How do Unschoolers take Exams?

This morning I woke up at 6am in an Airbnb room, the girls were asleep and I was convinced that I had left the lights on in the car and that the battery would be flat and that I wouldn’t be able to get to the exam room on time. Like in a bad dream.

In a panic, I stepped outside and checked the car, the car was fine. I wasn’t, I was anxious, knowing that the girls were taking part two of their IGCSE Italian. They were breezy, I was trying to be breezy.

I didn’t want to be late, I felt the whole pressure of being on time hanging over me and my mind was a bad neighbourhood. With a voice of doom and ‘don’t stuff it up for them’ hanging over my head. 

We got to the exam room on time, phew. All was good, they bounced in, they didn’t seem flustered, I saw all the notes and warnings on the wall and my heart pounded, I felt a bit sweaty. Other kids and adults walked in, looked solemnly at their laps or phones and waited till someone came in and said, ‘We are ready for you now’ in that instance, I think the girls looked a bit wild eyed but they smiled and went in to the room. My heart sped up again. All my own exam memories were lingering in the wings of my mind wanting to ambush me, those experiences are deep.

I went for a walk.

This exam has been their choosing, they wanted to take their Italian exam. They have lead the process, from printing out mocks pages and doing them over and over, to listening to Italian radio, to calling their friends in Italy, to reading things online, to going on the Italian ‘practice your grammar ap’. It has seemed so seamless, so easy, so fun. I wasn’t pushing them to revise, I wasn’t nipping at their heels, they lead this.

After an hour had passed I went back to the exam room, they came out like they went in smiling. And one of them said ‘I want to do lots of exams’

Who knew that learning could be this easy, I know that there will be subjects that will tax the very limits of their brain but the lovely thing is, it comes from them. This is self directed learning, this is where life and learning coincide because the desire to learn comes from somewhere deeper than being told what to do, when and how to do it.

May learning always be like this for them, and even if it gets tough and a bit bumpy may there always be a perspective of why they are doing what they are doing and may they have the confidence to always listen to their own inner voice. Because surely that is the strongest voice to listen to, as their lives are their own and nobody else’s.

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