Our friend Andrea sent me this link:
NPR published a story written by Sam Fuller from Albany, California, who is unschooled. (Actually, I don’t know if what is written is a transcript from an interview or a piece written for the NPR site..) Sam, who is 16, gives the basics of what unschooling is and explains why his mother, who was a teacher, chose it. What I enjoyed most was his comment about his 12 year old brother who is currently ‘between interests’ and having to deal with boredom. Sam said, “I had a similar problem when I was his age. It’s part of growing up unschooled. We don’t have as much pressure from school and friends telling us what to like, so it’s our responsibility to figure out how to spend our time.” I love that. People are so afraid that their kids won’t have any ‘direction’ or won’t know what to do with themselves that they go overboard with the planned and organized activities. Sometimes, though, the best way out is through. I can say that we have definitely experienced the phenomena of being ‘between interests’, but until I read Sam’s article, I’d never heard it expressed that way. This figuring out how to spend time thing can be tricky, but what a gift when you finally learn to do it.
Right now I can imagine the looks of horror on many of the people I know – some who are homeschooling parents and some parents of schooled children. “But between interests? Doesn’t that mean they are just sitting around doing nothing?!” It’s a pretty telling thing about our culture that we have an almost visceral reaction to the idea of ‘doing nothing’, as though it is the worst kind of sin. We spend more hours at work and in school than most other countries, and yet we lag behind in skills and tests of intellect. Maybe what we need is not more, but less. I often get my best ideas when doing nothing. Which then leads to a great something. The same is true of my kids, although they don’t always recognize it. They are at their most creative on a ‘boring’ day. (Boring meaning no definite plan.)
So thank you Sam Fuller, for giving me a fresh outlook on those times when nothing seems to be working; when no outing sounds good, no class appeals and the hours stretch out in front of us. This, too, is part of life learning. One of the really good parts.