unschooling: writing your first paper EVER for graduation
Recently, my oldest son wrote something--for basically the second time in his life.
He's 18, and ready to graduate this month. We made up a list together, tweaked several times, about what we both felt made up a well-rounded and useful list of experiences, accomplishments, things to read, and so on.
Writing has never been a big thing for him. He's fine with basic communication via email, etc. He knows how to interact online, obviously, and can do a good job of being professional as well.
But as far as writing "essays" or "reports", that wasn't really something on his priority list. He's never been into "literature", although he did go thru a jag of reading fantasy novels when he was maybe 14.
When he was 12, he had to write "a paper" for a co-op class that he otherwise enjoyed immensely. Really it was just one paragraph about something he was mildly interested in.
It was like pulling teeth for him, and he HATED writing the single paragraph to complete that assignment. He hated it so much that he didn't even want to do another co-op class after that semester was over!
I should mention here that my oldest son is a Projector, in the system of Human Design.
Projectors tend to be specialists, rather than generalists. They will fixate on a topic and dive DEEP into it, until they're satisfied--and then it's not uncommon for them to just drop it and move on, having gained what they needed.
Projectors only make up about 20% of the population, and sometimes they can be judged as "flaky", because the whole "practice-makes-perfect" thing really isn't their jam.
They're often the last-minute, swallow-the-textbook-in-one-night type of folks--and they are judged by a society who values a slower, steadier, more methodical pace.
This is commonly seen with video gaming for some kids (Projectors or otherwise).
When he'd get a new game, he'd be lost to us, down the rabbithole of learning everything about that new game. He'd come up for air after a four-day streak of obsession, going, "I beat it!". (He's also got some high-functioning aspie traits, which can be a help or a hindrance depending on the scenario, of course.)
For a while now, my son's BIG interest has been music.
He's been making digital music seriously for over a year, and has an artist profile on Bandcamp.
So to nobody's surprise, he chose to write an album review of one of his favorite artists--Muse.
He had procrastinated for a long time, to the point that I wondered if he was planning to write anything, after all. Finally, he decided on this and got right to work.
In less than a week, he'd written a draft, tweaked it many times, and re-wrote the final thing--15 pages long!
I think he spent four or five HUGE, long sessions, maybe 6 straight hours writing each time. I am blown away by not only his command of language but by the really in-depth analysis and meaning that he included.
I repeat--this is the second formal thing he's ever written, aside from work emails and a paragraph when he was 12.
This is the strength of a Projector - IF they are allowed the space to choose their own interests, without too much judgment about the pace they choose...you will likely be shocked by the depth of understanding and grasp of detail that they end up emerging with.
So to all the unschoolers out there who are worrying that their kid is that one exception, that he or she won't "get it" like the rest of the population does...that they will be woefully unprepared for the very basics of adult life because they haven't done a lick of algebra or written a single paper...It Will Be Okay.
Unschooling continually challenges me to trust, to allow, and to be surprised and in awe of the abilities of my own children--as well as humanity as a whole.
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