Shaking Up the System

I am more and more seeing parents thinking about alternatives for their kids for the fall, some kind of version of unschooling + remote learning from the school. That won’t work for all kids, but for some, that might be a good option.

But it’s all reminding me that the American school system really has never been set up to serve kids as well as it might, especially kids who aren’t neurotypical. Overcrowded classrooms with overworked teachers, a factory-style one-size-fits-all approach out of sheer necessity, given the lack of funds to do more individual, differentiated learning, an overemphasis on rote learning and teaching to the test, requiring that small children sit still for far longer than is developmentally appropriate…

Here, we’ve mostly been unschooling Anand since March, and while I think his teachers tried their best, I’ll say he’s been happier and probably learning more, month-by-month, just on his own at home, following his own interests, and with good access to books and devices and internet.

He’s a bright and curious kid, and will happily watching YouTube history videos or read history graphic novels for hours. Science experiments are fun. Obsessively building structures in Minecraft and doing simple coding –> career in video game design, maybe? We’ll see.

If the school can provide some benchmarks for Anand to hit in the fall, and guidance on some supplemental materials that we can encourage him to do if needed, that’ll probably be all we need for him in terms of a minimal 5th grade education during a time of global pandemic. If there’s a teacher or aide or bright college student available to talk him through the hard spots (like what we offer with university office hours) even better.

For some kids, school-as-it-was was never a great option. Maybe we’ll come out of this with some real shake-ups of the system.

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