The New School of Unschool

The concept of child led learning where their interests determine the direction of their education. So if the kid likes boats. You take them for a ride in the ocean and do your best to surround them with opportunities to delve deeper into their natural inclinations.

Still very controversial as a method of teaching, but one that I am leaning more towards. Along with a healthy foundation that emphasizes what are considered soft skills in our world today like empathy, compassion and respect. A strong set of coping mechanisms. The ability to co-exist peacefully with others and find value in developing meaningful relationships. Tolerance. Curiosity. A love of learning. And a path to discover oneself, as the first step in figuring out what to do with this wonderful thing called life. Backed by experience, knowledge, motivation and drive gained over time that will help you achieve those goals and be happy. Trusting in yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Something I myself am just learning how to do.

My husband shared a story about a friend today. Their 5-year-old is in a top notch program in New York and has been placed in the special needs track because she doesn’t read or speak fast enough.

Not that she can’t read or speak.

It’s just not fast enough.

The same school gave his 7-year-old son a math assignment with problems too advanced for the age with the explanation that it was to show the kids that they will not always succeed at things in life. If the child somehow managed to solve the assignment, they had to create a proof model that showed how they came to the conclusion to justify their answers.

What in the actual fuck.

Not to mention underpaid overworked teachers. Government mandated thresholds for achievement that directly impact funding. Kids going hungry because they can’t afford to eat. It’s a business that no longer has anything to do with the well-being and intellectual advancement of our children.

It makes me sad.

For all the kids out there that don’t fit the perfect student mold. The one that learns in the exact way things are taught in the exact timeframe with which the material is expected to be learned. The one who completes coursework in such a way that it accurately reflects their capabilities across a wide variety of disparate subjects. The one who takes tests that are completely indicative of how well they’ve grasped the material.

Like robots.

And let’s not even get into the over diagnosis of learning disabilities and mental disorders and the rampant use of prescription drugs in children and teens.

With my son at the fanciest hippie school in the country, I am still on the search for something more. And maybe today, I found it. After speaking with a woman who runs a small school in a tiny beach town in southern Ecuador, I felt a sense of synchronicity. That maybe this is a sign. She’s a yoga teacher and two out of the other three teachers are, as well. They practice mindfulness and surf. Montessori based curriculum. A focus on nature. Projects and themes. No worksheets allowed.

Holistic learning to develop the full self, is how she put their philosophy.

It’s a leap of faith. But one that we may just be ready to make. As we dip our toes deeper and deeper into our journey, what my husband and I have both realized is that all the way in is the only way. The little baby steps we take along the way becoming placeholders in time. With the giant ones taking us to levels of success we never imagined possible. Because it takes breaking out of that box in significant and uncomfortable ways to change your stars. Leaving convention completely behind and following our hearts to a tiny hippie town with dirt roads and a smattering of tiendas.

As we approach my due date, we have a lot to look forward to. Our new daughter, as well as the continued crafting of our existence to create the most awesome life possible for ourselves and our kids. A far way from where we came from. But closer to something else than ever before.

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