Not that I mean to over-value the academic-type stuff over anything else that takes place in real life, but I can't help being amazed and happy when my kids veer in that direction - which is pretty often. I don't want to treat the math and reading "better" than the Play-Doh house or the game of tag, but I do take joy in seeing learning happening. I don't think I will ever be a true "radical unschooler" unless I can see all of life as having equal value when it comes to learning. Well, I don't know how to do that. I mean, I think everything has value, but things like reading, writing, math, etc. that my kids ask about, find interesting, or take upon themselves to indulge in, just make me giddy.
Like for example, this afternoon, W read me a whole book for the first time. He couldn't believe it and hugged me and felt so proud to really do it. You better believe that beats the pants off this morning's Tom and Jerry cartoon. And this evening, J started talking about angles and before I knew it she was printing out a paper protractor, measuring and identifying angles, and did a series of splits on the floor showing me all types of angles. Before she went to bed, she said she'd like to continue with angles in the morning. WOW! How the hell did THAT happen?
The key is not letting *them* think any interest is more important than another. Putting a value on something can create a fake feeling about it. Too high a value and it can become stressful; too low a value and it can feel pointless. You can crush any spark that could have formed. I just feel that real, lasting learning always stems from something that's fun and interesting and challenging. The most visible example of that for me is the academic stuff. But I am slowly realizing that things I normally think of as being time-wasters are actually incredible learning tools. I mean, this is where a lot of creativity, patience, social ettiquette, and life laws are learned and practiced, and a million questions are formed and ready to be explored. I'm getting it. I'm understanding there's value.
But, yes, I"ll admit I love when I see a simple thought snowball into something that would put any curriculum to shame. I had way too many years of schooling to rid me completely of placing value and importance on what kids find interesting or how they spend their day. But that doesn't mean I want my kids to feel that way. I want them to just enjoy everything in life without unneeded stress or tedium. They can leave all of that to me, lol.