Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Unschooling - What About The Gaps?

I've been thinking lately, about unschooling, and the dangers of leaving gaps in my children's education. It's not so much, that I've been worrying, although I wouldn't be a homeschool parent, if I didn't occasionally worry, so much as I've been rolling thoughts around in my mind.

What will happen if the children fail to learn a skill now, that they might end up needing later on? Will the lack of that skill keep them from pursuing some later interest, or will they pick it up as they need it? What if it's something complicated like calculus, or physics? Will they be able to pick it up later?

Thoughts like these have been surfacing, and swirling through my "planning" for the fall. But, I had a breakthrough, recently, in the form of an experience, that has brought some peace, and reassurance to my mind.

It happened right before the 4th of July, while we were watching an early firework show. The fireworks were impressive, to north, but the real show was happening in the form of a moon rise to the east. We pulled out our spotting scope (what serves as a telescope in our house), and viewed the clear, beautiful surface of the moon. I have never seen the moon look bigger.

In fact, I was so impressed by the size of the moon on the horizon, that I snapped several quick shots of it.

Doesn't look too impressive - does it? That's because the large size of the moon, sun, or constellations, as seen on the horizon, is an optical illusion known, fittingly enough, as moon illusion. Your camera can't capture it.

But, I didn't know that. I'd never heard of moon illusion before, or if I had, I'd completely forgotten about it.

I set out to discover what was going on, and found that scientists don't really know what is going on. There are a few different theories, you can find them by Googling "moon illusion". I would love to explain them to you, but just reading the explanations gives me a headache. In fact, it was while holding my head, knee deep in one particularly wordy theory for moon illusion, that I realized the truth.

I don't have enough math, or science background to make proper sense of it. Not that I won't try to wade through all the theories, anyway. I'd love to know if it's the same illusion that makes the mountains, I look at every morning, appear to move, depending on where I am in town. But, I doubt I'll be able to figure it out. There is a gap in my education, that is keeping me from finding an answer I would like to find. I will probably never win any scientific awards for solving this particular puzzle.

I went to both public, and private schools. I have a college degree. And, yet I don't know everything (gasp, I know). I don't even know everything I'd like to know.

So, back to the question of will unschooling leave gaps in my children's education - probably. Will those gaps keep them from pursuing later interests - possibly. Will sending them off to be educated by professionals solve this problem - apparently not.

And, just in case this wordy post wasn't enough for you, this morning, I'm also guest posting today at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn, on the topic of homeschooling multiple ages at once. If you pop over there, be sure to check out the rest of Debbie's blog. On her second time around homeschooling, she has some very helpful insights.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

You're so right, no one education can cover all the holes. And as I recall you have a list of different things you are trying to cover to make sure there's no obvious holes.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Yes, I use Rebecca Rupp's Homeschooling Year By Year, but occassionally I still panic :)

Unknown said...

Ya know, I sure hope you participate in the "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop! You have SO MUCH to offer all us homeschooling "newbies!"

Ticia said...

I might pick that up to be able to reassure Jeff.

Lady Chadwick said...

I love that story! I often wonder about folk who say they can't homeschool because they can't do 5th grade math...Didn't they go to the same school that is now supposed to be teaching their kids what it failed to teach them?

I figure so long as we cover the basics, the kids will pick up the rest. And most importantly if we keep helping them learn whatever they want, they will not forget, or be so rusty as adults (I know I find learning a chore sometimes, they don't)

Marsha said...

I'm almost positive there will be gaps in my kids' educations, just like there were in mine. But I feel like I'm giving them the tools to find out on their own what they don't know. They know how to question and investigate and are becoming great independent learners. Whoo hoo!

Christy Killoran said...

I am not exclusively homeschooling. I say that because my children attend public school, but we also do a lot of learning at home. Anyway, I think this post is fantastic and so true. There is so much I don't know that I would love to know. Even with my children in school and doing some different types of learning at home, I worry about what they will miss. I worry about the fact that grammar and math are taught differently today. I worry about the curriculum they use. I worry too much. Great post.

Kylie said...

Thank you for this post and your guest post over at Debbie's.

Please keep thoughts and insights like these coming. I'm not sure if you read myblog, but I have been struggling to find some balance between more traditional schooling and some kind of unschooling. You are inspiring. :-)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Very interesting post. I agree with what Christy has to say - in the current age of information overload it's not possible to know everything. What I've been thinking about lately is how the knowledge that I used to have has completely evaporated from my head once the tests were done and grades were given. I was a straight A student in a gifted school, and now I am appalled to discover how little I retained from all these years. Moreover, certain topics were so branded as "boring" in my mind that I am probably less inclined to return to them than someone who approached them from "wish to know" rather than "have to learn for the next test" angle.

Marilia said...

I always wonder why schools won´t teach us much of Astronomy and how ancient cultures were much more "in the know" of natural events.

We surely can fill in the gaps of what we see is missing in traditional edutacion. And we surelly leave some gaps as well. It´s just great anyway to be aware of what you want your kids to learn.

I just found your blog and I really like it!

Anonymous said...

When homeschooling, one can CHOOSE the gaps. That's a blessing. :)