Thursday, October 01, 2009

Another Reason to Unschool

In July, Jonathan turned 13. One of the gifts he received from a friend was juggling balls and a homemade instructional DVD of his friend demonstrating and explaining some basic juggling moves. Jonathan was thrilled. He practiced diligently. He consulted his friend Eli for help whenever he got stuck, or whenever he was ready to learn a new trick.
He juggled for hours every day. He looked up juggling instructions on the internet. He invited Eli over more often than usual so they could juggle together. He brought his juggling balls along when we went places.

Eight weeks later - only eight weeks - he was good enough to be asked to juggle at a Renaissance Faire in Monroe, WI.

What does juggling have to do with unschooling? Unschooling means we help our children pursue their interests, we support them in their passions, we assist in whatever ways they need. And in doing so, our children learn. Juggling isn't listed in the "scope and sequence" section of any curriculum, I know, but anyone can see that he's learning many things in addition to juggling. He's researching, committing to a task, challenging himself, and setting goals for himself. He's reading about juggling, networking with other jugglers, and applying his juggling knowledge to real life situations.
Unschooling, really, means we live life fully, without worrying about all those schoolish terms above. But rest assured, all those schoolish things are happening, all the time. We just don't name them and quantify them and demand they happen in a specific order on a specific timeline.
If school were to teach juggling, it would be broken down into a easily-measured objectives. You might have to learn specific steps and do them in a specific way and a specific order, proving you've mastered each level before you can move on to the next. You might be tested on it to prove you've learned something. You might not get to touch the juggling balls during the first few lessons. You might only get to read about it, or use something easier to juggle like scarves that waft slowly through the air. Your juggling skills, or at least participation or attention to the lessons or willingness to cooperate, would be graded.
By that time, juggling has become very very un-fun.
Unschoolers just start juggling.
And sometimes, if they like it, they continue juggling and find themselves performing a juggling act on stage at a Renaissance Faire in front of strangers.

12 comments:

Kez said...

Well done to Jonathon! Totally agree with your post.

Joie said...

Wow! How cool is that?!?!! Congrats on learning how to juggle, and so quickly being able to perform your new skill on stage. That is quite a feat to accomplish.

Andrea said...

I worthwhile endeavor! And a fun one, too! I agree 100%.

debra said...

Kudos to Jonathan! years ago, my oldest daughter told me some amazing thing---maybe a fact, maybe how something worked, I don't remember. I asked her how she knew that. She looked at me like I was crazy, "I just do!" End of subject. And that is how that works.

Sandra Dodd said...

I would love to add this to my juggling page! There's an awesome story and video of Robyn Coburn's dad juggling there.
http://sandradodd.com/juggling

Pi said...

My dad taught juggling in PE at my old school!

Snavleys said...

So very cool! I actually did learn to juggle in school, lol. I took a circus class. Wild huh?

Jen said...

GO JONATHAN GO!

Chris said...

Way to go, Jonathan! That's awesome! :O) Wow, Laura...I can't believe how much older he looks since the last time we saw him! Our kids are growing up way too fast...

Hugs,
Chris

Wendy said...

Rock on!

Silvia said...

So awesome!! Will he offer any juggling lessons at UWWG??

Linda H. said...

This is really wonderful, explains it so perfectly.