Monday, 7 May 2012

Learning Autonomously!

Present from Australia.
I'm not a teacher.When I first started home schooling I worried I might not have the necessary qualifications. I read all the books I could about Home education including  John Holts How Children Learn, Dumbing us Down  by John Taylor Gatto, in fact every book I could get my hands on. I'd been thinking about it a while before an incident at school suddenly forced our decision to pull our son out of school so I had some idea of what Home education was about but nothing was prepared. New to the idea of self learning I initially thought I'd have to teach lessons. I bought a guide for each of the main subjects for KS2 and planned what we would do each day. I hadn't planned for oppositional defiant was a disaster. No wonder school didn't work. My son refused to write, went ballistic if you mentioned the word "sums" and it took half an hours argument to achieve five minutes work. I noticed in contrast that when watching a documentary about history or natural history my son would happily sit for an hour absorbing the information and would then tell his daddy all about it when he came home at tea time. It was a time of observation and learning. At the hardest times when I gave up trying, stopped worrying about my Local authority and took my son to the park I noticed him asking about the things he saw. We found ourselves talking about, politics, history, in fact anything we happened to come across. He didn't know he was learning and he was happy.
I began to discuss the post we received, the postal voting forms, the referendum, the census. We campaigned on local issues to our local MP and we started correspondence with a relative in Australia and another young lad with Aspergers in Bedfordshire. It was an eye opener.My son would ask questions about subjects we didn't think he knew anything about. He would tell us that he had read about it in a book we'd borrowed from the library or seen it on "The Simpsons". We often looked at one another in disbelief. Only the other day my husband told me that the computer programming my son is currently learning was stuff he himself learnt at university. My son is only eleven. He's not a genius, he has a "spiky profile" which means he's very strong on some subjects,less so on others but as with many Autistic children he has very specialised interests which can set him in good stead for the future and home education allows him to follow these interests. Here is an article I found today about autonomous education or unschooling ,as they call it in America. It's well worth reading!

The Innovative Educator: Why an innovative educator cares about homeschooling / unschooling and why you might too

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