Why my boys don’t want to learn

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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.

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10 responses to “Why my boys don’t want to learn

  1. We have the threat of an LEA visit looming over us too, so I understand your feelings (and your boys’ feelings too). I haven’t come across “The Kid Should See This” before – there’s loads of great stuff on there that we will definitely be watching together! Hurray for going back to just learning by ourselves – just the way it should be.

  2. Thanks for that link for The Kid Should See This – not come across that before but I suspect my son will love it! We have been out of school almost 2 years and still no contact from the LA, which is fine by me, but I imagine I would react in a similar way to you! My son still doesn’t want to do anything that looks remotely like “schoolwork”, but I do write down everything that he does do, just in case!

  3. You hit the nail on the head. I would LOVE to be a true un-schooler but I daren’t! I always feel I have to have ‘proof’ that they have learnt – either by writing down a chat we’ve had on my blog or writing in an exercise book – I know it is clearly the way to kill my girls’ love of learning stone dead but I can’t let go of it! I am hoping I’ll learn my lesson in time…

    • I usually see the conversations we have (that I sometimes put on my here or on Facebook) as proof enough. I wonder if I can tell the LEA person to just “read my blog”? 😉

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