Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Friday, March 28, 2014

Academics vs. Real Life Rant

Why is it that nobody seems to care what a child has been doing unless it is unmistakingly academic? Why is the "go-to" question for children, "How is school?" Why is it not enough for children to have an intense interest is something that is applicable to real life? Why is Little Johnny considered stupid if he is a master at woodworking instead of English? These are the questions I have.

Recently Samantha started amazingly creative project-all on her own! She found a 2 liter Coke bottle. Simple Plastic 1. She asked if we could recycle it. Lesson in itself....As if that wasn't enough...we brought it home and she decided to upcycle it instead. I had to wash dishes and begin dinner preparations. S helps to cook most nights, but tonight I thought I wouldn't interrupt the explosion of creativity. She quickly got to work, first washing it out, peeling off the label, and then filling it with water. She took streamers from her art closet and tore off pieces, twisting them into fish, placing them in the water one by one. She then tore up 2 other colored streamers and said they were different types of food for the fish. (Can't remember specific names, but I'm sure she would if I asked her.) She fed her fish. Once the "fish" were fed, she named each of them and wrote each name on the side of the "tank," as well as drawing a habitat for the fish on the other side. She has carried that bottle with her the last few days, asking for "fish sitters" when needed, feeding them twice a day, and playing with them. Okay, so maybe sounds a little odd, but she is 5. Those fish are one of the most important parts of her world this week and I respect that. I'm proud of her and I encourage it simply for the initiative she took in creating something new.

But it seems the older she gets, the less people want to hear about the seemingly non academic things my child does. I'm not sure what it is that happens between the ages of 5 and 18....Most of us are "unschooled" as babies, toddlers, and preschoolers if you think about it. As well as after highschool, sometimes college. So why is this age any different? Maybe I should begin to break it down when I describe to others what she did. Maybe they would be more interested. I could say, "S made a fish habitat yesterday. Science was the main goal here. We discussed recycling, upcycling, why Coke and other soft drinks are one of the causes to society's declining health. Then moving on to habitats, discussing fish, fish species, and fish diets, domesticated fish, as well as fish naturally occurring in fresh water and salt water. We continued into Geography by discussing and listing geographical ocean features, an extension sparked by her previous Geography Fair Project. Reading and Spelling were covered when she picked out and spelled names, some with assistance and some without. We discussed names that rhyme and names that are spelled similar to those names. For math, Samantha learned to measure out the water at an angle so that it did not overflow when filling. Not to mention art, creativity and imagination, learning to care for animals...Sha'll. I. Go. On?

So my question is why do we put so much emphasis on academics that we forget what is truly important to a child? And that is play. Play. So simple. Children learn through play. A child's world is play and that doesn't stop at 5. Each child should be recognized and respected for their differences, just like adults.

I have learned so much in my 4 years out of highschool-and simply just because. I have learned in depth about home management, math/budgeting, natural cleaning-technically chemistry, cooking, organic living, gardening, most recently dehydrating foods. I read more. I write more. I get out more. I'm more social. I function better in my World than I even have. I can research well, use the library to its potential, drive even. And other adults listen to my knowledge and talents and take time to discuss them with me. None of those "talents" fall neatly into ONE academic category. Yet, I have benefited from all I have learned and I am respected for it. Why? Because of my age?

Children, if give them the chance for freedom and responsibility early on, will flourish. But we need to encourage them to be themselves and follow God's calling for them in a world where people try to bring each other down and prevent each other from following their path. Let us give them the respect and genuine interest they deserve so that they will not be afraid to show us what they can do.

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