Explaining Unschooling

While in La Jolla on Monday, before we went down to play on the beach, we walked through town and did some shopping. I bought this sweatshirt at the La Jolla Shirt Company. (Thanks to my husband for photographing me in the airport at the beginning of our long wait on Tuesday.)

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While the store clerk was ironing La Jolla onto the sweatshirt, he asked if my kids were on vacation or did I just pull them out of school and he seemed intrigued when I told him we homeschool and make our own schedule. He asked more questions about what kinds of schoolwork my kids do and when they get breaks, and I tried to explain how we learn all the time and the world is our classroom.

I wish I’d had this Peter Gray article, Is Real Educational Reform Possible? If So, How?  He writes an excellent summary of how well people learn on their own:

Children come into the world intensely motivated to learn about the physical, social, and cultural world around them; but they need freedom in order to pursue that motive. For their first four or five years of life we generally grant them that freedom. During those first few years, without any teaching, they learn a large portion of what any human being ever learns. They learn to crawl and then to walk. They learn their entire native language, from scratch. They learn the basic practical principles of physics. They learn psychology to such a degree that they become experts in how to please, annoy, manipulate, and charm the other people in their environment. They acquire a huge store of factual knowledge. They learn how to operate the gadgets that they are allowed to operate, even those that seem extraordinarily complex to us adults. 

They do all this on their own initiative, with essentially no direction from adults.

Of course, that’s just part of the beginning of the article, which is about so much more than learning in freedom. Peter Gray makes a very convincing argument for a complete overhaul of the current mainstream  school system. Definitely read it!

The store clerk said he doesn’t have children, but I sensed that he would like to someday. I hope I was able to convey homeschooling positively enough to spark his interest in becoming part of the education revolution that Peter Gray and I believe is happening.

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