Unschooling and Following Directions

When I was teaching 5th grade many years ago, several teachers were passing around a book on how to teach “following directions”. It seems like following directions should be easy, but we found that a large number of students weren’t that good at it. I wasn’t that excited with the book because honestly, I am not a big worksheet supporter. I use them on occasion, but find them dull and lacking in many areas. What I wanted for my students was the very thing I saw Sophia doing the last two days.

Out of the blue she developed an interest in magic. For two days she has spent almost all of her free time reading the directions to magic card tricks, learning them, and then performing them. And, she is pretty good. This is so different than what I was able to accomplish in a classroom. For one thing, she has plenty of time to read and reread the directions before time is up to either move to a new project or demonstrate she has learned something. Second, she can read the directions and try them out in the privacy of her own room until she gets them right or totally abandon the project if she doesn’t find it meets her needs any longer. Third, she has a genuine interest in performing her magic tricks. This is really the test of whether she is capable of following directions, isn’t it? Not sitting down and completing a test written by me.

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