Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unschooling and High School

So as we revert back to a more natural, organic education for W, I can honestly say my anxiety about the teen years has lessened tremendously.  When he originally came to me requesting a more formal curriculum and schedule (about 6 years ago, following J's lead), I was hesitant, but obliged.  I know he wants to want the structure, but the older he got, the less willing he was to follow through.  I felt I was the one who needed to push and prod and dare I say "coerce" him into doing his work several days a week as we'd planned.  Well, it made us both miserable and I won't do that anymore.

I mean, it really doesn't make sense.  If there is no intrinsic motivation to learn something, then there won't be much learning taking place.  I feel it's a huge waste of time and energy for the sole purpose of checking off a box that "it got done".  But the checked box is a ruse because most of the info covered is usually forgotten in only a few days.  How is that ok?  That's not learning.

In the few months since we have started unschooling, W has done more academically than ever before.  He asked to have my new tablet (that I'm not using) and if I could download certain books on it for him.  I think this is the first time in his life he expressed any interest in reading a book.  He has rekindled interests in piano, cooking, bike riding, and building.  He is in the process of building a skateboard (long board) from scratch.  When W finds something of interest, there's no stopping his research.  For example, the other day B was wondering what other foods the bearded dragon could eat.  W spent over an hour on various websites, taking notes, and following the many rabbit trails pertaining to overall bearded dragon care.  I guarantee he won't be forgetting any of it.

He's also started thinking about college.  As a matter of fact, we sat down together researching colleges, majors, requirements, and what he'd like to do for high school.  We also looked at trade-schools, graduate schools, and what kinds of jobs and careers fit his current interests.  The 4-year (tentative) high school plan is set and I haven't felt this relaxed about anything in my life.  It includes projects, research, reading, standardized tests, college-level classes, volunteering, apprenticeships, employment, field trips, restaurants, and homeschool group classes.

It's all about intrinsic motivation.  I believe it's the real key to a happy, meaningful, and productive life.

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