Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Social Studies Lesson

They've made an American Girl doll from the 70s. I asked Janey if the doll (named Julie) was wearing funny clothes and she said, "No, they pretty much look like the ones we wear today." The girls brought the new catalog into my bedroom this morning and I had to laugh out loud. Janey was right. The bell bottoms and striped turtleneck and braided belt looked pretty much like what hippies around our town are wearing today. The best part of the Julie doll, though, is her bedroom. She's got an orange shag carpet, beads hanging from the ceiling, and a little mini record player that plays 45s. The girls were envious. It's so funny to me that my childhood is now history, or historical at least, in the eyes of my children.

As we laid in bed this morning perusing the catalog together, we talked about the various times in history that the dolls are from. Samantha is from the early 1900s. Felicity is from the late 1700s. The clothing and accessories attempt to recreate what young girls' lives may have been like at the time. A Social Studies lesson, if I've ever seen one. This is what I love about unschooling. No lesson prep. No homework. No moans and groans about how boooring it all is.

Tonight at dinner, Janey explained that she wanted to drop her dance class. She likes the teacher and thinks the class is fun, but felt strongly that there are other things she would rather do during that time. The kids mentioned one or two friends that didn't have the option of choosing a class for themselves. "I don't get it," Janey commented. "Why would their parents say the had to take a particular class? What's the point?" I began to explain that some families need their kids to be occupied for certain hours of the day, and that some parents have strong feelings about the classes their children take. The look on my kids' faces were priceless. It just didn't compute. Kind of like the time we read the book about cartoon cows that unknowingly dress up like bank robbers and hold up a bank. I thought the book was hilarious (Minnie and Moo: Wanted Dead or Alive, by Denys Cazet) but the kids were confused. As soon as I clued in and realized that they didn't get the whole bank robber theme, I tried to explain the humor (wanted posters, passing the teller a note, bazookas) as we read, but it just wasn't as funny anymore. If you have no frame of reference, it doesn't make any sense.

I'm grateful that my kids have no frame of reference for compulsory education. I love that if something's not working for them they are not afraid to speak up and make a change. This is something that as an adult, I have struggled with until very recently. Later in the day, I asked Janey if she was nervous about letting her dance teacher know that she wouldn't be continuing in the class. She looked at me and snorted, "No, why would I be?" I smiled to myself. I'm learning a lot from these kids of mine.

1 comment:

Christy said...

My son is like that when I tried to explain time outs and punishment, he just can't fathom why people live that way. And he didn't find the Captain Underpants books funny at all since he doesn't have the school reference to draw from.