I'll be honest - I have a fear of commitment in every aspect of my life, but particularly in staying in one place for too long. I have moved over 18 times during my 27 years of life. Sometimes I wonder if I might be addicted to change, but I just took a step forward towards staying in our rural town at least one more year because I signed my teaching contract for 2014-2015. I may have been the very last person (by weeks) at my school to sign it and my school secretary may or may not have had to send many email "reminders" but regardless I signed it.
Both my friends that live in urban and rural areas are constantly asking me why I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to a small village (not even considered a town) with a population of 876 in rural Wisconsin. For a while I never had a good answer for either group of friends, but today while I was walking our dogs around the park next door to us, I couldn't help but smile in thinking about how lovely life has been over the past 18 months.
I signed my contract to live and work in this small area because:
Alright...I'll admit it. My name is Candace, and I have a bit of an obsession with unschooling. Oh, and did I mention that I'm a public school educator? Talk about a bit of a paradox! I take solace in the fact that John Holt was also a public school teacher and the founder of unschooling -- a type of homeschooling which essentially let's
children set their own curriculum based on their interests.
I first got connected with the principles of unschooling back in 2011 when I was living in Costa Rica and working with a really lovely family who was starting the process of unschooling for their two oldest children. People who are interested in the beginning of this love affair can read my original blog posts here and here.
The next step in my journey was working for an experiential summer camp who focused on unschooling principles that allowed children to choose their own activities. My direct supervisor actually was unschooling his own children, so I got to see firsthand how it worked for younger children.
This took me to a weekend of an unschooling conference called Wide Sky Days where I was able to meet with a multitude of families and children who were participating in unschooling. I was blown away by their intelligence and passion for learning.
Even though I am a public school teacher, I am still a huge advocate for unschooling for families that have the luxury to support their children's interests and education in this manner. I believe many of the habits practiced by unschoolers can be used in the classroom, especially regarding creating life-long, self-directed learners.
Recently, I got the privilege to help edit and read the first draft of Blake Boles' (whom I met at the Wide Sky Days conference) new book on The Art of Self-Directed Learning, and I would highly recommend it for those interested in these topics. Blake has a Kickstarter campaign going on at the moment and he has one day left before it closes. There are a lot of great incentives (including a copy of the book) for donating even just $3.
You can also check out some of my other favorite unschooling books here:
Candace Burckhardt is an international education consultant with an emphasis on special education, English learners, and social-emotional learning.