MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Youth Radio brings us his story.
SAM FULLER: Oh. Oh, my God.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
FULLER: In order to play this new and exciting game, I had to read about the different characters on the cards. I'm 16 now. I learn what I want to learn, when I want to learn it, and not always in the conventional ways. My mom had the idea to unschool me when she was a teacher and I was a baby.
BLOCK: And I thought, oh, here I have a 4-month-old baby and, well, you know, this is fine, the way he's learning now. This is really the ideal school. He's learning exactly what he needs to, when he needs to learn it, with plenty of support in a loving environment. I don't really see any reason that that has to change.
FULLER: What do you do all day?
NICKY: Well, it depends. Kind of bored, usually.
FULLER: What would you like to be doing?
NICKY: Well, I usually wish I had a new book to read or like, a TV series to watch or something.
FULLER: My grandpa is one of the people in my family who had concerns about unschooling.
BLOCK: I didn't think it was a good idea. One of the reasons that I was worried was that I was afraid your education might be a little spotty. The other thing is the social aspect of the thing. For example, you couldn't take part in team sports.
FULLER: And the truth is, my grandpa is right. My education is spotty. Up until a year ago, I could barely spell. It was my own fault because I was reluctant to take on the daunting task. Most parents would have intervened in this situation.
BLOCK: But then, I think there's a cost to that.
FULLER: My mom again.
BLOCK: When you force somebody to do something, especially when they're a child, and there's an imbalance in a power relationship anyway, they lose part of their will and their confidence that they know what's right for them. And I think that's a pretty high cost for being a good speller.
FULLER: For NPR News, I'm Sam Fuller.
BLOCK: Sam's story comes to us from Youth Radio.
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