There are some mornings where I wake up with another large family of five in our kitchen. Behind the bright sparky face of our son’s Minecraft buddy, I see this family waking up. They are in South Africa and we are in Italy.
Slippers, pajamas and all. I see breakfast being had and I can hear the teaspoons stirring in cups and I wonder if they drink tea or coffee…This feels a bit like community, even though it is bizarrely though a screen.
I listen to the way my son and this sparky little girl talk. They collaborate. I hear them learning, if learning can be audible. I hear things like;
‘Can you teach me how to do that?’
‘Yes, watch me, I will show you.’
Then the conversation is peppered with ‘Mum, how do you spell chest, how do you spell sword.’ And I as I always do spell things out. Curiously something that Anthony noticed is this, they seem to tell each other what to do. They say things like ‘DO this, do that!’ they don’t leave each other hanging. They clearly give each other instructions. It is interesting…then I hear them shrieking so loudly that my ears actually hurt. I have to tell them to turn it down so that the ringing in my head can have a chance to subside.
Then it hits me. This is what a lot of the world is doing now. They are collaborating on-line. They are sharing skills. In the last three years all the illustration work that I have done has been on-line. I collaborate. I talk with people on Skype, we discuss what the other person needs, I send sketches through, we go back and forth. We work together on-line. I work with this woman and her theatre company, again, on-line. In most of my jobs I never actually meet the people I work with. I redesigned my whole book and had such a lovely collaboration with a publisher and I never actually met him. In fact I have three publishers that I have never met.
If our kids end up working via the internet what they are doing now is invaluable. They are learning to communicate, they use Photoshop. they play games, the record songs on Audacity. They explore in a way that is much braver than me. They click around, gather information, use it, change things, collaborate. On Photoshop my kids teach me things that I don’t know how to use. I have been using Photoshop for years and I tend to stay in my comfort zone, they don’t, they explore.
These unschooled/homeschooled kids are internet savvy. In fact a lot of kids are internet savvy, there is a whole world out there that is about the present and the future that my nearly forty five year old self is marvelling at. It couldn’t be further away from what is going on in classrooms across the world. When our kids were in a schooling system I felt I was perpetuating a lie. As when one of our kids said ‘Mum, why am I doing this, why do I have to go to school?’ I couldn’t answer this question without making up a lie. Because for me schooling did not fit with how the world is moving forward today.
I feel that kids when are left to explore, not only through the internet, I am talking about exploring life, and following their own passions. When they are left to unfold naturally the whole world opens up for them.
As Sugata Mitra once said to me in a tweet when talking about SOLE’S which are Self Organized Learning Environments, where the child leads the process in finding out information on a subject. He said ‘@Lehlae keep going! It will take you and your children to the edge of chaos, the limits of human understanding.’
They do take me to the edge of chaos, especially when I hear the shrieks of joy in the mornings from my son and his friends conversation. This self directing learning process does, I believe ‘take them to the limits of human understanding’ and beyond, as education never stops and I think that they are leaping in to a future that is wildly exciting.
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