Ask Amma

WFH-Schooling is not Real Homeschooling

In Field Notes on 10 April 2020 at 12:28 am

Attention kids! To live the homeschooling life under quarantine, frolic from home.

So just as the Harvard students sent home to quarantine were advised to make clear that their online classes were not the same as others’ online classes, I find myself silently clearing my throat when I hear people speak about homeschooling now that everyone sent home thinks they’re suddenly doing it.  Work-from-home schooling, I am here to say, is not real homeschooling.

As everyone should already know, we true homeschoolers (unschoolers, if you care to be specific), hardly at home and never at school, treat the whole world as our learning environment. We frolic about like deer, soaking up insights from the birds and the trees. We radiate joy and intellectual adventure.  We seek not to answer the questions but to question the answers.  Mistakes are but stepping stones on our journey.  Apples regularly fall upon our heads.  Like Newton in quarantine, we seek not only to interpret the world but, indeed to change it.  We commune with ideas with the energy and innocence of our unvarnished, unfettered minds.

Assignments?  Deadlines?  Rubrics?  What to the deer frolicking in the woodlands, are these?


Just today a friend lamented that she was “not doing real homeschooling the way homeschooling is done.” She said her daughter was engaged in “completely open play.”  Wow, I thought.  I don’t know what that even is but I want that.   She said, “I don’t know how much she is learning.” I was brimming with comments I was not making.  I told her, if you are up for a philosophical discussion sometime I would be happy dig into it with you.  One word at a time, as follows:

“We” –  who?

“Doing” – what?

“Real” – what is real? 

“Homeschooling” – what is homeschooling?

In short, when you say “we are not doing real homeschooling,” … I have questions.  When you say “how much she is learning” … I have a TED talk.  When you say “completely open play” I want to celebrate.

Of course the desire to measure is one I know all too well.  A few months ago I found out that my phone could tell me how many miles I walked.  Since then I have had eyes only for walking, so as to keep up my average.  (I have a 5.  I’m in AP hehe.)  My weights lie neglected because my phone won’t measure me lifting them.  Dance practice, jumping jacks, yoga, gardening, mopping the floor, none of this counts.  Though any would be great exercise. Now it is not easy to walk miles per day during quarantine when everything is closed and there is no place to walk to, no one to walk with, and every day more restrictions come out on how much we can venture outside.  So homeschoolers must stay home, people like us who were homeschoolers in practice and now only at heart, also have to stay home.

Deer I saw this very morning, when I walked before anyone else was out … the only time to walk during quarantine. Or if you are a deer.

My daughter’s high school declared that fourth quarter, which starts Monday, would be without grades.  Wait … what? Have they actually dispensed with the tyranny of the scoring system before I did?  

Look who’s “really” homeschooling now!


PS Homeschoolers, you may say, have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.  Despair not! Even in quarantine, some manage to change it. Isaac Newton Changed the World While in Quarantine From the Plague 

PPS Here’s the advisory that appeared on Harvard Reddit the day campus closed:

Most importantly, make sure to remind any Extension students you might come into contact with that your virtual classes are more legitimate and educational than theirs. They should know this already, but a gentle reminder never hurts.

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