Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Books I Like

New feature, methinks.

I recently read Homeschooling Our Kids, Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee.

It really blew my conception of "unschooling" out of the water. If you don't know what "unschooling" is, I'll describe briefly. Those of you already in the know, feel free to skip ahead. "Unschooling" is a term originally coined by John Holt to describe the education of kids outside of a school setting, and specifically has come to mean (in keeping with Holt's ideas) allowing the child to take control of his own education. Sometimes it's referred to as "child-led learning," a term that I prefer. So what do these terms actually describe? How about--no curriculum, no teaching (unless the child requests it), no preconceived notions as to what it is a child "needs to know" in order to get by in the world.

Sounds totally whacko, yes? I mean, what would a kid do all day long if he didn't have grownups who, of course, know better than he what it is he should be studying?

This book describes one family's journey in the "unschooling" universe. The author is a teacher! who devotes much of the book to her own struggle to allow her kids the freedom to choose their own educational pursuits. Her two kids are now grown--one is in college, one has graduated from college. What fascinating lives these kids have led! They pursued their interests from an early age, learned to read, learned math, had jobs, all on their own, with help from their parents when requested. One of the best thoughts of the book--that these kids were already "citizens of the world." They didn't have to wait until high school or college was over to enter Real Life and finally, finally own their own time and make their own decisions. They were living Real Life all along. That is an idea that struck me to the core. All my childhood, I couldn't wait to grow up so My Life could begin. Unschooling recognizes the fact that kid's lives are their own all along.

This book really concretized for me the "how-to's" of unschooling. The author gives many, many examples of what these kids did do all day. And it really illustrates why it's so important for each person to have control over what they will learn (and when and how). I think I mentioned in an earlier post that ideas don't stick in a person's head just because a teacher made you do a worksheet or gave a lecture or even a test. The sticking-of-ideas happens only through desire and motivation. Freedom to choose fosters this desire and motivation.

A very interesting book for those just learning about unschooling (or homeschooling in general) and for those more "in the know" who want ideas for their own kids. There is a fantastic resource list at the end of the book.

Highly recommended!


Jason Dixon said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Jenn!

Anyone reading this post and skeptical should check out unschooling pronto -- not only is the theory sound, the results are amazing.

me said...

I especially like the premise of children being people unto themselves from the start. What a great philosophy to promote self-awareness and security with their own thoughts and ideas. Definitely a way to positively reinforce opinions and thinking for oneself.