Thursday, September 3, 2009



I always knew home was better than school. It's just logical that a child will fare better in a family than in a room of 30 kids the same age. I remember when we first looked in to homeschooling for J-Man (he was 4.5 yrs at the time). I was told that if oen wanted to follow the NZ curriculum (which from all I had heard, I certainly did not), it woudl take a hoemschoolign family 2 hours a week.

I was sure they must mean 2 horus a day, which was still astonishing given tghat chidlren are at school for 6 horus a day. But no, it was actually 2 hours a week (instead of 30) that was required to get through the curriculum.

Ayyway, so I have always known my children were learning stuff. Recently I had someone suggest to me that J-Man is opposed to learning, that he doesn't like to learn, and somehow you would need ot trick him or cajole him in to it. I didn't know what to say at the time, ebcause it did look just at that moment liek it might be the case.

But upon reflection, I realised that J-Man loves to learn (as do all humans), he simply doesn't like to be taught, and he doesn't like learning to be boring...who does? He has always been like that, and here's the thing...learning is NOT boring when you are learning what interests you. It's fascinating. If you are used to a life of natural learning, learning what is important to you- of course you would find staged learning inferior. You may even come across as soemone who despises learning.

When J-Man was 4, and nearly a fluent reader, I asked him one day, "How would you spell 'computer'?" He roleld his eyes at me, and said, "Mum! You're trying to teach me again and you know it doesn't work!" Yes, 4 years old...I have always known that he prefers to learn in his own way and without interference, but I must have forgotten briefly.

Anywya, so through the years, I didn;t doubt that my chidlren were learning. I wodnered if they were learnign what they would in school- but not in a worryign sort of a way, just curious. Actually, I suspected their learning was far broader. There's a quote I read once, which I won;t be abel to find now we're on dial-up...but it was fro ma Summerhill Graduate, and it was saying somethign liek, "We did a bit of everything, and collected puzzle pieces over the years, and then suddenly it al lcame together, al lthe pieeces fit". It was as if to say, that whiel the learnign wasn't metered out in even doses, adn they didn;t know *what* they were learning or how it related to the whole, or even if it was goign to add up...somehow it did.

I think my children's learning looks liek a muddle probably from the outside. It is a littel bit here adn there, adn then nothing for a long time, adn then a big lot of somethign seemingly unimportant (or certainly not from the curricum)...but it is making conectiosn all voer the place.

J-Man drew a picture yesterday of Teh Unschooler's Brain...this is my son who has drawn only a handful of times since he was 6. Sudenyl he lieks to draw, and he is quite good at it actually.

BUt to look at this picture, it really was a brain shaped scribble. BUt when you looked closer, you saw that it was firign all over the place. It wasn;t ordered, it was a scramble. If you looked closely you coudl see puzzle pieces. He xplained the drawing at length, and I htought, "Here is a boy who really udnerstands hwo his mind works."

OK, so I'm an usnchoolign convert, lol, nothing new about that...but heres' the thign. I sometimes doubted, well I doubted a lot, but I tried not to project that on to my chidlren. I doubted that they were learning as much as they could be. I doubted that school kids were learning little to nothign in 6 hours a day 5 days a week. It didn;t bother me, or wish a different childhood for my babies...after all, even if they don;t learn as much or as well as a child in shcool- I still think usnchoolign is superior. There is more to life than letters adn numbers. Do I wish for them to be surrounded by clever peopel, or by kind? I want them to grow up free, to grow up doign the thigns they lvoe, and no, I am not concerned that the ywon;t be abel to handle "the realworld", where there are jobs and epoepl you don;t like.

I'm, they went to school. And, well, I have to admit I was astonished by how little they did! I was. I thoguth they woudl do sooo much, and certiqanly so much more than at home. But it was not the case. OK, so J-Man only went for 3 days, and yes- it wa a fairly low-standard school...but still, I knwo now that our "doing nothign" days, still invovle more learnign than a day in school.

As far as written work goes, in a full day of school...J-Man brought hom a maths book with the following written.

2+2+2+2=2x4 and so on up to 12x2

The next day he did 3x, adn the last day 4x.

I felt certain they woudl just give him busy work, sicne they would have no idea of what level he was functioning at. But no, he assured me this was what the whole class was doing.

He typed a story on the computer, actualyl more of an accoutn of his weekend.

He wrote a line of e's, and a few Maori words.

They sang songs (all in Maori), and they listened to children giving mini-speeches in Maori. They walekd to the library (which apprently took a veyr logn time, by the time everyoen was ready, and in a straight line). They chose books there, though J-Man already had his own book.

Then, they went back to class for "SSR", Sustained Silent Reading. He foudn that terribly frustrating, because he was excited abotu the possibility of reading al ittle more of his book, but unable to because of the constant interruptions. The other chidlren apaprently wanted to knwo if he coudl *actualyl* read the book (he was incredulous at this point, because he was already up to pg 200), and they also asked him to spell daft little words.

They sang more songs, in conjunction with the junior class. A girl told on a boy (of 10 or 12) who was palyign with a matchbox car when he was supposed to be listneing. The teacher snatched it off him, and he had a tantrum "like a two year old". This morphed in to a gigantic fuss, wheredupon the boy picked up chairs and threw them.

That was about it. Every day was mcuh the same (minus the theatrics of the first, but with a few srimmages thrown in).

I asked what else they had done, and ther ewas nothing. I can;t see how 6 hours can be filled up with this little...and this is a class of 9 chidlren. How much less would eb done in a class of 30 (or 36, as was the case in some schools in Auckland)?

So, Kiwi_Mama and others who are wondering...whatever you do at home, be it big or small, it is most lieely more than your chidl woudl eb doign at school. It makwes me feel sorry for school children in general, adn the child I was as well. What migth I have accomplished had I not been in school for 30 horus a week, 40 or so weeks in a year, 11 loooong years?

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