Why I Chose To Un-School My Son
Learning from you interests, fostering your curiosity and you passion, to me this is what this method of learning brings to the table. You never loose the wonder because there are no restrictions to what you can learn.
Now more than ever before our society is seeing the need to take matters into our own hands and not rely on others to get the job done for us. The topic of un-schooling has become quite popular and with good reason.
According to Wikipedia:
“Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the most personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and, therefore, useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.”
I couldn’t agree more. It’s about taking the reigns in our children’s education to ensure that they are not just getting a good one but they have the opportunity to see the great joy of learning. After six years of leaving it up to the system, my son lost that great joy.
All Children Love To Learn
All kids love to learn and my son was not excluded from that. After a couple years of school, I noticed that school didn’t feel like a place of learning for him. Learning was something that naturally manifested into his life. I taught him sign language before he ever said his first word. He loved books, songs, art, counting and all the stuff a child his age liked to learn about.
As early as grade one, he began showing signs that he would prefer not to go there. Recently I saw an episode of The Simpsons titled, ‘Lisa’s Sax’ from Season 9, which shows a flashback to Bart’s first day of kindergarten. Some of you
may know the one. In the episode, Bart starts his first day saying, “School will be fun.” Shortly after, his initial enthusiasm is crushed by an uncaring and bitter teacher who says that he would be a failure at life, and he draws a violent sketch of his feelings. I feel that’s what it was like for my son (and many other kids) when they entered school for the first time. They go in with enthusiasm and excitement and end up with disdain and confusion.
In grade four, he began to ask me questions regarding the structure of school. He told me he didn’t like that the kids were constantly being told to be quiet and sit still. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t eat when he was hungry. He was confused why he couldn’t learn about the things that he liked or was interested in. He asked why the teachers stopped using games and songs and kept play time to a scheduled time once a week. Prompted by my son’s inquires, I was compelled to do research about public education and its origins which I will share my findings later in this article.
When my son was in grade 5, I noticed that he didn’t understand basic math concepts. Concerned, I reached out to his teacher who told me that she hadn’t noticed. She said she would look into it and I put my faith in her that she would get to the bottom of the problem. She never did and before I could follow up with her as to why nothing had been done, the teachers went on strike until the following school year. My son entered grade 6 and more problems regarding school began to arise.
The Move That Changed Our Lives
By February of this year, school had created a horrible rift in our home life. When I would try to help my son with his homework, he would become extremely emotional and shut down. This made it almost impossible to help him. Eventually he had an emotional breakdown. He began by telling me that he was not going back to school. After asking him why he felt so strongly about this, he listed numerous reasons over the course of two hours. The things he brought up were that he felt like school was militarized. When asking why he felt like that he said because of the rules, the loud sound of the bell and that they made them run outside in the winter rain and cold everyday even if they didn’t want to. He felt like school was boring because he never had the opportunity to learn what he was interested in. How many of you reading this ask your children what they learned about in school when they come home and they reply with, “Nothing” or “Boring stuff”? My son disagreed with how the kids were treated, specifically that the teachers were above the students and that they were like masters and the kids were like slaves (his words). He didn’t feel like what he was learning about would benefit him in any way, not now, not ever. He felt stupid and the pressure of “competing” with his peers was unbearable.
This incident deeply saddened me. From what I could see, my baby was suffering and as his mother, it was my duty to find a solution to this and I feel I have. I had been toying with the idea of home education for years. Every day after school, I would tutor my son on things he would never learn while attending school which I think was the basis for him to be able to have an awareness that something just wasn’t right at that place. I so badly wanted him to see the joy of learning and how beneficial it is to be educated but felt with the lack of funding and set curriculum that was not possible. After laying out my options with home education and studying the philosophies and methods of un-schooling, I pulled my son from the school.