Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Life, Unschooled

I realized the other day that this started out to be my unschooling blog, but that I rarely write about unschooling anymore as a subject. Come to think of it, I don't really think about it that much either. Rather, as time has gone by, it has gotten more and more normal just to live our lives - all four of us in this family - pursue our passions, and not really think that much about schooling in any sense. When the kids are younger and unschooling is newer as a concept, I think there's a tendency to be on the lookout for times that "learning" is occurring, to maybe have some anxiety that the right kinds of learning will occur by the right magic milestones, and to make sure to provide the right kinds of educational opportunities. As the years roll by though, it becomes plainly evident that such vigilance isn't needed. The kids are always busy, always pursuing so many different and exciting opportunities, learning becomes self-evident and not something to be chased in circles like a dog with its tail.

But since I know a lot of folks read this blog who are in various stages of unschooling, beginning to unschool, thinking about unschooling, or thinking unschooling is just plain crazy, maybe its time for a little update on how all of that works now that the kids are (ulp!) 12 and 9.

So here's what we've been up to lately. Firstly, robotics is still on the front stage since the team is going to the State competition in 10 days. So that means team practices for about 5 or so hours a week. Plus, Mackenzie has been working on one really tough program and spending extra hours on that. He put in three hours today on that program alone, and with the help of team member Tiff they finally got it completely debugged and working perfectly. Since this program uses variables, timers, loops, sensors, sub-routines and case statements, it's easily the most complex single program they've ever attempted. It's cool to watch the kids get completely involved in something and really work through the tough spots until its all puzzled out.

Speaking of hard work and fun, Asa had a great time in the musical production of Scrooge this December. She played Martha Cratchit, and can be seen here singing her heart out (far right) over Scrooge's coffin. Interestingly, that's exactly the part I played in a version called "Ebenezer" when I acted as a teenager. For this spring, she just auditioned for the musical version of Beauty and the Beast and she will be playing the part of Chip, the little teacup. There's nothing she loves more than singing, dancing, acting, and hanging out with other folks who love those things so the world of theatre is right up her alley. She can also be heard rocking out with her new Karaoke machine (thanks Santa) at all hours of the day, and has asked me more than once how old she has to be to audition for American Idol. She's got a gorgeous voice, so I wouldn't put it past her someday.

Mackenzie is more of the quiet and introverted type, so theatre is not for him, but he got a bow for his birthday from his Uncle Nickrooz and Aunty Meese and has really been enjoying using that at the archery range that Wayne set up down near the creek. When bad weather strikes, he's usually curled up with a book and a cat, or else playing D&D with friends, WoW, Chess, building Lego inventions, or his own game inventions. He recently approached me with an idea for a book that knocked my socks off, and he and I will be working on that together.

One extremely happy development in having older kids is that they have gotten inspired to try some cooking. Asa checked out a kids' cookbook from the library and has so far made guacamole (really good!) and her own sushi. The first attempt at sushi didn't go so well (a couple of forgotten ingredients didn't help) but this time around was delicious! I'm looking forward to more of her culinary adventures. Wayne has started baking bread for the family and he and Mackenzie made Cinnamon rolls for Christmas Eve. Yummmm.

And as for the rest of our time, there's always gardening, long walks, family game nights, karate, trips to the library, the art and science museums, plays, concerts, reading books together, hanging out with our 15 animals, and lots of other fun stuff. In other words, just living life together and learning along the way. Life, Unschooled.


New Unschooler said...

Totally great post. Really enjoyable. I hope your son will be willing to share an excerpt of his book, when it's ready. :D

Tri Mom said...

What an interesting post to read. Makes me think more about unschooling. It was also nice to read another blog entry outside of the tri world. Thanks Robin!