There are almost as many ways to define homeschooling and unschooling as there are homeschooling and unschooling families. I call us undogmatic unschoolers because I’ve got to call us something–and it’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?–but it’s an imperfect term. Perhaps the best way to explain our take on learning (and living) is to let Flora take centre stage, as she is wont to do.
She was just a couple months short of six when this conversation took place, so nominally in grade one. Unschooled all her life, I suppose, although it was some time into the adventure that I first heard the term and met my first unschooling family.
But, without further ado, six-year-old Flora on our learning philosophy.
Setting: The chiropractor’s office. I’m in the little treatment room, and Flora’s just outside the door playing with the dollhouse, with my lovely chiropractor’s equally lovely receptionist. I can’t see what’s going on… but I can hear every word.
Flora: What’s this?
Receptionist: It’s a little desk, you know, for doing homework at.
Flora: What’s homework?
R: You know what homework is. It’s the stuff that teachers give you to work on at home.
Flora: Oh. I don’t go to school. I’m homeschooled.
R: Oh, that’s great. But you still have homework, right? Or do you finish all your work at school?
Flora: I just said, I don’t go to school.
R: Well, yes, but you have school at home, right? When your mom teaches you? And you do your work at a desk? Because otherwise, it’s just hanging out…
Flora: I do a lot of hanging out. With my brother, and with my friends, and with my mom and dad. And I play Heart dolls and pets, and I have a microscope, and I read books and do puzzles and crafts and stuff, and science experiments.
R: And you do some work at a desk.
Flora: I don’t understand why you’re obsessed with the desk.
On the way home, I mentioned that I had overheard her conversation and it seemed that the person she was talking with had a hard time understanding what homeschooling was really like.
Flora: Yeah, it was really hard to explain it to her. She seemed to think it had something to do with a desk. And I was like, no, I do all sorts of stuff. What does learning have to do with desks, anyway?
What does learning have to do with desks, anyway? What do you think?
WHAT LEARNING OUT OF DESKS LOOKS LIKE WHEN YOU DOCUMENT IT: Learning plans and progress reports