As No. 1, our five year old, and I headed into town for a writing class yesterday, I presented her with her textbook for the class: Teacherless Writing by Peter Elbow. She grinned from ear to ear, “I learned to write without a teacher!” No. 1 recently found out that she’s ‘unschooled’.
She continued to check out her new book, as we lurched along the BART line into town. I thought she was just excited to receive a new book, she soon let me in on the real cause of her thrill though.
“So, there’s a book I read called Calvin and Hobbes”
“I know that book.” I said.
“Right, well in the book, there’s a boy named Calvin, and he goes to school. When he does, he usually has a piece of paper. I have one of those. He also has a pencil. I have one of those. He also sometimes has a book. And now, I have a book! And I'm going to a class! I'm just like Calvin!!!”
To No. 1, Calvin & Hobbes is a ringing endorsement of classwork! Could it be? Could the little boy who arguably hates school the most serve as the poster-child for positive public school experiences? I thought about it a bit, and it all made sense. The view we're given into Calvin's schoolwork looks exactly like unschooling. The class has been assigned to write a paper on George Washington, meanwhile, Calvin is stalwartly doing his own thing, drawing stories about dinosaurs or Spaceman Spiff. Calvin is an unschooler! He just doesn't know it. Alas—and she seems perpetually perplexed by this—neither does his teacher.