Monday, October 7, 2013

question and answer from a unschool perspective

This question was asked:

I also would like to know whether Elazar is still interested in chumash.
I find that so many times my kids pick something up, do it in an intense way for a day ( or a week) and then it falls off the radar. Then I look up, and nobody is doing what they seemed so interested and ready to do.

I answered it from a homeschooler perspective and now I'd like to discuss it as an unschooler.

First of all, yes, Elazar is still interested in Chumash.  That is perhaps one of the things that has been driving me to unschool limudei kodesh.  When I teach it, I find that although my kids do it, they aren't as interested in it, and often lament that they don't like it.  (Maybe I'm not teaching it optimally.  On the other hand, maybe there is a certain amount of "you just have to drill to get skills.")

How much Chumash is Elazar actually doing, though, is more the question, I think.  Does he do it regularly.  Is he making progress.

I've been thinking a lot about this question.  And I realized that, fundamentally, an unschooler has no educational agenda for the child.

This means that when Elazar asks me to do Chumash, I do it with him.  I do what he wants to learn for how long he wants to learn and I teach him how he wants to learn it, if it's different than how I was planning to do it.  I have no particular interest in a first grader mastering Chumash or knowing how to read or translate.  He is free to pursue what interests his mind, with the general understanding being that in life, when he encounters skills or facts that he would like to have but doesn't yet, he will roll up his sleeves and dig in.   Just like he has been doing his whole life.

In the general environment of the home, there is reading and translating and learning Torah.  We also have interesting discussions and try to ignite a general desire for Torah knowledge.   But (at this time) I have no agenda for him learning to read the Chumash.  If he does or does not, it is the same to me.  Doing it in first grade or in 6th grade makes no difference.  (If he approaches his bar mitzva and has no desire to read or daven or understand the Torah, I will probably freak out and question everything reevaluate.)

Practically, Elazar opens the Chumash every few days.  He likes me to sing him the trope.  Sometimes he tries to read some words or decode rashi.  He originally had hoped that he would memorize each pasuk with trope, but when that didn't stick in his head as easily as the first pasuk, he was a little discouraged.  He wants to learn new pesukim, but he can't remember the previous pesukim.  Things aren't going as easily as he had imagined, and without the inducement of success, it's not as exciting.  Odds are, if he tries it again in 4th grade, it will go much more fluidly.  He's a little first grader with big dreams.  Let him keep dreaming.  Some of those dreams will work out.  And he's still excited about Chumash.

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