26 Years Turning Life Experiences into Academic Credit with Peggy Webb
Peggy Webb is an unschooling mom, now also a grand-mom, who decided early on to go down the homeschooling road. Her three daughters all chose differing paths for their education. While unschooling, Karen didn’t attended any school until college, Stacey took some classes at the local high school and Rachel had a variety of school experiences throughout her youth. Unschooling can look like many things, including going to school. The defining factor is that the students make their own choices.
The three girls started off each year making lists of what they wanted to do based on the question: “If you had a million dollars and could do anything, what would you do?” This question took off any limitation to their thinking and led them into fields they may not have considered before. We would then set about organizing our days around their lists. Our family life took twists and turns as new interests appeared and others were let go. We spent a lot of time around horses, which was Karen’s passion, as well as piano performance, dance and travel. Learning happened, teaching was unnecesary and testing sounded ridiculous to all of us. We all kept journals and when it came time to make a high school transcript for college, we would convert the activities and learning into course names and assign grades.
West River Academy was born out of a desire to offer other families a way to learn freely outside of school and still end up with a high school diploma and transcript. Parents worry if their unschooling children will have the same opportunities for higher education as traditionally schooled students. “How can a transcript be issued if my child doesn’t take any formal courses?” is a common question. The answer lies in organizing the learning that actually took place into subject names and then evaluating it. It’s not a difficult skill, but it is so contrary to what we have been told that parents often need a little help.
Peggy has watched the growth of homeschooling, including unschooling, not only in the US, but throughout the world. The Academy’s enrollment has surged recently because families in other countries are forming local groups and asking West River Academy to enroll their students to help with compliance with compulsory attendance laws. These people are courageous pioneers in countries where leaving the system is risky.
Where is it all headed? We look forward to finding out!