100 Days of #RadiCoolUnschooling – Day 23

So today we begin this journey into ‘justifying’, defending, or ‘proving’ the ‘suitability’ of the education which we provide to PanKwake based upon those four criteria that case law (Harrison & Harrison v Stephenson appeal to Worcester Crown Court 1981) established…

3.15 In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:

  • consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education
  • recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
  • opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
  • access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.

Let’s begin at the top…with consistent involvement of the parents or other significant carers…

PanKwake has a 3 to 1 ratio of ‘teachers’. One of whom holds a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s, and a teaching certification (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector PTLLS). Another of whom has a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, two honorary fellowships, and an honorary doctorate. We also supplement that with a part-time carer or au pair…of varying levels of education.


No school out there will or can provide PanKwake with that level of support. And honestly, most of the time she does NOT need it. But the key is…with home education she has it…when she does.

But I want to point out the second half of that…because it is important to understand the level of our involvement in #RadiCoolUnschooling.

although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education…

This is a crucial element of unschooling. None of us ‘teach’ PanKwake. We never sit down with books, workbooks, or even computers. We do not prepare lessons. We do not have ‘school’ time.

Instead it is our job to ENCOURAGE, ENABLE, and EMPOWER PanKwake to educate herself.

Some uninformed people may think that is a cope out. That we are neglecting our obligations. As Ms. Williams said in the Senedd…literacy and numeracy.

In fact, #RadiCoolUnschooling is a much, much harder proposition to lesson plans, teaching, and repetitive workbooks. Much…MUCH…harder.

As I have said before…I once upon a time tired in vain to tick all the boxes of the Local Authority and people like Ms. Williams. The result was PanKwake’s Cognitive Death. A #LittleHuman who begged for story after story to be read to her…to one who will not even look at a book…or allow you to read to her at all. Not even the LadyBird Zombie Apocalypse that I bought for her the other week…certain that would captivate her and open the door again.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson…instead of keeping on pushing, I opened myself and her to unschooling…and then #RadiCoolUnschooling. But it is far from easy or neglectful.

#RadiCoolUnschooling is an OBLIGATION to your #LittleHuman and yes, society, to capture those ‘teachable’ moments…whenever they happen.

The only time that PanKwake shows interest in reading…and even then she will not use the word ‘reading’…she calls it ‘recognizing words’…well DUH! But the only time now is with computers. Whether that is reading for one of her games…such as Undertale…or chatting online with other players. And it is our job to foster that.

I remember one time a couple of years ago when she had made a new friend in one of her Minecraft games. The thing was…this person did not come online until eleven or midnight and stayed until three or four in the morning. But every single night for a week, I was up with PanKwake.

They did not necessarily chat back and forth a lot. But I had to lay in the bed (thank goddess there was one even if it was uncomfortable and not next to Cookie Monster) and be ready when PanKwake said…PrincessTiggy said something. I got up, read it, and helped her to write a response. And sometimes…PanKwake ‘recognized’ keywords. Sometimes she spelled things out for me. And sometimes she could even respond on her own with Yes or No.

How many teachers do you know that are willing, able, or committed to a single child enough to capture ‘teachable’ moments like that?

And PanKwake is making progress. Incredibly slow progress sometimes…but progress nonetheless. She has 100% recognition of all 26 letters of the alphabet now. She has almost conquered the B and D confusion…at least on the computer. She also had a handful of words that she ‘recognizes’. She can ‘copy’ things as well. We have cheat sheets for her that have minimized the number of late night calls for…Mom, I need you to type in a code

We continue to believe that somewhere in the teens or maybe even early twenties she will teach herself to at the least same level of literacy as her brother the Artist and her father…both of whom were entrusted to schools and educators. And our #RadiCoolUnschooling will have kept her thirst for knowledge alive.

While I have used Ms. Williams example of literacy, the same applies equally to numeracy. PanKwake has mastered place values and her numbers (except for the 6 and 9 conundrum of dyslexia). All thanks to Robux…and points in her various online games.

If that is not enough…try running a SIMS household without budgets and numbers. your characters will die. I am especially proud of how she managed to create a household of teens who though not allowed in the game world to hold jobs still managed to survive on their own by growing their own and selling things they made, grew, or mined. You go, PanKwake. Show those adults how it is done. #LittleHuman power!!!

And it is a thirst. Sometimes it seems insatiable. It is not just late night ‘reading’ session that demonstrate our commitment to providing PanKwake with a ‘suitable education’. Our days are full of it…

Did you know??? Followed by some fact that she has learned from YouTube during the night while we slept. This almost always ends in a five minute or more long discussion not only of that fact, but its implications. We go for as long as PanKwake’s attention will allow.

Then there are the…What do you think of??? These are the more philosophical conversations. Less about facts and more about understanding our world view, the views of others, and her contemplatively forming her own opinions. This is a form of ‘teaching’ that is sadly and woefully lacking in schools. And it could be argued the most important part of a ‘suitable education’.

But it is the Would You Rathers??? that are funniest and sometimes the deepest. Everything from… Would you rather live in a house with Donald Trump in a pink Speedo or Hillary Clinton in a bikini? To…Would you rather have a body that does not work, is in constant pain, but a good mind…or the perfect body but a mind that does not work?

And it is our obligation…our responsibility to answer them all…to challenge her own mind to new heigths…to take all of that to the next level…to question everything she hears, most of what she hears, and even her own thoughts and values.

That is the depth and breadth of #RadiCoolUnschooling. It is a 24/7/365 for year in and year out lifestyle. It does not stop at 3:25. There is no lunch break. We are constantly on duty.

What school provides that quality of ‘suitable education’?

I hear the questions now…

Yes, BUT…I don’t have no degree. I am not educated like you are. I can’t help my child like that. 

You are wrong. So incredibly wrong. One of my favorite educators is Sugata Mitra. He has done ground breaking work on what he calls…minimally invasive education. The idea that given a computer and the internet children can teach themselves…and one another. It is a cornerstone of our methods of #RadiCoolUnschooling at #HomeCrazzyHome.

He won the TEDPrize to continue his work with a project he called ‘School in the Cloud’. He discovered that a child alone with a computer can learn to a set point. Put more children around that computer and they can teach one another…exponentially increasing the knowledge that they can learn alone.

Now…add an adult. Not a teacher. Not someone that knows the answer already. But a grandmotherly type…someone whose only job is to encourage, praise, and ask questions…and the amount of knowledge the #LittleHumans learn will jump yet again exponentially.

You do NOT need to understand physics or algebra or Roman history or anything else in order to teach your #LittleHuman. All you need to do is provide him with a computer. Give of your time to listen to what he learned. Praise his efforts. And be willing to ask that ‘dumb’ question that is sure to pop into your head while you are listening. By teaching you…or by learning together the information is re-enforced and retained better than any rote memorization for a school exam.

Any parent who is willing can do that. I am about to blow your mind…and I am sure that Ms. Williams would disagree…But I believe that even an illiterate parent can home educate their #LittleHuman. I would bet that their own literacy would improve as well.

So what do you think? Does #HomeCrazzyHome meet the ‘every man’ standard of proof when it comes to…consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers. Does your home education? Or could it if you are considering it?


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