I was asked recently why I chose to unschool my kids and here’s my answer (an extended version):
It’s NOT because the school system sucks – it’s a system, and systems deal with stuffs. And people too, apparently. But people are not robots. Students are not stuffs to be systematized.
I don’t put my kids through any system. I let them be their natural selves, and children naturally want to learn by examining, exploring and experimenting. You don’t need to push them to be curious about the world around them. You don’t need to push them to learn.
Through physical and imaginary play – a normal childhood activity that is getting to be extinct now – children learn the workings of the world. Really!
It’s NOT because I think I can do a better job than the teachers.
Teachers teach stuff. They are trained and certified to do so. And they are good at it.
I don’t teach stuff. I just let my children learn with curiosity and creativity – two things that are naturally inherent in all children – as long as they are not systematically killed by schooling. Notice how all the “Why’s” stop coming out from children’s mouths after they started attending school?
I wonder why???
It’s NOT because I did badly in school.
I did ok. I was above average in some areas (language, arts and sports) and below average in others (additional math – still can’t figure it out! and anything to do with holding a needle to a piece of cloth).
But everyday, sitting at the back of the school bus on my way back from school, I ask myself the same question: isn’t there a better way to get an education? Can’t wait to get this school thing over and done with. And I collapse into my warm bed as soon as I reach home!
Because schooling was terribly exhausting for me. And for many kids today, it is getting too much for them to handle.
It’s NOT because I’m being over-protective of my children.
Despite the fact that the world is such a dark and dangerous place for young minds to survive in – and being confined to a limited space shared by many many others only work to put “survival of the fittest” to the ultimate test. “They need to learn the ways of the world!” is the common battle cry of parents. But what do they learn? To lie and to cheat? To bully so that they do not get bullied? To be one of them so that they do not stand out like a sore thumb?
No thank you. I do not want to throw my kids to the wolves. But I do want them to experience the joys of childhood so that they have faith in humanity and not lose hope in them.
It’s NOT because I want to fast-track them for college (to save tuition fees).
In fact, we SLOW them down (as in the slow education movement) so that they have time to stop and smell the roses, and to look and stare into the sky, conjuring funny images in the mind inspired by the cottony clouds….and turning them into a song or a cardboard creation or a piece of painted art. These things can’t be created in a hurry. They take TIME.
College? It’s a concept that is an extension of schooling, and it seems very far away for my 11-year-old, and for that matter, even for my 18 & 19-year-olds. Wait a minute. Aren’t they supposed to be in college by now? Oh right! As soon as they are done with their music and dancing and skating and exploring the world! Maybe after all that, they might consider it!
But then again, if they have been unschooled all their lives, maybe they would prefer to unCollege too! It’s a new concept for those who want to hack their education to pursue their passions rather than the paper.
So back to the question: Why do I choose to unschool my kids? Well, the answer is a simple one –
it just felt like the most natural thing to do!
I chose to forgo my music career to be a stay-at-home mom; I chose to take care of my children myself; I chose to teach them important values in life; and I chose to be their biggest supporter in whatever that they choose to do!
And that is unschooling for us and we can’t imagine any other way to learn and live for our family!
Because how else can we have so much freedom and fun in learning and living?
It’s so easy that it’s actually unbelievable. But then, you have to get through the fears that society impose on you: How do you get a job without a degree? How can you chart a future that you cannot predict? How can you live your life without really knowing what’s ahead of you? And so on and so forth………
So yeah, if you can answer all these questions with confidence and conviction, maybe you’ll be ready to try out this crazy unschooling thingy! Just maybe. Or maybe you’re still clueless. But that’s ok. Coz you do require a fair bit of craziness to be able to go through with it.
Starting from being clueless is not bad.
Trust me. It isn’t. Coz that’s how unschooling is. It’s the process of unravelling our state of cluelessness, one day at a time! It’s not for everyone. Not especially for those who need to see clear linear paths ahead. Is life a linear line? All safe and predictable? Are there any “safe” jobs around anymore?
We can’t figure it out for our kids anymore – they’ve got to figure it all out for themselves.
Because it’s their world now. And they are going to face it as unschooled warriors!
How cool is that?
Sam conducting a hip hop class.
Arian playing one of his favorite Japanese anime tunes he learnt from YouTube.