Life Under the Apple Tree

Thinking Out Loud

Life Is Open Book

with one comment

I’ve secretly been waiting for this day. We are six years into homeschooling, Andrea is thirteen, and she wants to “take tests and prove that unschoolers are smart.”

The schooled person in me is cheering: My patience and trust have paid off! I knew that if I didn’t force the issue, her curiosity, determination, and intelligence would take root and her desire to learn would grow naturally. She’d eventually want to know what “school” was about, and she’d want to prove that she could do it.

School Days

It’s not that she has no idea what school is about. Andrea attended preschool, kindergarten, and first grade before we pulled her out. She has strong, but largely unpleasant memories of her experiences. So we deschooled (unschooled) for the first year, until I became afraid of doing “nothing,” and we did “school at home” for the next three years. We did lessons and we loosely followed a curriculum. Andrea took a couple standardized tests and she did well on them. Last year, however, we decided to go back to unschooling.

Regurgitation vs. Self-Determination

Now Andrea is asking for workbooks. There are a couple things that I’d like to prove if she truly decides to go through with this an endeavor. (I have a box of books on order.) First, that she possesses a lot of knowledge already, without having sat in a classroom. Second, that nearly everything else can be easily learned or looked up.

Classroom memorization and test-taking prove little. You can forget the information the following week and never use it again in your life, and it doesn’t matter, because eventually you build up a documented history of good grades that supposedly “prove” that you are “smart,” regardless of what knowledge you actually use or remember. Tests merely show that you are good at memorization and regurgitation, if you are lucky to be good at those things.

Real Life

Life itself is an “open book test.” What you need to know once you get out of school and into “the real world” (where homeschoolers already are!) is how to find answers to your own questions. You need to know how to think critically, how to figure things out, and how to question everything. If you can’t figure something out or develop a skill on your own, you need to know how to look up the information, or find someone who can help you. As a result of acquiring this self-knowledge, and these real-world skills, you gain lasting knowledge because you’ve sought it for your own practical use and for your own reasons.

The Most Important Lesson

Andrea wants to prove that she can do the same things that school kids do, but without going to school. I hope that in pursuit of that goal she learns the most important lesson of all — that she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, except herself. I hope she learns that life is open book, and that she is the author of her own story.

“The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot LEARN.” ~Alvin Toffler


Written by cherapple

12 October, 2009 at 8:42 am

One Response

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  1. Great post Cheryl! Sounds like your daughter is going through something that many homeschool kids (and others) go through around her age: wanting to be tested by going to school, taking on a big endeavor, or literally taking academic tests.

    I think the urge is a wonderful, healthy thing. Keep us posted on how things go!


    Eli Gerzon

    12 October, 2009 at 11:44 am

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