Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you don't require any schoolwork, will teens do school stuff?

This question has come up recently, in different forms and in different situations.

When asked about homeschooling by another.

When quizzed by a teacher and a teacher trainee.

On an email list.

I see that teens, if given time to breathe and explore, well, explore within boundaries; if given a healthy, well, healthy as relationship with their family; if given an interesting home life and environment; if surrounded by prayer ( I pray for my teens daily..) ; well, I see that teens do grow and mature and start to look at themselves and at learning.

At Who They Are and Who They Want To Be.

At goals and careers and futures.

At interests and work, be it part time work or volunteer work.

For example.

Anthony ( just turned 13) and Thomas (15) are writing novels. Now, I don’t ask them to do this and they definitely go through stages of writing and of not writing but of playing computer games instead –however, this writing is something they have taken up on their own.

They like reading. They like writing. The two seem to go together for them, like fish and chips, like Jeeves and Wooster, like Abba and pop music, like gin and tonic, to create the writer's urge.

Anthony is reading a book on Ancient Egyptian Literature and someone recently asked me if Anthony was studying Ancient Egypt in homeschooling this year. No. He became interested because older brother Greg is learning Ancient Sumerian. As a hobby. And I think Anthony is more interested because this study is not a school requirement or a subject, he is free to pick and learn things without me making them schooly.

Of course, he has days and days of just reading Battlestar Galactica comics, too!

Thomas is reading Dickens' David Copperfield. We discuss the characters and Dickens' distinct writing style. We talk about romance and the ridiculously funny things David will do to attract Dora's attention.

Dickens seems hard reading, sometimes, perhaps, when assigned and pondered. It is, however, interesting for Thomas, interesting in a others-have-said-this-is-good so-I'll-try-it-for-myself way.

Alexander has chosen to study Discrete Mathematics at Open University this semester, again a choice prompted by curiousity and love, and piqued by interest. He is not being pushed to pursue a career in Mathematics, he only turned 17 in July and is studying subjects of choice at university, before picking a (possible) major.

An unschooling, liberal arts education.

Not required but inspired.

And such an education amidst comic books, Singstar, music video clips, Dr Who, Battlestar Galactica, movies, foam dart guns, video and computer games, pop art and pop culture, chores and helping out, helping others.

Amidst our prayers and faith; amidst our ever failing striving for virtue.

But we strive.

And the teens do choose schooly stuff, education. Living.

....Enough philosophy.... Must get off the computer and cook dinner...Just home from work and haven't even thought about dinner...Too busy pondering the philosophy of education...And blogging.

Will mums cook dinner if not required to do so? Perhaps that should be the question?


Chris said...

I love to cook but I can get sick of it day in and out three times a day especially when it is demanded of me and then may not be appreciated (boy can I whinge) which illustrates that when a person is forced to do something constantly, even if they enjoyed it, they can loose their enthusiasm and desire to pursue that subject or activity. How horrific it must be for those who are forced to do something when they have no interest and or apptitude for it. Constant frustration, inability to achieve, discouragement, anger and resentment must plague them.

Greg said...

Speaking of cooking I was in a meeting today with a woman who is a personal friend of Jamie Oliver! She described him as "a real sweetie". Pretty exciting stuff :)

molly said...

This very insprirational Leonie!

Leonie said...

Chris, that is very true - and very inspiring, to the point, iykwim. You need a blog post on this!

Greg - how cool - Thomas will be excited! Does she get to eat his cooking?

Molly - its good to share and think, isn't it?

HopewellMomSchool said...

Just curious Leonie,
Do/Did any of your guys HATE reading? I am pulling my hair out trying to get my son to read ANYTHING [this is not new--he's been like that for years now]

Leonie said...

We had two that didn't take to a love of reading as much as others and I did various things to help them along the way - having eyes checked and getting glasses, buying or borrowing many different types of books esp any on interests and if we found a hit getting all in the series, having a visual display of all the books they had read and a treat after, lots of reading aloud and books on tape/CD, getting the book to read AFTER the movie ...

Laura A said...

I love it when people post things like this! (Just found you on Macbeth's Opinion's shared items.) Makes me feel like this kind of homeschooling (call it unschooling or what you will) *is* doable, after all. Thanks!

Sarah said...

"Not required but inspired"
I love that!

Leonie said...

It's good to think about, isn't it? Thanks for comments.

HopewellMomSchool said...

Good idea on the visual display of books read! We've had some unschooling this week--"Little House on the Prairie style"--power was off in parts of the area for 3days.