Monday, February 19, 2018

The Eternal Competition of Two Ideals

Wherein I lament, yet again, about Wanting Kids to Be Kids and have room for their art projects and infinite legos, and Wanting To Walk A Path to the Fridge.  Two competing ideals.  I cannot have both.

I want to be Charming and Loving Earth Mother.  I end up being Cranky Monster Mama.

I asked them to clean up the basement because I couldn't walk down the stairs anymore without climbing over boxes.  I couldn't open the door to the fridge.  They did.  I then spent another 20 minutes throwing out all the little pieces of garbage they missed.  (And they had vacuumed, too.)

I threw out a kite.  Every 5-10 years, some Well Meaning friend or relative buys us a kite.  I don't know how to fly a kite.  This large, delicate monstrosity sits around and mocks me until it mercifully is broken.  I threw out this kite incarnation and it isn't broken yetI lost track of how long it's been living with us.  I feel better.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

unschooling spelling

3rd and 5th grader figuring out together "transparent" and "template."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Unschooling Math

Jack, 3rd grade, was making chocolate milk.  I was standing next to him making cappuccino.  He noted that the suggested serving is 2 spoonfuls, and there are 38 servings in the container.  But said that he uses more than that, so the amount of servings it says is not the amount for how he makes chocolate milk.  I asked him how many servings it would be for him.  I thought it wouldn't be too tough for him to divide 38 by 2.  But he didn't want to. 

I did the math and told him it was 19.  This is something that I learned about unschooling.  As a homeschooler/educator, I was always trying to get the kids to be independent and figure things out.  But in unschooling, they always read to the kids and do the math (showing them how they do it if the kid wants to know).  And how will they learn if you always do it for them?

But the way it works is that the child sees that you know how to do it.  And they can't do it themselves, but they see you can do it.  And eventually they want to do it and are motivated to learn it.  But in the meantime, until they want to, you read things to them and do their math for them.  It's a bit of an attitude adjustment.

Back to our 38/19 servings, it turned out that I was assuming he was using double, and Jack said the math was harder because he uses about 5 spoonfuls.  So he was explaining to me about how using more gives you fewer servings.  This is one of the things I remember being SO confused about in math class.  The fractions are always going in the opposite directions.  Cutting things in half makes more; using double ends up giving you half the amount of portions, on and on until it used to make my head spin.  But here Jack and I were just chilling, and he was explaining to me how he was thinking about it.

He wasn't interested in "learning" or "doing" math.  It just came up and we were just talking about it.  Back when I was homeschooling, I would have taken the opportunity to do some actual math problems with him.  I would have tried to get him to do them or tried to get him to understand some of the concepts.  But in unschooling we were just chatting. 

It was something that came up organically and naturally, and these types of mathematical situations come up frequently.  (Something that I found hard to believe before I unschooled math; math was the very last secular subject I let go of.)   The kids actually enjoy pondering these things, thinking about these issues, playing around with them mentally.  It seems like they kind of carry these math "problems" (i.e. real world situations) around with them as they go about their day, and they think about them a bit, then do whatever, play, think about it some more, etc. 

It's a lovely relationship to math.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Our continuous quest for enjoyable classic literature

I'm bored to tears with Lord of the Flies.  K says she likes it, though.  (Even though she never asks to read it and it is taking us soooo long.  I think when we get to the climax it will be interesting, but it's a lot to get through until then. 

I read her the first paragraph of Catcher in the Rye and she was unimpressed.  I guess an anti-hero that curses is not a novelty in this generation.

I ordered Pickwick Papers by Dickens.  I don't have a lot of hopes for it, but we'll try it.  It was free for kindle. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

deschooling al regel achas

I had this exchange today on facebook and I'm sharing it here:

Q: I knew that you homeschool but I didn't know you unschool. Do you have experience with the "de-tox" phenomenon I've heard about in which children who have been in a regular school who switch to unschooling spend a couple of weeks doing nothing while they adjust to the idea? I was just discussing this with someone, but it's not something I've personally witnessed.

Me: Yes, rule of thumb is one month per year the child was in school.
Me: We call it "deschooling."

[Note that the questioner heard that it's "a couple of weeks" which is actually not close to the amount of time]

Q: This is your rule of thumb or this is, like, a basic statistic that every unschooler takes for granted?

Q: How would you characterize exactly what is happening in their minds during that time?

Me: Not my rule of thumb. It's an unschooler thing.

[Actually, it's a homeschooler thing, though not as well known amongst all homeschoolers as it in in the unschooler olam.]

Me: Basically, the kids are not succeeding in school so the parents pull them out. and the parent is choosing unschooling, which means that there is going to be a radically new approach to learning, where they are never again going to be forced to sit and learn something that they don't want to.
So instead of plunging right into that (because how can they even have any concept of what that would look like), they just relax. Like vacation. Do things they always wanted to do. Sleep late, watch lots of videos, read books, do whatever it is that they love to do for fun but never had time to do because they were busy stressfully unsucceeding in school. So the first thing you do is remove all that stress, all that worry, all that tension. and life becomes less pain and just the things they like.
Gradually, as they do the things they like and aren't pushed to do things that are painful and stressful and associated with failure, their minds open up. They become curious. joyful. Enjoy the world around them. that's the prerequisite for unschooling.

Fellow homeschooler: I don't think there is a thing called "every unschooler."

Me: Nor "every homeschooler." We are so into individual freedom. But not all of us

Friday, January 19, 2018

Unschooling Literature

Homeschoolers fret, if I'm any indication of the population.  I'm probably one of the most relaxed, calm, confident homeschoolers in existence, and I find thoughts drifting through my head about whether I'm doing right by my children.

I think "worry" plays a valuable role.  It keeps me on track.  It makes me evaluate what I'm doing to see if it's "best practice."

Sometimes I worry when my children aren't doing --insert whatever here-- and I think that maybe the answer is to coax them into doing whatever kind of work.

(Let me state here: Education where you strive to teach a curriculum that you find valuable and to do it in a way where it is as enjoyable as possible for the student can be a lovely and noble thing.  I'm presenting the unschooling POV here.  The great thing about homeschooling is the freedom to educate as you like.)

So naturally, when E (grade 5) was decidedly uninterested in the book I took out of the library for him (Ronia the Robber's Daughter) even though it was highly recommended and supposedly funny, we eventually decided to give up and return it without finishing it.  And in between, I worried.

But then, I took out Charlotte's Web.  And I don't have to think about reading it to him or finding time for it or scheduling it.  Because he keeps coming to me and asking me to read it.

And that is the difference between unschooling and schooling.  It's not on my head to manage it.  It's not on my head to plan it and it's not on my head to make sure it happens.  It's the kind of learning that is so thrilling and joyous and desirable that they come to me and ask me to facilitate it.  They want it, yearn for it, seek it out, beg me to do it.

He didn't find Charlotte's Web.  I did.  I am on the lookout for experiences and subjects and field trips that I think they will like, that will spark their interest.

And there are infinite things that they find to do, projects they want to make, places they want to go, that I can assist them with.

I see the difference in motivation, interest and love with Charlotte's Web vs. something I have to constantly pull him aside to do that he is reluctant about.  The difference in the amount of time and effort they put in.  The difference in how quickly and easily they learn.  And when I see that difference, it makes me want to abandon all attempts to cajole reluctant learners to learn things.  And to follow them passionately and help them learn whatever calls out to them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

STEM unschooling

K is on a roll.  Excited about her Psych course, that she started today.  Learning Python (told me she downloaded the software for it onto her computer and is going to work with a friend on it after dinner).  Thinking about which Bio course to take and then thinking that she might not have the time to take another hvcc course if she's talking Coursera's neuroscience course.  But since she has to finish Bio first (which would probably be in the fall) there is plenty of time to think about it.

Don't forget that all of my attempts at actually teaching her Math and Science in High School have been less than stellar successes.  She learns what calls her, and figures out a way that interests her.

I still have to register her for SAT/ACT.  Then I'm going to have to put together a transcript. 

She asked me to remind her when her Psych course started and asked me to buy the textbook today.  At thirteen (and fourteen) (and maybe fifteen) I kind of worried about her academic motivation.  Today she's on fire.