Friday, October 15, 2010

Unschooling: Thomas the Tank Engine

Photography by my son
What do I like about unschooling?
I enjoy the fantastic surprises, growth, change, and cultivation of new endeavours that result from fully explored passions and through the luxury of unbridled time!

Photography by my son
Not too long ago, my son was considering selling his wooden Thomas the train collection. At that time he was really into Lego and itching for money to buy more sets. It's a good thing he never followed through as he is now so engrossed in the subject of Thomas! He reads the stories, he knows what characters and destinations came out in which year, he has read all the character profiles online, he watches the videos and movies, he draws Thomas and Friends engines and scenes, he creates new layouts with his tracks and creates stories with his engines, and he's found several YouTube story videos by fellow children.

Perhaps this last bit is where he's found his inspiration. In fact, I believe he had been searching for Lego videos when he stumbled upon a YouTube videographer by the name of ThomasWoodenRailway who does a series of Thomas videos. Ever since then, the Thomas madness has stricken my child.

The fantastic thing about it though, is how his play has developed and grown since his initial interest in this subject. His story creation is infinitely more elaborate and richly detailed and concise. But he's found a new passion: story videos. He is now filming his own YouTube-bound videos. In this process he is learning all kinds of techniques through trial and error and by viewing other people's work. He's even learning to self edit and purge the not-so-great videos while keeping the ones he likes. 

Photography by my son
My son told me one day that I should thank Thomas because he's learning new things. I asked him to elaborate, so he explained that he was practicing his writing and spelling while labeling his sketches. Furthermore, he knows what cameo means in relation to movies.

I thought about it and figured he's learning so much more than that! I've already explained how his stories have grown, but his ability to research and navigate the Internet is also developing in leaps and bounds. His editing and analysing abilities are likewise skyrocketing; it's really funny listening to him explain all the "goofs" he finds in the YouTube videos or within the real Thomas and Friends shows. He's back into photography and documenting his track layouts. Not to mention all the arts and crafts related to Thomas that he's been doing. And, all that reading of so many different mediums! He's even learned about the original author and how his son took over after his death. I'm sure I could sit down and scrutinise it further, but I think you get the point.


  1. Trains are always interesting and nice photography. You will both have to go to the model train show next year. Lots of Thomas Trains there this past year.

  2. You'll have to let us know when he gets some YouTube videos out there!


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