A conversation this afternoon went like this:
Woody: I want to sketch.
Daddy Honey: OK. (Gets out sketch paper and sharpens a 2B pencil, hands both to Woody.)
Woody: What's sketching? How do you sketch?
Daddy Honey: Sketching is when you get the basic idea of a shape down with light, quick lines. You can kind of practice the general shape you want, then do the exact one you want with darker lines afterward.
Woody: (Begins short, light sketching lines. Moves quickly to more bold, straight lines.) I think I am going to do it my way after all.
In the next half-hour, Woody works on a robot design. He makes three before he settles on a design he really likes. He starts by sketching, then moves into thick contour lines, then back to sketching again. He made a robot for his brother and cut it out. He made one for his dad and cut it out. He asked me to use his design to make him a bigger robot, as well as a remote control with a speaker so that he could be the robot's voice. He critiqued how well I was copying his drawing, giving me pointers, telling me he liked the inadvertent changes I had made.
There was a post a few days ago on an unschooling group that I'm a part of in which somebody asked for examples of learning that a parent wouldn't have seen if he or she had the "teacher glasses" on. This seemed to be one of those moments.
If I had been approaching this activity as a teacher, I might have guided Woody back toward sketching when he veered into doing it "his way" and provided more instruction in this aspect of drawing, since that appeared to be the "teachable moment." I would have been silently or verbally assessing his "progress" toward some goal (mine or someone else's, but not his).
He probably would have resisted my intrusion on his activity and my injected judgment of the merit of his work, and he would have declined to invite me to draw with him. He may have even abandoned the activity all together. Or, he may have learned that whether or not drawing is enjoyable is secondary to whether it is skillful.
As it was, we all had a nice time. He learned something new about drawing and experimented with it on his own terms. He kept at a design until it suited his needs. He shared his art and then pretend play with the family. He collaborated with me to do a spin-off project, a copy of his design done by a more experienced drawer. He learned that drawing is very enjoyable in and of itself, but it can also lead to other kinds of fun.
A few years ago, this might have turned out differently. I would have been benevolently didactic, and I would have lost out.
I'm so, so thankful that it's not just kids who are learning all the time.
My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.
I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.
Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.