Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Perpetual Field Trip

Unschooling, for us, is really just like one big field trip. We take our time in the mornings, but once we're up and out, we are on the go most of the time. There's just so much to see and do and so little time. It' s a big, wide world out there, and we don't want to miss a thing. I think that if my kids ever had to go to school, that would be the hardest part. Losing all those hours every day of doing what we want to do, when we want to do it.

Tonight we went to see the movie In the Shadow of the Moon. It's a documentary by Ron Howard on the Apollo missions to the moon. It's very well done. Charley, who's 6, only got squirrely at the end. The movie is made up of television footage of the various missions as well as commentary by the astronauts who went to the moon. Talk about science and social studies lessons! I whispered in the kids' ears throughout most of the film, reading captions and explaining historical figures and important events. We kept the conversation going the whole way home, through dinner, and into bedtime. I'm sure we'll pick it back up at breakfast tomorrow as well. President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, women's lib., the Civil Rights Movement. Test pilots, engineers, rockets, atmosphere, gravity. Phew. We've got a lot of material to cover. And it doesn't have to end because the bell rang or because the unit study is supposed to be over or because it's time to move on to the Renaissance. As long as it is interesting and fun, we'll keep on exploring, and we will all keep on learning. My kids and I have an unspoken contract in this life. I promise to never ask them to write a 5 paragraph essay on what they learned today. They promise to always let me know when they are done learning about something. It's that simple. Their cues aren't hard to miss.

As the credits rolled on the film, my friend and her sister packed up their things, while I asked the kids to help gather our trash as we inched down the aisle. Between my three and my friend's two kids, we were quite a sight, I'm sure. My friend's sister, not yet a parent, laughed as we followed them out of the theater, "Man, I feel like I've just chaperoned a field trip or something." Yep, that's pretty much it. Life is one big field trip.

I got the socialization question again the other day. "Aren't you worried about socialization if your kids aren't in school? How will they ever learn to be with other kids?" My answers? No. and: They will learn to be with other kids.... by being with other kids....in the world, not in a classroom! Tonight they learned to whisper in a darkened movie theater. They learned to pick up after themselves when the movie is over. They learned that the people behind you can't see when you prop your feet up on the seat in front of you. They learned that there is more money for popcorn when you bring drinks from home. They learned that movie theaters are often empty on school nights, and a whole lot more.

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