I have been reading a great deal about unschooling lately. I think I am all for unschooling if done properly. It is about making learning relevant and allowing a child to have say in when, what, and how he or she learns. It isn't about floundering about, which has been my fear. It actually sounds so much more labor intensive on my part than following a traditional curriculum. I am becoming more comfortable with the idea for that very reason.
I have always seen value in the concept. Now, I am beginning to see the structure that this classically trained teacher needs to offer the "UN" part of schooling in a manner which satisfies my need to keep records and check off boxes, and my kids' desire to follow their hearts' desires. I will likely post more on this topic as I ruminate on it in the future. The jury is still out as to whether I can come to a level of comfort that compliments or overcomes my training and experience, though I truly want that.
One important aspect of unschooling that I do agree with whole heatedly is reflection. After facilitating exposure to a topic, it is recommended that parents allow time for kids to reflect upon that exposure extensively before we try to assess their learning. Reflection time here is not just the ride home or the next day. Reflection time of a week, two weeks, or a month is normal protocol. It is suggested that kids will mull over the learning and formulate personal, relevant conclusions more easily than if we expose, then test or guide a discussion in a formal fashion.
I find this true, especially with our youngest, Brice, who tend to chew on what he learns for weeks, months, and even years, through play. Brice's "educational career" is still new and he has not learned to differentiate school from life like the older kids.
Recently, we visited the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. In the month since the visit,
::he has asked to check out a documentary about the Titanic
::he asks questions or relays facts about the ship every day
::he has formulated alternative endings to the story
::he has drawn many pictures of the ship both before and after is sank.
This week, he took our Battleship game to the Farm, where he spent much of our visit floating the boats in water and recreating the wreckage, explaining in great detail to his cousins the breaking apart of the ship and the position on the ocean floor where each piece settled. On the trip home today, he tore holes in the side of a styrofoam to-go box and explained that he was trying to determine to size and shape of the hole that the iceberg left in the side of the Titanic.
He is certainly putting reflection into action. He may do more to convince me that unschooling is valuable, rigorous, and worthwhile than any research or other resource. We'll see.