Yesterday I started reading Seth Godin’s manifesto (or “rant” as he calls it) on education, “Stop Stealing Dreams”. The link to it is here.
So far, and I’m only a few pages in, my two favorite quotes are:
Culture changes to match the economy, not the other way around. The economy needed an institution that would churn out compliant workers, so we built it. Factories didn’t happen because there were schools; schools happened because there were factories.
The reason so many people grow up to look for a job is that the economy has needed people who would grow up to look for a job.
Jobs were invented before workers were invented.
In the post-job universe, workers aren’t really what we need more of, but schools remain focused on yesterday’s needs.
And then this:
Here are a dozen ways school can be rethought:
Homework during the day, lectures at night
Open book, open note, all the time
Access to any course, anywhere in the world
Precise, focused instruction instead of mass, generalized instruction
The end of multiple-choice exams
Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement
The end of compliance as an outcome
Cooperation instead of isolation
Amplification of outlying students, teachers, and ideas
Transformation of the role of the teacher
Lifelong learning, earlier work
Death of the nearly famous college
I like this last part especially, and it occured to me that except for “homework during the day and lectures at night” these ideas are all applicable to unschooling.
Open book, open note, all the time? Well, of course. Unschoolers know where to go to find answers. Their whole learning process is “open book”.
Access to any course, anywhere in the world? Check. If interested, my kids can access a multitude of online courses or information from just about anywhere.
Precise focused instruction? You might think that since unschoolers learn without following a curriculum or particular course of study that this doesn’t apply. But in fact all unschoolers (or at least all the unschoolers I’ve met) learn in a very precise and focused way, whether it is on their own or with another person or teacher. There is no mass generalized instruction when it comes to unschooling. It is the very definition of individual learning.
The end of multiple choice exams? Done. (Ok, except for those pesky bi-yearly tests that NYS requires. I’d happily get rid of those as well.)
Experience instead of test scores as a measure of achievement? Experience is the only measure of achievement for most unschoolers. In fact, unschoolers I know who did choose to go to college put together a portfolio of their experiences in lieu of transcripts. The result? Universities clamored to have them.
The end of compliance as an outcome? This one makes me laugh, because unschoolers are nothing if not independent and generally speaking, non-conformist.
Cooperation instead of isolation? You bet. Instead of being isolated within concrete walls, unschoolers are in the world, among its’ rhythms, finding ways to learn and cooperate with those around them.
Amplification of outlying students, teachers & ideas? I had to think about this one, but I do believe it applies in the world of unschooling. Unschooled children don’t have prejudices against things and people that are ‘outside the box’. They are often baffled that someone would do something ‘because everyone else is doing it’. They are outliers, in many cases.
Transformation of the role of teacher? Enter the unschooling parent, who does not teach, but facilitates. Who does not demand, but leads, encourages and guides. (At least, on our good days.)
Lifelong learning, earlier work? My 11 year old has an Etsy shop and is doing online research for her Dad. I know unschoolers who are amazing musicians, others who teach writing seminars and still others who intern at theatre companies. None of them are older than 17.
Death of the nearly famous college? It remains to be seen, but with more and more emphasis on self-directed learning and its’ results, in books like Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires and Blake Boles’ Better than College, and through resources like Dale Stephens’ Uncollege, I think we’re getting there.
So there you have it. The 12 (11) ways school can be re-thought are already being practiced by unschoolers, on their own, succesfully. It’s not just a theory. It works.