It was easy for me to be anti-curriculum until my son announced he wants a Phd in science.
He goes back and forth. It’s been biology, then chemistry, then physics. And back again. But it’s always in an effort to learn everything he can about how the world works. Either where we come from or where we are or where we’re going. Or all of them.
I don’t really even know anything about science because before I was a militant anti-curricula homeschooler, I was an student who managed to flunk Honors Biology and then flunk Chemistry for Dumb Kids.
Once it became clear that my son was going to want to go to college to study science, I told him he needed to learn math. Neither of us had seen a reason to learn it prior to this. So he was the age of a sixth grader doing math at a fourth-grade level.
He is catching up. (He is using IXL for those of you who are looking for math curriculum that is self-paced that the parent does not have to think about.)
But I wonder what we are going to do about the science stuff. I bought him chemistry books and biology books and he’s read everything I can find that is not at a high school level. So he seems to be doing fine. I can’t be sure though.
But then I read about the Maker Movement. And how parents are adapting it as STEM curriculum. The idea that you can make everything is a little insipid to me. I mean, if you make a canoe do you have to make the tree? And if you make the tree do you have to make the ax you cut it down with? But whatever. It’s like religion. Everyone’s an inconsistent thinker. It’s inherent to thinking itself. So fine, I’ll let it go.
My inconsistent thinking is that I am easing my son into a curriculum, but on the way I read that The White House is promoting the Maker Movement as a way to infuse schools with learning that matters to kids. And now I’m thinking my son should just read what he wants to read and do what he wants to do and he will achieve something great that way.
At one point he spent months parenting an abandoned calf (and a kitten who lapped up lost milk). Another time he mixed animals from two goat herds to make his own, custom herd.
And found that convincing a mom goat to adopt another goat’s baby was no small task.
The Maker Movement succeeds precisely because the hands-on projects are not been attached to any curricula; kids are just making whatever they want to make. And colleges are rewarding those kids for their efforts. My son has seen enough videos from Neil Tyson to know that science is about questions and observation. And good scientists set up good scenarios for observation.
But will my son be prepared for college if I let his interests guide what he learns about science? And is it still unschooling if my son is learning the national math curriculum? The most scary thing about unschooling is that it’s essentially an experiment because you don’t know what your kid will decide to do. I’m just hoping that colleges love the experimentation of unschooling kids as much as they love the experimentation of Maker Movement kids.