Learning to walk in public school - an intro to unschooling

in #school2 years ago

Do you remember learning to walk in school? I do...

I crawled into class and my teacher said "criss cross apple sauce". We children tried to sit up and cross our legs, mostly succeeding as we had already passed sitting class the year before. The teacher scolded Johnny because he sat down facing the window until he reluctantly turned around.

For the next hour the teacher talked about the idea of standing up, telling us about gravity, which muscles we needed to use to stand, and how dangerous it could be to stand up in the wrong spot.

Near the end of the hour the teacher handed out work sheets to quiz us on the things that were talked about so that we could take them home and fill out the answers she has provided.

A bell rang at the end of the hour and we moved onto the next subject.

This continued for a week and finally the big day came... our standing test!

Once class started (and teacher had Johnny sitting where and how she wants him to) the teacher walked around and handed out our test. It asked why we don't just float into space, which muscles are used when standing, what kinds of surfaces are safe to try standing on, etc.

After 15 minutes the teacher collected our papers, graded them, and handed them back.

She then noted that most of us did not do well and so our class will continue to study standing for another week.

I, of course, aced the standing test and received a gold star.

At the end of the next week, most of us had to retake the test (I and others with gold stars got to sit quietly out of the way playing with blocks) and the teacher beamed afterwards noting that most of us passed and then glowered and noted that Johnny, Amy, and Gabe failed.

We all moved on to learning about walking. Then running. Then jumping.

By the end of the year most of my class had at least a passing grade. Some of the class has been labeled as learning disabled while others were labeled as being attention deficient.

The learning disabled children were shuffled off to a different teacher while the attention deficient children were drugged so that the teacher could spend less time fussing at them to obey and more time lecturing the good students like me.

Of course, I could still cannot stand, walk, or run at the end of the year as we had never been permitted to try.

My parents complained that the school was failing me.

Administrators at my school complained that standing is too dangerous without the right facilities and that there weren't enough teachers to ensure that all children would be safe if they actually tried to stand... while noting that most of us had been graded and deemed to know how to stand, walk, and run... and so they don't see what the fuss was about.

The school administrators then outlined a "Help our Children Stand" plan and put it to the voters.

My parents (and most others) voted for the new "Help our Children Stand" levy and it passed.

Their property taxes increased. More teachers were hired. More administrators were hired to manage the additional teachers. A padded gymnasium was built for standing class.

Still we did not learn to stand as we had already passed through standing class and were now learning how to climb instead.

Eventually I had to go to the Ministry of Silly Walks to learn how to walk properly.

Oh wait... maybe I don't remember that.

Maybe instead I, like my daughters, simply observed others standing and walking and eventually decided to try doing it myself.

Maybe my parents offered a hand or showed me how to hold onto the couch or their pant leg to steady myself.

Maybe, just maybe, I eventually learned how to stand up on my own with a little help here and there when I seemed to need it from my parents.

Maybe I learned earlier than other children because my mom didn't pack me around everywhere. Maybe it was the opposite. Either way, I learned to walk without any class or teacher.

Not only did I learn to stand this way, I (like you probably) learned to walk, to run, to jump, to climb, to dig, to swim, and do just about everything that I do on a day to day basis in this same way.

There is a term for letting people follow their passions and lending them a hand.


Unschooling turns school on its head.

Schools stick children into classes with people their own ages and have some authority figure attempt to force them to learn a particular subject which they may not be ready for or interested in and then provide grades to shame those who do not do well and give false confidence to those who do.

Almost no hands on or real world learning takes place in school... which results in people with physics degrees who cannot replace a simple outlet in their home.

Unschooling does the opposite.

The children pursue their interests individually or in groups as they see fit and seek help and/or assistance when they feel that they need it.

There are no age groupings.

A child of 10 who loves dinosaurs might well be able to teach a lot about dinosaurs to any adult... while a child of 12 who has been interested in math for years due to programming might well provide help to an older child who just found a need to learn algebra.

You don't have to know every subject well to unschool your children. You just have to be willing to help and show them how to find the answers they seek (libraries, the internet, local groups or meetups, etc.).

If you don't like what the schools are doing to your children I highly recommend picking up The Teenage Liberation Handbook or pretty much anything by John Holt.


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