Why Children Need Real World Learning
Homeschooling / Unschooling

Why Children Need Real World Learning

afflinkWhy Children Need Real World Learning

Whoever sold us the idea that the best way to teach children about the world was to isolate them from it and provide direct step-by-step instruction without real world context, must have been one persuasive human being. It’s outrageous! Yet you probably either believe it now or did at one time or another, right? And if you try to tell someone differently then there’s not many that will believe you. School is necessary! And yet, if you’re lucky enough to watch a child learn without school you’ll soon realise that it’s really really not.

Miss 7: I think it costs $2.70, so if I give them $3 will that be enough?

Me: Yes, $3 is more that $2.70, so that will be enough.

Miss 7: Oh, they will give me change!

Me: Yes, they will.

Miss 7: How much?

Me: How much?

Miss 7: Umm… $3

Me: No, not $3

Miss 7: Oh… umm…. 30c

Me: Yeah, 30c

Miss 7: 6 plus 3 is 9 right?

Me: That’s right.

Miss 7: So if I give them $9 I can buy 3, one for each of us.

Me: You can, and you would get some change too.

Miss 7: Yeah. Umm… 90c??

Me: That’s right.

Instead of letting her explore the world, questioning, and finding her own meaning, she could have been in school having the questions handed to her. Instead of pondering how she would spend her birthday money, she could have been completing a maths worksheet. Instead of maths being seamlessly integrated into her life, it could have been an isolated subject. Instead of understanding how maths is applicable in the real world, it could have been reduced to repetition and memorization.

Why Children Need Real World Learning

We literally take children out of a rich environment full of opportunities, where they would learn all they needed to, in all areas, quite easily and joyfully. Then we place them in an artificial environment to have them learn about the very same things, just in a less meaningful manner. How absurd. Imagine instead of witnessing the changing seasons, playing outside and noticing and feeling the changes, you were merely given then facts while sitting indoors unable to see for yourself. You would have no concept of how that information was meaningful to you. The magic of the changing seasons cannot be conveyed through a worksheet. It is the same with everything. No wonder we have to use coercive methods to get children to comply in this type of ‘learning’ environment.

It’s time to let children learn how they were designed to learn, from real life. Children don’t come with manuals, each one is unique. So how can we think educating them all according to a step by step curriculum will do them justice? It won’t.

Why Children Need Real World Learning

Children are biologically predisposed to take charge of their own education. When they are provided with the freedom and means to pursue their own interests, in safe settings, they bloom and develop along diverse and unpredictable paths, and they acquire the skills and confidence required to meet life’s challenges. In such an environment, children ask for any help they may need from adults. There is no need for forced lessons, lectures, assignments, tests, grades, segregation by age into classrooms, or any of the other trappings of our standard, compulsory system of schooling. All of these, in fact, interfere with children’s natural ways of learning.” – Peter Gray, Free to Learn


March 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Wow!!! I REALLY love this post Sara. Thank you

March 3, 2016 at 8:44 am

Love this! And love the pictures, too :).

Maths was never my favorite subject in school, and when I was first learning about addition and subtraction, I found it hard to understand why 10 – 2.5 was 7.5 rather than 8.5 (because I had just learned that 10-2 = 8, so I thought nothing changed with that 0.5 added in). Only when I started thinking about it in terms of money did it make sense. Often the practical application of such problems make them so much more straightforward than they are on work sheets :).

Amanda - Raising da Vinci
March 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

“It’s time to let children learn how they were designed to learn, from real life” Amen!

Great post!

Tabitha O'Melay
March 6, 2016 at 2:14 am

Great post! More and more families are having this experience. I hope that means more adults will understand and bring about change.

Mary G
March 6, 2016 at 9:07 am

People often ask me what curriculum I used. I tell them I used none, except for math, and I threw that out when I realized it was making it HARDER for her to learn the skills than when she was learning math by baking/cooking!

March 11, 2016 at 9:41 am

When I pulled my daughter out of school I thought just being out of that situation and giving her work books and other curriculum stuff with me by her side would fix everything but it didn’t. She still gets anxious around school work she hates repitition, being made to write and do things that really she’s not interested in and finds boring. She’s so afraid to make a mistake or people seeing her messy writing. I finally found out she has ASD and I have dropped her demands and am just concentrating on the things that motivate her such as board games and asking her to help me figure out how much her dad owes me or how much her toy costs with postage on eBay. Now she asks questions and works out sums that are connected to real life. She struggles with imagination, getting started, thinking of storylines, plots etc so I bought some books full of prompts such as how to write a story book and just left them on the kitchen table. Sure enough she’s writing! 🙂

March 12, 2016 at 7:22 am

This is a test. This is a test of the emergency blog posting network. This is only a test. If this were an actual emergency, you would be best advised to not be posting on a blog, but to be taking shelter or doing something to protect yourself. No, taking a selfie doesn’t count.

March 23, 2016 at 6:51 am

Love this post. It’s a great reminder that living our lives with our kids (like taking them grocery shopping!) is a better ‘educational method’ than sitting them down with a math worksheet. I always found math really hard as well; I’m reading John Holt’s “How Children Fail” at the moment and he talks a lot about how kids can learn to produce the right answer to gain the teacher’s approval without any real understanding of how they got there – he could have been describing me, and I actually came out of my exams with a good grade…

Amy L
May 25, 2016 at 6:19 am

Wonderful post! Every minute I am becoming more and more convinced that unschooling is in our future. Thank you for your incredibly beautiful and inspiring blog. I will be sharing this post with my husband when he gets back home. I’m sure it will be the first of many!

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