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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


A reporter from Chicago Tribune is doing an article on unschooling and asked me a few questions via email. After he was finished with me, he asked the kids a few questions. I got a kick out of their answers:

~"1-First, how do you feel about the way you are being educated?"

Sierra (8): Good. Because I can do whatever I want and I don't have to raise my hand to ask someone something. I've never tried school so I don't know about that, but it sounds boring.

Jared (12): It's better because I don't get a bunch of tests that determine how smart I am.

Trevor (16): I definitely like it.

~"2-Assuming you like it, what is best about it?"

Sierra (8): Being free and learning my own way.

Jared (12): I don't have to sit in class all day and I get to do what I like.

Trevor (16): The freedom of choice.

~"3-Do friends of your's who go to regular schools ever talk about what you are experiencing? If so what do they think?"

Sierra (8): They think it's really cool that I'm homeschooled and they want to be homeschooled too.

Jared (12): They think it's cool and they want to be unschooled.

Trevor (16): They always beg me to ask my Mom to get their Moms to unschool also.

~"4-What do you like best, ie what interests you the most?"

Sierra (8): Sewing clothes, learning about dinosaurs, swimming, building, styling hair, makeup, cooking, gymnastics, hiking, camping, gardening, making inventions, doing art, trading ATC's, I like playing games, playing dress-up, designing clothes, learning stuff about the computer, going to museums, biking, listening to music, playing volleyball and tennis, learning about wolves and answering questions like these ones.

Jared (12): Computers, art, learning about Japan, Japanese culture, anime, video gaming, rock collecting and dragons, playing Dungeons and Dragons,Magic the Gathering and chess.

Trevor (16): History of wars, weaponry technology, computer technology (building computers, HTML coding, program modification) video gaming, anime, Japanese culture and language, paintball, rollerblading, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering and other games.

~"5-What do you think you want to do withh your future education?"

Sierra (8): I want to go to college, it sounds like fun.

Jared (12): I'm 12, I shouldn't have to know yet.

Trevor (16): I haven't thought about it a whole lot yet, but I'm considering taking a couple classes at community college in the next couple years.

~"6-Do you have any goals for a career?"

Sierra: Maybe doing building (consruction), become a chef ("I LOVE cooking"), being a hair stylist and designing clothes. I might do all four of them, but I don't know yet.

Jared: Producing video games.

Trevor: Something in technology; maybe computer repair.

On question number 3, I had to laugh. ALL of their schooled friends were jealous of them. I remember one night when Shai was hanging out at our house and asked me a question. "What is the tallest waterfall in the world" she wanted to know. I guessed Angel Falls but looked it up online to be sure. It was indeed Angel Falls. I told her where it was and explained how tall...she was SO bummed out. Apparently they had a contest at school where the kids had to answer the question and they got put into a drawing. She had answered "Niagara" and was sad since it wasn't the right answer.

Well, one thing led to another and I grabbed some of our huge paper rolls and laid out a long sheet across the floor. I think our scale was 1"-10 feet or something? Anyway, we marked out Angel Falls vs. Niagara (not so tall, but huge in volume). Then we looked up some famous buildings they were curious about comparing. We laid out taller things until the paper wasn't big enough. Then we traipsed outside and laid out Mt. Everest in the same scale, on the sidewalk. They were in awe! It was pretty cool.
Shai remarked "OH, now I see how learning can be fun!!!"

That made me feel very sad for all the children being convinced on a daily basis that learning sucks. Learning is forced upon them (though they don't even realize it isn't REAL learning) until they see only drudgery, no joy. Real learning happens because we want information. Like seeing how big Angel Falls is compared to the Sears tower and the Empire state building and Mt. Everest. One more piece in the puzzle of the whole-wide-universe for them. No lesson, no test, no grade. Just curiosity, some paper and an interested adult to assist.:)


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