September 01, 2010 — TLC for Your Family #19 – Back to School (or Homeschool)

TLC for Your Family #19 – Back to School (or Homeschool)
September 01, 2010


It’s that time of year again, for those of us with school-aged kids. A change in focus.

But how big a change? For those with kids in school or doing “school at home,” schedules change. But for those who are approaching education in a certain way, nothing of substance may change at all – whether or not our kids are homeschooling.

How can this be, you ask?

It can be if you support interest-led learning.

But what do I mean by “interest-led learning”?

Homeschoolers call it “unschooling.” Another name it’s been given, is “guerilla learning.” As articulated in the book, Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School, “Guerrilla Learning means taking responsibility for your own education. For young people, that includes thinking clearly and seriously about one’s own goals, interests, and values – then acting accordingly. For parents, it means supporting your child in doing so. It might mean giving your child a kind of freedom that may seem risky or even crazy at first. And it also means continuing your own involvement in the world of ideas and culture, continuing to read, to think, to discuss, and to create – and being a walking, talking invitation to your kids to do the same.”
What does this look like when kids are in school though? Guerrilla Learning cites several examples, suggesting that when your child's in school it's “letting your daughter read her stack of library books instead of finishing her homework. It’s hiring your son’s beloved third-grade teacher to give him written feedback on his poetry, even though now he’s eleven years old. It’s inviting your massage therapist to dinner, since your daughter’s been talking about going to massage school instead of college – even if the thought worries you a little. It’s telling your daughter how that thought worries you and listening to her talk about her motives. It might even be supporting your son’s dropping out of college and investing his savings in his new Internet business instead – knowing the risk that involves and knowing your son might not fully appreciate the risk. . . . [It’s] telling your son it’s okay for him to focus on physics (or history, or engine repair) class, even if that means letting history (or physics, or engine repair) slide. It’s staying up [until] midnight helping your kids care for an orphaned bird. . . .”

But why on earth would we want to do such things?

I can do little more than hint at the answer in a short ezine article like this, and tell you where to find out more. To that end, I invite you to consider:

  • Studies show that real, retained learning only happens when people are interested in what they are learning about. And that when we force or reward people to learn things they’re not interested in, we can inadvertently reduce their interest in learning generally. For more on this, I invite you to read, Punished By Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes, by Alfie Kohn.
  • Top universities like Stanford are increasingly interested in those who are independent thinkers and manage to retain their love of learning. See, this article.
  • Regardless of whether your child ends up going on to higher education, let alone to a top college, you might find that, upon reflection, what you want most for your kids is for them to be happy, doing what they’re most inspired to do with their lives.

If you find any of this intriguing, I invite you to read the book I cite above, Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School, by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver. And you may also want to check out Punished By Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes, by Alfie Kohn. Also, over the next year I plan to publish web pages on interest-led learning, which I’ll let you know about once they’re up.

In the meanwhile, and however you handle your kids education, I wish you and your family “happy back to school (or homeschool)” and “happy family(ing)!”

Tiffany Clark
Discover What Might be Possible in Your Family Life!

PLEASE NOTE: The rules governing my profession advise I inform you of the following. Issues of this ezine may periodically contain messages concerning Tiffany L. Clark’s availability for professional employment within the meaning of California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400. In any case, no statement in any ezine issue is intended to guarantee any result in any individual case. And neither viewing the information contained in this email, nor communicating with Tiffany, nor attending a talk or workshop series, establishes any duty of confidentiality, mediator-client relationship, coach-client relationship, or attorney-client relationship. These can only be established with a signed client fee agreement for mediation, coaching, or legal services respectively. Please also note that Tiffany is not a psychologist or therapist. Therefore, she is not capable of diagnosing you or any of your family members, or providing any other services only a licensed mental health professional could provide. You are advised to turn to such professionals if you desire such assistance.



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