they fit the label of unschooler, I want to base it on whether or not its what's best for them.

So it boils down to what, after all of the research I've done, I believe is the best way for them to learn. Intellectually I believe I'm doing the right thing by letting go but some days I just don't FEEL it. On those days I panic and think, "Wait! They need to know XYZ and I must teach them NOW!" On the days that I am more grounded in my decision I think that an arbitrary lesson would be an unwelcome interference in their learning and would do more harm than good- they may complete the worksheet without truly learning the information and the lesson itself could kill the desire to ever learn it for themselves.

Today is an in between day so I'm taking a deep breath and reminding myself that they can learn any information at any time. College isn't looming at some predetermined date but at a place when they are ready. If at 16 they choose a career path and realize that they can't fill in the gaps quickly enough to begin the college of their choice at 18 then that's okay, colleges accept 19 year olds too. I don't really anticipate that they won't be ready, I'm just trying to calm my fears about it by reminding myself that it isn't a race. I guess I'm realizing that unschooling isn't just about letting go of my preconceived notions about learning, it's also about letting go of the arbitrary time lines created by traditional schooling.

One more piece of the puzzle. I wonder how many more there are?


Sherry said...

You can always introduce such topics casually--make a game of it. Word problems are good for math. Give them a scenario and see if they can figure it out. For example..."You're given a box of 500 matchbox cars. You would like to share these equally among yourself and 4 friends. How many should each person get?" If they can't figure it out, show them how--voila! Math without workbooks. They could actually think this is fun and ask for more and more challenging "puzzles." :)

Hope said...

Thanks Sherry :)

I do those types of things but I am finding that it is still an artificial introduction of the facts and with no real bearing on what they are doing in the moment I'm not sure it will stick or that they'd want to hear it at that point. I guess what I'm struggling with is that intellectually I'm leaning to much more radical views than I am emotionally ready for!

Kim said...

I can relate to this post!! Thanks for saying what I've been feeling for a while now. Nice to know, I'm not alone!!