Does “Unschooling” mean letting Nik run wild?

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Well, that’s what my Dad thinks. He’s certain I give Nik too much freedom & not enough “discipline” (whatever that means – I seem to remember belts & yard sticks…).  That is, until he need him to do something in the middle of the day, like walk the dog. Then he’s sooo glad Nik is there….

*In reality, Nik needs very little “discipline”. Well, in the evening after his meds wear off, he does get kinda goofy & loud – but he also respects my migraines or times he really has to be low-key. He’s (as I’m sure I’ve said a few times before…) an old soul; quite wise for 14 1/2. These last few weeks, after Dad’s surgery & Mom was dying, he stepped up & took on a lot of responsibility.  This is a child who whines if he doesn’t get to weekend meditation at our Won-Buddhist temple. Where did he come from???

*As for running wild? Nik uses his freedom (from the routine of the robot-producing public school system) very well. He continues to do wonderful photography. We entered 2 photos in every category of the NC Wildlife Magazine photo contest. We’ll find out by the end of October whether he got any recognition. I think several of his pictures have a “wow” factor that will at least attract the judges’ attention. Last year, a 16 yo girl won the Grand Prize – bet there were a bunch of miffed pros!! I’m posting several of the photos at the bottom.

*So, you might say “but what about academics? How is he going to learn about history, government, English literature?”  & all those other wonderful little boxes schools like to put “knowledge” in? Hmmm… 2 years ago we did that critical comparison of Lord of the Flies & To Kill a Mockingbird. Faulkner is upstairs beside his bed. “The Pearl” is in the van. A stack of Marvel comics is in his closet. Is normal kid, rly! Writing is becoming a pleasure, not a chore. Today he was blogging about the current conflict about taxes/war/social services.  Something about being a BBC & NPR addict…. Even though I told him to write 5 reasons to go to The Rally to Restore Sanity & 5 reasons to go to the March to Keep Fear Alive. Well, I guess that will have to be tomorrow. He needs to know why we’re going. (I think he does…)

*Science? Besides knowing practically everything about living creatures & plants, he’s gotten very enthusiastic about medical subjects. Loves anecdotes. Yesterday, I got him a book with anecdotes about famous & difficult patients. He read the one about Hitler to me with glee. “Blood & Guts: the history of surgery” is in the van & the pictorial “history of surgery” is on a cabinet in the living room. At least it’s not on the mantel…. We’ve also been working on electricity & history of inventions. This started because he wanted to know about microchips – figured he needed background before we got to semi-conductors & micro-micro chips.

*Yesterday, he spent time explaining to his father how a barometer worked. Was a good exercise in putting technical terms into language a layman understands (his dad had no idea how the thing worked – he can’t even figure out an ipod).  Out in the common area, he’s been figuring out that this area has geology different from most of the state – and finding various forms of hematite & other iron-containing rocks. (hint: what makes red clay red?) He’s had a couple of meetings with copperheads (nice photos) and met a nice black racer who came right up & licked his camera lens!!  (even nicer photos) Recently, he’s been experimenting with light effects on plants, trees & leaves. Salamanders & frogs should fear him, but they don’t seem to have problems letting him pick them up & photograph them. Same with butterflies & various other bugs.

*

Art? He wanted to draw people & start with faces. “Oh, great”, I said, “You want to start with the second hardest part to draw.” Not one to be second-best, he wanted to know what first hardest was. “Hands”, I told him. Good thing I’m an artist, among a zillion other things – and I’m good  & have education in this one! We started with the basics – how to see the shapes & then put them together. Darn if he didn’t get it almost right away. Except for a thumb placement problem, he drew a hand! A GOOD hand!  We’re going to get together with another “gifted” home-schooled teenager, who’s also interested in art. Should be fun!

*There are many more things we’re going to explore, especially now we don’t have to worry about Mom’s care. One of the first is going to DC the end of October. Hey, isn’t that when those rallies are? Sure is a coincidence, huh?

Here are some of Nik’s Pics, as promised…

See, I told you he licked the camera!!

 

Update: Nik won 2nd place in NC Wildlife Photo Competition Invertibrate category with the Ant!!!

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