Monday, March 24, 2014

overall attitude vs skills

Chana frequently complains about Chumash and not liking Chumash and Rashi.  At the moment, she's acquired enough skills where it's not so difficult and she doesn't complain too much.

She is in 7th grade.
Every day she:
- reviews one aliyah of the parsha she is in the middle of
- does 4-10 new pesukim (depending on how complex they are)
- reviews all the rashis we've done in the parsha
- does zero to 4 new rashis (depending on which rashis I've chosen on the new material, if any)

So now we are in a good phase.  But we had many hours of fighting and whining and complaining, as you will see in the early years of this blog.

Overall, I don't know how much she enjoys learning Chumash.  She's often said she dislikes it.

On the other hand, we've done Navi only very sporadically over the years.

Chana has a wonderful attitude about Navi and great associations with learning it.   She frequently speaks about it with enjoyment and happiness.  But she hasn't spent much time learning it.

In terms of unschooling, I think the theory is that eventually she would get to a point where she would be interested in it herself, and then she would pursue it (or I would help her learn it), and she would learn it quickly and efficiently and with great motivation.

However, I have "discharged" my obligation to teach her skills with Chumash.  If I did Chumash the way we did Navi, she wouldn't have these skills at this age.  Is this age necessary?  She's only 12.  The unschoolers I've spoken to said that they didn't really pursue serious Torah education until leading up to and after their bar/bas mitzvas.  So it's a bit of a scary risk having your children reach almost "grown up" and not having "taught" them.  

Also, I'm not sure that "enjoyment" and "positive attitude" trump "perseverance" and "putting in consistent effort."  (Though perhaps I can argue that I didn't teach perseverance and consistent effort, I just forced it and she will resist and and stop doing it when she is permitted.  As opposed to inherent motivation, which will keep a person learning.)  (And I can respond to that that if a child is forced to persevere and put in effort, and then they gain skills, they feel good about their accomplishments and learn that's what works.)

I do think perseverance and effort are valuable things.  I know a lot of unschoolers are concerned that their children will not gain these skills (which I addressed here and here and here, for example).

I choose to unschool not because I think that enjoyment is more important than learning to put in effort.  Unschooling as an educational approach resonates with me.

Chana's attitude towards Navi as compared to her attitude towards Chumash gives me something to think about.  Chana's Chumash skills compared to how much time she has put into learning Navi is also something to think about.  At 12, though, the unschooling journey is really just at the beginning.  Chana herself is preparing to go to high school.  The boys are right now completely 100% unschooled.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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