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?

Medieval writing desk

What does learning have to do with desks, anyway? What do you think?


9 responses to “Philosophy

  1. (applause) her clarity. these moments are the mainstays for the ramble of throwing out the should-dos and unleashing the desire to simply do. your daughter was able to see through the broken record of such thinking – so cool.

  2. Thank for taking the time to laud her! (And for being the first comment on my new blog.)

  3. Pingback: Education and Schooling #6: This is Unschooling | sacraparental·

  4. I love Flora! Can she teach Isaiah a little something? Isaiah is sometimes embarassed to tell people he’s homeschooled. I don’t know how to help him with that. He get’s asked the same questions, but he doesn’t know how to answer them… I’m going to read this to him. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Education and Schooling #6: This is Unschooling | Sacraparental·

  6. I’ve just read this with my 9yo daughter – we started home/unschooling earlier this year. She says:

    That receptionist is crazy! Now I’ve quit school the only desk I’ve used is the playroom/library desk (I use it for craft, Littlest Petshops-ing (is that a word!?), and all sorts of art). l’m not sure if it even counts as a desk beause l think it’s just a table!?!?!?!?!?!… Anyhow, l think homeschooling is totally as much (if not more so) hanging out as it is WORK. l would have been driven crazy by that receptionist’s persistence about the desk thing. or table. Just WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Jane, I love your writing. And Flora, you nailed it.
    After I laughed aloud about the cleverness, I just read the entire conversation to my 4yo who looked at me like, “duh”, that’s so obvious (the learning in everything part).
    Then again, he may not know what a desk is, either… 😉
    Cheers from NZ! Rebecca

  8. I loved this. It reminds me of my five year olds responses to people’s questions about homeschooling. He tells them he doesn’t go to school he just does whatever he wants. At the moment I’m cleaning out our study/computer room/spinifex hopping mice room it’s a decent size room that links our loungeroom and kitchen/diner all 3 living rooms have our homeschool stuff in them. I’m thinking a lot about how and when my children use their desks or don’t use them. I want them to have a space they can leave ongoing projects, collections, half finished artworks (my daughters displayed artworks are starting to spread up ionto the ceiling), letters and other activities. We are together a lot in our living rooms when we are home and they don’t spend much time in their rooms alone so I guess it’s a spot for them each to keep their stuff and work on their ideas or activities out in the middle of the family space amongst the hussle and bustle of daily life…..that’s not going to have to get moved or packed away/disturbed and we still have space at the dining table and other surfaces. But I don’t want them to feel they have to work at their desks….anyway I’m just thinking out loud about my thoughts on desks in our home. Thanks for sharing

  9. Pingback: A passion for learning and for life: unschooling and worldschooling in practice (a NOT-BACK-TO-SCHOOL present) | Nothing By The Book·

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