June 15, 2008

We were at a dinner party last night when a friend sitting across the table turned to his wife and answered the question she had put to me: "what are you doing for homeschool right now" by saying "remember, they no school." I shrugged that off. But I would have a ready example of unschooling if they wanted a real answer.

I decided to purchase the entire American Girl Doll History series as a timeline overview of United States history for the children. I sent out one query over the local homeschool hot line and got a response the next day. Within 24 hours I was holding the entire original series, in lovely condition, purchased at 1/2 the cover price. : )

I told my son, "I know these books aren't really your style. But they are a great historical overview and they are pretty good stories as well. Could you please read through them from start to finish? I think you can easily do a whole set in a day, if you like." And he tried it, for me. He found he is not fond of these stories. But he didn't refuse to finish the series. Instead he set about writing spoofs, in the style of Edward Gorey. That day he wrote five Ameri-gorey-girl-spoofs. He titled his series The American Zombie Girls.

That was more writing, I dare say, than most kids his age did in school the entire last year. I said, "Dude. That's pretty dang funny. But you don't have to keep reading through them. I've ordered another history series. Its called, The Story of the World, and you can read those instead, if you like. He was happy. I was happy. And a week later this series of books arrived, four in all. I figured they would take us through the next year, at least, for history.

Henry read the first one the first day. Yes, the whole book. And that, I dare say, is more reading than most kids his age did in school the entire last year. He is almost through the second one. We've had them a whole week now. He likes them. He likes to read. Apparently he likes history.

So yes, I guess you could say we "no school" but it would be far more accurate to say we unschool. Which is to say, we strew ideas, we keep a rich environment, and we allow the children to follow their interests. Because we believe this leads to more enthusiastic and therefor deeper learning. It can also lead to excellent spoofs, delightful twists of plans, and very happy children. Children who have never once in their whole lives wished that the time for learning was over so they could take some time off. Children who learn because learning is what humans, who haven't been bludgeoned by academia, are naturally inclined to do.


Maria said...

OH, I love this...what a "textbook" example of unschooling!

And frankly I would love to see the American Gorey Stories...Ms. D likes to do spoofs herself, too....

Heather said...

It's funny how people get used to something, and then before you know it, they think that's the Only Way. We do more schooly things than you do, but we're still really relaxed about the whole thing. My kids don't know any of the state capitols, and sometimes get confused about the difference between a state and a county. But they know way more about the world around them than their school-bound peers. And the best part is, they love reading. When you love to read, you can learn about anything at all. Sadly, so many kids sit around waiting to be taught. My kids go and find out.

SOTW is an awesome series, because it IS a STORY of the world. It's written like a story that might be told to a child. I think that's one of the best things about them, because it's not just a bunch of information on a page.

Annie said...

Very cool! I have these books on my amazon wishlist from a few years ago and I totally forgot about them until I saw them here on your blog! Thanks!