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Tracking Towser

 Towser, the eight year-old here started a new class yesterday. Unlike other things he’s tried where the thing was a thing a sib had expressed an interest in, or a thing that is supposed to be generally interesting to ‘kids’ doing ‘school’ sort of things—you know, math, grammar, reading—this thing is all Towser. Towser is taking an animal tracking class delivered in several audio lessons.

Each lesson takes between fifteen and thirty minutes of listening. Then, Towser and I and whoever else is around talk about his lesson, and here’s where things are kinda different.

Towser talks—in depth—about what he heard. He looks at me with his ‘important eyes’ and tells me what he thinks the lesson was about. Every kid is different, and every learning experience is different, but Towser talks about these lessons so soulfully It makes me happy and warm inside to see that he’s doing a thing he’s truly, truly interested in.

While Towser explains his lessons to us, my partner asks big open ‘meaning’ questions, “what do you think they meant by that?” I ask big open ‘doing’ questions, “What do you think the instructor is saying you should do with that?”

After the first lesson, Towser thought the thing to do was to listen to the second lesson. After the second lesson, Towser thought the thing to do was to start learning the names of plants in our environment, and to observe the birds around the plants.

The class came up again over dinner. Towser had learned that birds slept in different trees in different seasons. He said he figured that the birds we’d seen—roadrunners, quail, and dove—in this part of the world were probably sleeping in the thicker bushes now because it was colder than it would be this summer.

Mention of the thicker bushes brought up one of the kids’ adventures. They’ve ferreted out tunnels in the local thorn bushes. Daize interrupted to point this out, then the whole gang related me with stories thorn bush tunnels that—if I didn’t know—make pretty good hideouts. Also? I won’t fit in there anymore. I’m too big. This was all new to me. But for  Towser’s class, I might have never heard of this set of adventures.

Towser usually likes to skip ahead in things, especially digital things, as quickly as he can. I asked after his second lesson if he’d like to go on ot the third immediately—the lessons are on sort of a slow burn. He said, definitively, that he wouldn’t. He’d listen to a lesson a day, he’d decided.  He’s taking charge of how he’s doing things, and I’m here for it.

I love unschooling. There’s always something new. The gang  is growing in different directions all the time with every new thing they set out to lean. Their learning reinforces their adventures and vice versa. Life and learning happen. All. The. Time.


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