Too Square to Unschool

by S.C. Torrington on January 27, 2007

kevinrosseel_0324808_019Man, I wish I was hip enough to unschool. As much as I would like to cast my bread on the waters of total child-directed learning, I know me and my son well enough to know that if left to his own devices, we would wind up watching TV and playing Xbox all day.

The unschooling concept is when a kid is interested in, needs or want to do something, he’ll learn how. So if Morgan couldn’t read but he wanted to figure out a video game cheat code, that desire would be what motivates him. Maybe. Sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?

I spent our first homeschooling year re-teaching my 7-year-old how to read phonically. In our county, reading is taught using the Whole Language method. Meaning, when Morgan sees an unknown word he looks at the pictures, considers the rest of the story or lesson and uses what he already know to “guess” what that word might be. Easier said than done. And to suggest “sound it out” was taboo!

Morgan writes because I make him write—spelling words, science hypothesis, compare-and-contrast compositions. He has no desire to keep a journal, post on MySpace or even jot down a To Do list. It’s hard enough to get him to sign greeting cards. How would he learn penmanship, spelling, grammar without my prodding?

What type of situation would Morgan encounter where he’d use math skills? I don’t know, I don’t think a child encounters enough real-word math situations to make him proficient. So does that mean he doesn’t need to know how to divide or multiply? Or do I just buy him a calculator?

I wish I could rest assured that Morgan will independently learn all he needs to know to make his way in the world. But if he chose not to read, write, do math or communicate well where can he go? What kind of options would he have? It feels irresponsible to bet my son’s future on an educational concept that sounds so pure and ideal but is so against human nature. What’s that they say? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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