Today I’m joined by my best friend Jessica from Jitterberry as part of a mini series ‘Life Without School | Real Families’. I hope this inspires you!
I am so excited to be here sharing with you all today! I’m a mum to two brilliant girls who are five and two. My five year old is a motivated, tenacious learner who would be in her first year of full time schooling this year. But isn’t. Instead she is continuing along in the same way she has since birth. But when people are introduced to our life through our five year old, they look at me a bit like I’ve just fast forwarded through a cooking show to the “here’s one I prepared earlier” part.
Although I am there to support her, she spends her days pursuing interesting things and demonstrating her knowledge creatively with a lot of independence, she’s living and learning in a way people can see and can possibly even imagine for their own children as they get older too but can’t quite figure out how we got here. What came before?
And I was going to talk to you about how our life looks for our two year old when I realised, it doesn’t actually look all that different at all.
And the way that I support them is more differentiated by personality than age. The focus needs to be flipped in the opposite direction. You see, my children were born ready for this lifestyle, it is me who has had to catch up!
Understanding what a life looks like without school comes largely through introspection and reflection and unpacking all of the assumptions one has absorbed into their world view without much further consideration. The biggest being that the most valuable learning happens inside of a specific place at a specific time under specific guidance from specific people. But does it?
Even if a child does go to school they are learning things from their parents influence, from that of their community beyond the school gates, from their interactions with the world and everything within it, from reading, from watching, from doing, from creating, from their own bodies and minds! And certainly much is learned before one begins school and afterwards too. Your life is a product of all this learning and learning is a product of your life.
But what of that which is learned through schooling? That’s obviously helped you in many ways during your life, I’m told I use algebra everyday as an example. And yet, my brain doesn’t seem to understand this – it doesn’t file these experiences under algebra, it doesn’t relate whatever algebra I might be doing to what happened with algebra at school, it relates it to all the times I have used it before. And it stays current and accessible because of this use.
I can’t remember when I first used algebra but from watching my children, I’m going to guess it was long before it ever came onto my radar packaged in the way school presented it. You see I’ve seen my five year old use basic algebra to figure something out. Not because she was asked to, not because she was forced to, not because she’s some rare genius but because her want dictated a need to. And she had the time and freedom to follow it.
In the future, she might have a need to learn more formalised algebra say to pursue a certain career but I trust that that need will motivate her to do so willingly and having the knowledge of ways she has already been using similar processes gives such a meaningful place to work from. It allows her brain the space to make natural connections between all the things she is learning, it isn’t filed arbitrarily under disconnected subjects dictated by another and that make it much simpler to continue to thread things into this personal web and much easier to access this learning as required in the future.
Our life might be a turning away from school and some might take that to be a turning away from learning. But it is the opposite, it is an embracing of learning, in all its forms, from all its sources. Learning is not a recipe but a buffet of rich and fascinating options. Your child can already see it, they are already experiencing it with all of their senses – let them first show you the way, then dedicate your time with them to continually topping it up with new and exciting dishes to taste of. And you will find yourself joining them with curiosity and joy.
Thank you for reading!