Let’s be honest for a couple of minutes. School sucks! All the homework, exams, projects, reading assignments make school miserable. There is a reason that many of us did not or do not enjoy school and that is because we were forced to learn. As humans we naturally resist force. This can be seen simply by reviewing how many wars there have been throughout our history. We do not like to be forced to do something, but we are willing to force others even when we know it doesn’t work. This vicious cycle begins with educations. As children we were forced to get up and go to school. We sat down for 8 hours listening to lectures then came home and worked on homework for another couple hours, sometimes putting in 10 hours at the age of 7. There is another way and allow me to show with legos.

My son is 3 years old and one of the most creative humans I have ever met. I got bored a couple weekends ago and started organizing all my legos from when I was a kid. It was a huge crate. For all you nerds who argue about how to organize legos, I did it by color (feel free to argue about that in the comment section below). My son has played with the big lego blocks, but never the tiny ones. He wanted to help. I had him help me by sorting out the colors. He didn’t know the colors at the time, so it he wasn’t much help (even though he tried). He played and built his own masterpieces.

Yesterday, we were walking through Wal-Mart and he noticed that there was a lego section. I didn’t know if he was old enough, but he wanted one set and I had some extra money. I allowed him to pick whichever set he wanted. He chose from the new Superhero series: The Batman Riddler Chase.

When we got home he ripped it opened and asked for my help putting it together. I sat down with him and it took 2 hours. Our conversation included phrases like, “Could you hand me the red piece”, “Papa can I have the square piece”, “Landen do you see the black circle piece?”, and “I need two green, rectangles with 6 notches only 1 row.” He was learning his colors, numbers, shapes, and communication skills at an exponential rate. Common Core has learning shapes and numbers as a Kindergarten standard. I am not claiming that my son is smarter than other children. What I am trying to express is that there are better ways to educate a child than through lectures and worksheets.

This is not to say that all children should be sat down and forced to learn shapes, counting, and colors through playing with legos. Some children do not like legos and it would be disaster to force that upon them. Every child is unique and therefore to get the most out of education it will require a unique educational experience. If we try to factory produce education we will be met with an end product that we are not satisfied with. In reality, this factory process creates drones that follow direction and work long hard hours. If we want our children to be successful in the future economy, which is ever changing and unpredictable, then we need to teach our children to think for themselves, not be able to fill in a bubble.

Allowing our children to explore the world around them is the heart of unschooling. We should be heavily involved in our children’s lives and use every opportunity as an educational experience. I did not plan on the lego purchase to be about learning about shapes, colors, and numbers. It just happened. To build the batmobile my son needed to learn to obtain what he wanted. This isn’t about making our children the center of the universe, it is about helping them learn through the best possible way. People learn through experiences and they learn faster when they are passionate about what they are doing. In the end we as parents and educators have two choices. First, we can use force to educate children. This will result in resistance and if it is successful, an obedient person, that follows orders. Or we can give children freedom to learn what they need to succeed. We can allow children to savory and hold on to that creative spark they were born with. This will result in an entrepreneur who is passionate about what they do and blow away the world with their capabilities that they have fostered throughout their entire life.