Friday, March 02, 2007

Trusting those kids love of learning...

Someone came up with some great questions in the comments section and instead of posting it there, I decided to respond here. I get asked these questions a lot and I'm sure some of you are wondering the same things. So I'll just get to it... (and thanks Mrs. Pivec!) Her original questions are indented below.

How have you learned to trust the process of unschooling? I don't mean in their younger years, because I have already seen - and your current post attests to - the natural desire of little ones to absorb and want to learn, learn, learn. But my hesitations come as they enter their teen years. I would assume they know the basics, but then, perhaps they will be distracted with other interests beyond secondary level learning.

In their early years, the proof has been in the puddin' for me and Hubby. We see the natural learning happening and we see their desire to keep learning. Hubby and I were just talking this morning about Matthew's reading skills. More and more, he's using language/words/phrases that *we* don't use. This morning, I was reminding him about something we were doing tomorrow and he said, "Oh, I thought that was the day after tomorrow. Apparently my mind isn't a steel trap mind!" Hubby and I looked at each other quizzically. Where did he pick that up? When I asked him, he ran to his room and grabbed a Wishbone book and explained how they used it in the Hunchdog of Notre Dame. lol

Most unschoolers will say that if their love of learning isn't quenched with time restraints or forced learning of things they aren't interested in, that the natural desire to learn will never dissipate. I hope that's true. But I'm a good realist, I think, and I realize that we may do everything the unschooling way and still have a kid(s) who loses the drive.

I'm curious as to what you mean when you say, "other interests beyond secondary level learning" - are you talking dating relationships or what if my son takes an interest in cars or Rose wants to spend all day painting her nails? I see these as great learning opportunities. I don't think anyone alive has "enough" relationship experience. LOL And if he gets interested in cars, he's still going to have to hone his skills in order to move on with his interest. She might end up being a beautician or painting her nails might turn into painting canvas...who knows?

I suppose unschooling is more about learning things to use as tools for your desired goal, where traditional schooling is more about learning facts that you might use one day (though I can't remember when I've needed to dissect a frog on the spot in my adult life. lol).

I am not one to be pushing or insisting my children go to college. I want them to have satisfying lives whatever that will mean for them. I think my greatest fear would be that if they did want to go to college and I had not prepared them, they would resent me - and maybe my husband would too. Basically, I wouldn't want it to be "my fault," KWIM? At the same time, I do feel that if the girls had a strong interest in something offered at the University and they had to take a basic course in order to do it, they would likely do it. Of course, then we'd all have to be paying for it! I know these are "what if's," but those are the things that get me. I know these are "what if's," but those are the things that get me. I feel like I have the boy scout motto marching around in my head, "BE PREPARED."

We do have plans for the kids to attend college. It will be their choice, of course, but we do already have college savings plans started for each of them...and are paying into them with each paycheck. So we do expect that they will want to (though if they don't, we got the kind of plan that you can gift to another family member so we're not stuck having given money we can't use). This might be a rosy picture of the future but when the kids are teens, I see us really honing in on their interests. We will have a good understanding of what they're really interested in. I suspect Matthew will be sciency and Rose is showing quite an aptitude in art and math...though I know these things will grow and change over time. But by their teen years, I suspect we'll have a good understanding of at least the wide field of interest and can go from there. At that point, we'll start talking about higher education and making plans if they want to attend college. And, as with any tool, if they need to know Calculus before getting to college in order to study their subject, we'll dive into it (and I say 'we' because I'm not sure what that even is except it has something to do with higher math. lol). Perhaps they will want to take some local community college classes before they actually attend a college - great! The point is, if they're really interested in the subject, why wouldn't they want to learn more about it?

I know there could be kinks in the plan and, as with all things regarding parenting, we'll just have to take them as they come. My big picture at this point in their lives is helping them enjoy learning and explore their interests. More than that, I can't really speak to since I haven't traveled the road yet. But hopefully this has given you a better idea of my directional hopes for them.

Thanks for the great questions!! :)

As a side note, the kids and I are going on a road trip to visit our favorite family members in one last hurrah before the new baby leaves us a little tied-down! We're leaving tomorrow and won't be back until Thursday so it might be a while before you see another post from me. But hopefully we'll have lots of tales to regale you with. LOL Have a great weekend & week!!


Scott Hughes said...

Teens like to learn, but they don't always want to learn what they are forced too. Some teens want to learn about music, others want to learn abotu art, etc. That's why unschooling works.

Mrs. Pivec said...

Thank you for your answers! :) I continue to give it all a lot of thought. Hope you have a great weekend.