I have five children in a Christian school that I really like; however, one of those children is a square peg and won't fit in that round hole. So she and I are venturing to try something new--unschooling! Here is my brain dump from Evernote about why, what and how we will be doing this. I'm happy to hear comments and suggestions.
WHY I've realized for many years that the current education system is not the best way to educate our children. From the moment one of my kids said, "I love reading, but my school is making me hate it," I knew that there was something off kilter. Also, the economic climate truly points to a need for independent, entrepreneurial learning as a focus of education.
Creativity is important to us as a family and continues to grow in importance in the world our kids will be entering as adults. David Pink writes in A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, " The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't. Sir Ken Robinson's TEDtalk also has had a eureka affect on my thinking about children and how their creativity is developed. Over 10 million people have watched this video:http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U
Life Lessons: I know that my "traditional education" did not prepare me for being a wife, a mom, or an entrepreneur. I think this is a very important part of training a child up. We often miss this opportunity, especially when our kids attend schools that emphasize rigorous academics and when we have multiple children involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, those important life lessons are left by the wayside at best.
A Little Bit of a Lot and Not a Lot of Anything: I know that schools want to expose kids to a lot of different subjects and topics just in case one of those might be the spark for a life-long career. The problem is that kids rarely get the opportunity to get rich, authentic experiences with any specific areas of study.
World View: It is easy for children, even in a Christian school, to think that their subjects and their world view are isolated from one another. I believe it's important for there to be continuity in order to prevent confusion.
WHAT In my ongoing, fervent digging for resources, I've realized some key things:
- I lean toward unschooling to the degree that I'd like to open up the education process to my child as a more natural, meaningful process that leads to the goal of allowing her to develop her unique talents and gifts through the exploration of topics that are naturally discovered through reading, creating, and, well--just living.
- Within the idea of unschooling, I feel that using a project-based approach will be more beneficial for us. Children love to create. Using a project-based approach gives us just the right amount of structure once we narrow down the areas of learning my child would like to pursue.
- I will not get caught up in hard-nosed terminology. That's one of the problems with the current education system. It's not flexible and does not bend to suit the uniqueness of the child, the culture, or the social and economic environment. Getting stuck on words like "unschooling" (radical or not), "project-based-homeschooling," and "curriculum" eliminates opportunities, so I will be cautious to prevent getting snagged by stagnant jargon. I've read too many blogs and comments with cantankerous attitudes. Ick!
- We will start off with our Unschool Interest List to guide some points of interest or "Big Questions." I may need to use a "QFocus" or promting statement or idea to get this started, especially when we first get started after some deschooling. http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/08/23/educators-students-ask. We may even develop these lists into graphic webs for future use using Grafio app or other mind mapping apps.
- We will then use the Unschool Learning Plan to develop a plan for learning. This focus is on a holistic way of learning (interdisciplinary) where the different content areas are integrated into a seamless learning experience (i.e. reading, writing, math, science, social studies, etc.)
- This can be used as a resource: SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) by Ted Talks Award Winner Sugata Mitra http://www.ted.com/pages/prizewinner_sugata_mitra. He offers a wonderful tool kit linked on the site.
- Develop the time and space for the learning experience. See this link for good tips on Project-based learning:http://project-based-homeschooling.com/10-steps-to-getting-started-with-project-based-homeschooling which includes planning or mapping the learning experience, layers of learning, curating and documenting the experience (i.e. photos, journals, etc.)
- Whenever possible, we will have onsite learning at businesses, organizations or with people and professionals who deal with various selected topics in a real-world way.
- Ensure that the product of the learning experience is clearly reflected upon through one or more forms of communication.