We had an almost perfect day of unschooling/child-led learning/democratic education today. It was one for the books.
We started the morning playing Just Dance 4 on the wii U. We did high energy duet dances to Rock Lobster, Ooops… I did it again, The Final Countdown, Les Ketchup, and Everybody Needs Somebody to Love ala Blues Brothers. It was really fun and a good workout.
After breakfast Z took out some old geography detective games.
In the background on the whiteboard is a list she keeping of projects she wants to work on.
Then she worked on LEGOs for awhile.
After lunch we played around with a new geography app, The Barefoot World Atlas. From that we got the idea to work together on one of her projects, “Take a World Tour.” Z wants to take virtual trips around the world attending various festivals. Today, December 26 aka Boxing Day, The Junkanoo Festival is being held in the Bahamas. Junkanoo is a street parade with colorful costumes and music. The origin of the word Junkanoo is obscure but it might come from the French “L’inconnu” which means “the unknown.”
We first learned about Junkanoo on the atlas app. Then we checked it out on the net. Next Z found a flight from Philly to the Nassau, Bahamas, via Newark. Then she plotted her course on the trip mapping website travellerspoint.com. She want to use that website to make a map of her virtual travels. Then we listened to some Bahamian music and watched some Junkanoo parades on youtube. Of course we were inspired to design our own Junkanoo costumes.
I just realized now that, of her own accord, Z ended up doing a lot of geography today. That’s interesting.
Another project she came up with is to write a poem everyday. I would never assign something like that. I would think that too ambitious. Obviously she doesn’t. It was raining when she wrote this:
Splattering on my window like the torn fragments of someone’s diary
Children sliding down the glass towards the place where lost souls rest
Pooling into cracks of the broken pavement
Edged on like racehorses to the finish line
Filling the oceans and pouring down the sandy banks
A single tear clinging uncertainly until a bat of eyelashes casts it away
Pretty melodramatic, but rainy days can invoke that. I like the last bit about the eyelashes.
In the late afternoon she practiced piano. I think I heard her playing Great Balls of Fire, Mad World, White Rabbit, Havtikva, Musette, The Entertainer, and Castle on a Cloud.
She built more with her LEGOs until she remembered that she wanted to write letter to a friend in Indiana. At 5:00 she went down into the basement to play on the wii U, our new video game system that bookended this really good feeling day.
I know every unschooling day wont be like this. But that is fine. Sometimes real learning doesn’t look like the learning we see in traditional school. Personally I’ve never felt like geography was all that important. Anything you really need to know you can just look up on the internet in like 30 seconds. I’m more interested in the meta skills Z was evidencing today, like self-direction, executive functioning, creativity, critical thinking, and spatial reasoning. And yes, she did it all in her pajamas. Since we weren’t leaving the house today it was more efficient, not to mention better for the environment (less laundry!).