08 September 2009

Unschool report

Last year, I blogged about unschooling from the hopeful and optimistic perspective of one who had read and thought quite a bit about it, but had no actual experience. This year, I write from the hopeful and optimistic perspective of one with one whole year of experience.

Much to my surprise, things have turned out much like I expected. I was disappointed last January when M decided to register at the local public school and pleased when six weeks later she decided that the academics weren't challenging enough and the middle school social dramas weren't worth it. I promised to be supportive of the whole exercise and I believe I was in spite of my misgivings. Ever since that foray back to school, M and I seem to have settled into our lives with more confidence that we are on the right track. It's M who wants to know she is keeping up with her peers in school and wants to do more "schooly" activities. I'm more content to have her pursue her own interests, whatever they are. Luckily, M is very interested in cell biology and physics and animals and paleontology and string theory and knitting and sewing and all kinds of music and not so much in video games or Jonas Brothers. This makes it easy for me to be supportive without much tooth grinding.

The questions I get about unschooling seem mostly concerned with whether I'm convinced that this approach will allow M to compete with conventionally schooled people for higher education and jobs. I question the assumption behind that question that life is some kind of race and we should all be in a hurry to get somewhere else. I do trust that by taking responsibility for her education from a young age, she will be in at least as good a position to do whatever she wants as someone who has just done as they were told for 15 or so years.

The thing that pleases me most about our unschooling adventure so far is how much easier our mother-daughter relationship is. I was kind of worried before we started about how we would get along while spending so much time together. It turns out that much of the conflict in our lives was around school - getting up for it, getting enough sleep for it, completing homework, and being cranky because of the stress of it. Without all that getting in the way, we get along just fine and have a lot of fun.

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