Posted by: acecasanova | October 10, 2011

The unschooling of Harry Potter

As I continued to read through chapter 5 and read about Heather Lawver and “The Daily Prophet” I felt more and more like this relates to something I’ve very recently come across called “unschooling”.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling)  Unschooling is a fairly new and controversial educational philosophy emphasizing a child’s life’s experiences as their education over traditional education methods. Unschooling allows children to explore activities and subjects they find on their own to be of interest.  All activities are facilitated by adults.  This is quite obviously a very controversial philosophy on education, but after reading about “The Daily Prophet” I feel the philosophy holds some merit.

If you look at the way these children take their own personal interest in the world of fiction and writing, I feel by having the free reign to write what they want (whether that’s based on a pre-existing fantasy world or not) children are able to have greater knowledge gains.  The Daily Prophet and these short stories are something the children are doing of their own accord, and I feel that for a child this is an empowering factor that motivates them to truly and vigorously pursue the activity.

My parents had always told me that when I was in kindergarten and middle school I was so energetic that I was uncontrollable.  I couldn’t sit still and teachers had no idea what to do with me.  I even almost made some teachers want to quit their job.  At one point, they decided to try a new approach.  In this approach they had decided that instead of trying to guide me, they would let me guide them.  In doing so they discovered that my primary interests were math and science, and that I would always go the math and science stations for entertainment.  I feel that by watching our children and allowing them to take the reins on what they want to learn and experience, we will get to know our children far better and they will be much more satisfied with their education.

My question is where do we draw the line?   I ask this with the society’s ideal education in mind.  One that is well rounded and spans all subjects.  Some of the testimonies I’ve read for unschooling and for learning through self exploration have not only been positive, but have claimed that unschooling has changed the lives of the students.  I feel that this type of media, fan fiction, new media through the internet, and ease of access to information make unschooling and home schooling incredibly easy and efficient.  At the same time, could all this access also be deceptive?  Is the internet and convergence culture the “new school” or is it simply a piece of entertainment and should not possibly be thought of as something that can replace traditional schooling methods?

One last note, with the lack of funding to make the American education system what it once was, and with the failure of public schools in many areas of the country to produce satisfactory test results, could convergence media possibly be a better alternative for parents in the new era?

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