Discoveries Of A Radical Unschooler

There seems to be a lot of negativity spreading through the internet these days about (radical) unschooling. I usually stay clear of this kind of talk (most of it is based on fear or lack of knowledge) and honestly I wasn’t going to post anything about it (even though it was very hard to do so) but, yes I said but, there is a thread going on ,in a radical unschooling yahoo group, about an article that is talking about whether a Unschooling child can “teach” themselves to read. Someone even commented, in the articles comments, on knowing uschooled adults who can not read.

Now I understand this is not a one size fits all question. I mean many factors play into the environment of how these children were raised. I can easily say I’ve known people who graduated high school (with a full football scholarship) that couldn’t read but I don’t dismiss the WHOLE school system as being a failure in being able to “teach” children how to read. So why is it so easy for people to form conclusions about unschooling based on a few incidents?

Well this got me thinking about what I have noticed about my girls since we have started to radically unschool and I thought I would write a post about that.

First I want to start off by saying I am someone who had doubts myself. I am also someone who thought placing limits on “screens” was needed in order for my girls not to become “vegetables”. I also heavily controlled what our girls brought into our home including movies, books, music, food, toys( I’m sure you get the drift). A year ago I might even have argued with you about movies and video games causing violence, and yes I would have been the mother that said “If I allow my children to watch television or play video games  whenever they want to, they would do it all day”.

However now I can say, with confidence, I am no longer that mom. In the very short time since we have been radically unschooling, I started deschooling in June, “I” have come to the conclusion that television and video games are not the cause of all today’s violence (what is Billy the Kid or Baby Face Nelson’s excuse) that maybe, possibly it could be a child’s environment. But I digress, we were talking about academics.

What are some things my girls have learned since we started radically unschooling?

Lets first talk about Little Sis. She is 5 getting ready to turn 6 next month.

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Since radically unschooling she’s learned how to read, spell and type. Count past 100, recognize and read numbers in the thousands, add and subtract numbers in the thousands and learn how to tell time on an analog clock (what will the big hand be on when it’s my turn, how many minutes does Sissy have?) all while playing games of her choice at such as Starfall, Animal Jam, and Club Penguin being her favorites.

She reads words all the time like when I am reading a chapter book aloud she will point out and read the words she knows. She will begin reading the summary of a show or movie before it loads on the Roku. Not to mention her trivia  knowledge of the Beatles( like pointing out the other day that it most certainly was not the Beatles singing Here Comes the Sun at the grocery store). Not once have I made her do any of this and not once have I needed a curriculum.

Moving on to Miss Sky who will be 11 in 2 weeks.

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I feel she has thrived the most from all this. See just because I might have gone through the motions of “school” in the past does not mean she retained everything we talked about. Yes we had spelling tests and she may have got all the words right on test day but ask her to spell one of them 4 months later and she didn’t even remember she had it as a word.

Since she has played Animal Jam her spelling has improved SO much. She likes to interact with the other kids playing and “wants” to make sure her spelling is correct.

The same is said about her math. Yes we went through the motions (and stress, and tears, and yelling) of workbooks but again she wasn’t retaining anything. Now she is in charge of budgeting her allowance. How much do I have to save to buy this, or do I have enough  money to cover taxes and what are taxes for and why do we have to pay them?

Apples are $1.69 a pound how much will 3 lbs cost? Will 3 lbs be enough for everyone to have one? While on vacation she learned what a mile marker was, how to read interstate signs(the next gas station is exit 49, that is in 5 miles). She “sees” math is everywhere not JUST in workbooks.

Is she learning what other 5th graders would be learning in school? No. Do other 5th graders know what Miss Sky does? Probably not, She can tell you what year Mt. Vesuvius erupted, she knows how many people died on the Titanic, she knows Mary Tudor  got a bad rep with the name Bloody Mary(her dad had more people beheaded, not that burning at the stake was a good thing either). She knows who Joseph Goebbels is and who sunk the Bismarck. (And there is more but for  the length of this post I will stop.) Again all because “she” wanted to.

The idea that children will not want to learn history or math unless someone “teaches” them is crazy, I see that now. If a child “wants” to learn something there is no stopping them, and that is my very long way of saying why I think there has to be more behind an unschooled adult never learning how to read. 🙂

Wishing everyone a great week!


One Response to “Discoveries Of A Radical Unschooler”

  1. Ingrid McCarthy Says:

    I love this post! I don’t follow any unschool (radical or otherwise) Yahoo groups, but I loved reading how much your girls have learnt since deschooling! I loved reading the different ways they have learnt stuff and how those things are meaningful to them and will be retained long after worksheets have been and gone. And love that they are happy to learn and the tears and yelling have subsided. Inspiring stuff!

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