After watching this news clip from NBC’s Education Nation about a family that ‘unschools’ their children, I found myself strangely drawn to the concept of unschooling:
As much as I have a personality that loves to mock anything that is overly radical, I am jealous of the kids in this news clip. After watching this clip I started having daydreams about ‘unschooling’ my future children.
As I researched the philosophy I found all sorts of convincing arguments:
“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less "showily". Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself... Teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.”
- Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's mentor
“Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.”
– John Holt, "Father of Unschooling"
I could only see one problem with this sudden daydream: it was in stark conflict with another one of my daydreams. Ever since I started working for Reading Horizons I have had a daydream about teaching my future children how to read with Reading Horizons. They are going to complete the program before their first day of school and then at parent teacher conferences their teachers are going to ask me why they are such amazing readers with a perfectly thorough phonological understanding of the English language and I am proudly going to tell them they were taught with Reading Horizons. And their teachers will be so impressed that they will go straight to an administrator and convince them that all the students in their school need to be taught with Reading Horizons. It’s my plan.
Were my hopes of forcing Reading Horizons upon my unborn children dashed by a sudden agreement to the ‘unschooling’ philosophy? In which, you are not to force any learning on your child until they are ready for it. And what if when they are ready to read it is natural for them and they don’t want to take the time to learn Reading Horizons method? I still want them to learn the method regardless of their reading ability. Thus, I have to force it upon them when they’re young, before they can debate by saying they already know how to read.
Do you see the conflicting nature of my daydreams?
My future children have to learn to read with Reading Horizons. I cannot starve my children of the most thorough language development available and leave them with gaps in their phonological understanding when I know better. But I'm also buying into this philosophy of ‘unschooling’ (at least today I am… tomorrow might be a different story). AND I'm a bit of a purist. If you're going to use a radical form of educating your children, shouldn't you be committed to it?
As I've racked my brain with the solution to my dilemma, the only solution is to let go of my purist nature. I must force Reading Horizons on my unborn children in their youth and then revert to a purist application of 'unschooling.' That is, unless you have a better solution for me?