By Leo Babauta
Unschoolers have an enormous wealth of resources at their disposal, for anything they want to do or learn about:
- the Internet, which is ridiculously useful for anything, of course
- the library, which is a half-day outing for our family
- community organizations and programs
- interacting with friends and strangers and people on the bus
- things around the house, trash, found items on the street
Basically everything is a possible tool or resource for learning, creating, doing, living.
But one of my favorite resources is the people you know.
Most of us have family and friends and maybe co-workers or ex-co-workers and former colleagues and classmates and professors and neighbors. These people often have jobs and expertise in some area. From artists to scientists to farmers to carpenters to game developers, the people you know actually know a lot about a lot of things.
And so, if your kid is interesting in something, think about who you know. It might not occur to you right away, but if you give it some thought, it might hit you: "Oh, yeah, good ol' Frank is a baker! My little Annie wants to learn about baking -- I should call Frankie up!"
And you should. Frankie boy might actually be thrilled to help. I know the people I ask are always gracious, and often honored, to be asked to teach something to my kids.
Some examples in our lives:
- Maia was interested in art so she hung out with my dad (who's an accomplished artist and art professor), awhile back
- My friend Jessalyn, another excellent artist and also an art teacher, sat down with Maia recently and gave her a few pointers
- My friend Tynan came over yesterday to teach my kids poker and lock-picking (!)
- My mom is super knowledgeable about Guam history and has done a bunch of things with the kids around this
- Eva's dad is a great cook and farmer, and has cooked with the kids and taken them to his ranch on Guam
- My sister Kat is great at hiking and nature and we've done some great hikes with her on Guam (Kat is also our unschooling inspiration!)
- My cousin Dominic is a professional editor and is working with my oldest daughter Chloe to train her to be an editor
- Justin is learning 3D animation and so I'm reaching out to friends to find an experienced animator to help him (if you know anyone, let me know! Justin would love to tour Pixar Studios, btw)
- I've met people in the film industry, screenwriters, programmers, biologists, yoga instructors, Zen teachers, graphic designers and more, and I pick their brains about things the kids are interested in, and they've shared their wisdom with me and the kids at various times
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Keep your eyes open, and don't be afraid to ask. The people around you are filled with valuable treasures.