adventures in unschooling

What if he never learns?

We have been having a frustrating time over the last two years trying to help Cassius learn to ride a bike. I wrote about the experience under learning challenges in his recent seasonal review:

Cassius’ biggest challenge is attempting to learn things he expects to fail at. For example, riding a bike. After much effort (not to mention moaning, crying, and bellyaching) he finally managed to ride it for a few seconds. He has the ability, and when he actually tries he succeeds. From the outside it is obvious that it is only his fear of failure stopping him, but of course that is hard for him to see.

When I reread what I had written it suddenly occurred to me that fear is not the only thing stopping Cassius from learning how to ride a bike. The main thing stopping him is that HE DOESN’T WANT TO. Why he doesn’t want to is in a way besides the point, because until he decides he does, it’s going to be a uphill battle to teach him. When he decides he wants to do it, he’ll be able to learn quickly, as it is obvious he has the ability.

It is us, his parents, that want him to learn to ride a bike. Why? Because a seven year old should know how to ride a bike! What if he never learns?! Well what if he doesn’t ? Does everyone really need to know how to ride a bike? Riding a bike isn’t actually necessary to survival or even having a fulfilling life.

To be honest I have to have a really good reason to try to learn things when I think I’m going to fail. I believe, most likely a  really good reason to ride a bike will one day present itself to Cassius. The most we can can do is present him with the opportunity.

Unschooling to me is trusting that your child will learn what they need to learn, as long as they have a supportive environment. We may have failed at making Cassius ride a bike – but isn’t it more important that he feel respected and has trust in his own learning process.

I rephrased my first statement in Cassius report to:

Our biggest challenge is trying to make Cassius learn things we think he should learn.

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