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Doom Patrol and Our Dada Adventures


Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced an uptick in the number of “Unschooling?  How does that work?” questions while out and about with the kids .  +Sue Elvis  posted a great example of how unschooling works for her family, and made a very apt rabbit hole analogy.  As a fun  example of exactly how homeschooling works for us, here’s one of our own rabbit holes annotated with the various school subjects that were covered as we pursued it.  You’ll find a topic or two, networking for example, that don’t fit into a traditional school curriculum at all.


No. 1 and I have been reading Doom Patrol.  Saturday night, we noticed a reference to Hannah Höch in the comic book.  Topics: Reading, Reading Comprehension, Art Appreciation



Turns out, Hannah Höch was a famous Dada artist.  Dada, an art movement founded in 1916, gave birth to the surrealists.  Doom Patrol is very surreal in both its story, and art.  For example, the story involves a door in the shape of a mouth.  To get through the door, the main character had to know a password.  Topics: Art History, Writing


San Francisco happened to be having a city-wide festival to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Dada.  No. 1 and I were aware of this because we hang out at a library where one of the events was hosted.  Topics: Networking

We missed the library's event.  No problem.  The Saturday we discovered Dada was day 12 of the 13 day festival.  We still had a day left to get in on the fun.  We chose two of the remaining events to attend.  The first was Dada@Sea where a large Dada barge was supposed to be sent out to sea.  No. 1 is very interested in boats and has wanted to ride on a boat for quite some time, so this one seemed like a natural.  The second event was a ‘secret’ closing party for the festival.  To get in, you had to go to a specific location, (a beat poetry book shop in town), and say a specific phrase, (a password!): "May I have a slip of paper please?"

On Sunday morning, No. 1 and I diligently made our way across town to Dada@Sea.  There wasn't a barge, but there was a rowboat made by one of the artist's high school classes.  There was also a fascinating old-school deep sea diving helmet. Topics: Geography, Science


 No. 1 was entranced by parts of the art presentation, (e.g. when the artist jumped into the bay wearing a business suit and the diving helmet), and bored by others, (e.g. the speeches).  She shouted a warning to the artist as he went into the water, “Make sure to shut the door on the diving helmet!”  After the artists made their outdoor speech, and headed indoors for more presentations, No. 1 wanted to stay outside to watch the waves.  We did.  Topics: Art appreciation, Nature

A conversation ensued about actually riding boats, and when that would ever happen.  This turned into a conversation about the importance of building a network of folks who actually had boats.    No. 1 decided we should go inside to watch the rest of the presentations.  Topics: Communication, Socialization

At the end of the presentations, one of the artists asked if anyone wanted to go for a ride in the rowboat.  No. 1's hand shot up!!!  10 minutes later, we were on a small wobbling, (thanks to us), rowboat in the bay!  Networking does work! :)  Topics: Networking, Physical Education

Next, we headed to the bookstore where we were to retrieve the location of the party.  We delivered the password, and after some confusion, were given the slips of paper revealing where the party was.  Oh, and we found our own surreal door!  Topics: Communication, Art Appreciation, Art Interpretation, Geography

After our heady boat ride, and undercover party location mission, lunch was in order.  No. 1 ordered for us, and had a brief conversation with our waitress who is new, but had noticed we’re kind of regulars there.  As we ate lunch, we agreed that we'd split the party duties.  No. 1 would deliver the slip of paper to the person at the door, and if we needed to pay to get in, I'd pay.  Topics: Communication, Socialization

With lunch under our belts, we headed out for the party, (which we knew nothing about but the location).  We missed our stop by about 3 blocks.  No. 1 reminded me that I'm always encouraging the kids to walk, and proposed that we run back to the correct stop.  Off we went.  Topics: Geography, Physical Education

Arriving at the location, we found an unmarked warehouse with an open door.  No. 1 presented the slip of paper.  I made the suggested donation.  We gained admittance!  Topics: Communication, Socialization

Annndddd... Robots!!!  Lots, and lots of robots!  The party was hosted by a local artist who does kinetic sculptures.  No. 1 was the first kid on the scene.  The artist quickly took her under his wing, and showed her every exhibit in the warehouse!  (more socialization and networking).  Topics: Art Appreciation, Engineering, Socialization, Communication



Finally, exhausted, and with the sun setting on us in an unfamiliar part of town, we headed home the back way through our park that we'd never taken before.  On the bus, No. 1 asked for the phone.  She used it to track our progress until we got to our park which she recognized both because of the dot on the map, and because of the forest surrounding us.  Topics: Geography

And that, in a not so small nutshell is what we do with unschooling.  We pursue interests that we come across in life.  These lead to a variety of school topics, some of which don’t exist in most schools.  Then, we do the whole thing all over again, accumulating bits of knowledge here and there as we go.

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