Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Juxtaposing Unschooling

Husband, who taught for 13 years in various venues before becoming an adamant UNschooler, made note of this:

In a schooling situation, whether in school or at home, individually or in group, the sequence of learning to read & write would be, 'this is the letter and this is the sound'.

In UNschooling, we take the opposite and much more natural and productive approach of, 'this is the sound, and this is one way you could write it down if you wanted to.' Of course, we might actually have interaction about many differing ways to write something down. And it doesn't even come up until someone does want to write something down for some reason, their reason, because it is important to them not to the "curriculum" or the test scores.

Anyway, and likewise, there is music. Our kids know and learn tunes first, then how to play them on various instruments of their choosing (if in fact they want to play a tune at all). And only after that might they be interested in exploring how to write that down. This comes up because one daughter has composed several songs and is now engaged in picking them out on the keyboard and wants to write them down. She just is incredibly musical.

I juxtapose that with kids I've seen who play notes they've learned in "music lessons" but have no clue how to play a tune. In schooled music, the notes come first -- 'here is the note, here is how you play it,' and if music enters into it at all it is only because the kid has music in his soul in such a tough form that even the relentless grindstone of schooling doesn't grind it to nothingness.

Other daughter got a sewing machine for xmas. She's still not great with her stitches or the technical stuff of sewing, but she took out a scrap of fabric, cut it and put in seams so that it made a night gown that fit her perfectly, then took more fabric to make the trim, found a piece with a little bee on it and made it the center of a flower to decorate it, and then made matching house slippers and sleeping cap for it. It is incredible. She didn’t learn the stitches first – she expressed her inner fashion-maven/seamstress.

One son is simply not very social. He never touches surfaces. No niceties for him. But yesterday at the support group meeting he found a girl who played the same Nintendo game that he's on now and they walked around comparing notes on how to get through the temple and where to get all the potion bottles until each was satisfied that he/she understood how to do whatever it was. They each knew something the other didn't and shared it.

One of husband's sayings is, you choose the result when you choose the method. These are the results of UNschooling.


Kim said...

Wonderful post.

My mom is always concerned that the girls don't know how to tell time. I remind her that they are only 6 years old and to them time is not important. Right now they want to read and explore. When time is something they want to know they will learn it.

I've learned more in my 6 years of being a mama then I ever learned in school and college.

justrose said...

even though i'm buckling under and doing the regular school thing, i have been surprised over and over by the truth that my little does-it-her-way angel does it her way. gets it in her time. gets it when she's ready.

as for music, i've got an ear, i can't read it, and the fact that i took six years of piano lessons bore out nothing but my ear and the fact that i couldn't read. but i am comfortable around a keyboard. it's just in a person, or not.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Rose, that you, the most important person in her life, knows that she'll get it when she gets it, is SO important. And to realize that so much really isn't important! They will not get to be 20 years old and not know where their noses are, or not know how to wipe their butts, just because at four or five or six they don't know that stuff. It is totally normal to learn to read at 12 -- at least as normal that as at 4, with obviously the mode being somewhere in between those. Trying to shut up now. But we get what we're saying I think! But, if you ever *wanted* to read music, you could learn in less than a day. You might not be fluent in less than a day, but it wouldn't be long!