The World Is My Classroom

The problem with being 13 years into home education and having poured countless hours into studying how children (and adults, for that matter) actually learn over the course of those years is that you wind up without words when asked whether or not you homeschool during the summer.

Somewhere along the way we stopped separating learning/”homeschooling” from every day life. If you’re an unschooling family, things pretty much go along this way: wake up, live life, learn a bunch of stuff in the process. Repeat.

“Normal” people can’t grasp that. Learning is a separate occurrence from daily life that requires a specific time and place set aside to MAKE this happen.

No.

NO.

NO!!!

It isn’t! It doesn’t! Stop already!!!

I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I wind up more structured during the school year is simply to avoid scrutiny. The other reason (which is about 90% of it) is that my kids actually enjoy doing certain workbooks and playing certain math games, and reading certain “school” books, and so on. Oh, and the documentaries are major for them, depending on the subject matter. And my life is easier with some kind of routine established.

That said, I don’t separate learning from life. They co-exist and are part of one another. They come as a pair, whether it’s fall, summer, spring or winter. And they sure as hell don’t just happen with textbooks at our dining room table. That’s just silliness. 😉

I like this T-shirt. I think one of my kids needs it. That would explain everything. Maybe. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The World Is My Classroom

  1. Hi Jo,

    My perspective, as you know, is that of a 69–year-old retiree.

    During my youth, I was a pupil in regular school classes K-3, then in an experimental thing called Advanced Classes for Grades 5-8, offered to those Ontario children who had scored highly on IQ tests. We were given French Immersion training, and taken on trips such as to Rock Glen Falls https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkona,_Ontario to explore and gather fossils.

    High School was traditional, and I went into government service for 28 years, taking literally dozens of subject-specific courses in my work fields (Human Resources and later, Tourism Marketing and Development. I did eventually take a few University and Community College courses, and a few interest courses such as Greeting Card Design and Cabochon creation.

    During my youth adult, and retirement years, I found all my traditional learning was paralleled by informal learning through doing, watching, and writing.

    I think I can honestly say I have an appropriate combination to compare, at least in my own case, the benefits of structured and unstructured learning, which is in some ways the equivalent of traditional and home schooling.

    That doesn’t mean I can say which way was “better”. Formal learning tended to fit in better for occupational pigeon-holes, while informal widened my possibilities for creative activities (a few of which made money) and life pleasures.

    Now, of course, I go for the informal.

    My only regret is that I didn’t follow the advice I now give to youngsters, i.e., write yourself a long letter every few years to tell your future self about yourself as a teenager, a twenty-five year-old, a 30 year-old, etc. We forget so easily.

    You may get tired of me reminding you, Jo, how very much I enjoy your blog.

    Warm regards,

  2. I LOVE this comment. Tom, you are a fascinating guy. What an interesting background…

    Mine is a little more boring: traditional public French school in the Montreal area, where I also took art classes every Saturday. I experienced culture shock in 8th grade when we moved to a tiny university town surrounded by rural communities and even smaller towns, save Sherbrooke which qualified as a very small city. I went to English school and then switched back to French again in college.

    My pivotal point was during my third maternity leaves, after which I stayed home full time. My cooking skills, up until that point, were basic to not-so-great. I taught myself how to cook, bake, create just about everything under the sun. I studied herbal medicine on my own time, as well as natural childbirth, natural childcare, human development, and so many other subjects that were relevant to life during this period. At some point a few years ago, I think it dawned on me that I had learned more since walking out of the classroom than I ever did while in it.

    I appreciate the classroom model in some situations, such as in regards to specialization in certain subjects or areas. I do not appreciate it as the default, or as the only place where a person can actually learn. That is a mindset that we need to ditch altogether for the sake of our children.

    My eldest daughter likes the structured model of learning, so she will be attending school in the fall. She fully acknowledges that anyone can learn anything anywhere, though. It is simply a preference for her at this stage in life.

    Thanks for stopping by. I like your “visits”. 🙂

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