September 9, 2008

Explaining Unschooling

I changed internet providers and our internet keeps going out. It's so annoying!!

Okay, that's off my chest now--I can move on. I'm sitting in a cafe while Jerry has his first Japanese lesson since his old tutor, Mei (who we both loved!) left for Japan last year. His new tutor, Jason is a 23-year-old American guy who has lived in Japan. Jerry seems to like him so hopefully he'll want to stick with it.

We've really enjoyed having our new housemate, Xiquan, living with us. We invited him and some of his friends to have dinner with us on Sunday night and it was really nice. He doesn't take classes at Caltech since he's a Ph.D. student, he just works in the lab and what he's working on is so cool--it's a microscope that's the size of a dime!

He knew that we homeschooled but I'd been dreading trying to explain unschooling to him. This morning he asked about how I teach Jerry, so I told him about how we don't really do "school" at all and how there's very little teaching that goes on. I cringed a little as I explained that sure Jerry would have gaps in his knowledge but we all have gaps blah, blah, blah (you know the drill, I'm sure). But his response really surprised me.

He told me that when he was in high school in China his teacher told him that if he wanted to pass the physics test that would allow him to go on to the school he wanted to attend he would have to teach himself because what he would be learning in the classroom wouldn't be sufficient to pass the test. So he took the book and learned what he needed to know. On his own. And now, in the lab, he says there are things he has to teach himself all the time. He thought it was great that Jerry was learning from such an early age that he doesn't need to rely on other people to learn what he needs to know. I was so relieved! I always expect people to think I'm crazy (at best) or completely negligent (at worst) when I tell them how we home school.

But even this morning, when I was telling Jason (the Japanese tutor) about how we home school, he thought unschooling sounded terrific. So maybe I need to stop being afraid of what people will think. Well, of course I do. Now that I write it out like that it seems so obvious. Duh.

In other news: We didn't have plans yesterday (I love not having plans!). When Jerry woke up he said "I want to see Violet today." (Jerry met Violet at the Life is Good conference.) So I blasted off an e-mail to Violet's mom and several hours later we were down in San Diego county at Violet's house. The kids played pokemon, went swimming, picked plums and tomatoes from the neighbor's garden and had a great time. Hopefully we'll see them again soon.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get a bit more physical activity into Jerry's life but I can honestly say that's the only aspect of our home schooling that I'm worried about right now. That's not too bad considering where I was a year ago. Today is our home schooling birthday, by the way!!

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