Monday, September 3, 2012

against unschooling judaics

today was one of those days that makes me think that unschooling is not the answer.  we spent a week by my parents and chana asked if she could have a vacation from chumash (according to unschooling philosophy, if the child needs a "vacation" then we're approaching it wrong..).  i acceded. 

so today we got back into it.  i asked her if she wanted to do it now or later.  she chose now and finished up what she was doing.  she chose to chazer shlishi (i let her choose which aliya), and did it herself, asking for 2 words.  then we went over the beginning of revii together.  (she started doing it herself, but soon needed me to sit next to her and provide word translation and also general phrase translation.)  after barely remembering the new pesukim from last time (probably because it had been so long since we did them and she didn't have any review of them at all soon after she learned them) and the new pasuk being complicated, i told her to just do those 2 pesukim again and we wouldn't do any more.  2 pesukim (or really just one new one) is rather sparse compared to how much she usually covers. 

one thing i have to watch out for is that if she gets too emotionally overloaded during pshat, she doesn't have mental energy left for rashi.  and we've been doing a LOT of rashi. 

so even before we started she was getting whelmed.  (i was going to say overwhelmed, but i must admit that she's come a long way in mastering herself, and while she was whelmed, she wasn't overwhelmed.)

i said, coaxingly, "just do as much as you can do."  and she insightfully said, "that means just keep going til i finish it all!" i laughed because that's true, and that lightened the atmosphere.

so she was doing rashi, but complaining about it, but doing a really great job.  she was kvetching, but she was right at that point in education where i could see she was stretching, but not being pushed too hard.  exactly what good education is supposed to be.  exactly what is emotionally satisfying for the child. 

it turned out, about halfway through (i can't remember how long--probably about 20 min of intense reading and translating where she can usually do 40+ min), i judged that she really was hitting an emotional limit.  so we stopped, and either we'll pick it up tonight if it's quiet (hahahahahaha though a girl can dream) or tomorrow.

i feel like she's really making great strides in skills. 

i think about how all the rest of our lives is seamless, pleasant and relaxed (and chumash is, too) but she dislikes chumash and wishes she didn't have to do it, and i wonder if unschooling would provide that joy towards learning.  but i also love the day in day out learning and the gaining of skills and knowledge. 

this is why, even though i love unschooling and it calls me, i also do not feel compelled to promote it.  for parents who like structure and for kids who respond to it, structured schooling that still pays attention to the individuality of the child (and most homeschoolers, no matter how structured, do come to that, because the individualized attention demands it) is wonderful.

then again, the older i get, the less i feel compelled to promote anything.  you do what you want and i'll do what i want.  just don't kill me or legislate against me.  and we shall reap the consequences of our choices.  but i digress.  i just wanted to say that when you can hit that "sweet spot" in structure, where the child is being stretched but not painfully, structured education is a glory to behold.

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