Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2019

Parenting is Work, but Wow it's Worth It!

I can’t wait!  Our annual two week camping trip is coming up in a few weeks.  We’ll head out and away from town—the one time all year we actually drive a car—to explore the forests, rivers, deserts and rock formations around us in a roughly four or five state radius. 

We plan travel a lot like we plan unschooling—in broad swaths of possibilities.  We know we want to camp.  We know we want to fish.  We know we’d like to see snow.  (Yup, there are totally places to see snow in June.  It even snowed on us a little last June.)  Finally, we know we’d like to see the dry, warm desert. 

We’re making a north, then south loop that will get these things done, but we’re unclear on all the rest of the details so far.  I know we’ll stay off of interstates in favor of state highways.  The little towns and the countryside are better out there; there’s less traffic; and the people are really nice.  We might head towards a few places we saw last year, but didn’t have the capabilities to reach.  Other …

Let Kids Learn What They Want

Do kids need to learn math?  When do they need to learn to read?  Are history, art, and civics still important?  Do kids still need well-rounded educations (whatever that means)?  A recent conversation on edu twitter revolved around an article printed in the Atlantic quoting the results of a research study: the vast majority of people use little math beyond fractions in their daily lives.  As a white collar worker in engineering who rarely uses math beyond fractions I’m inclined to believe it.



Here’s the thing though, does any of this really matter?  What if instead of deciding what was important to learn, spending countless hours debating what we should force other people to learn; what if we just let those people learn what they were interested in?  And of course, the people of which I speak are kids because really, how many of us would deign to think it was OK to tell anyone that wasn’t a kid what they had to learn?

Here’s what I’ve seen with the unschoolers here.  The oldest unsch…

Unschooling and Socialization Again & Again & Again

I got to visit with friends in New Mexico this week.  I grew up in NM, so it was great to be back, to see out over the wide open spaces, and to breath the crisp fresh air.  Oh, and also to get my fill of green chili.  Yum!

As it usually does—especially when I travel with one of the kids—homeschooling and ‘exactly how that works’ came up.  Everything was fine.  I went through the basics of it: how you only have to file a one page affidavit to homeschool in California; how the kids learn new things, how and when the kids hang out with their friends.  I’ve answered these questions hundreds of times at this point, so I have plenty of practice, and it’s nice that our friends are interested in the kids.

Upon returning home I was treated to a tweet espousing how great homeschooling might be if only it wasn’t so isolating.  Bleah, the isolation thing again.  So, without further ado, please allow me to walk through how un-isolating homeschooling is once again.

Let me talk aobut what was going …

Unschooling, Playgrounds, and San Francisco City Government

Two of the unschooling gang, 8 year-old No. One and six year-old No. Two went to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Property Use and Transportation Committee, (that’ a mouthfull!) meeting today!  Four year-old No. Three would have attended, but she was feeling a little bit under the weather. We’ve been planning to do this for months. We’d—all of us—like to ask to have a Free Play Proclamation passed by our mayor and the board of supervisors.  The proclamation is a document, drafted by the LetGrow free-range play organization, saying that yes, kids will play outside, yes they will be without their parents, yes they will be OK. First though, we figured we should meet our supervisor, and get a feel for how supervisors’ meetings went.
That’s the plan we set out for ourselves months ago, but we didn’t act on it.  Our need was high, but not compelling. Until last week. That’s when one of our friends congratulated us on the new playground update we were about to receive.  The kids …

Integrating Kids and Life: Fishing and other Maneuvers

As six year-old No. Two and I lay in our tent dozing off I heard gunfire in the distance.  At first it was just a shot or two.  I convinced myself that it it in fact wasn’t gunfire; clearly it was just the state park’s caretaker plopping things into the bed of a pickup truck.  Afew more bangs burst out from a little further up the vallery from where our tent perched overlooking the Pecos River.  I wondered what goofballs were out shooting at dusk, but frankly since we were in New Mexico, it wasn’t really that uncommon of a thing.  I closed my eyes again only to hear bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang a few moments later.  Not many people in NM have automatic weapons, so that was a bit odd.  Still, the sounds were coming from around the bend of the valley so I wasn’t too concerned.  I watched the moon of our tent’s mesh roof trying to slide back into sleep.



Then—Two and I both heard it this time—an ominous roar rolled in from the opposite direction down the valley.  The ground ben…

Unschooling Cuts Half Hour off Dad's Airport Commute

Having the kids able to help out with our everyday lives has been one of the huge perks of unschooling.  Rather than being off somewhere discussing life skills, or practicing life skills, or doing homework on life skills, the unschooling kid s here are out using their life skills as they develop them.  Lately, as the gang have been out and about, living their lives, they've also been able to help me out.  The 8, 6, and 4 year-old here have learned how to do shopping without me.  We started out with them collecting items in the same grocery store I was in to save time.  Now, we’re splitting up to hit different stores, and then meeting back at the bus stop.  The latest advantage I received from unschooling though had to do with my airport commute in LA. 



First, I was surprised to find out public transit works in LA!  I"d heard the rumors that LA is a driving-only town, but they're just not true.  There aren’t as many routes as there are in our hometown of San Francisco, but…

The Joy of Unscheduled (Unschooled)) Learning

Unschooling has become a bit of a breeze for us in the last few weeks.  We put in our work: we have socialization opportunities setup for the kids, we have places for them to go, things for them to do, adventures for them to have, and learning resources for them to work with if they’d like.   It’s taken me probably two weeks to realize that we’re in this state.  The hardest thing for me at the moment is to learn to just sit back and relax now.

So, along those lines, let me tell you about an awesome unschooling ‘learning’ that’s been taking place for about the last month.  Six year-old No. Two and I got to spend three days camping in Hawaii last month.  While we were there, Two watched people head out on kayaks to the nearby island, Chinaman’s Hat, as well as just to toodle around with no destination, or perhaps to go fishing.  He desperately wanted to go on a kayak, but there was a problem, he didn’t know how to swim.  I explained to him there was no way we could do something like tha…

A Brief Review: The Case Against Education by Bryan Caplan

The book is  well organized, well researched, and a quick read... if you already believe in the argument:
At least 30% of the value of school (if not far more) is in signalling that you are intelligent, can work hard, and can conform.

If you too have already arrived at that conclusion as many unschooling parents have, this book holds two values.  One, to act as a balm for your battered alternative education soul.  Two, to provide statistical research to argue your alternative education views.

Sadly, the chances of the book spurring real change in our world, which I strongly believe it should are small.  We would all benefit greatly from changing education to be less about signalling.  However, trusting our fellow citizens to go along rather than take the chance to signal louder is a hard risk to take. 

I'll point out one of my own college classes as an anecdotal example.  One professor offered a linear curve which when extended to a highest grade of 0% would guarantee everyone a …

Review of Man-Eaters

We've been reading Man-Eaters by Chelsea CainKate Niemczyk, and Lia Miternique since it came out in September of last year.  At first, 'we' was my partner and I.  The eight year-old unschooling kid here who reads just about everything that passes through the house self-selected out.  It wasn't because the book is about menstruation, we talk about that frequently.  It turns out she didn't feel the story was moving along fast enough at first.  One of her key care-abouts for a book is adventure.  So, issue number 1 didn't quite meet her bar.

When she picked up  issue 7 though, after watching her 6 year-old brother  peruse it, she was sold!  Consequently, she and I have been re-reading the series for the last couple of weeks.  And I'm here to tell you, it rocks!

Not only is there adventure in the later issues, there's also mystery!  No one might be who they initially seem to be.  There are layers here.  The story revolves around an outbreak of pantherism…