I am leery of people saying that kids need teachers. But here are three instances where I sort of like the idea.
1. Train kids for jobs that don’t exist.
Sixty-five percent of today’s kids will have jobs that don’t exist today. So there is little point in training them to do the jobs we can already do—after all, there will be an entire Gen-Y, aging workforce to take those jobs. It makes more sense to me to train for jobs that don’t exist, and the best path to those jobs would be today’s teen tastemakers, since they will be the future high-spending (or not) consumers and ladder-climbing (or not) middle managers of their time.
DIY.org is a site helps kids form lesson plans to teach other kids. You can learn about how to make a duct tape wallet. And there are 40,000 members. YouTube is geared more and more toward how-to videos. YouTube is a teaching tool to teach things we’d never dream needed teaching, which means it’s a great way to learn skills for jobs you can’t imagine will need doing.
If you free your kids from working on the things you think are important, it’s much more likely they’ll find the things that are important for their generation.
2. Put preschools in nursing homes.
As soon as I heard the idea of preschools and nursing homes combined, I loved it. Of course I think preschool is unnecessary for education, but I see how it’s a babysitting service we are not likely to give up. So, in that respect, I like that we are taking two populations that are deemed not useful enough to keep in the home all day, and we are making them useful to each other.
I remember how much I got from my grandparents and great grandparents and I see that today kids are largely insulated from the oldest members of society. I also see that when my kids go to the local nursing home to play music, the residents love to see them.
If both the children and the adults are going to be separated from their families, bringing them all together seems like a good thing for both groups.
3. Teach forging as a path to learning.
Foraging is the unschooling for food. Think about it: do you need a book in school in order for the book to be educational? No. So do you need food to be in a grocery store for it to be edible? Of course not.
So, teaching kids to pick their own food—in a park, on the side of the road, in the backyard—gives them a feeling of self-reliance and freedom in a way that teaching kids to pick their own interests gives them the feeling of self-reliance and freedom.
I love this new app for foraging. But the truth is that foraging is just like unschooling in that nothing happens at first. At first we don’t trust ourselves because we’ve been taught that someone has to do it for us, that we can’t decide for ourselves.
But I can tell you that after walking around our farm for five years, I’ve become comfortable serving weeds for dinner. Dandelions, pig weed, stinging nettles. And if I mix in some edible flowers even the boys will eat weed salad for supper.