When people find out I’m an unschooler, they often ask me if I’m crazy. And I say yes, yes I am…but it’s not related to unschooling at all, it’s just a charming personality quirk. And then if that doesn’t scare them away they ask the second most asked question that I hear: “How can you be a good enough teacher to teach them every subject at every level?!” And then I say, “Luckily, we live in the 21st century! We have computers, TV’s, podcasts, iphones, ipads, itouches, internet, cable, video and computer games (yes they are SO learning tools!) libraries, virtual libraries, email, telephones, museums and community programs! I don’t have to teach anything! I just let my kids point themselves in whatever direction they want to go and help them find the right resources!”
Seriously. The technological marvel that is our evolving world right now makes it almost impossible NOT to learn something every day. It’s like sitting a child down in front of a delicious buffet and then worrying that they won’t get anything to eat. If a child is hungry, and a child has access to food, a child will eat. If a child wants to know things (AND THEY ALL DO!*) and a child has access to knowledge, then a child will learn!
Just because public education is stuck in the 1800′s doesn’t mean we have to be! And we’re not. Definitely not. We recently created a private school ‘umbrella’ for the lovely state of California, which lets us do our unschooling in peace. We named it Freeplaylife Academy, but we just as easily could have named it “School of Google”. I care less about wrong answers than I do about coming up with tons of questions. The questions that no one has an answer to are tops in our house! We are constantly going on Google to search for information.
Naturalist has entered into a pretty serious scholarly phase in her life. She makes it a point to research a couple new things every day, independently. I don’t know what she’s studying until she pulls out a random and obscure fact about something we encounter during the day. I think age has a lot to do with it, at 14 she is processing information in a personal way…it’s her own journey of discovery and she just can’t get enough! But I also think that when she was forced into a curriculum in school it took away her drive to learn (especially when she has to work because of her divergent learning style!) but wild horses can’t stop her from learning when given the freedom to choose topics that are relevant and interesting.
All education is self-education. Period. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop. We don’t learn anything we don’t want to learn.
Those people who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own are the only ones who earn a real education in this world. Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur or historical figure you can think of. Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education.
That particular blog has a great compilation of free, open source online learning resources from a LOT of different places. I got all tingly reading it! The world is our teacher. Life is our teacher. And the internet is our Dumbledore.
And luckily, we’re never far from him!
A video talking about how kids not only want to learn, but will teach themselves using only a computer. Even poor children who don’t know english and have never seen a computer in their lives. It’s a remarkable thing Sugata Mitra has done!