http://www.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/ – “Personalised Education results in learners whose outcomes are expressed in their character, personality, in the quality of life they lead, in the development and sustainability of our families, communities, and planet and in peaceful co-existence and conflict resolution. Performance indicators are measured as much in terms of their physical and mental health, in peaceful existence, freedom from crime, usefulness of contributions and work, levels of active citizenship etc as they are in the existing limitations of the assessment scores and paper accreditations”.
I agree with the above philosophy and ‘Personalised Education Now’ looks like a very interesting organization. And I do think workbooks aren’t going to achieve the kind of learner described above, the kind of learners we hope our children will be, but I’m finding it hard to ‘unschool’ myself! Why? I feel I’m stymied at this juncture in our home education adventure. I am finding it hard to commit to the approach I think I want to use – unschooling. I really want to follow unschooling but I’m not sure enough about it yet, in part because I’m afraid it won’t work for a kid who recently used to be at school, which is the case with Edward. I can see it working well if the child has grown up with it, never knowing any other way of learning, or if they’ve been taught in an eclectic way and then the learning has become more and more relaxed over a long period of time, for unschooling to happen organically. But will my very recently schooled 7 year old boy get his natural love of learning back?
I have read of people trying to let their kids do whatever they want to do, in the hope that eventually the kids will want to read fascinating books, do projects etc but months and months go past and nothing changes. Does it ever change? How will Edward learn anything if, given the choice, he’d play with Lego and action figures all day (let alone watch entertainment DVDs) and never pick up a book or anything else? Do recently schooled kids left alone really, really suddenly want to do Maths, learn about Ancient Egypt, want to write stories on the computer?? How does a previously schooled kid turn into a model unschooled kid – passionate about learning all sorts of things every day??! I don’t care so much WHAT he learns, but that he is learning something valuable – OK, ‘valuable’ is very subjective, but ‘just’ playing every day, reading Tintin books or watching Tintin movies does scare me. I don’t care if he doesn’t do Maths for a while, if instead he’d be mad into e.g. dinosaurs and want to read everything going about dinosaurs or mad into doing science experiments or build models of the solar system or something. Or even want to know about the countries Tintin visits. I do believe the main thing is to teach/mentor HOW to learn as much as WHAT to learn. This is apparently a fundamental aspect of unschooling.
To clarify, I am keen on the unschooling philosophy but not what people are calling ‘radical unschooling’ which allows the kids to decide everything from what time to go to bed to what to eat. But even with ‘moderate’ unschooling, as it’s sometimes termed, I am afraid of neglecting Edward’s education (again, what that is, is admittedly subjective) or, if I’m honest, even just appearing to neglect him. But on the other hand, if I follow an eclectic approach, doing e.g. Maths through worksheets, I worry that he will never re-ignite his natural love of learning (if this is indeed what really happens with unschooling) so we’ll end up forever doing some kind of ‘school at home’ whilst waiting endlessly for this magical unschooling miracle to happen. I don’t mind starting out with an eclectic approach, which I’m kind of doing, but it seems haphazard and I’m afraid it defeats the object. So, I’m afraid on both fronts; I’m afraid if I don’t leave him totally alone for a few months he’ll never get his natural love of learning back and will never self-direct his learning by finding his own passions to follow. On the other hand, I’m afraid that if I do leave him totally alone to play and find his own way that he never will! Of course I can choose a path and wait and see what happens, but how long to pursue a path before I know it isn’t working? How many months will be ‘wasted’?
I’m very confused and of course since I’m totally surrounded by schoolers the only advice they are giving is – keep a schedule, follow a curriculum i.e. do school at home, which isn’t what I want. I know this is the safest route, but I have at least always had enough courage not to do the safest thing just for the sake of it. I wouldn’t have pulled Edward out of school mid-term if I just wanted to follow the least criticized way to educate one’s child! Edward’s school was a ‘highly rated’ private school at that, very hard to get a place in (although to clarify, if you want your child educated in English rather than Arabic, you have to send your child to some sort of private school in Bahrain).
A dear friend did advise me not to over intellectualize this home education thing. But do I risk a six month ‘exploration period’ or not. This ‘exploration period’ was something beautifully articulated by this advocate at – http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/29951.html?detoured=1 “After you have done your research and decided to homeschool but before you purchase supplies and begin formal homeschooling, set aside six months as an exploration period. This exploration period will allow you and your children to get to know each other better, which is especially important if your children have been in school, and will give your children a chance to get to know themselves better. Financially, this exploration period will save you from spending money on materials you might not really need or use. Instead, you’ll use this time to collect educational catalogues and circle the items you think you might want. But don’t buy anything yet! After a few months of spending time with your children, you’ll have a better idea what their interests are and how they learn best”
Vote here by adding a comment. Yes, I should do a six month exploration period or no I shouldn’t. All views valid and will be taken on board, provided they are expressed respectfully please!!
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