by Luz Shosie
Cassidy took the GED (high school equivalency test) and scored 97%. Just last week he received (in the mail) his official high school diploma With Honors from the State of Connecticut. In the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), he scored 1390 (in the 98th percentile in the verbal section and 86th in math). Where did he learn all that? We didn't "teach" him or even suggest that it might be a good idea to learn the basics. We didn't see him use school books or do anything that looked like studying. We didn't test him - although for his own reasons he sometimes tested himself.
Our job was to answer his questions when he asked, to help him gain access to the real world when he wanted it and to respect his timing and his way of learning. We had to learn to trust that he was learning all the time - not easy for a couple of former schoolteachers!
During the last three years he has been working part time making jewelry for a small cottage industry nearby. More recently he added a second job at a video rental store. Both his employers and his fellow workers are impressed with his knowledge, competence and responsibility. For the first 16 years of his life he pretty much followed his own rhythm and now this night owl gets himself up and fed and off to work on time every day. Who taught him that?
And what about socialization? I must admit that's one thing we did try to impose on him, but to his credit, he resisted our efforts and found his own friends in the neighborhood and in the activities he chose. Even though he spent a lot of time alone growing up, he does not lack "sociability" in any sense. He gets along well with people of all ages and as he says, "I can be quite charming" with customers. He knows, and likes himself, and so do we.
Now he is eighteen and just in the last year has decided to go to college. He has been accepted by Hunter College in Manhattan. He wants to continue learning about computers, film and life in the big city. He has confidence that he can learn anything he wants or needs to know. We have confidence that trusting him is the key to successful unschooling.
Copyright © 1998, Luz Shosie <email@example.com>.