“Unschooling” has become a term of endearment for me. Not a word to be feared. Not a statement word. Just a letting go of all previous expectations of what and how my children are to be educated. John Holt wooed me easily into his quiet freedom-thinking approach.
Why wouldn’t I want to find a way that would help me approach my children’s learning in a natural way? Like following their interests. If my child is interested in cheetahs today, instead of the discussion on electricity, does it matter that she pursue one instead of the other?
Is there really a right time to learn division or World War II history? Is there really any body of knowledge that one must learn in a particular order? And why is it that I could make it to adulthood without grasping some pretty basic math skills? The expectation of a basic set of facts to be learned in childhood is hopeful at best, because even after the test is over, one doesn’t necessarily retain the information. Unless, of course, someone wants to, then everything is retained.
The fundamental lesson I learned from Holt is that children, as well as adults, are learning animals. If we want to know something, we will find it out. Not a lot of external push is required. We don’t need to teach children that learning is fun. They already know it. Let’s get out of the way and let them do it!
Yet every spring, as I attend a homeschool conference, I am lured, once again, to the vendor’s table. Ode to the book, how I love you! Every fall, I attempt to entice the kids to these books. Until February, when we’re all tired of the routine, tired of the prescription of ‘child led learning in a schedule’.
Spring has sprung. I am heading back to the library to find my friend, John Holt.