December 30, 2011 ALL Unschooling Symposium, Albuquerque
My mom wanted to talk about what did not learn by not going to school (what I'd missed out on), so I thought I'd talk about what I DID learn by unschooling.
Things that parents worry are taught in school that unschoolers might miss out on…
A friend once asked me how I learned to tie my shoes. I said, "Wait, you learned that in school?"
So - I didn't GO to school, but I know that people worry about how unschoolers will learn things like reading, writing and arithmetic…regular school subjects.
I don't want to talk much about school subjects, because those are not a big deal. Unschooled kids learn that kind of stuff naturally in their daily lives. But, I'll just talk a little about the main ones.
I learned to read when I was 8 years old. I don't remember the process well, but I remember being read to really a lot by my mom and my sisters. I remember Hop on Pop was one of my favorite books and I'd kind of memorized it and would pretend to read it. I knew the idea of reading from left to right before I could read the words. We were in a Shakespeare group and I knew about following along on a script and I'd carry a script and kind of pretend to be using it. I first just memorized but then after a while I was reading it. I don't remember how that really happened. Then, after that, I could read anything.
Writing - handwriting. No idea how I learned that. I just did. I don't have gorgeous writing, but I have functional handwriting. I don't know how to write all the capital letters in cursive but that's never affected me one bit.
Writing -- stories - composing…. I was really frustrated for a long time and felt like I wasnt able to write. It was my spelling that stopped me. If I wrote a word down, I could tell it was wrong. I knew what letters mostly should be in a word, but it was SO slow it kept me from being able to write stories. If I wrote a word's letters, say C-A-T , in all possible orders, then I could pick out which one was right. But it took forever and only worked on small words. But I starting talking online with friends (who couldn't read a lot of what i wrote and I got a lot of "huh's?). I started using spell checkers, which got better, and when I was 12 I did NaNoWriMo.
Arithmetic - we played a LOT of games, did a lot of puzzles. D&D was how I learned a lot about probability. I liked "brain teaser" things - that now I know are really algebraic thinking. I didn't do any formal math until college. Then I took the lowest level math course, really liked learning it all - went on and kept taking more math classes up through a calculus class. My 2nd choice major in college is math.
Other school subjects like science, history, social studies (whatever that is) --- I learned mostly from movies, tv, games, conversations, reading, jokes, and music, theater. We also went to various kinds of museums and events.
Things probably not taught in school, that I learned as an unschooler:
The importance of getting enough sleep
People often seem to worry that unschoolers won't ever be able to get up early if they need to - what are they going to do if they get a job?How to do something I don't want to do because it gets me closer to a goal
Girl Scouts Gold award…..Going along with things to make life run smoother/standing up and saying when something is not right
It is important to know the distinctions. There are some people who go along with everything and never stand up for anything. Follow rules, follow them blindly and don't think about it That's not good. And there is the opposite extreme - people who argue with everything and won't go along with anything if they don't see the point. They are obstructive and mess things up for themselves and people around them because they won't recognize that sometimes it makes sense just to do something. Jelly Belly tour and put on the silly hats.The benefit of doing the same thing over and over again
I have learned the value of practice and what you can learn by repetition and I know the difference between practicing something in order to get better and better at it versus rote memorization without understanding.I learned to budget my time, energy and money
I learned how to say "I don't know," and "please help me."