We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Feb 26, 2007

Forays into Unschooling Thinking

Well were off as soon as we're packed! This will be a thin week for entries but I'll have a whole trip to tell about when I return. I am excited but tired, as Alder got up four times last night.

I'm just finishing organizing all our books it makes me think about how much there is out there that I have not read yet. I kept on thinking of other areas that I want to learn more about. The more I read about unschooling the more I realize that it is what I have been doing since I left school. I've learned so much more since graduating college.

I remember after the first year I Was out here in Colorado I commented to my father that I had learned more in that one year than during the four years of college. I had learned, how to camp alone, outfit a canoe trip, shoot a rifle, downhill ski, tele ski, measure frames for walls, roll joists, do my taxes, set up a rock climbing belay, become intimate with the Southwest Colorado landscape, hitch hike and lots of other things.

In retrospect that year was my year of Deschooling, I was fairly irresponsible and spent a lot of time partying, but after that year I began to explore more things that interest me. I've taught myself so much since then and what I haven't taught myself I found people to help me. All of this was before I really understood about unschooling.

But to get back to the present. Kevin and I talked a lot about unschooling this morning. We had established during our first date that both of us wanted to homeschool our children. I've realized that a lot of our want to unschool Alder is that we ourselves learn best that way and want to have time to enjoy it with him. A big part of our plans for the future have to do with going on adventures, some close by and some far away. One of our main goals with our business is to be able to afford an annual river trip in the spring. Both of us see that a trip like that is a much deeper education than sitting at a desk watching the minute hand move slowly.

A teachers in alternative schools we saw our ideals decay with the constant impositions of the administration and the parents. It was hard to teach in a school where every time a parent read a new educational theory they came to me wanting it implemented. It was the schools policy to take parent's requests seriously, regardless of what was working well with all the children. I liked some of the parents very much but it was often a struggle to balance their needs and continuity in the classroom. Especially when over half the class was partially unschooled. In retrospect the best method I could have used would have been to unschool the three students I had every day. But since I had not been exposed to many of these ideas yet I rallied against them. Now they seem so natural to me, although I am not sure if they belong in a classroom setting with out the entire school being a Free school.

Now seven years since that first date we are already beginning the process. Everyday we watch as Alder explores our world, we've baby proofed the house only removing the truly dangerous items from his reach the rest we let him touch and taste. While he still loves to put things in his mouth he is starting to manipulate them in his hands first.

This morning he pulled himself up to standing at the couch, I had my first fleeting feeling that he is growing up quickly. We never had to show him how it was done or that it was something important. Why should we ever dictate why of his learning. Of course I want him to learn how to read, write and do math but I am more interested in getting him to want to do these things because he is curious enough about something that he sees that these skills are important to figuring things out. I also want him to read because it is a pleasure to get lost in a story. But I want him to do it on his own terms at his own pace not one set for his year and month.

He is part of our lives now I don't really understand the idea of corralling him off in school for six hours a day in the name of learning. The first, and only, time I breached this subject with my Dad so far his only comment was "Why would you want to waste your time? If you want to teach him stuff just spend time on the weekends doing it" If Alder was going to school the last thing I would want to do is take his precious play time away from him.

This could bring on a whole other tangent but Kevin keeps popping in here to see if I'm finished so this is all from now. I'll come back from Santa Fe with pictures and stories.


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