My Unschooling Book Series (8)
Yesterday, I was writing about what unschooling can look like.
Unschoolers and Schooly Type Subjects
When you read my story, What Unschooling Is All About, did you notice that my girls are learning about such things as writing, Renoir, Shakespeare, and the solar system? These are topics that can be found in a school curriculum. Teachers turn them into lessons for their students. Why would my girls want to learn about things that can be classified as creative arts and English and science when they aren’t compelled to?
My children want to learn because they are curious people. They ask questions. They ponder. They search for answers. They want to know about all kinds of things. They don’t think in terms of school subjects. They don’t say “I’m not interested in that because it’s history… or geography… or science.” It’s irrelevant to them that the education authorities have reduced fascinating topics to required school curriculum subjects. They regard everything in the world as potential sources of wonderful learning experiences.
Gemma-Rose and I are chatting.
“Do you know there are four different species of kookaburra?”
I don’t. I’ve only ever seen laughing kookaburras. They sit on our backyard fence. Their calls are the sound of our local bush.
Gemma-Rose and I discuss the birds’ defining features. We wonder: Are kookaburras related to kingfishers? How many species of kookaburra are found in Australia? And why haven’t I heard about the blue-winged kookaburra before?
I ask Gemma-Rose where she was reading about kookaburras and she answers, “On the Internet.” She had a question (about something else) so she did some googling. One interesting thing led to another and now she knows more about kookaburras than she used to.
I want to know more too. I want to see a photo of the kookaburra with the blue wings. I’m going to do some googling of my own.
“And, Mum, do you know how cats purr? After I read about kookaburras, I followed another link…”
Gemma-Rose tells me about vocal cords and air and vibrations and how cats might purr when they’re nervous. “Just like nervous people will sometimes smile.”
Classifying birds and vibrating vocal cords are science, but Gemma-Rose isn’t thinking, “I’m doing science.” She’s just satisfying her curiosity. She’s learning because she’s interested in our fascinating world. Just like me.
So on the surface, unschooling can look similar to school learning. Dig deeper and you’ll find out it is very different!
Although my children aren’t concerned with school subjects, I do have to think about them. In order to fulfil the legal homeschool registration requirements of our state, I have to turn all my children’s unschooling learning experiences into the right schooly language. I shall talk more about how I do this later!
Image: Gemma-Rose loves reading and discussing classic novels. (I guess she loves English!) In this photo, she is reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South out loud to me. I’m enjoying it. I don’t know if our puppy Quinn likes the story too. With her naturally sad looking face, it’s hard to tell!