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Unschooling -an old post from my old blog

Every year I go through this. My yearly rethinking of all things homeschool. This year, I am reading John Holt's "How Children Fail" and absolutely loving it. It rings true to me. I have promised myself that I will not make any decisions about next years' school until I have finished reading this book, and also his "Teach Your Own" book on homeschooling. John Holt is considered to be the father of "unschooling", a home school philosophy that I would have never imagined myself signing on with. I am also going to the MASS HOPE homeschooling convention in April, and want to hold off on deciding until I have taken in what is there. But what I am taking away from all of this is that there really is no right or wrong way of learning - only the way that works for your family, for your individual child and in that season in which you find yourselves. 

On our February 2009 trip to Chicago, we were able to go to 3 different museums, The DuPage Children's Museum, The Chicago Children's Museum, and The Museum of Science and Industry - and the kids learned so much. I didn't "make" them learn. I didn't even direct so much where we were going once we got there, except to say that we were staying together. So Jor Man had his turn, and then Campster would say "let's look over there!", and then Sher Bear would lead us in another direction altogether. But through all of this we were together, learning and having fun. Even Beauty Mom (especially) was learning.  

I wonder how I could make our homeschool more like going to the museum? I don't want to set up exhibits, but maybe I could pull out resources and interest the kids in one thing or another. I am drawn to the idea of being a resource person (like a librarian) or a facilitator (like the workers at the museum) rather than a teacher. How do I reconcile that with my conventional ideas about schooling?  (NOTE: I don't have conventional ideas about schooling anymore!)

I saw on the internet the idea of schooling through games, which appeals to me. Growing up in Chicago, I remember playing games nearly all winter. And my oldest grew by leaps and bounds in his math when we gave up on the formal curriculum and played Monopoly for a season. But even in games, it feels too much like mom is leading. I have a hard time relaxing and get all bent out of shape when my kids want to do their own "house rules" of games. Why is that? 

Lastly, what I read in John Holt's book seems to resonate with the things we are learning at Option. To go toward what you want instead of using fear and anger as motivators (for ourselves and others). How much of school is motivated by fear and anger rather than by the pure joy of learning something you want to know about? And there is a time for everything. Five years ago, you couldn't have paid to me to read up about chickens. But when I wanted to know about them, I was a voracious learner. I now know more than I probably need to and it was an enjoyable experience. I can't say that about much of my formal school experiences. 

 Wish you were here!

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