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Homeschool Fiction

Follow homeschoolers Nadia and Aidan as they travel the USA! Each book in this series explores a new state and a new research topic. Along with their parents and pet turtle, they find adventure and learning everywhere.

...and just what is that mysterious device of theirs?

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March 2008
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Topics: education,empowerment,homeschooling,Unschooling

School is the Bubble

I was recently reminded with the chaos regarding homeschooling legalities in California how many people have the misconception that homeschooling families are putting their children into artificial bubbles and not allowing them to be in the “real world”. Talking about this topic on an Unschooling list, a friend of mine, Kim, said,” And yes, people do think we keep our kids in a bubble. 😉 If they only realized that school is the bubble.”

That’s exactly it! School is the bubble.

Do you not think this is true?

  • Where else in the world are people put into groups of 15-40 people that are born within a 12 month time frame of them, shuffled into a room with only 1 adult to “supervise” for 6 or more hours a day?
  • Where else do you have to raise your hand to ask permission to use a toilet or to get a drink of water?
  • Where else are you not allowed to talk for hours and hours every single day, and if you slip up and do talk you are punished?
  • Where else are you considered (and called) stupid, unless you learn through books? [The majority of people on this planet do not learn best this way.]
  • Where else do you have to routinely put up with bullies, then no matter the resolution, go back for more the very next day? [The only similar environments that I can think in today’s world are prison and the military. There aren’t many people in prison that don’t deserve to be there, yet children all over the world are forced into this environment for their whole childhoods. As of today, there is no one in the military (in the U.S.) that didn’t volunteer to be there.]

There is no true socialization going on at school. In the classroom environment, the only talking friends get to do is covert. The kids don’t have time for real conversations while they pass from class to class. By the time lunchtime or recess roll around, they cram as much talking as possible into their limited time. Then, after school? Off to extra curricular activities or the school bus. Gone are the days of leisure walks and practically unlimited unstructured playdates. Unless, of course, the children aren’t being forced to go to school…

Just what is the real world? What is an average adult’s day like?

  • Do you have a snack when you are hungry (without having to wait hours)? Can you drink water?
  • Do you go to the bathroom when your body tells you it needs to?
  • If you have a question about your job, do you go and find someone to talk to, or do you keep it to yourself and pretend you already know the answers?
  • If you don’t know something, can you look it up? Interesting that using reference materials (or even other people’s knowledge) isn’t considered “cheating” in the real world.
  • If someone bullies you or harasses you in any way, you can call the police or a lawyer (or at least your boss). You never have to stand for it and you don’t have to be worried about being called a “tattle teller” if you tell others. Depending on what the bullying consisted of, the bully might actually get into real trouble for doing it.
  • If you urgently need to talk to your mother, you are allowed to call her on the telephone. You probably can even send her an e-mail or a text message.
  • If you feel sick, you can go to the bathroom to barf without asking for permission first. After, if you still feel sick, you can head home without asking for permission (although it’s generally polite to let others know your where-abouts).
  • You have the freedom to walk out of your job and quit whenever you want. Some people don’t think they have this freedom, but they do. You’ll be out the money from the job, but you won’t have truancy officers at your door.

What about classes and community outreach programs that are targeted at adults? How are those conducted differently than the school environment children are sent to?

  • For starters, the teachers are more like mentors or guides. They are there to spread their knowledge and excitement about a particular topic to individuals that have chosen to learn more about it.
  • They are very hands on and rarely have any homework and almost never have tests, yet those interested walk away from the class full of knowledge.
  • When people are learning in order to pass a test, they aren’t actually learning useful information. Why is “proof of knowledge” considered so important? Either you can do a job, or you can’t.
  • The people are usually encouraged to talk, roam about as needed (to get coffee or water, or use the bathroom), and generally get as comfortable as the environment allows.
  • Questions are encouraged at all times.
  • The people in the classes mill about before and after the class, socializing and talking about the topic at hand. They are excited to be there and share their own knowledge about what they know with the other people there.
  • Most importantly, the people in the class can leave at any time if they are uncomfortable or uninterested or don’t want to be there for any reason. This alone allows for more learning than classes where no one wants to be in attendance.

As Unschoolers, our children are not forced to attend any classes nor be in any environments they don’t want to be in. They strongly want to be at every class and club they are involved in. They behave properly and are interested in the subject matter the classes have. If they change their minds (as they have in the past) about the classes they are in, they quit them — just as they would if they were adults. We don’t put our children into artificial bubbles with schooled lives that are dissimilar to the real world. We do, however, consider our world to be a shiny happy bubble of fun and love and natural life long learning! We enjoy floating in it together through the world around us, picking up whatever strikes our fancies.