When you’re a homeschooler, and you have the opportunity to hear Kerry McDonald speak about “raising curious, well-educated children outside the conventional classroom,” you take it. Thanks to School Choice New Hampshire, I received this opportunity during Kerry’s book launch. I went in expecting to hear about her new book Unschooled, but what I did not expect, was the education, inspiration, and camaraderie we also experienced.
Kerry’s dynamic presentation on the origins of unschooling brought us all the way back to John Locke in 1693 and his look at education. “For a child will learn three times as much when he is in tune, as he will with double the time and pains when he goes awkwardly or is dragged unwillingly to it.” Many heads in the audience nodded along as we thought of our own children passionately pursuing their interests of dinosaurs, martial arts, technology, or baking. Children are tireless devourers of knowledge when they find a topic they are inspired by. In fact, we all are when we find an idea we want to know more about or a hobby we wish to tackle. The information age is an incredible time to be a homeschooler, and an unschooler.
As Kerry traced her own journey of choosing unschooling, it was becoming clearer to the audience how we could begin to trust our children and follow them along their educational process. Trust is an integral part of the unschool relationship. We want our children to have a good education, but what does that mean? Each family, each person, defines a “good education” differently. To one family a “good education” may mean college readiness, while to another it may mean rigorous classical training, and another may believe it is an education that leads to a functional adult. Unschooling can be all of those ideas, or it can be none of them. When we provide a rich environment for our children to explore ideas and interests, and we trust them to follow their natural path of curiosity and education, incredible lessons are learned by everyone involved.
If the rest of Kerry’s book is anything like her presentation, a new wave of education is on the horizon; and it is complete with trusted children, free of coercion, and open to a world of possibilities. If you have not already, please find yourself a copy of this book and read it with an open mind and heart. Even if you cannot fully subscribe to unschooling, you will relearn how to love learning for the sake of learning.
by Kitty Michelotti