Sometimes people question the ideas of unschooling because they wonder how kids will learn to work hard if they’re not forced to do things they don’t want to do, or if they’re not given regular assignments or arbitrary tasks to accomplish throughout their lives. People wonder how kids will grow up, how they’ll learn to find their way in the world. Well, I think kids like to learn things and work hard for the same reasons all humans do. We find something interesting, something worth learning about, and work we want to do, and then there’s no stopping us. We find people who inspire us, and we want to learn from those people as much as we can. We find fascinating things to do, and we want to keep pursuing those things.
This is what we noticed with Ben throughout his younger years as well as more recently as he’s grown older. He found interesting people to learn from and interesting things to do to make his life full and good. A couple years ago, a friend was participating in a local fire service program, a career and tech prep program through the local school district, and he thought Ben might it enjoy, too. It sounded like good, hands-on work, and knowledge worth pursuing. So Ben tried it. And he loved it. For the past two years, he has worked really hard, learning new skills and new content related to fire service work. He tackled things that were not common to him before–lots of textbook reading, regular written assignments, and numerous multiple-choice tests. At first, he wasn’t sure how he’d do with it all, but he learned the ropes (and hoses and ladders), kept at it, and did very well!
This year, at the year-end fire service graduation breakfast and awards ceremony, Ben was recognized with their highest award for his hard work throughout the program, both academic and on the drill grounds. We’re quite proud of him! Mostly, however, we’re happy for him, because he’s met good people and found important work worth doing. And so the learning will continue.