Three good recent articles on learning and unschooling in the home:
Our approach starts with the fact that I went to a good private school, my wife to a good suburban public school, and both of us remember being bored most of the time; while we learned some things in school, large parts of our education occurred elsewhere, from books, parents, friends, projects. It continues with some observations about the standard model of K-12 schooling, public and private:
That model implicitly assumes that, out of the enormous body of human knowledge, there is some subset that everyone should study and that is large enough to fill most of thirteen years of schooling. That assumption is clearly false. Being able to read and do arithmetic is important for almost everyone. Beyond that, it is hard to think of any particular subject which there is a good reason for everyone to study, easy to think of many subjects outside the standard curriculum which there are good reasons for some people to study.
It implicitly assumes that the main way in which one should learn is by having someone else tell you what you are going to study this week, what you should learn about it, and your then doing so.
A related assumption is that you learn about a subject by having someone else decide what is true and then feed it to you. That is a very dangerous policy in the real world and not entirely safe even in school–many of us remember examples of false information presented to us by teachers or textbooks as true. A better policy is to go out looking for information and assembling it yourself.
When our daughter was about ten there was a class, lasting somewhat over a year, in math. It started assuming the students knew nothing, ended with the early stages of algebra. That is pretty much all of the formal instruction either of them had. In addition, we required them to learn the multiplication tables, which are useful to know but boring to learn. That, I think, was the closest thing to compulsory learning in their education.
How did they get educated? They both read a lot, and although some of the books they read were children’s books, pretty early they were also reading books intended for adults. … But the largest part of their education, after reading, is probably conversation. We talk at meals. We talk when putting one or the other of them to bed. …
What is the result? Our daughter will enter college knowing much more about economics, evolutionary biology, music, renaissance dance, and how to write than most of her fellow students, probably less about physics, biology, world history, except where it intersects historical novels she has read or subjects that interest her. She will know much more than most of them about how to educate herself. And why.
There are quite a number of youngsters being homeschooled in progressive families, including by radical feminists and lesbian feminists. I have been homeschooling for 24 years now; my two youngest, Sol, 12, and Maggie, 9, are still being homeschooled and have never gone to a regular school. It's an interesting thing, raising children away from the sexism, racism, classism, lesbophobia, and other destructively socializing influences of school kids and school hierarchies of all kinds, with a commitment to seeing to it that your children spend time with with others who are being raised as they are. V's son, shown in the video, goes to
Brother Suncamp at the Festival every year, a camp for boys ages 5-10 years. My daughter, Maggie, goes to Gaia girls each August. In settings like this, children raised in the revolution find encouragement and support.
V has graciously given her permission for the posting of this video. I will allow comments but want to remind everyone that V is a real person to me, a member of a women's community I value. I'd ask you to keep that in mind in commenting. V's son, Parker, is giving a report about his friend, Alix Olson, also a member of the Michfest community. Watch it all the way through the different "takes" — I think you'll enjoy it!
None of us involved really knows what the results of this quiet revolution we have undertaken will be. But, that is the way with all revolutions– they take on lives of their own which are outside of any individual's immediate control. I do find reason to feel hopeful about the potential for change in the world which resides in this particular revolution, for so many reasons. I am about to blog its dark side, as I have before, but before I do, I wanted to post this.