RadiCool Unschooling is applying the same principles of autonomy, respect, and human rights that you do with education…to as many areas as you can with your little human…without compromising their health & safety. It is about giving choices, not demands.
That is the definition of #RadiCoolUnschooling that I came up with. The one that best defines #HomeCrazzyHome. Though I reserve the right to amend and change it. After all…nothing is absolute.
What then does #RadiCoolUnschooling look like?
It is almost 10 AM. Pankwake is still asleep. She went to sleep somewhere between 2 AM and 5 AM this morning. How do I know this? How come I don’t know what time specifically?
I know because PanKwake was still laughing at her YouTube videos when Cookie Monster came to bed at 2 AM last night. But she was fast asleep when I got up to go to the bathroom around 5.
Is it really important to know more than that?
If she needs something, she can and will get me up. Sometimes more than half a dozen times. Yes, I get up in the middle of the night…several times to…
- Mommy, get me water.
- Mommy, I’m hungry. I want food.
- Mommy, turn on Pat & Jen in the gaming room.
- Mommy, I need you to type in my code/keywords/cheats on… (iPad, SIMS, Minecraft, Roblox).
- Mommy, where is my XYZ?
About a year ago, there was a period when I was two or three hours at a stretch in the middle of the night. Why? Because PanKwake was playing in her realm with a new friend. She wanted to chat with them. And because of dyslexia and memory issues she still is not able to read.
In fact, I had so turned her off of reading…back before I came to total peace and acceptance with #RadiCoolUnschooling that she won’t even look at a book. The little human who used to beg and plead with me to read her book after book won’t let me anymore. Why? Because I pushed her too hard on the issue of reading.
As a writer and avid reader, it is one of my biggest challenges with #Unschooling. I have no problem with this definition…
But when it comes to the words of #HomeEd and #Unschooling grandfather John Holt…
“About reading, children learn something much more difficult than reading without instruction – namely, to speak and understand their native language. I do not think they would or could learn it if they were instructed. I think reading instruction is the enemy of reading.” A Life Worth Living, Selected Letters of John Holt edited by Susannah Sheffer
It is still the one area that I find myself defending #RadiCoolUnschooling to others.
I am getting there. But slowly. When I doubt myself, it is usually these words to which I turn for solace…
I have even taken an online course on Helping Children with Reading Difficulties. It explained what PanKwake was experiencing like this…
We also know that a learner who has lost all self-esteem is unable to learn anything. Some refer to this as a real COGNITIVE DEATH, a situation where the learner has lost any motivation for learning.
(Dr Vincent Goetry, Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing by University of London, UCL Institute of Education & Dyslexia International Through Coursera)
This is a concept that we will spend LOTS more time on in the chapter on WHY #RadiCoolUnschooling works best for #neurodivergent little humans. But for now just realize…
That I see it as a huge part of RESPONSIBILITY as a #RadiCoolUnschooler to be available WHENEVER PanKwake has a TEACHABLE moment.
So for several nights in a row, I was up from around 1 AM until three or four. I would lay on the bed in the study next to PanKwake. When her friend would say something, I would read it to her. Then I would help her to write a response. If it was simple Yes or No, she learned how to type/spell those.
Of course, that meant she also knew how to read them…but she could never bring herself to use that word. She could not because of Cognitive Death come to terms with spelling = reading. She still resists that word.
But if PanKwake cannot read or write…how can she possibly learn anything? What can you possibly teach a child like that? That is not education. You are a lazy, irresponsible parent and not preparing your child for the REAL World.
Oh, we will definitely cover that one…in a bit. For now, let’s look at what #Education does look like at #HomeCrazzyHome.
I have been reading…consuming…all of John Holt’s works as research for this book. Currently, I am working on How Children Learn. In particular, I am intrigued by this quote:
…that organisms, including human beings, are nothing but machines, is for me one of the most mistaken, foolish, harmful, and dangerous of all the many bad ideas at large in the world today.
I tend to agree with that statement. To me…life and in particular human life is a spark of something special…spirit or soul perhaps.
But my beloved Cookie Monster is a techie, an early innovator in the field and rather famous in that sector for being so. While Alan Cox may not be a name that comes immediately to the lips of the general public like Gates, Jobs, Musk, or Zuckerburg, if you mention it to another techie, they know exactly who you are talking about (and usually get a geeky crush look on their faces).
So, of course, I wanted his take on the idea. He disagrees with Holt and me. He points out that to date the Turing test has not found any mathematical computation that humans can complete which computers/machines cannot. We went on to discuss whether computers had the capacity to ‘teach’ themselves…the way that humans do. He contends that they do.
In walks PanKwake. And I ask her. Her contribution to the debate…Personality.
Cookie contends that computers too can have those. While I tend to believe that it is merely the reflection of inputs from their creators. He argues that the same can ultimately be said of human beings as well.
In the end…we all agreed to disagree.
Do you get the impact of what I am saying about #RadiCoolUnschooling…
This eleven year-old #HappilyAutistic little human’s opinion is solicited by, listened to, and debated with the same validity as the #HomeEd writer and world famous techie.
And that is not just a fluke. It is consistent. I remember another time when Cookie bragged to me about a conversation they had had about Pokemon. Yes, I said Pokemon. Pikachu in particular. He had commented to PanKwake that Pikachu looked like an alien rat. She then went into great detail about evolution…and how in fact she felt that a desert environment would favor evolutionary changes which were a better explanation for Pikachu. In the end, she won this debate.
Where does she get her information? About evolution? Personality? And the hundreds of other things that she just simply KNOWS?
Yes, I said YouTube. All those late nights like last..when I am trying to grab naps between ‘Mommys…’, PanKwake spends watching videos about school dress codes, weird foods, rare diseases, ugliest animals, strange but true science facts, and so much more. The things that come out of her mouth never fails to surprise me.
I have gotten over my shock at how surprisingly accurate the sources are too. I remember one time…when I was especially tired and we had something big to do the next day. It was one of the rare times when I was gently reminding her that she needed to sleep. She proceeds to tell me…
But, Mommy, don’t you know that brown-eyed people get two hours less sleep per night than blue-eyed?
Yeah, right…where did you learn that? YouTube?
PanKwake challenged me to look up for myself…
Chronobiology International published a study which showed that those with brown eyes tend to sleep two hours less than those with light-coloured eyes, and they generally have poorer sleep cycles. They also found that those with brown eyes have a harder time waking up in the morning. (http://iheartintelligence.com/2015/10/24/eye-colour-and-personality/)
Pseudo-science you say. And you would be right…except it is taken from this peer-reviewed journal…Racial Differences in Human Endogenous Circadian Period.
My little human used that very difference…combined with the ones associated with sleep and autism to teach herself science. Autonomy in not only what she learned…but how…and when. Then she took it to the next level by applying that information in a logical manner in such a way as to win a debate with her parent.
That is a degree of education it is not possible to obtain in schools…or even with a more structured #HomeEd approach.