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interest based education

updated sat 3 jan 04


Marty Morgan on fri 2 jan 04

Tony's remarks have gotten this lurker out of her foxhole.
I went through college thinking I would be a French teacher, but fell in
love with clay and never did torture anyone with irregular verbs.
I have always been curious as to how people find their passion, their
life's work. My belief is that schools, both public and private do very
little to help in this matter.
My only child started out in public schools and was completely bored by the
3rd grade. His teacher said: "Ian is one of those kids who gets his work
done while I'm explaining it to the class." "So what does he do then," I
asked. "Oh, he reads or draws in his notebook," she replied. For six hours
a day!
Thanks to the financial support of his grandparents, Ian ended up going to
an excellent private school from 5th - 9th grade. I think the greatest
value of that experience was the core group of friends he made who still
stay in touch, even though they graduated in 2000, going off to different
schools. Ian chose to go to a private high school within commuting distance
from our home rather than go away to a well-known boarding school. It was
not a good match and by the end of the year he was not "invited" back,
because although he could prove on any test that he could do the work he
wasn't interested in busy work and would often fail to do homework. There
was very little interest in him as an individual with something to offer
the community. He spent the equivalent of 11th and 12th grade on his own,
studying whatever he felt like studying. He worked for his father in a
high-tech boatbuilding business; offered free help to anyone with computer
problems; and went to lots of lectures, concerts and theatre events with
us. Many of our friends were horrified that we did not insist on his going
to school or having some organised program. We felt that if he learned at
16 or 17 that he was in charge of his life that would be a good
thing. This summer he took the GED, his idea, with a perfect score on 3
out of 5 parts of it. In September, while visiting a friend near Seattle he
decided to take classes at the community college his friend is attending.
Now, after no formal school for two years he's loving his calculus and
ethics classes and getting top grades. He is applying to a college in
western Mass which requires students to design their own curriculum and
doesn't give grades, but measures learning by a completed portfolio of work.
I'm happy and excited that he has found a direction he wants to take. And,
if I were starting over I would unschool the whole way.
Marty Morgan
Gloucester, MA