Today Michael had the pleasure (I think perhaps for the first time) of getting to debate and defend unschooling to others in a relatively public arena: the workplace.
He's on rotation with a different office than normal for a few months and in this new office there is more discussion and friendly banter and general collegiality than in his normal office - at least this is my impression from our chattings about work - and the subject of homeschooling came up today.
His supervisor at the rotation thought about homeschooling for his kids, but his wife wasn't keen on the idea, so it was quickly dropped.
I'm not sure how our situation came up, but I'm sure that in the course of conversation, somehow Michael mentioned our particular method of homeschooling, and the usual questions began.
- Don't they need all the early building blocks to build on so that they can learn the things that come later?
Well - that's necessary in the school system, where things are taught in a very specific manner by age and grade level and to all children at the same time, but when you're working at your own pace and making your own choices, then the time you choose to learn something is the time you choose to learn it. You begin where you need to begin and you take the steps at your own pace - even skipping "necessary" steps if they are things you don't need right now.
- How will your children be exposed to all the things the world has to offer without school?
We expose them. That's one of our jobs as parents.
- Isn't it unhealthy for kids to stay up all night?
Jonah doesn't stay up all night every night. And when he does, he's learning about what his body can do. Most people do this at some point in their lives - like college - and we learn it then. What's the difference when you're six? Honestly, you have less obligations at this point in your life and more opportunity for resting than in college - where you need to go to class, you need to get up at a certain time, etc.
- How will he be socialized?
He lives in the world. Only in the school setting do you only interact with people in your own age bracket. In the "real world" people are all different ages and types. On top of that - he doesn't just sit at home all day. He meets people at the library, at church, on his swim team, at the theatre, at various practices and events, etc.
- But don't you believe in No Child Left Behind?
Are you kidding me? Having been in the system as a public school teacher I can say without doubt that No Child Left Behind does NOTHING to help America's kids. But that's another blog entry.