Monday, July 5, 2010

What Unschooling and Natural Learning mean to me ... Part Two

I really enjoy reading and talking about how other people 'do' home education.  We're all curious about how others live their lives without school.  Visiting homes, chatting at the park and seeing pictures on blogs is a lot of fun (speaking of which I should post more photos).  We share thoughts and ideas about resources, arrangement of spaces and ways of organising things, and help each other learn and solve problems.  I've met about 100 home ed. families, visited countless websites and subscribe to about 20 blogs.  All are fantastic sources of inspiration.  I love the culture of acceptance, generosity and encouragement which I've experienced online and in our local home ed. network.  So ... THANKS!!!!

Just to clarify, I'm only writing here about what we're doing, which works for us at the moment.  Each family is different and that's the beauty of having our children at home.  I admire everyone doing their best, in their own way.

If any of this sounds organised, it's because I'm trying hard to find the consistent points in our very flexible, whimsical, busy life.  And even though these posts are long, I bet I'll leave out some really special and important details.  So expect a few p.s.'s from me.  I'm not claiming to have any particularly original thoughts ... this synthesis is the result of a couple of years reading and talking and living.  I'll get on with it then!


-  we blend various aspects of Unschooling, Natural Learning, Interest-based, Child-led learning, Unit Studies, Literature and Thematic studies, Traditional school and probably other methods.
-  the glue sticking it all together is our faith, relationships and zest for learning and living!
-  learning happens all the time, everywhere, in conventional and playful ways.
-  lessons learned by experiencing are often the most memorable.
-  child-initiated learning and intrinsic motivation are powerful tools to be encouraged and valued.
-  we are not limited to a particular curriculum, textbook, grade level or educational approach.
-  we unashamedly borrow ideas from diverse education methods, philosophies and theories, to develop a unique blend that pleases and nourishes OUR children.
-  there are many valid ways to explore subjects, share ideas and demonstrate skills.
-  in our daily journey we share the joy of setting directions and modes of transport.
-  the Lord, my husband and myself have God-given roles which aren't open to compromise.
-  I'm a facilitator ... doors can be opened by the resources I provide and the experiences I plan.
-  kind of like the Doctor's creed, I try to 'first do no harm' (I think it goes something like that).


-  as a home educator I DO refer to curriculums (many, from all over the world) for ideas and suggestions of what the children might be interested in or need to know.  Then I set most of it aside and just let learning happen.  I sometimes respect and sometimes ridicule the outcomes and principles of our State and National curriculum.  It's more important to me that my children keep their curiosity, have a chance to stretch their minds, and learn diligence and persistence.

-  we DO use numerous 'schoolish' resources and ideas, as one of many tools, but I can't think of a program I have used in it's entirety ... I always feel the need to extract, tweak and condense.  We skip liberally around grade levels to suit our children's needs and interests.  Responses may be written, discussed, dictated or demonstrated in practical ways.   

-  if I think my children would benefit from improving a particular skill, I find (sometimes fun) ways to steer them in that direction and help them see why it's worth putting in some time and effort.  Contrary to the bulk of unschooling theory, I DO at times use coersion, bribery and extrinsic motivators to assist with this.  I expect my children to respect my judgement when differences arise, and balance this by aiming to respect my children's readiness, opinions, interests and learning styles.

-  our family culture is an invisible but integral part of the learning experience our kids enjoy ... so I guess I'd describe our crew as faithful, playful, caring, energetic, affectionate, talkative, generous, creative, intellectual, busy but relaxed, peaceful but not quiet, sensible but often silly.  Pete and I can both be a bit more bossy and authoritative than what I'd like at times.  I sometimes get carried away on tangents of being industrious, introspective, distracted and multi-tasking.  And I'm usually trying to do a zillion things at once.

-  there are many reasons why Pete and I do things the way we do, and Scriptures which guide us when we have to chose between divergent paths.  That doesn't mean I think we have all the answers, and I know every choice made has an opportunity cost and there'd be potentially different outcomes if we'd gone the other way.  I have to accept the consequences of our choices, keep learning and seek the silver lining in the clouds which sometimes appear.

These are my honest reflections ... obviously a work in progress.  So although I think I've written way too much and I don't know if it makes any sense, I'll send it out into cyberspace.  


Part Three, about the specifics of what we actually do, might take longer to compose.  Sorry I'm taking so long to get to the practical bits!  

1 comment:

  1. Loved it. What a great conglomeration of thoughts, many of which blend with how we also think & do things. (Maybe that's why I loved it?!) Obviously there's a few things that differ, but that's the wonderful thing about it - there is no right way to do it, just what works for each family or child at each particular point in time. Ahhh, love the flexibility!!


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