When researching unschooling and homeschooling before taking our son out of the school system, I felt more than a little divorced from the communities out there.
I know that there are many other fathers who are also involved in and care deeply about their children’s education, but they are almost non-existent in the blogosphere. Instead, most of the sites that I found myself reading were written by mothers who were often homeschooling young children. I felt doubly odd – not only am I male, our son is thirteen, not six.
This is my very small effort to redress that seeming imbalance.
My wife is also actively involved in our son’s education, but for this effort at unschooling him, I am the primary driver as she is fearful that it will result in him not being able to enter a good university – so this blog is primarily written from my perspective.
I am a father who works in technology and every day sees the real impact that it is having on the world around us, and also sees that it is having next to no impact on our classrooms. When our son’s school back in Australia introduced laptops for every child I spoke to the Department of Education representative at the launch event about their plans for introducing computer based testing for the end of school/university entrance exams – after all, what is the point of teaching them to type, giving them laptops, and then assessing them by having them write a three hour essay with a pencil, and requiring excellent handwriting for it? – I just got a shocked look and an answer of ‘None’.
I simply cannot fathom that lack of foresight and vision.
After that encounter we thought long and hard about our options and three years later made the jump to unschooling.
We have chosen to refer to our approach as unschooling, rather than homeschooling, for a number of reasons. We want to distinguish ourselves clearly from the many people who are homeschooling as a result of religious and/or political beliefs. We also strongly believe that our son should be spending his time learning how to learn and building a love of learning, rather than following a particular curriculum – a more unschooled approach than standard homeschooling.
That said, we are not radical unschoolers and we do provide structure to our son’s learning.
We take advantage of everything that technology and the world can provide us.
We moved to Taiwan from Australia so that our son could learn Chinese in a native environment, not just the language, but also the culture. He is a huge fan of everything on offer from Khan Academy, regularly takes courses of interest and courses that extend him into new areas on both Coursera and EDx, studies coding on Codecademy, works on his maths skills using both Khan and Mathletics and variety of other tools, resources and people.
I hope that my thoughts and ramblings may help some of you out there to perhaps feel slightly less alone or maybe a little more secure in making the jump to building a more active and better future for your children by freeing them from the constraints of school.