May 26, 2021
Announcement: Jenna is looking for guest co-hosts to help her with the key takeaways from her guest episodes as she currently does with her husband. You can connect with her here if you’re interested in finding out more information.
Jenna will be giving away 1 book for every 5 reviews given on Apple Podcasts. If you leave a written review and want to win a copy of Changing Our Minds by Naomi Fisher or Free to Learn by Peter Gray. If you’ve left a review, just send an email to email@example.com letting me know the screen name you left it under and the address where you’d like to have the book shipped. A copy of the book of your choice will be mailed directly to you if you win!
Jenna and Chris want to share some changes happening with their family in the hopes that by sharing how they’re dealing with difficult or challenging circumstances, it will help others who may be going through the same thing.
Our daughter recently requested she go back to school. During the pandemic, she found it challenging to meet her academic goals alone. Although we don’t love the idea, we are open minded and support our children’s wishes to learn in a way that best suits them.
Jenna points out that the pandemic played a huge role in the social side of things this year. Moving to a new country and the precise timing that the pandemic started made it impossible to develop life-long relationships and build friendships.
Their daughter likes having her schedule dictated for her, which Jenna feels is a result of having been in school for so many years. She finds it challenging to self direct her learning, because she’s never practiced it before. Jenna would love to hear feedback from the listeners to find out if any children who’ve always been unschooled develop this need for structured learning.
Over the next six months, they plan on having a lot of dialogue back and forth with their daughter to make sure being in school is still the right choice for her. They have picked a school, together with their daughter, which they think will be a good fit for her specific learning goals and emotional needs.
Although they support their daughter’s decision, they do worry about her creativity being stifled by the one-size-fits-all approach that is conventional schooling, but hope by picking a charter school which encourages students’ individuality she will have the opportunity still to really shine.
One of Chris’ takeaways from the episode with Peter Gray last week was that children and humans were born with the innate ability to learn and it doesn’t need to be forced upon us. The idea that education was built for obedience is still evident today in it’s rigid and inflexible system, which discourages questioning and discourse.
The second key takeaway; the school system was not designed for critical thinking and robs children from exploring their interests in a way that doesn’t take away from their sleep requirements. Oftentimes, youth are working on their hobbies and extra-curriculars late into the evenings because during the day, they have a curriculum forced upon them in school, most of which is not necessary for life. We’re essentially building a society of unhappy people learning topics that don’t interest them and working in jobs they hate.
Jenna asks listeners to consider what they would have pursued further in school had they been allowed to learn about anything. Take a moment to reflect on that. Where would it have taken you? How would your life be different right now?
The third take away from the Peter Gray episodes was that the act of being evaluated, no matter the reason, creates fear and stress on the one being evaluated. It takes the fun out of learning and demonstrating competency of a concept. By evaluating students, we also take away the desire to take chances because they are more inclined to meet the EXACT criteria for the assignment so they don’t compromise their grades. Testing kids all the time stifles critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.
Jenna heard a professor interviewed on The School Sucks Project podcast who offers his students complete autonomy over how they learn the material in his class. You can check that out here.
Chris asks: why are we so concerned about performance? Why are we so concerned about grading and evaluating people?
Jenna emphasizes the point Peter Gray made about how quickly one can learn a new skill or concept if it’s needed for their particular goals, careers, etc. She uses the SATS as an example. Unschooled children can study with a tutor for 3- 6 months and pass the SATS, so why is it that students who have attended 12 years of traditional schooling also feel compelled to or need to hire tutors to pass them? It’s mainly because they don’t remember everything they learned over the course of their education because it was memorized for a test, regurgitated, and then forgotten.
Final thoughts shared were about how reassured Jenna and Chris feel about their choice to unschool after listening to the interview with Dr. Peter Gray.
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