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O god, I assumed the child studying knights was a boy until you said “her brother.”
The basic premise of unschooling is that children – indeed, all people – are naturally curious, and that if they are allowed to pursue their (often intense) desires to acquire information and master skills, they will, if you like, “arrange” to learn everything they need.This is the bit that I keep falling down on. I can certainly see how this kind of intuitive following-your-instincts kind of learning can work for things like history, literature and the broader arts and social sciences, to kind of use the shorthand of the disciplines. What I can’t see if how it works for something like maths, where it takes someone with extraordinary aptitude to ask the right questions. I remember working out how decimals worked by myself, but I also remember having my mind absolutely blown when certain new concepts or branches of mathematics were introduced, when I hadn’t even suspected they existed. I couldn’t help but have heard of basic algebra and trigonometry and I would have probably gone looking for them at some stage out of curiosity, but surds? Simultaneous and quadratic equations? Mechanics? Certain awesomely cool parts of geometry? I supposed because maths tends to work as pure concepts first, applications later, I can’t quite see how curiosity about the world or asking questions about how things work could lead you to wonder how to solve 0 = x^2 – x – 6, or what the relationship between the square on the hypotenuse was to the squares on the other two sides. But I was *thrilled* when I was taught that. It was just so beautiful. Ionic and covalent bonding and their relationship to the periodic table was the same thing. Yet I can’t exactly say that I needed to learn these things, because I’ve never *used* them outside of passing maths and science exams. Or is that the point at which you expect the children would be following a textbook or a Intercert curriculum or something anyway?
Wow – I haven’t looked at this post in a long time – just saw La Bias’s comment. I don’t have time to respond in detail (though I may do another post soon), but in summary, I’m not talking about, for instance, never using a book, never following a curriculum. When people are passionate about a subject, they’ll read everything they can find about it. What they don’t understand, they’ll find ways to learn. I don’t agree that the complexity/counterintuitivity of certain subjects means that they can only be learnt in a school setting.
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