This continues from Part 1 .
This is not only true in ESL classrooms, it is true in every aspect of education. Think about the great advantages unschoolers have over children of equal age and ability. The factors for personal success and the conditions for learning are nurtured over time until the 8 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE becomes ingrained habits while those schooled children not only have been denied the factors and conditions they have to undo the damage schooling has done to them. Some adults console themselves that they didn’t do too badly even though they went to school. But they never knew how good they could’ve become. Some adults console themselves that they turned out OK but they would never have known if their life would’ve turned out great.
In recalling Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, he said he lucked out because he had great parents. Great parents is very important for success. Loving, supportive parents who respect and care about your needs do many things that give their children a huge advantage in life. First, they teach their child that they are deserving of good things in life. Self-esteem is a positive need necessary to achieve the higher levels on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Children from neglected or abusive homes/cultures surely grow up lacking this self-esteem and thus are still functioning on deficit needs. If you’re struggling with deficit needs how are you going to climb up that hierarchy of needs on your own?
Unschooling parents are naturally greater parents than parents who force their children to attend the horrible experience of schooling simply because of their higher degree of sensitivity. Not only are they consistent in loving and showing that love and support, they are willing to make sacrifices to ensure their children have an optimum experience in life. Many people do not understand the importance of consistency to a child. You cannot tell your child, “Of course I love you” and then force them to do things that make them feel unloved. This is something I have to remind myself constantly, that it’s very important to examine my automatic responses to give a sense of security through consistency.
Not only are unschooling parents fantastic role models and emotional pillars for growth, unschooling parents are one-mind about respecting each child’s unique style, gifts and spiritual needs. By giving children time and space to discover who they are, what they are meant to do and how to find their Element, unschooling parents are giving their children a huge headstart in the Happiness, Fulfillment, Direction and Confidence department. They don’t rush their children around and they don’t make their children feel that their working life and making money is more important than the child. This doesn’t mean that schooling parents are negligible but if only they truly understood the history of compulsory schooling and the false ideas of living schooling promotes, they too would choose to unschool.
In so many ways, unschooling parents have laid down the foundations and set the conditions for success decades before these children have to face life. Again, this is not to say that schooling parents are evil, except that all unschooling parents are great while only very few schooling parents are. It is the fact that they are great parents which would even make them consider unschooling. To quote Ken Robinson, we don’t know what the future will look like exactly but we have to ensure our children are able to adapt well in any given situation. Adapt well doesn’t mean tolerating life as if it were a pressure cooker. Adapt well means using different abilities and the diversity of their whole intelligence to find existential meaning in their existence.
What’s going to drive the divide even bigger between schooled and unschooled children is that fact that the world is desperately in need of the skills these unschooled children will bring with them. The world is holding its breath waiting for unschoolers to come of age en masse. Each unschooled or non-traditional education child can multi-task and play as many roles as 10 schooled child, effectively replacing the need to hire all those other 10.
After unschooling for only 1 year, I have seen how much more creative, confident and self-directed my daughter has become. Just yesterday, my daughter entertained a student who came to visit by showing her what she was making with her Lego set. My student, a sophomore in college, exclaimed, “You mean you made this without a model or a guidebook?” This shows you that in a future where creativity and being able to make things up and figure it out becomes a highly-sought skill, children who are able to come up with new things will be the winners as adults. As young adults, unschooled children will be competing with those vending-machine type children who are unable to come up with anything of value to the economy.
I have a great sample to observe because I teach schooled children. Even at 11 years old, the differences are significant. Unschooled children have qualities of leadership, creativity, adaptability, confidence, joy, focus, directedness and a host of other factors vital to personal success. I actually didn’t believe the articles I saw on unschooling children because I didn’t know of anyone who homeschooled. I can now add to the hundreds of anecdotal observations about the obvious difference between schooled and unschooled children. They are a lot more confident, happy, positive, adaptable, social, mature, creative, articulate, intelligent, healthy and self-directed than your average schooled child. The advantages don’t lie in the fact that they are more gifted than other children; all children are gifted and have a lot of potential. The advantages lie in the fact that they lack the negative needs, or disadvantages of schooled children.
Most of all, the parents of unschooled parents are unique in the sense that they are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to engineer the conditions or environments for their children to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. Unschooling parents are willing to move, relocate, quit their job, live on less, find a way to afford things that would give their children the conditions to be an “Outlier”. And because a child has such a strong model for ethics and emotional support their faith in themselves and in life will be unparalleled. Not only are these unschooled children at peace with themselves they learn to respect themselves and by extension, respect everything and everyone else.
In Howard Gardner’s 5 Minds For the Future, he listed the types of Minds necessary to succeed in the future. Of the 5, the Respectful and Ethical Mind is nurtured by default with unschooled children.
So let us all stop fooling ourselves that education is our path out. Education is an elevator and depending on which one you enter, one takes you up, the other only takes you lower down.
Education must happen organically and holistically, involving the whole person. The same goes for the teaching of English as a Second Language or anything else. ESL too has to be rethought, not as an extension of the formula for schooling ergo future success or one subject in learning but part of a process of a child’s learning experience.
I wouldn’t be surprised that another factor contributing to the fallout of schooling is when these unschooled kids enter the New New Economy en masse and become the ones everyone else can’t hold a candle to. Already people have noticed how confident, good-natured, emotionally and socially intelligent, creative and ethical unschooled children are. When people start to see how unschooled children can cherry pick the most rewarding and fulfilling roles it would no longer need a big leap of imagination to understand the importance of an inclusive, holistic, organic education.