Or maybe that should be how they don’t want to learn…
Last month I got a letter from the local council advising that someone would be in touch to come out and see us and so they can “be confident and satisfied” that the boys are “safe and receiving a suitable education.” It’s 18 months since we took Harry out of school and this is pretty much the first contact we’ve had, so I’m not convinced they’re as concerned about the safety aspect as they claim to be, but I’m happy for someone to come and meet us.
But because we are unschooling, I immediately felt like I’d need to have stuff written down so I can show that the boys are learning. Or that they are doing something other than Minecraft (even though I think they’ve learned an awful lot through playing Minecraft). This is about my own insecurities and my own issues with authority, but still… I told the boys that we need to do something – not a lot, just read a book, watch a video – each day so that I can write it down.
Harry said, “Don’t worry! I will give an impressive learning speech!” Joe really doesn’t want me to let anyone come – he’s worried they’ll take him away to school and he’s already preparing to call them a “stupid bottom.” Great.
So each day, I give them a choice of books to read and we also have a look at a couple of books I’ve chosen and then we watch a video on The Kid Should See This and see if that leads us to learning more. And every day they whine and they moan and they tell me to pick “the shortest video and then NOTHING ELSE” and then when we’re done, they cheer.
But at bedtime, Joe has a story and then a podcast on the iPad. Almost every night, he asks me questions about something in the story (“Why do the stars twinkle?” “When we look at the moon, is there men on it?”) and we look the answers up online. Same goes for the podcast. A couple of nights ago, we watched a Disney video about Holi and ended up watching a bunch of other videos and talking about festivals and spring and different religions and looking up how to make the colourful powders so we can have our own festival of colour (in the garden, when the weather’s better). (“Can I put red in a bucket of water and pour it all on your head, Mama?”)
And it’s not just because he’s trying to put off going to bed (the other night, I was working and Joe came into the office and said, “I know you love the computer, Mama, but I really want to go to sleep.”), it’s because he’s interested. It’s because he wants to know more about the things he wants to know more about, not the things I (or anyone else, for that matter) think he should know more about.
Yesterday, Harry said, “After the council person’s been, can we go back to just learning by ourselves? Cos we don’t really need to do this, do we.” No, I don’t think we do. But I’m going to do it anyway. Just for a little while.