Since Learn Nothing Day is coming up (there’s been an informal movement for the past few years where unschoolers “Learn nothing” on the 24th of July as a way of highlighting how we are all learning all the time), we’ve been practising.
Well… trying to.
Even when I tried to distract Littletree into a wasted afternooon of not learning anything by watching mindless sitcoms, she got inspired to look into tidal waves. Which led us to looking on YouTube for videos about tidal waves. After an hour of watching BBC documentaries on wave patterns, tidal waves, costal formations (which, of course, led back to our recent lessons on The Giant’s Causeway and how lava can cool into interesting geometric shapes)…
We ended up discussing trees, googling what is the oldest tree in the world, the largest, the tallest. Somehow I forgot that we’re not meant to be learning anything, and mentioned the time back in 2002 when I went around Namibia and saw the 900 year-old petrified trees at the Dead Vlei.
Which of course turned into a discussion about petrified wood, sand dunes, desertification, climate change. So then we had a read about the history of climate change, which led us to reading about Doggerland – the recently-discovered land that once connected Britain to continental Europe, and about how Native Americans possibly contributed to climate change and a mini-ice-age in Europe due to deforestation.
And on and on it went, through Native American history, through to Native Australian history, to the history of women’s suffrage and the rights of children.
Eventually, I gave up on trying to stop Littletree from learning anything and took a break while she played around on some silly website.
I came back to find her flipping through a picture book (finally! something non-educational!) She glanced up from the book and announced that she now has a better understanding of how the human urinary tract and kidneys work. Turned out what I thought was a harmless picture book was actually a book on human anatomy. In Hebrew.
So much for unschooled kids not learning anything!