I come from a family of teachers and have been an unofficial teacher myself in many ways, including a spell of homeschooling my own children. Now I find myself to be an unschooling parent but if you were a teacher and I was at your side before the kids enter the room this would happen.
Firstly I would say how much I admire what you do.
Secondly I would make you a cup of coffee or tea and if I had biscuits I would offer you one.
Thirdly I would tell you that we do things differently and here is how.
Our children self direct their learning. We support from the sides as gently as possible. We have no classroom, there are no uniforms, there are no tests, there is no curriculum, there is no homework. There is no work, actually, unless they choose to define what they are doing as work. There is a lot of playing. Our kids are fifteen year old twin girls, and a boy that is twelve. They define their day.
I would then ask you if you would like another cup of tea or coffee and then I may say that I am finding this situation a little awkward. Telling you about how our kids learn is contrary to everything I ever learnt at school, I might say that, or I might not. I might ask you if you want to ask me something? I might jump forwards in the conversation and tell you what our kids can do, as a sneaking feeling of insecurity may sweep over me. Or else I would read from your face that you can see that I am fine with the fact that our kids are learning at their own pace. I would tell you that our kids learn a lot through Minecraft, I would tell you that our home is so noisy that occasionally I have to go into another room to have a bit of silence, I may tell you that our kids cook a lot and sing loudly and they laugh a lot. I would say when they choose a project they run them, that learning happens in waves. That sometimes you wouldn’t know what they were learning and that I was just fine with that.
I would tell you that I thought that education was changing so very fast that I was confused that schools were, as Ken Robinson states designed for a time that no longer exists. I would most likely say that I do not believe that learning is linear at all and that kids learn when they have fun and are passionate about a subject and that a lot of children I know do their best learning when moving. Then I would wonder what you thought about that. Then I might say if unschooling was an island floating out there on a sea of knowledge then, was schooling an island too just a larger more established one? Then I would wonder if you or I could imagine a bridge between these two islands or whether unschooling and schooling are simply too far from each other to ever connect up.
I may see someones rucksack that has been left behind and ask you if you were aware how much Disney are infiltrating our children’s brains through constant bombardment of images. I would tell you that my husband writes about this beautifully in this book, look on page 31.
I would look at the clock on the wall and become aware of the time, I would notice a flicker of something cross your face and I would know that the children were about to enter the room. That the school day was about to start and that parents were rushing to get on with their days, the children were gathering, from all over to meet in this building and that you, dear teacher were about to start your day.
Once again I would say how amazing I think that you are to be able to hold a classroom of so many different types of children with varying needs and dreams and I would wonder what you really thought of the current schooling system. I would also be curious to know if you would like to know more about unschooling? Then, as the kids rushed past me I would see if I could instinctively gauge what each child was feeling in that moment. I would then go back to my house where the children are loud and doing their own thing and I would wonder if the whispers of unschooling and autonomy could soften the edges of learning? And if so could I, teacher, meet you again, same time next week and then I will tell you all about how we do it.
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Thank you Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels
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