Teen Liberation

With MUCH thanks to Rachelle (tried to leave a thank-you comment, couldn't, sorry!), I recently ordered "The Teenage Liberation Handbook", and am busy reading it right now.

It's all about "unschooling" - the practice of learning through living, instead of sitting in a classroom experiencing pseudo-life. And at just about every sentence I hear myself giving a hearty AMEN. There's so much in it that resonates with me, and with where my son is at. He hates having to do homework, plod through boring subjects, sit still and shut up, and toe the line indefinitely. I have watched his inner fire be slowly quenched over the years as school mentality gets a hold of him and dulls the enthusiasm in his eyes to find out about stuff. This book is one he's been looking forward to reading - huge volume of fine print that it is.

So I'm not even past the first 80 pages, but I've already realized a few home truths. I know that spark of learning has not completely died yet - and that if he chose the unschooled route, it would help him create a successful and amazing future. (I'm also rethinking work in terms of "unworking" - but that's a whole other post!)

Two weeks ago his grade went on an outing to Cape Town. On their list was Planetarium, Museum, Company Gardens. All dressed neatly, same uniforms, strictly-polished shoes, lunch in a bag, off they went.

Typically, they were herded here and there, shown programmes and told information - not allowed to run wild or get to enthusiastic. All in a line now...

In fact, the huge old Cape Town museum was allocated a mere 40 minutes of free time! They had to do it at a run, only glancing at the fascinating things on display, no time to experience or learn about anything it housed. The kid really wants to go back there with me and take some time to see it all.

Well, I've had a lightbulb moment. I'm going to check which day next week (so as not to disrupt his conform-or-die school schedule) is relatively free of tests, piles of work and other stuff - and for that day I'm taking him out of the classroom. The two of us are going to spend the entire day in Cape Town, not only at the museum, but also at the adjacent Art Gallery. Enough time to see everything, learn everything (as much as possible) and let it sink in. The kid is going to get his chance to learn on his own, to take his time and find things that fascinate him. He's going to get a taste of unschooling and real life learning - before he even starts reading the book.

Against the rules? Definitely! Not what is expected by his Victorian-era school? Of course! Effective learning? Like none you've ever seen in a classroom, or on an organized tour.

Wish us luck! :)

Just an example of the insane mindset that is regularly accepted as "education" but is thinly-disguised oppression (bear with me while I rant briefly :) ):

Earlier in the year a guy was brought in to help with sex-ed for the boys (while one of the female teachers took the girls aside). It was spread over 2 days, with the basics of sex on day 1. All the mysterious stuff was left for day 2. When day 2 rolled around, the boys were told they had been too noisy the previous day "so we're not going to tell you about oral sex"!!! That, of course, has left a lot of kids hanging - confused as to where it fits in and what it is. Now I'm more than happy to teach my son about all of that, but for goodness sake - that is simply ridiculous!

Trouble is, the more I think about it, the less a lot of generally-accepted school things seem to make sense. One "small" thing - my son's classroom is right by the front door. However, that door is reserved for parents and teachers only - the kids have to exit the building by walking all the way down the passage to the next door, then turning outside the building and passing the first door to leave the school grounds. Make sense? Nope. It's just an authoritative control thing - and I'm starting to think we can really do without.