Just a really quick post today. I’m not going to flesh it out or even over-think it but I wonder…

Do we (students and parents) more fully appreciate the value of natural learning once we have experienced the force feeding of academics? In fact, is it a prerequisite to fully appreciating the beauty of natural learning?

When we first started the home based learning journey, we started with a school-at-home approach. That is what I knew so I tried to reproduce it. As is often par for the course, I started studying educational philosophies and learned about unschooling and natural learning. As I learned concepts and heard ideas I shared them with the girls. They embraced the notion of Natural Learning very well and to this day are still self directed, natural learners.

We decided not to use the same approach with the boys, allowing them the freedom to learn naturally, preferring to focus more heavily on training their character and life skills. We knew there would come a time when academics would need to become of greater importance- we weren’t dissing it, rather trying to balance it in a wholistic way. I’ll admit, it wasn’t (or isn’t) an easy task to teach the boys self direction or self discipline. Even at their ages, it is constant. Periodically I raise the bar with regard to their academic requirements. Just recently I have been motivated to raise the bar much higher, to the extent that the workload is quite confronting for them.

They boys grew up with natural learning and unschooling being a part of their lives. This rigorous season of academics is something new to them. You might think they are bucking against it, but they aren’t. Not at all. In fact, Master J and I had a great discussion recently on the human brain and its capabilities. We spoke about how we learn and how revision is so important. Bearing in mind that most young people change their minds about career choices (as they should- it’s all part of learning about new interests and discovering new experiences) he exclaimed that he might want to be a doctor! Previously he has shied away from things requiring so much academic disciplne because he didn’t think he  was able to achieve. But I’ve changed a few things in the home and this change in attitude and thought has been one of the results. (I hope it continues!)

Getting back to my point… Master J has had a lightbulb moment! He says that he can see the value in delight-directed education and the value of academics and trying hard. Prior to this season, he hasn’t really appreciated his [natural learning/unschooling] childhood to this extent… I wonder if it is because he has also experienced the rigors of academic study.

What do you think? What is your experience?