I have been at Sego Lily a lot these past few weeks...in fact, I have been subbing every day. I am constantly amazed by the kids, their creativity and the real life learning going on. I have also had many a conversation about this "self initiated learning" with the adults and have watched the process of these skeptics come into the school in complete denial that it works and leave with this shocking realization that what they believed to be "education" has been a lie all along. It is both a feeling of awesomeness and a feeling of "wait, I got jipped!" It is truly like being a therapist! LOL I soooo love it though when these adults finally have the light bulb go off and actually get it. I can also see the change in their kids.
For the first 2 months of school, the staff members are not allowed to schedule any activities. This gives the kids an opportunity to find the things that interest them and initiate the learning. There are things that I love to do and the other staff members love to do and it is hard not to say "hey, anyone want to do this class on _____ that I'm teaching". But, in this first month of school, the process of self-initiated learning is starting to unfold. I have watched as the kids have found those things that interest them and watched as the learning takes place. Yesterday I watched reading, math, science, art, architecture, engineering, problem solving, critical thinking, imaginative play, self -determination, friendship, judicial committee, art, music, writing...the list goes on forever. It was not in the forms that a typical public schooled kid or adult would see it, but it was real, pure, organic learning. The only kind of learning that in my opinion, produces amazing critical thinking skills and the ability to see and do the things that make your heart sing.
Even though Sudbury schools are called the school for unschoolers, it is different than being at home. Unschooling is our 100% philosophy when it comes to education but being in the Sudbury model adds a few new twists. For one, there are 30 other kids to do things with. Not things some "teacher" is telling you to do, but things that you are truly interested in. The other difference is that at Sego Lily, I am totally on equal ground with the kids. At home, well, I am Mom and there are just times that when I say it goes, it goes! There is voting me out of the home :)
I have had sooo many people ask me this same question, in the homeschooling community and in the Sudbury community. "If you don't know what you don't know then how will you ever know that you want to learn it?" This question always floors me. First of all it is very confusing LOL But no kidding, I have been asked this more times than I can count. I just want to say to these people. "do you know everything?" I certainly don't, and I will never claim to know it all. I didn't learn to knit until I was 24 yrs old and now that is my passion, my love. The other HUGE issue that I have with this is that it implies that we never talk, look, read, go and do, be, communicate, set examples or anything for our kids. Learning is constant. if you take a step back and watch the process for what it truly is, you will be amazed.
What do we want for our children? David and I want them to be doing the things that bring them joy. It is that simple. Our 4 children and completely and totally different in every way shape and form. I used to think that we were weird after so many comments from people that they had never seen such different kids in one family. But I figured it out one day, that it is because they have been allowed to be who they are. To follow the passions they each have. Sure, they try things out that the others are interested in, but they always have that drive to do their own thing.
Real learning is about truly doing the things that bring you joy. In doing those things, all the traditional academic things will come (reading,writing/math) When you follow those things that are self-initiated by you, there you will find joy.