Monday, May 3, 2010

Still Thinking of a World Without School


Since I last wrote on this blog about Unschooling, I have been thinking more and more about it. In fact, it has cropped up in various forums and almost always incited voracious debate.

Learning without books just seemed too impossible to me. But a quick visit to the Children's Museum in Houston, yesterday may have changed my mind a little.

So Emma and I, with Emma's four-year old Julia in tow sauntered into the Museum. Julia had been there before and eagerly took me around the sprawling museum. Sample this. An entire section dedicated to a city called 'Kidtropolis' where kids can literally try their hand at various professions which include, Banker, Vet, Artist, Journalist, Policeman, Forensic Scientist, Shopkeeper, Green Grocer, Cafe owner, Doctor, Ambulance Driver and many more! As you finish each job you collect your paycheck at the door and deposit it at the Bank and get Kidtropolis money! Learning was happening right before my very eyes! And there were no books in the picture.

At the grocery store, kids had to pick up a basket, a shopping list and find those items around the store. Once done, they had to go check out those items by scanning the barcode and then paying for the items and collecting change. If that is not learning about Math what is?

At the Vet's station, kids had to wear a white coat and treat stuffed animals kept in cages and find out what was wrong with them. If the chart said sneezing and tiredness, they had to deduce it was a cold. If there was redness of skin, they had to say it was an allergy or a rash. Science, there you go!

Each station was a learning stop that kids wanted to do. And they emulated what they saw daily around them. At the restaurant, I saw a kid walk up to me and say, ''Can I take your order Ma'am?'' After I had ordered she said ''Coming right up!''
Exactly what she had seen waitresses do every time the family went for dinner.

The argument of Unschoolers that today's schools are not safe, that they are open to predators and violent minds may not be wholly untrue. For instance in China, a man fed up with failures in his private life chose to enter a kindergarten school with a knife and injured 24 children. Most of them four-year olds. Doesn't really ensure a safe environment for the children now, does it?

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a journalist for 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. Education and new methods of schooling has always intrigued her. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

Image Source : fossilmike

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