Tuesday, 14 September 2021 21:39

Why all the unicycles?

Written by Sally Dennis
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Antioch School legend has it that the late, great OG teacher Bill Mullins bought a couple of used unicycles one weekend, thinking that the OG children might take a liking to them. Now, decades later, the unicycle has become a symbol of the Antioch School and a challenge many children still enthusiastically take to. But, why? Contrary to rumors around town, unicycling is not an Antioch School graduation requirement. And none of the teachers are expert unicyclists who teach the children how to do it. 

The teachers give children the opportunity, the time, and the physical structure to learn, but no one can actually teach someone how to ride a unicycle -- one just has to get on and try it. Each rider has to find her balance, figure out the right speed, adjust after failed attempts and be encouraged by small gains. It takes time. No one is great at unicycling right off the bat. It is not something to be mastered after a day of practicing, or a week, or a month. There is always something new to try and more to learn. Even after years of unicycling, the children find new ways to challenge themselves by riding on different terrain or on higher unicycles; they ride on the balance beams or on ramps; they do jumps or learn to air mount. Children are natural learners who will return to tasks, even very challenging ones, over and over again. The opportunities are limitless. 

Learning to ride a unicycle is work that only the rider can do. It is challenging, satisfying, and fun. It is internally motivated. It is learning at its best and most natural. It is no wonder it has come to symbolize the Antioch School.  

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