People ask me, all the time, how my children learn math without any kind of formal schoolwork. I share that they learn what they need to learn as they go through life, when it is useful to them. Math is a tool to help us get what we want and it is *easy* to learn when a person learns what they need to, as they need it, instead of being forced to “practice” with problems that are totally out of context for them, just to get the work done, most of the time, so that they don’t get in trouble for not doing it.
Last night, Devin was trying to figure out how much yarn he needed to weave a few tunics to sell in his Etsy store. He figured it out and placed his order with an online store. He shared this paper he used with me and explained his process, which I found fascinating!
Unschoolers do, indeed, learn math. Yet they never have to do tedious and boring workbook pages or be quizzed to do so. Nor do they need to study something to memorize it for the test, turning math from a useful tool, to an abstract boggle of numbers that they need to fake or struggle their way through, out of fear that if they don’t, certain freedoms will be taken away from them. When a child’s autonomy isn’t at stake through Unschooling, learning becomes very different than a child who is forced to focus on what will be taken away from them if they don’t jump through the hoops placed in front of them.
When you let go of all of that you think is necessary for children to learn math, you allow them to see math as a tool that comes quite natural to them when they aren’t forced in a way that is out of context with no real meaning to them. When there is no fear, no doubts and no focus on performance, children can see math for what it is meant to be. When math is approached like it currently is in our culture, self-doubt sets in. You learn you are either a “math whiz,” or you “suck at math.” This false illusion is usually carried around with people their whole lives.
Math phobia is prominent in our culture and it is time that we ask ourselves why. It is my hope that forced learning will be a distant memory someday, and children will be allowed the freedom to use math as a tool to help them reach their goals in life, instead of becoming a handicap and means of anxiety and fear, carried with them throughout their lives. Times are changing and Unschooled children are showing the world that they are truly capable to learn what they need to learn on their own life path.
Peace, Love & Trust, Dayna