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Learn Nothing Day - July 24

Learn Nothing Day - A vacation for unschoolers observed each year on July 24. Have you ever tried to learn nothing? By midday on Learn Nothing Day, unschoolers begin reporting their success or failure to learn nothing.
A quote by Pam Dowling, posted on the Learn Nothing Day webpage, sums up the spirit of the day:
"That day can be nothing but an epic fail! and a total success in reminding us that we learn all the time!"
Cathy Koetsier, on her Christian Unschooling blog, noted that "consciously trying not to learn is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate the reality of John Holt's claim that learning is what people do, naturally, all the time, just like fish swim."
School kids and schooly homeschoolers take a break from school in the summer, but unschoolers keep learning.
"When people ask if they homeschool in the summer, they say yes. When people ask when they have a break from learning, they say never." -- from the Learn Nothing Day webpage.
If school kids and summer break homeschoolers participated in Learn Nothing Day, they would discover that taking a break from school is not a break from learning, at least not the way unschoolers view learning.
To unschoolers, learning is more than school subjects. Learning is living, doing, thinking, feeling, experiencing every day. That's why Learn Nothing Day can never succeed, at least not in the literal sense. It's fun to try, though, and you're likely to learn just how much learning happens whether you're trying or not.


Get Students Focused on the Tasks Ahead

Teachers today face more distractions than ever before. It wasn't that long ago that kids needed to sit down with a book and answer homework questions about that book based on what they read. Students can now research those questions online and find answers from hundreds of kids in other schools. Kids can use their smartphones and tablets in the classroom, which keeps them from properly paying attention to what their teachers say. Using explanatory modeling in your classroom might make those kids stop using those electronic devices and start focusing on their education.

How Explanatory Modeling Works

Explanatory modeling is a type of teaching that involves the use of a hypothetical situation. You give your kids a simple situation and ask them to use their skills to come up with a hypothesis as to how that event occurred. The best thing about this type of curriculum is that you can use it in almost any classroom and at all educational levels. You might use the tomb of a mummy in Egypt when teaching kids about history, a mathematical equation when talking about math or an environmental problem to teach them about science.

Beyond Psychology

One of the early proponents in explanatory modeling was Dr. George L. Newscome. You can learn about his research at this website and other places online. He originally started working in the field as a way to help psychology teachers work with their students and give their students a better understanding of psychology topics. After seeing the success of the program, he realized that teachers could use those methods to teach other topics. He now encourages other teachers to use his system to get students of all ages interested in history, science, math and other subjects.

Changing Your Curriculum

Explanatory modeling offers a simple way to change your curriculum to meet the changing needs of your students. Kids today can hop online and quickly find answers to any questions you ask, and they can download everything from study guides to sample exams. Presenting hypothetical situations to them that you create on your own ensures that they work hard to find answers without resorting to the Internet. As a teacher, you want to mold and shape young minds and teach students the skills that will assist them in other classes. Explanatory modeling might help you get more excited about teaching and get your students excited too.

Courage to unschool

“Our daughter’s outrageous behavior gave us the courage to homeschool.”
I found this quote pretty funny. It's from "Why We're Not Going Back to School in the Fall."

Of course, I never considered school in the first place, which is pretty lucky for my kids, none of whom are a good fit for school because they are too awesome!

"We wondered, what if we stopped imposing society’s rules on our child, who was so clearly suffering?"

A new acquaintance in one of my homeschool groups has recently made a similar choice for her child who has some autism-related struggles with big emotions and aggression. School just wasn't working for him, but she's anxious about homeschooling.

This quote, I feel, is very inspiring.

"At the beginning of the year, our girl was not interested in much. She wanted only to stay home. To play in the playroom. To lounge on the couch. To lie in bed, looking at books. I religiously planted seeds all fall. I littered books that might interest her around the house. I told her about new, exciting homeschool classes that were forming. I suggested homeschool park days and games days. Nothing sparked her interest. Nothing. This flat stance would continue through the fall, but in December the most amazing thing happened: the lights came back on! She was interested in everything: learning to read, to skate, to dance, to design and sew clothing, to bake her own recipes. You name it, it interested her! Enough time had passed. She had, in a sense, rebooted her feelings about learning…and about life in general."
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