Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Unschooled children are just so incredibly amazing! It never fails to amaze me how much they learn from their own internal drive, and watching Emily and Julia learn so much about language and numbers on their own terms completely debunks the myth of drill and rote learning. We are such products of the mass education that justifies its own existence through at least two very powerful myths:
1) that we cannot learn anything without experts to teach us, and
2) we cannot learn without daily practice and drill.

For several years now, pediatricians have been telling parents to look at nutrition over the course of several days instead of one meal at a time, the theory being that children will naturally eat a balanced diet over time though it may not look that way in the short term. This theory seems very well suited to education as well. When I look at the activities my children enjoy over the course of a month, I find progress in all the categories labeled relevant by schools despite the lack of daily or even weekly practice.

Over the past week or so, the girls have played their own game of Survivor, writing down all kinds of names and words on slips of paper and putting them in a big jar. Julia has been practicing writing the names of all her favorite people and things in her journal. Emily wrote me a lovely Mother's Day card. We've been playing with numbers and talking about place-value as Julia is trying to count all the way to 100. Em's been doing more and more with her comparative mythology. Last night they watched the beginning of PBS's series Colonial House and taped it for me because I was out; tonight, we'll watch the second part together. We've been researching chickens and thinking about coop designs, talking all about dimensions, calculating space requirements, figuring out how to thwart different kinds of predators. And they've loved every bit of it all, never once having been forced to learn something or do something that they weren't interested in doing.

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