Flying Free

I’ve talked before about the program that DD will be starting this fall, make that was supposed to be starting. Seems things are going to be changing there, and it no longer holds appeal for me.

As it is right now, parents keep portfolios to document their children’s learning through their interests, projects, writings, photos, etc. Teachers evaluate the portfolios three times per year. If you do this through to Grade 12 you will get your high school diploma. It seemed a pretty good compromise for unschooling-minded parents who needed some money (the program provides generous cash allowances for learning resources), wanted access to programs geared for homelearners, and wanted the outside push to generate the portfolios regularly. There were some conflicts between what teachers considered “evidence of learning” and what unschooling parents think about that, but for the most part those who were blazing this trail ahead of me (the program is fairly new) seemed to be doing alright with it.

Well, the buzz is that the program was subjected to an audit by the provincial school board and deemed “problematic”. Apparently there will be an announcement any day now that the teachers will make the portfolios based on assignments that the children must complete every two weeks. Needless to say, that’s all most of us needed to hear to say “thanks, but no thanks!”.

I suppose if they are going to hand out diplomas it has to seem “fair” to those poor schleps stuck in school for most of their lives. To the outsider, unschooling seems equivalent to “not doing anything except have fun” (which, of course, is entirely the point). I can see why the powers that be feel the way they do – they don’t get unschooling, they don’t believe that children can be trusted to learn without being coerced into doing so, and they don’t believe that parents can recognize when their children are learning. They absolutely don’t know how to deal with individuality. The child who expresses her knowledge through art and poetry, whose mother submits her portfolio as a high quality DVD videography, doesn’t fit into the mold. Neither does the child who takes out books from the library each week and devours them, the same books over and over again, but who has no desire to regurgitate what she’s learned in writing for no other purpose than to convince someone else that they have, in fact, learned from reading said books.

What it really boils down to is how do you quantify Learning? Well, you can’t, really. Each child is so different in their learning style; perhaps you can quantify it within one subject, but comparing thousands of six year olds to determine who is “behind”, who is “ahead”, and who is “average”…? I don’t think it works.

So anyways, I’m not fuming about this. I’m not raging with indignation or determined to write to my MLA and protest this decision. I’m not interested in becoming an unschooling activist. Our province still allows for homeschooling of all kinds, I do not need to even register my child, and nothing I’m doing is considered illegal. Instead, I’m going to “vote with my feet” and not bother enrolling in that program after all.

What we will do, I’m not entirely sure, but fortunately there is a great homeschooling community here with loads of information and resources. There are actually several other sources of programs geared towards homelearning families, and I’m sure we’ll find many ways to fill our days. I’m sort of excited about it, actually, because I think that all along I’ve wanted to just go full out and unschool all on our own, but maybe was a bit timid. Now here’s our opportunity to fly free.

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One thought on “Flying Free

  1. Miranda

    If you’re hungry for that reimbursement, and keen on creating a sort of virtual portfolio through anecdotal reporting, you might consider the SelfDesign Program offered by Wondertree Independent School. It has worked well for us as an unschooling family for the past two years.

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