Column: Be cool, unschool

In case you hadn’t heard, “unschooling” is the new home schooling.

Instead of learning about math or English or any of those other old, fuddy subjects that are taught in both the schools and home school sessions, people who are unschooled learn about the world around them.

Stuff like, “Waking up at 10 a.m. is nice!”

Or, “If I eat 50 cookies in an 30-minute period, I get sick!”

The concept behind unschooling is that children learn better when they’re actually interested in the subject they’re studying. I completely agree with this statement. That’s why I still know the secret code to Nintendo’s “Contra” (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start), but can’t for the life of me remember anything I learned in algebra.

But we didn’t have cool ideas like unschooling when I was a child. Even home schooling was still thought of as just a haven for those who would otherwise be bully fodder. So I had to go to school just like every other Joe.

Now people are given an option. Kids can be unschooled.

Can you imagine the end-of-the-year test for this?

1. What things do you NOT want to put in a bathtub?

2. Toast: wicked awesome or overrated?

3. Where exactly does belly button lint come from?

These would be great question. Except for the fact that most kids who are unschooled aren’t given tests. Most aren’t even given grades. Not that I can blame the parents for this. Who wants to give their kid a C in hygiene and an A- in video games?

I suppose the real issue is if these kids are missing out by skipping the usual school subjects like social studies, science and lunch. Do you really need to know that turtles are reptiles? Or that the Constitution guarantees free speech? Of course you do! You may end up on “Jeopardy” one day. Or at least “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

As cool as it sounds, I don’t think I would have liked being unschooled. I learned a lot of important things at school.

Stuff like, “Don’t talk about Star Trek in public unless you want to be beat up for your lunch money.” (Fortunately, I was a reduced-lunch kid. Bullies had to beat up two of us in order to get one free meal. And that tended to be too much work for most bullies.)

Or, “Jocks date cheerleaders. Nerds form garage bands.”

So while unschooling may work for kids with parents that have (A) too much free time or (B) a wish to die of stress before the age of 40, the rest of us will continue to send our offspring to the places that trained us so well – the video game arcade.


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