8 February 2010

unschool monday :: an apple for the teacher...

When I talk to people about how our owlets learn at home, usually it sparks a bunch of questions and discussion. First question is usually "Is that legal?" Answer: Yes. We register through the local advisory council who send someone out to see what we've been up to every two years. Its a bit of a chat about what we've done and what we plan to do and a huge show and tell session... lots of photos to look at!!

Next question is usually "Do you have a teaching background?" Answer: No. Sometimes a parent will state "Oh I could never teach my child. We'd be a loggerheads all day. They just wouldn't want to learn from me". To that I usually say: "Me too". We are merely here to facilitate their learning. Help them access stuff they need to learn. Show them cool things that might inspire them, or just leave them alone and watch them out of the corner of one eye. They say that the average amount of time spent actually teaching in one day at a regular school is 1.5hrs. Of that, one on one time between student and teacher averages at just 8 minutes. Looking back at my schooling, I suppose that could be true, there was a bit of work done on standing in line, learning to sit still, keep quiet, speak when spoken to... I also remember that not much notice was taken as to HOW I learned. I'm a visual learner, remembering things as images and gaining my understanding through pictures. Often I'd take work home and Mum would explain it to me. In pictures. Or in a way I could visualise and understand. My parents were a great unschoolers. Simply removing the idea that they had to teach me (they already paid people loads to do that), and answering questions, providing opportunities for me to learn. Little did they know, most of the things that have stuck, I learned from them.

So our approach is to remove the word TEACH from our vocabulary. Instead we take the opportunity to watch them learn and find their way in the world... and they do.

If you feel like reading more, I rather enjoyed this article when I first happened upon it.


  1. Thanks for the link to that article - I hadn't read that one before.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your perspective on homeschooling and the thought has crossed my mind but at the same time a bit concerned I won't have prepared them adequately for highschool. Are you going to send your girls to highschool or can they still be homeschooled? I am a teacher and after going and teaching relief I have been frighten away from the whole classroom experience, so the figures you included although scary are very true, more time is spent disciplining rather than teaching which is sad for those who want to learn. Enjoy your experience learning with your girls and thanks for the article.

  3. Thoughtful and thought provoking. My children are asking for structure and lessons. Hmmm.

  4. I'm having this discussion with friends of my DH's at the moment. They just don't get that the distinction I'm trying to make between I don't teach my kids, I help them learn. Although I was interested in how one friend defined what made a good teacher - it was a subset of the things which make a good parent, in my opinion, because she was talking about having the skills to build a rapport with each child and understand how they learn so that you can tailor the way that you present information. So I'm not sure what she's worrying about really; I've been building that rapport since they were born :)

  5. That was fascinating, they only have 90 minutes of learning time at school, geesh. I'm happy for my 4 to go to school, as it is a great social, sport & educational experience for them, but we have always chosen schools carefully on small class sizes & excellent teachers (we move a lot with the Army). This year my year 6 has a class of 22, my year 3 twins have about 18 or 19 in their classes (different classes) & my year 1 boy has about 17. I have no idea how with undiagnosed behavioural problems of other students how a teacher with a larger class could manage anything. I hang around a bit, i'm the only mum who does, but it's fascinating to see the differences in behaviour, learning abilities & just down right good manners!! Working in the canteen is another eye opening experience. Very interesting work. I have 2 science degrees but work as a designer, but if we got sent somewhere crazy, i'd do home schooling for sure. I just love being with them & quite frankly, learning year 6 spelling again . . . flash backs!! Love Posie

  6. It's so important to look back at your childhood honestly... what do you remember, what do you remember fondly, what do you wish happened. I don't think you just accept that mainstream school is part of childhood. So many wonderful memories happened outside of school, usually with family and friends.

    And as for being a teacher, I am beginning to unlearn so much that I was taught at uni so I can learn naturally WITH my children at home. It's exciting!


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