Some knowledge shouldn't be left to chance
Some knowledge shouldn't be left to chance.
If someone never comes across a need for something, do they need it?
And if they do come across a need for something they don't know, why won't they learn it?
Well, one reason we think they won't learn it is that our schooled society has created such a fear in people. People are afraid that if someone doesn't already know what they need to know then they're stuck and can't move on. No one wants to limit their children so the answer seems to be to fill kids with what they might need so they can do anything they want.
In a way the fears are justified. From our experience in school we know that unless you're already interested in a subject learning is boring and hard and tedious. We know we wouldn't have gone through the dull classes and irritating homework unless someone had made us. So it's natural to conclude that if someone were faced with the need for Algebra, for instance, and didn't have it and didn't have someone making them learn it, it's highly unlikely they'd put themselves through the tedium of learning it.
But in reality that only applies to schooled kids. People who have spent 12 years learning that learning is tedious or hard will naturally avoid learning. People without that experience don't have a reason to avoid learning. They will learn what they need as they need it, or they'll find a way to learn what they need perhaps more formally with a book or video or class.
So, the answer is that unschooling isn't learning by chance. Unschooling is learning by need and interest.
Shouldn't they know how to do an Excel spreadsheet?
When/if they need it, they will do it. :-) (I didn't learn about spreadsheets until I needed them and then I learned on my own.) Assuming of course that spreadsheets are in the kids' environment so they know they exist. (Which doesn't mean they'll only know if we show them.)
I've done a few spreadsheets for my daughter. One has her allowance and expenses on it. And since she was desperately trying to save for a Game Cube I said I'd give her weekly interest on her savings so she could see that being calculated.
Another spreadsheet was a Hiragana/Katakana/Romaji alphabet translator that I cobbled together to help her translate Japanese Pokemon cards.
And a similar one to translate the elvish in the first Artemis Fowl book into English.
We kept records of the weight gain in the kittens we were fostering and I showed her how it could draw a chart for her. I wish we'd been more diligent at keeping records but the scale wasn't cooperative and the kittens were adamantly opposed to furthering our research ;-)
We have a checklist and price list of Pokemon cards and a catalog of American Pokemon names along side Romaji versions of their Japanese names and meanings/origins of the Japanese versions (as far as we could tell.) There's also a list of Digimon sortable by various categories.
I found a spreadsheet she did on her own of the creatures she's made up with checks and x's of various colors next to the names for some mysterious known only to her purpose.
(She's 10 by the way.)
Some of these are more traditionally databases, but it shows the flexibility of spreadsheets.
She's also seen me type in calculations to figure things out.
Add some information into Access
What's that? A database?
We have a database of Pokemon names in English, Romaji, Hiragana and Katakana.
A rather cool catalog of pictures of all the second group of the Pokemon that we captured from the internet and organized and then translated their names into Romaji.
Another database of Digimon names in English, Romaji, Hiragana and Katakana.
Do you think this is leaning towards forced learning if the child has no interest in those things?
They probably won't be interested just for the sake of acquiring knowledge that someone suggests might be useful.
But they might be interested if they're shown how to use them for various purposes that are personally meaningful to them like the ideas that naturally arose above. None were planned to teach my daughter how to use spreadsheets or databases. We were just using those tools for real purposes. And using them for real purposes and learning how as a side effect is much more learning-filled than learning how they operate for "just in case" reasons.
Most companies nowadays want someone who has this knowledge base of simple computer applications.
And lots of companies are desperate for people who can design webpages and know Java which kids seem to acquire without parents and teachers even knowing HTML and Java exist!
When something is funny, I laugh out loud or chuckle ever so slightly if something catches my attention or I agree with smacks on my leg. He then starts reading the book. Maybe this would work with the kids hey? Sounds like a good idea.
They might also catch on that they're being manipulated so I wouldn't use it as a standard tactic ;-)
But doing the same because it's funny without the ulterior motive works great. :-) It's a natural part of how we share our lives and our values with anyone.