Throughout the years that we have homeschooled/unschooled, I have come to the realization that learning is a much more powerful experience when it is shared across barriers such as age, maturity, and culture.

Of course, learning is still an individual process.  But there is a special vibe you get when you realize the after-effects of a shared learning experience.

When you learn something profound or life-changing alongside a group of other people, it builds strong memories and attachments that can last a very long time.

I was reminded of this today.  We spent the day pretty much just doing our own thing. Then we went to the store and got ingredients to make cookies together.

As we were making cookies, the girls were figuring out measurements and volume. Raven helped the younger kids with stirring, pouring, and explaining fractions.

Denna asked a lot of questions about the ingredients and we talked about what each one added to the recipe.

I realized that everyone was working together, as well as learning from each other.

This is not unusual for an activity like making cookies.  But this sort of thing happens all the time in our house.

Someone will get interested in a topic, and then ask for help or share what they have been doing.  Then we all end up spending time exploring and learning together.

Everyone is free to share, ask questions, and learn something new from the experience.

I think those kinds of experiences are important in unschooling.  It doesn’t set anyone up as the expert, and it allows for everyone to feel equally adequate.  Even Gaius, who is 2, can participate.  He usually wanders off after a few minutes but sometimes he is more engaged than the rest of us!

Learning freely together builds cooperation skills, critical thinking, and confidence about seeking out new ideas and trying new things.  There is no pressure to be right or wrong, or worrying about how to document progress.

Everyone, including myself, learns much more this way.  And we remember it better because there is an emotional and relational attachment to it.

And there have been studies that show when you are exposed to information in different emotional and psychological states, if affects how you react and remember that information.

Stressful situations with a lot of pressure trigger the hormone cortisol, which blocks memory and affects retention and logical reasoning.

But in a relaxed, enjoyable setting, learning is made easier with hormones like dopamine and seratonin.  These hormones are linked to cheerful memories, clearer thinking, and better retention of information.

What could be more relaxed and enjoyable than having the freedom to learn together as a family – no holds barred – and everyone is curious and respectful towards everyone else’s interests?

The kids even enjoy my crazy ideas and activities once in a while.  Here is Gaius and Denna dancing excitedly to the opening song of BBC’s Horrible Histories. They love this show!

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2 Responses to The Power Of Learning Together

  1. You are talking hormones and learning, I love it!

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