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McNeese State University Log


Laurie Chancey: Learning New Ways to Learn

By Janis Demarest

College was even more of a foreign experience for Laurie Chancey than it was to more traditionally educated students. Not only was she entering a university setting for the first time, but she also was entering into a formal education setting: a whole new world for her. Laurie's educational background was based on "unschooling," a theory of learning in which children were allowed to learn completely at their own pace, with no formal intervention.

Laurie Chancey's decision to continue her education was more of an ordeal than that of the average student. Chancey, a freshman psychology major, not only had to get used to a new campus but also had to get used to a new way of learning.

Many people were familiar with home schooling, but few knew anything about "unschooling." Unschooling was a theory that expressed the need for a child to learn at his or her own pace, rather than following a set curriculum. They learned when they were ready, and therefore, the theory went, there was never any pressure on them to learn. Chancey was the only student in Holt Neill High School, named after John Holt and A.S. Neill for their theories on unschooling.

"When I wanted to learn to read, Mom taught me. She would read to me, but I wanted to read myself," said Chancey. Since she wasn't in a regular school, Chancey didn't hang out with children her own age, but she associated with people of all ages. "I learned to converse with anyone of any age as well as relate. When I was seven or eight, I remember joining a discussion with my mom, dad, and grandmom about an article in Time magazine."

Valerie Chancey [Laurie's Note: now Fitzenreiter], Laurie's mother, entered the university as a freshman interior design major with her daughter. She believed that grades one through 12 were a waste of time for Laurie and "trusted that Laurie wouldn't be stupid." [Laurie's Note: this is not a real quote from Mom!] When applying to MSU, Chancey and her mother were told that without a high school diploma or GED certificate, Laurie would not be able to register.

When registration time came around and Laurie could only provide an English ACT score of 30 and a composite ACT score in the high 20's, MSU allowed Laurie to register without either of the much-needed documents.

[Laurie's Note: this isn't actually true. McNeese did tell us that I needed a high school equivalent the first time we called, but we kept checking and talked to another person who said that ACT scores would be sufficient. They didn't just make an exception for me because I had high scores, although they were relatively high.]

With an ACT score above the national average and a thirst for knowledge, Laurie Chancey took some time to get used to this new learning environment but would have no problems getting through college.

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