I like to hear different perspectives on parenting — sometimes I am enlightened and other times I am left shaking my head. After reading an article by Joanne Rendell titled "Unschooling — Why my kid won't attend school this fall - or maybe ever", I was puzzled. An author married to a college professor, the two New York City dwelling parents decided not to send their five-year-old son, Benny, to Kindergarten for various reasons. Simply stated:
Unschoolers believe in letting a kid's curiosity, interests and natural hunger for knowledge guide their learning. . . But un-kindergarten for us means Benny can sleep late so I can write. It means we don't have to worry about bedtimes and can go out on the town with friends any night of the week. We can go to Europe and visit my family when the flights are cheap. Un-kindergarten also means we can pick and choose how we spend our days and who we spend them with. Benny can go to free classes at the Metropolitan Museum in the week when it's less crowded. He can read a book on sharks when he feels like it. He can experiment with bungee cords while eating his breakfast at noon.
As a mother and former teacher, my knee jerk reaction was to question the author's sanity and values. But as I try to do with most things in life, I looked at it from a different perspective and pondered her arguments for unschooling. While I still don't particularly agree with her notion of keeping her child up until midnight, letting him sleep until noon, taking him to bars and flicks like Juno, there are some valid lessons that I am sure he is learning through her "teaching" process. But what she described above sounds like the perfect weekend. Surely Benny could take advantage of schooling during the week while soaking up valuable family and exploratory time on Saturdays and Sundays.
How the child will adjust to "normal" life after a few years of home unschooling is yet to be determined. That is where I fear the tot could encounter his biggest challenges as sleeping until noon is not acceptable for grades K — 12 and bar hopping is definitely a no-no under the age of 21. Personally, it sounds like the wee one is living the life of a college aged pupil when he should be learning more structure and ABCs. But hey, that's just me.
Tell me, what do you think of Mrs. Rendell's unschooling perspective?