Friday, January 11, 2008

Ok, So Maybe We're Not Learning ALL The Time...

Colleen over at The New Unschooler is blogging about her journey as a new unschooler. It's fascinating to read about her evolution as she evolves. You get the whole ball of wax - the good, the bad, and the ugly. You get to hear what trips her up, what her fears are, and where she lands after she picks herself back up by the bootstraps. Go on over and give her a pat on the back and a 'there there.' I guarantee you'll learn a few things while you're at it. Her commitment and metamorphosis are inspiring.
It's a common theme on my unschooling discussion e-list - new unschooling parents have a difficult time trusting that learning happens all the time. And then, our kids sometimes push our fear buttons by saying just the thing we dread hearing - "Unschooling is great because I don't have to do anything!"
My son said this to his high school history teacher. The teacher's response? "I think what you were doing was illegal." *sigh*
There commenced a discussion, in which I suggested Brady say, "We didn't use a curriculum" in lieu of "We didn't ever have to do anything" which does sound, well, rather misleading.
No, they don't have to do any certain thing, but they do things all the time. Therefore, they are learning all the time. We don't create lessons in hopes of fostering learning, we find learning in all our creating. It's a lovely, mixed-up way to live.
So today, I had a conversation with my younger son, Jonathan. He said something about "school is stupid" and I asked him what he thought was good about unschooling. As if on cue, he replied, "Well, I don't have to do anything!"
Luckily I'm far enough down the path that this sort of comment doesn't cause me to pucker up and yank large tufts of hair from my head (as it once did). And a delightfully amusing conversation ensued, where, if nothing else, I learned something.
"But it's not that you don't have to do anything. It's that unschooling is about learning all the time, no matter what you're doing."
"But I'm not learning all the time, Mom. I'm gonna close my eyes for a few seconds... .... ..... ok, see? I didn't learn anything right then. So I'm not learning ALL the time."
"Well, I'm saying you don't have to sit in a classroom or do something in a school-like format in order for learning to happen."
"Ya, sitting in school where they force you to learn stuff you don't even want to know about, stuff that won't help you at ALL in your life later, is just stupid. But I'm still not learning all the time. What about sleeping? What am I learning when I'm sleeping?"
"Well, what are you learning right now? Other than how to debate your mother?"
(Laughs...) "Um... I'm learning that there's a truck next to me that has pictures of Doritos on the side, pictures that make Doritos look tastier and moister than they really are."
(Laughs...) "Ok, then."
"But that's not really useful information."
"You're observing your surroundings. Isn't that useful?"
"Observing a Doritos truck is not useful, Mom. What is good about looking at Doritos on the side of a truck?"
"Well, maybe you're deciding whether or not you believe in their marketing."
"You're saying they are lying in their marketing? Jeez, mom."
(Sighs....) "I didn't say they're lying, I said you can decide if you agree with their marketing."
So, readers, what did we learn from this conversation? Hmmm?
That's ok, I don't know either.


kelli said...

Hehe, we've had similar discussions.

They are certainly learning their own minds and selves :) and we can't always tell what we're learning at that moment, but truly it tends to show itself later.

Oh! He's learning persuasion ;) I actually had a speech class in high school that "taught" that. See.. he doesn't need that class to do it, he learned that in his own way!

zamozo said...

Yesterday, dd told new therapist, "I pretty much play video games all day."

Ugh!! I added, "In your free time" to try to temper what it must have sounded like to this nice woman who I'm sure has never heard of unschooling.

The therapist commented at how smart dd was - phew! We can thank video game playing for that!

Stephanie S. said...

Sounds familiar.
I swear I had the same conversation with Trev at the same time you were having this one!

Admittedly, yours left me a bit irritable, just as mine did! :)

Colleen said...

I'm so glad my son is not the only one! :)