- Education & Catastrophe
- Unschooling My Son - Postscript
Unschooling My Son - Postscript
Education & Catastrophe 77
Cameron receiving an award this week for topping his class
Hey y’all! This is John.
This newsletter is about human flourishing. Ostensibly it’s about better parenting and fixing education, but ultimately what I really care about is helping young people flourish.
A few months ago, I wrote about how my son received an unconditional offer from SJI International despite missing school for two years. This is a postscript about my family’s experiment unschooling our eldest child. Covered in this issue:
What authentic learning looks like
Skills that have a lot more mileage than academic achievements
Trusting our kids and taking risks as a family
Let’s dive in!
The decision three years ago to unschool Cameron was largely driven by what we both felt was more authentic learning. Kubrio’s online classes spanning subjects and interest areas like anthropology, coding, Spanish and VR required learners to be active participants, constantly asking questions, challenging each other, and working on projects.
The first obvious benefit of choosing Kubrio over traditional schooling is the agency kids get in deciding which pods they want to join. Unlike mainstream schools where every student in the same grade level attends the same classes, Kubrio students choose which pods they want to join based on what skills they want to master and what crafts they want to learn.
The different learning pods available on Kubrio
The bigger benefit is an appreciation that learning is an interactive experience where learners are meant to be active participants, engaging in dialogue with the teacher and with each other.
Learning was never meant to look like this:
Image credit: BW Education
Cameron missed out on academics during the two years of Kubrio. At the end of primary 5, he asked to return to school because he missed his friends, and he wanted to know where he stood academically compared to his peers in order to prepare for his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Before the school took him back, he had to take a bunch of tests so the school knew where he was academically. He scored AL19 (Achievement Level. The best possible score is AL4, one point for each of the four subjects. The higher the AL, the worse the score). Not great, and quite far behind his peers.
What Cameron lost academically in those two years, he more than made up for with what he gained in terms of confidence, communication skills and the ability to learn on his own. These are skills that have a lot more mileage than academic achievements. As a case in point, Cameron went from AL19 when he went back to school at the end of primary five to topping his class at the end of primary six. We did give him quite a lot of support with academics this year, but I also think he was able to catch up because he spent two years at Kubrio learning how to be an independent learner - taking control of his own education, setting goals, and finding the motivation to achieve them.
In a world where change is exponential, the ability to learn on your own is probably the most important skill.
We will find out next week how Cameron does for his PSLE. It almost doesn’t matter given he has a guaranteed spot at SJI International. Unschooling him was not without its challenges, but if I could do it all over again, I would. It was a transformative journey that equipped him with the skills and mindset to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
If there is one thing I hope you take away from this article, it is that it’s ok to trust our kids and take risks as a family. In fact, I would argue that the bigger risk is doing what everyone else is doing and hoping an education system that has not evolved very much in the last hundred years will prepare our kids for the future.
I just don’t see that happening.
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