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Why do other people feel so threatened by unschooling? - Page 2

post #21 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post


I was thinking the same thing. It very well may be that school-going kids who are going for a GED might often dealing with subtle learning challenges they might not even know they have and that they might have missed picking up some skills along the way just from struggles that frustrated them. - Lillian
Well, that makes sense. As for your post before that, I don't take offense. It seems that I read a lot more closely than many people. It is a skill I take great pride in; and I often had other test takers come up to me and thank me for saying something, because they hadn't read the question that closely and had answered the wrong question.

On to some other comments, like I said, I was in a home schooling environment, so I'm not familiar with un-schooling. I do know that if I hadn't been MADE to take my math classes, I would not have learned anything past fractions (because I liked to cook, and fractions happen quite often in cooking). If I hadn't learned the more complex subjects, and learned how to sit through subjects I didn't care about at the time, I don't think I would have ever found my field of work, or pursued my degree field (accounting! of all thing, really!), and I do love my work.

So, I think my experience, with having to learn a subject I didn't want to learn, opened more doors because I was willing to try a class that didn't sound like much fun before I started (Intro to Accounting), and I didn't only choose those classes that sounded like fun.

But then, I don't know much about un-schooling. Is it common that the kids only learn what they want to learn? Or, is that a misperception?
post #22 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
because of never knowing about such critically important things as who Ben Franklin was.
Ah yes, Lillian. You always put things in such wonderful perspective. I appreciate your posts so much!

Funnily enough, the only thing I remember of Ben Franklin from my school experience was the kite, the key and the lightening bolt. It wasn't until we began our unschooling journey that I kept seeing The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin listed rather frequently as excellent reading material for those pursuing homeschooling--I believe John Taylor Gatto recommends it, among others. It was at that time (in my mid 30's) that I actually learned about the man, his many interests, his varied careers, and his profound impact upon our society. (And because our family has a strong habit of openly discussing whatever it is that we're reading about currently, DS likely picked up a few things about Mr. Franklin as well.)

Just sayin'

Excellent discussion.

The best,
Em
post #23 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtRoadMama View Post

But then, I don't know much about un-schooling. Is it common that the kids only learn what they want to learn? Or, is that a misperception?
My kids learn what they want to learn, but I don't find that to be limiting. Everything is connected, so if, for instance, my child was interested in learning to play an instrument, by virtue of doing so, he'd also be exposed to music theory, math, history, geography etc. While he might not say, "I want to learn about history" when it comes up as part of music it is interesting to him and leads to more information and questions. (Sort of a self-made unit study.)

I think people in general only learn what interests them--they might memorize information for a test, but if it doesn't interest the person and if they don't use the information, sooner or later it is forgotten.

Unschooled kids learn what interests them, or what they NEED to learn to accomplish what they want to accomplish. For instance, my dd never had a burning desire to learn algebra, but, knowing that she wanted to go to college, she studied algebra. No one made her study it, but she saw learning it as a means to a goal she had set for herself. As it turned out, she enjoyed it.

I often hear people say that if they weren't "made" to study something, they never would have learned it. My feeling is that, if having certain information is important, then a person will learn it and, if it's not important, then why learn it? I know that, the things I was made to learn in school are things I quickly forgot. The things I was passionate about--THOSE are the things that stick with me.
post #24 of 84
I'd have to agree that the concept of kids learning along their interests can be hard to wrap your mind around. But personally I only ever retained things long enough for the final exam unless I was interested in them. As for the testing question, every test I've ever written came with directions so isn't more a question of reading comprehension skills than test taking skills?? *no sarcasm, honest wondering*
post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtRoadMama View Post

But then, I don't know much about un-schooling. Is it common that the kids only learn what they want to learn? Or, is that a misperception?
I don't think you can make any child learn something if they refuse.

I also think interests have tentacles, if you will.

You may start with an interest in drawing, decide you want to focus on drawing people, realise your knowledge of anatomy is alittle shaky, and need to brush up on it....

it is a fluid thing

Kathy
post #26 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Embee View Post
Funnily enough, the only thing I remember of Ben Franklin from my school experience....
Everything I've retained about Franklin is in the book "Ben and Me" about a mouse living in his hat.


My guess is that the guy is actually intrigued and wants to know all about it before using, adapting, or rejecting it for his own child.
post #27 of 84
Well, seeing as how five of the contestants (all public schooled) on the current Amazing Race show didn't even know that Joan of Arc was a female and thought that 'he' must have something to do with Noah, I'm not thinking that public school is coming out ahead right now. I shudder to think what most graduates think they know about Franklin.

On the 'why are they threatened?' question, what I've noticed in my own life is that anything out of the ordinary is threatening to a lot of people. I homebirth, breastfeed, EC, and unschool. All of those things have been thrown in my face as 'You think you're better than me/a better mother/more intelligent/have better kids because you do ___' I never talk about these things with those who confront me, but they feel threatened by me doing them.

I wrote a long list and then deleted it for this - When you make a *concious* parenting choice, that choice can be incredibly threatening to those who 'go with the flow'. Without saying a word, without condescending behavior, without even knowing that they *are* being offended by your choices, those who you live around can become incredibly offended by your parenting choices.
post #28 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
I often hear people say that if they weren't "made" to study something, they never would have learned it.
I've always been puzzled that one. I was made to study many things in school (well, sort of - I wasn't the most cooperative student in the world, past about grade 5). I wouldn't say I actually learned very many of them. I remember basic English, bits of German and French (both of which I took all the way through to grad, because I liked them) and a good chunk of math (also an interest). Most of the rest of it was a blur by the time I was 20. I actually have a very good memory, but that stuff got filed in the junk drawer.

DirtRoadMama: I went to public school all the way through school. I very rarely questioned a teacher about anything, except in grade seven. In grade seven, my teacher made me mad a lot, because he was a pompous UAV, so I took pleasure in pointing out all of his errors in front of the class. Other than that, I didn't speak out ever. If called on in class, I said "I don't know", even if I did. When we had debates in socials class (awesome teacher, and excellent at engaging everyone), I spoke up a whopping total of twice...because people were pissing me off enough to override my lack of confidence in speaking up in class. So, this isn't really about the style of education, imo. DS1 will speak up at any time, to anybody, and he's also been public schooled. I think dd1 may be more like me, but hopefully won't have her self-confidence stomped on the way I did...by teachers and other students.
post #29 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
The other thing that confuses me: isn't unschooling something that parents would do anyway with their children? In addition to some more formalized education? It seems to me -- and again, correct me if I'm wrong because you all are actually living this -- that unschooling is all about allowing your child to follow their interests and learn generalized lessons from those interests as well as from life skills (ie teaching math by making muffins and measuring the ingredients), teaching them critical thinking skills (ie teaching them to learn, vs teaching them facts), and allowing them the latitude to be who they are in the learning environment. That all sounds great to me, but wouldn't you do those things anyway? Have I come up with an oversimplified version of unschooling? Again, this is an honest question, and implies no judgment whatsoever, but I'd love it if someone could explain these things to me.
My family's perspective on this is that we don't teach our dc how to learn; they have an innate ability to sort, analyse and conclude without our intervention. If you aren't sure if that's true, you can watch a young infant exercising the scientific method with a cup or a puppy without any formal instruction or any idea that we've named the thing s/he does naturally "the scientific method".

For us, the main issue is making sure that our dc are not limited in their exploration, that they are not impeded/hindered, because western society is far more geared toward limiting the choices and experiences of children than toward expanding them, though they typically use language that implies or overtly states the opposite. Just the fact that the most progressive schools set up their classrooms to mimic real-life environments indicates that mass schooling and society in general is not at all about actually stepping out of the way so children can actually learn through actual experience, which is how human beings learn.

Synthetic experience wins out in education, and in society at large. For this reason, it isn't possible to provide an environment like the way we learn in our family for only part of the time; the problem with that thinking is that if we are freely learning, then we are just living, and we don't truncate our life-experiences into 'educational' and 'social' and 'physical', etc...; these categories have no meaning in a free-learning home.

Just for a small and relatively insignificant example, it just irks dp and me that so many children think they are learning to play guitar with a popular video game, and feel like they've had a real experience with it. Mass schooling is like that all day long, every day.

My dp who is a guitarist (20+ yrs now) is floored that even though he tries to explain the difference, the children he works with (he's a youth services counselor) really don't understand it; they really don't even see a distinction between real and synthetic experiences no matter how many ways he tries to explain it to them. When he offered to play guitar with them (real guitar), they were super excited until they actually tried it and then they found it too hard and preferred the instant gratification of the video game.

I wish it were an isolated thing, but I've seen that mass schooled children in general have no idea what is real, let alone that they are missing it. I am wondering how these children, my children's generation, are going to function in any real capacity as adults? There is so much dependency built into their education that I cannot even imagine how any concern about the real-world potential of unschoolers can be tabled with any integrity or understanding or both.

Lastly, for us , there is no 'learning environment"; there simply is an environment. Learning is like breathing. I am sure that I have never referred to our breathing environment as though distinct from our loving environment or our respecting environment or any other innate and antural aspect of our environment or experience that can be distinguished but that only really works as a part of the whole. The whole takes precedence. The vocabulary of institutionalised schooling just doesn't apply. This is why USers and other HSers sometimes post here about how to put their dc's experiences into institutional educationese.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtRoadMama View Post
That's all just to say that some skills to take a while to learn, and it can be daunting to learn how to question a professor when you have never dealt with a formal teacher before, in my experience.
I'm surprised that mass schooling would be credited for expressed confidence and assertiveness; I've never been to or seen a school that prized such qualities in a student unless that student performed to such a high level that it was lauded in retrospect.

I think that people who are not hindered by 'authority' issues alongside their learning are far more likely to feel free to express divergences of thought and practice, but that's my opinion and experience, which may not be common amongst USers. A lot of HSers do mix authority issues in with teaching their dc, so I can definitely see the link there, but secular USers would seem to me to be far less likely to mix the two and they would then be less likely to shrink in the face of another human being who is supposed to be learning as well, such as a professor.

I did go to ps, and I don't have that issue even so; ps did really work at removing that understanding though. The teacher is the one who tells the student what is correct and should not be questioned generally, and especially not during class time. Without that power imbalance built into the psyche of the child, I think how s/he deals with people who assume authority will differ according to personality and other personal considerations rather than how the child was educated to that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtRoadMama View Post
But then, I don't know much about un-schooling. Is it common that the kids only learn what they want to learn? Or, is that a misperception?
Yes, they learn what they want to learn, but what they want to learn becomes increasingly very broad as they explore freely. Nobody has to make learning fun or trick them into learning so that they don't even know they're doing it. Bizarre. This is a reality of mass schooling- that children seem to shut down and not want to learn-, but not of free-learners, to my knowledge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niamh View Post

On the 'why are they threatened?' question, what I've noticed in my own life is that anything out of the ordinary is threatening to a lot of people. I homebirth, breastfeed, EC, and unschool. All of those things have been thrown in my face as 'You think you're better than me/a better mother/more intelligent/have better kids because you do ___' I never talk about these things with those who confront me, but they feel threatened by me doing them.

I wrote a long list and then deleted it for this - When you make a *concious* parenting choice, that choice can be incredibly threatening to those who 'go with the flow'. Without saying a word, without condescending behavior, without even knowing that they *are* being offended by your choices, those who you live around can become incredibly offended by your parenting choices.
Yes to this. We also don't discuss our decisions (except every now and then at MDC ) but find ourselves somehow in the midst of a conflict that began long before we were invited to join in. It's (sadly) a decent built-in friend-sifting mechanism.
post #30 of 84
I don't think your dh's co-worker sounded threatened at all.

He sounded incredulous that unschooling as described to him by your dh could produce someone with the education he would want a kid to have. I don't think this reaction is unwarranted from someone hearing about unschooling for the first time.

However, all that with the white board? Not cool.
post #31 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niamh View Post
Well, seeing as how five of the contestants (all public schooled) on the current Amazing Race show didn't even know that Joan of Arc was a female and thought that 'he' must have something to do with Noah, I'm not thinking that public school is coming out ahead right now. I shudder to think what most graduates think they know about Franklin.
To be fair, I don't think we can use this example to compare public schooled and unschooled individuals without a random sample of unschooled individuals subjected to the same questions in the same conditions.

Further, Joan of Arc is covered substantially less often in the history curriculum in US schools than Ben Franklin is. (Joan - once, during coverage of the Hundred Years War, high school only, optional; Ben - during both World and US history as an Enlightenment thinker and one of the nation's founders, multiple times starting in the elementary grades, mandatory.) So I don't think knowledge of Joan is a good indicator of knowledge of Ben.

Quote:
My dp who is a guitarist (20+ yrs now) is floored that even though he tries to explain the difference, the children he works with (he's a youth services counselor) really don't understand it; they really don't even see a distinction between real and synthetic experiences no matter how many ways he tries to explain it to them. When he offered to play guitar with them (real guitar), they were super excited until they actually tried it and then they found it too hard and preferred the instant gratification of the video game.
I'm shocked by this. My students have no difficulty understanding this difference and often complain when offered experiences that they deem overly synthetic. It's fairly typical of teens to prefer instant gratification, though. Especially at-risk teens. Also, I just played a guitar for the first time in my life last night. Learning to play the guitar is difficult and painful. Without powerful motivation, adolescents have little incentive to stick with it. Which just demonstrates, yet again, why unschooling works for some kids - they have powerful motivation to learn.
post #32 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
To be fair, I don't think we can use this example to compare public schooled and unschooled individuals without a random sample of unschooled individuals subjected to the same questions in the same conditions.

Further, Joan of Arc is covered substantially less often in the history curriculum in US schools than Ben Franklin is. (Joan - once, during coverage of the Hundred Years War, high school only, optional; Ben - during both World and US history as an Enlightenment thinker and one of the nation's founders, multiple times starting in the elementary grades, mandatory.) So I don't think knowledge of Joan is a good indicator of knowledge of Ben.
Wow. Definitely. Random sample and all that.

I really don't think you could have taken my off-the-cuff joke about a recent tv episode with ridiculously ill-educated contestants any more seriously.

I get your 'to be fair' argument, but really - it was just a joke. The little 'wink' emoticon was supposed to help make that clear.
post #33 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
Which just demonstrates, yet again, why unschooling works for some kids - they have powerful motivation to learn.
I think most unschoolers would argue that powerful motivation to learn is more prevalent amongst populations of folks for whom learning was never made boring or tiresome due to institutionalization, meaning that unschoolers are powerfully motivated because they are unschooled, not because powerful motivation to learn is somehow unique to kids who just happen to unschool. I'd additionally argue that learning doesn't even require powerful motivation and that the urge to know is more common than dirt.
post #34 of 84
Annakiss, I was really hoping that no one would take this conversation to the place where they assert that unschooling is the *only* educational method that works because clearly, public "institutionalized" schools suck the motivation straight out of (most) kids' brains. Is there another interpretation of your statement that I am missing?

Niamh, sorry I missed the emoticon. I've spent a long school year in which many, many people (many of whom should really know better) have attempted to impose policy on the basis of statistically invalid comparisons, and now I don't get jokes even when they're clearly labelled.
post #35 of 84
Well, considering this is an unschooling forum wherein those of us unschooling our children feel that it is the best possible choice, I find it hard to believe that you would expect that it wouldn't go there.

There was, however, a second sentence in my post that offered that the urge to know is in fact very, very common. I don't think that I said that unschooling was the only educational method that works. My intention was just that your assertion that it works for some people was not accidental. It does not suggest that unschooling is the only way, just that we do intend it to work this way because we believe that everyone wants to learn and that genius can be found almost everywhere one looks.
post #36 of 84
Quote:
Well, considering this is an unschooling forum wherein those of us unschooling our children feel that it is the best possible choice, I find it hard to believe that you would expect that it wouldn't go there.
Because this is a board where people respect other people's choices. You can love unschooling and feel it's the best choice for your family without simultaneously despising formal schooling. And that, to answer the OP's question, is why people get defensive when others unschool - at least in some cases, it's because some unschooler somewhere took the time to tell them that they *should* expect to be insulted by people who are educating their children the "best" way.

But hey, thanks for taking the time to explain that you didn't actually mean to bring the hate for traditional schools. I don't think you expressed that well in the first post I responded to. It's nice to know you think there's more than one way.
post #37 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
I don't think your dh's co-worker sounded threatened at all.

He sounded incredulous that unschooling as described to him by your dh could produce someone with the education he would want a kid to have. I don't think this reaction is unwarranted from someone hearing about unschooling for the first time.

However, all that with the white board? Not cool.
I think there are two kinds of people that freak out when you tell them that you're doing something far from mainstream:

1) those who feel that you're essentially telling them that what they're doing is not the best decision and immediately try to force you to doing what they do as a means of validating their choice. Some of these people may even know that what you're doing is better and that they CAN do it, but it would be more effort that they don't feel like putting in.

and

2) those who consider that what you're doing might be the best thing, but they don't fully understand it because it's so far off from their reality and they are simultaneously intrigued but panicked that you ARE really doing something better but they're not going to understand it well enough to do themselves.

I think the coworker was likely #2. The whiteboard only being evidence of his overzealousness to do the best thing for his kid.

And really, the #1s in the world have deeper issues than you're going to really overcome in a conversation. I've come across them not only with homeschooling, but also with extended bfing, cding, organic eating, foster parenting... you name it--anything we do that isn't what the majority is doing.
post #38 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
Because this is a board where people respect other people's choices.
I disagree. This is a board where people respect other people's right to choose. That doesn't mean the choices are automatically respected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
You can love unschooling and feel it's the best choice for your family without simultaneously despising formal schooling.
Pointing out that institutionalized settings are often boring and/or fail to motivate is not exactly calling them despicable or hating them (or the people who use them).

As for people who get defensive regarding unschooling....I was/am one of them. I consider my kids to be unschoolers. Some unschoolers of a more radical nature do not consider us to be unschoolers because my kids are expected to contribute to the running of the household. If I vent that one of the boys is lazy about getting the trash put outside, the answer is "Don't ask him to put the trash outside."

Anyway, that sort of thing gets old and preachy. Most people get defensive and/or tune out when someone preaches at them, no matter if it's religion or parenting philosophy. So, if someone like me, who is fairly outside-the-box and unschooly, can be annoyed or upset by unschooling dogma, I can imagine what hardcore mainstreamers must feel like.

Oh, and WRT testing....we live in a state that requires "proof of progress." Standardized testing has been the easiest way to show proof of progress in math and English, since my boys do not generate enough busywork to build a portfolio in those areas. DS1 actually enjoys taking tests. DS2 doesn't love it, but doesn't gripe and just gets it over with. It's not been a problem.
post #39 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post
I'm shocked by this. My students have no difficulty understanding this difference and often complain when offered experiences that they deem overly synthetic. It's fairly typical of teens to prefer instant gratification, though. Especially at-risk teens. Also, I just played a guitar for the first time in my life last night. Learning to play the guitar is difficult and painful. Without powerful motivation, adolescents have little incentive to stick with it. Which just demonstrates, yet again, why unschooling works for some kids - they have powerful motivation to learn.
This sounds like, and I could be wrong, that you believe unschooling works for some kids because there is something unique about them that makes them very motivated to learn. Implying that unschooling would not work for other kids, who lack this odd trait.

I believe that ALL kids are born ridiculously motivated to learn and do so with no formal structure at all. Otherwise, who would ever learn to sit, crawl, walk, talk or feed themselves? In fact, most mothers I know complain frequently that they can't keep their child from exploring!!

Most kids enter school fired up and eager to learn. As you point out, most teens are resistant to it. Why? What, do you suppose, happens between those ages to change this?

Unschooled kids never start or stop learning. There is no magical time that learning commences. They have, in fact, been doing it since the day they were born (indeed, even before!) and never is there a time when they stop and "graduate" from unschooling. Living is learning. It just happens.

I do agree that some kids are better suited for public schooling than others. Does that mean that I think public schooling is optimal for those kids? No. I think that, left unimpeded by our educational system, all children would continue to display and feed that strong motivation to learn.

Considering that our educational system ranks 27 out of 27, I don't see how a point can be made that it's really quality education for anyone. That's just my opinion and stated as a parent who has both public and unschooled her kids.

I understand why some people go that route. I respect the fact that it was their choice to make, not mine. That does not mean that I have to agree it was the best choice or the only choice. I do understand that many people have NO choice because both parents must work. That still doesn't mean that it is the best option, just the only feasible one, unfortunately. I understand that many kids navigate the public school system and come out "fine". That still does not equal thinking that it was the optimal environment for them to be in. I have survived car wrecks and come out fine.

It is hard to explain because it is an entirely different way of looking at the world, at everything, not just education. Unschooling has changed the way I look at life itself! And I say this a person whose first thoughts on the subject were, "Well, unschooling? That's just a fancy way of saying your doing nothing!" then snorted in superiority and dismissively went on my merry way. "Those people are fruit cakes" and yes even, "My child would never learn math if he wasn't made to!" And now my response to that would be, So? If he needs it, he'll learn it when he needs it and if he really hates it odds are he will never become say, an accountant or a chemist or anything that requires a lot of higher math. All those things they said we would need in "real life"? I never did! Surprise! And when I got to college the first I learned is that half of what they taught me in highschool was wrong! I dropped out of highschool, never finished. Yet, when I wanted something.....I managed to get my GED, enroll in junior college, stay on the deans list and transfer into Texas A&M. Yes, this highschool drop out holds a masters degree.

I'm just saying that you cannot really compare public schooling and unschooling because they are so diametrically opposed. You are looking at unschooling as one educational option among many and it is a totally different thing altogether. It's a different outlook and philosophy on life, one in which pedagogy has no role whatsoever. Pedagogy is, in fact, anathema to an unschooling lifestyle. At least, it is in my oh so humble opinion, which is not to imply is the opinion of other unschoolers. The views expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.
post #40 of 84
After reading this thread, I wonder, if I was unschooled or home schooled as a child, would I have been a better student at college? Would I have took the time to read all of my materials and complete them with all my best efforts? Growing up going to school, I remember feeling bored and looking at the clock waiting for it to strike 3. Subjects taught in school did not really stick. I dated a guy who was home schooled and he often was annoyed with me when I did not take my home works as seriously as he did. He thought learning was the most rewarding thing life could offer and he could not understand why I was casual about it instead of using it to my fullest advantage.

Sometimes I feel envious of those people who are so passionate with reading all of materials/resources available to us. I wish I am as motivated as they are. I know I should accept and love who or the way I am but it would have opened many doors for me if I was fluent English writer or has better reading skills.

Maybe it has something to do with my teachers being impatient with me and my other class mates. Or maybe it is because my parents did not urge me to do well in school like other parents did. There could be so many environmental factors that contributed to my lack of motivation.

My husband often said if we had plenty money and he would stay home to teach our children because he loves to learn and work with children. I, on the other hand, would rather to leave it up to my DH to do that because I have no patience of teaching.

Sorry to "steal" your thread, OP.
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