Sunday, February 24, 2013

purim, ivrit, and more unschooling thoughts

there are 3 things i've been meaning to write about.  i've been dithering about whether or not to make them separate posts, and thus procrastinating altogether.

first of all, sfasenu.  using the three-years-ahead-rule, in late september i started chana on grade 3 sfasenu because i was feeling a little concerned that her ivrit wasn't so great.  we both felt a bit sheepish with her being in 6th grade and doing a 3rd grade workbook.  it's so... babyish.  but she was able to do a page at a time without any of the whining, tantrums, etc that have so often characterized her work.  we did it a little sporadically for a while, and then eventually got into a rhythm.  she finished it a few weeks ago.  i figure it took about 5 months to do.  so waiting three extra years to do this level of work not only made the work a source of much less stress and conflict (in fact, just about zero stress and conflict), she also finished it in half the time it would have taken her three years ago.  she started workbook dalet.  so now she's only 2 grades "behind." 

this does go against classical unschooling in that i didn't wait until she said to me, "you know, mom, i think i'd like to beef up my ivrit.  do you have any ideas on what i can do?"  most likely, if i had the patience to wait for that, she would do it even more efficiently and with greater motivation.  of course, i'm also risking that she would wait until she is in her 20s or 30s to do that.  in which case, did i "educate" her properly?  is she only educated if she "graduates" homeschool with a certain skill set and level of knowledge?  or, as unschooling would maintain, as long as she is motivated to be a lifelong learner and has the motivation and confidence to pursue many different skills and types of knowledge throughout her life, who cares how much she knows at arbitrary childhood age X?

as you can see, i didn't have quite to courage to go full force unschooling in this.  as is typical with me and chana's education.

secondly, megilla.  we started off with me asking chana to read the megilla in hebrew.  i figured she'd be so happy.  no rashi.  just pshat.  just translation, and i'll provide her with any words she wants.  we started in the car on the way to a purim party.  she got frustrated pretty quickly.  i think she read the first two perakim in hebrew.  then she asked to switch to english.  she found even the english pretty tough (i guess it wasn't the best translation).  i was remembering fondly the time when sarah was about this age and picked up the megilla and just read through it because she was curious.  i was wondering if i made a mistake not waiting another few years until chana did that.
overall, i think the experience wasn't too painful and she found it interesting and asked me a number of questions about it and we had some interesting discussions.

this did lead me to something i often wonder about regarding unschooling.  i walk the line between pushing because i want her to gain certain knowledge or skills, and try to make it not to painful (and ideally, even pleasant, even though largely the acquisition of this level of skills is not often pleasant per se).  then i wonder if she would be more motivated and have better associations and enjoy it more if i would ease up and let her own desire push her to do it.  but then there is always that risk that she won't.  i wonder how much that risk really is.  the two young men i spoke to who were unschooled talked to me of the tremendous thirst they had for torah when they became interested.  but it was older--age 12-16. 

the third is elazar's unschooling megilla.  elazar has been demanding the purim story before bed every night.  apparently ari told him the first installment--with a lot of details about what hanging entails.  jack kept chiming in: "the queen didn't want to-- the queen didn't want to!"  until i asked him what the queen didn't want to do and he said, "...i don't know.."  elazar remembers a lot of the details and really enjoys hearing about it and talking about it.  he can hardly contain himself and his whole body jumps with excitement as he talks. 
he just keeps thinking mordechai's name is "voartacus."

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