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What do kids NOT teach themselves? - Page 2

post #21 of 35
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post #22 of 35
It sounds like your DD has asked for lessons. In that case, I would follow her lead and find some lessons that seem like a good fit for her personality.

My own DD took lessons when she was almost three. My friend has a pool in her back yard and DD would jump into the deep end, so we felt like it was a safety issue and asked if she wanted to take lessons. She did and she loved it. Later, she got bored with the lessons and we discontinued them. She has taken swim classes again since then and then had a class where she hated her teacher. Right now, we don't have her in any lessons because she doesn't want them. She'd rather just play in the water.

I kind of hope she might like to try swim team some time, but so far she is not interested. She is almost 7 now and still loves the water. She was always drawn to the water, but I think it helped that we did not push lessons, but did provide them when she wanted them. Now she is hoping to find a swim buddy, but so far most of her friends don't know how to swim.
post #23 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I may be misinterpretting, but it seems you are equating lessons to safety, and I do not think that is the case.
It's probably a lack of clarity on my part. I seem to have a problem with that lately. I am equating strong swimming ability to safety (of course with parental supervision), and I had assumed that lessons were simply the way one gets to be a strong swimmer, though I am rethinking that.

Honestly, what does and does not constitute pool safety is really not the issue here. I have next to no experience supervising kids at the pool, and of course it may be that I revise my opinion of what is safe and what isn't once I've done it a few times. Until then, I will stick with what I grew up with: a kid who can't swim doesn't belong in the deep end. (I did look, btw, and that is also the rule at the relevant pool.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
The philosophical part is that I wonder if our culture is overly reliant on lessons and it causes a certain amount of misguided thinking (thinking you need to take a lesson to learn something).
I agree with this, but I wonder about it too. I mean, I really believe in unschooling for academics. There's just no doubt in my mind about it. And I believe in it for visual art as well (though I have no problem with the sort of art classes in which a teacher introduces and explains a medium and then lets the kids have at it). But perhaps that is because I have always felt that I was self-taught in those areas (though I had lessons, I can't say that I got much out of them). I was also a very solid swimmer, but I learned through lessons. And as for music, dance, athletics...well, though I had some lessons, I never really excelled.

I guess I've always felt that these are things that are hard to learn on one's own, and that if DD didn't have lessons she'd never have a fair chance of learning them. That if she wanted to learn them, we'd sign her up for lessons. Period. That's not to say, of course, that we'd ever force her to take lessons she didn't want to take. That's never been remotely under consideration. But what I mean is, if DD says she wants to learn how to write, I describe things she could do to help herself learn (she could copy from a book; she could ask me to spell things; etc.). If she says she wants to learn ballet, and I do that sort of thing, wouldn't I be undermining her? Wouldn't it be disingenuous to act as though she could teach it to herself without any lessons?
post #24 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starflower View Post
It sounds like your DD has asked for lessons. In that case, I would follow her lead and find some lessons that seem like a good fit for her personality.
Oh, we definitely will, after we've moved, if she still wants them. Who knows what she'll want 3 months from now. She's a fickle little girl. There's no way we can get them for her now. We'd have to buy a hundreds-of-dollars membership to the local pool. That is, if they don't currently have a waiting list. Hence our not swimming in pools much at present.
post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post
I guess I've always felt that these are things that are hard to learn on one's own, and that if DD didn't have lessons she'd never have a fair chance of learning them.
Unschooling is good because it sort of forces you to re-examine those assumptions, I think.

And there's a lot of room between learning something on one's own and having "lessons"... clearly a team sport will be nearly impossible to learn on one's own, but just joining a group of people doing it often works pretty well. Often there's a balance between practicing something on your own, practicing with others, getting tips or help directly from others, getting tips or help from books or DVDs or watching others, and lots more.
post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post


To clarify, once again , I'm trying to ask this more as a philosophical question, rather than as a request for help with a particular problem. I apologize if that was not clear (as it obviously wasn't).
It was very clear, but you brought the problem into it and said that you told your dd that she couldn't do something she really wants to do until she takes swimming lessons (and I had the impression she wasn't too into that idea) seemingly ignoring any other options. Saying such a thing on an unschooling board, you are bound to get a reaction and it's not OT. It's a big part of what unschooling is for many of us.
post #27 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
It was very clear, but you brought the problem into it and said that you told your dd that she couldn't do something she really wants to do until she takes swimming lessons, seemingly ignoring any other options. Saying such a thing on an unschooling board, you are bound to get a reaction and it's not OT. It's a big part of what unschooling is for many of us.
I said that I said it and then immediately started rethinking. I didn't say that it was right; I said that it was my gut reaction. I also explained that this is not a current issue in our lives (we live over a thousand miles away from the pool in question). The swimming thing is simply what started me thinking. It was never about what is safe or what isn't (a question better suited to the family safety board). It was always a question (however poorly phrased) about whether there are skills that kids cannot effectively obtain without lessons.

I honestly don't understand why you feel the need to focus on my opinion about what is and isn't safe in a pool. We disagree about a safety issue. I have said that I might change my opinion if I had more experience in supervising young children at pools. That is OT for this board. If you want to discuss whether lessons are ever necessary for learning, I would be happy to hear your opinion.
post #28 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
Unschooling is good because it sort of forces you to re-examine those assumptions, I think.
I wholeheartedly agree. It hadn't even occurred to me that I was still harboring schooly prejudices until I heard one come out of my mouth.
post #29 of 35
One can learn anything by themselves, except someone else's rules. That comes from an outside source, of course.

Swimming is learned from spending time in the water. LOTS of time in the water. All kinds of water. You can learn it by yourself if you don't drown. Swimming is nothing more than not drowning.

Making it to the Olympics takes going through the motions of what someone ELSE says is the right way to swim and then practicing THAT. A Lot. Olympic trained swimmers are doing something based on someone else's RULES. This has to be learned from someone else.

So basically, you can learn anything by yourself, as long as it is not something you need to learn from someone else.
post #30 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by salt_phoenix View Post
One can learn anything by themselves, except someone else's rules. That comes from an outside source, of course.

[...]

So basically, you can learn anything by yourself, as long as it is not something you need to learn from someone else.
That makes perfect sense. Thank you.
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post

I honestly don't understand why you feel the need to focus on my opinion about what is and isn't safe in a pool. We disagree about a safety issue. I have said that I might change my opinion if I had more experience in supervising young children at pools. That is OT for this board. If you want to discuss whether lessons are ever necessary for learning, I would be happy to hear your opinion.
I'm really not focusing on your opinion about that, sorry if it came across that way. Your real-life example (which will always send a philosophical or theoretical discussion off on a tangent) was all about safety in a pool! You brought safety into the discussion and it's why I suggested a safe way to allow your DD to do something she's excited to do. Your response to it would have made sense had I suggested to throw in her the deep end and hope for the best, but didn't make a lot of sense given what I had written, hence my request for clarification.

You didn't want to discuss it further and I dropped it, so I don't understand why you would think I am focused on it--I didn't mention it at all in the post you quoted. I think you are being overly harsh in your reponses to me, but maybe I am reading too much into it.

Safety issues aren't as OT as you might think. Being rigid in one's thinking, even when it can be justified as a safety issue, can get in the way of unschooling. That doesn't mean you compromise safety, but it does mean you look for ways to be able to say "yes, you can" when the knee-jerk reaction is "no, you can't". It does sound like you are on that track as you are questioning assumptions, etc.

As for classes/lessons being required, I think I can safely say that there is nothing you absolutely have to take a class for in order to learn (though in some cases it may be the best way). Even team sports can be played with friends in the park and you watch and learn, are given pointers here and there, etc. I don't think of kids as "teaching themselves" things, but rather finding ways to learn what they want to know and that's where we the parents can really come in handy.

My DS has always loved water but only just learned to swim last September, a few weeks after his 8th bday. About a week before his swim lessons began we were at the lake with family and he wanted to jump off the diving board into the lake. We found a way for him to do that safely and he had a ball. As for his lessons, learning to swim was nearly effortless for him (and the instructor). He was swimming by his fourth lesson and was moved out of the beginner's class. Even though he couldn't swim before taking the lessons he was just so ready.

We'd been to pools and water parks a zillion times before he could swim and he was never in any danger. That doesn't mean it's the same for everyone, especially if the parent can't swim or has another little one (or more!) to tend to, but it was the case for us. It would make me nervous though to have a swimming 4 year-old and not be able to watch/be near at all times. A friend's kid was that age and could swim and suddenly just ran out of steam halfway across the pool and started going under. I think he didn't realize how tired he was getting. (he was fine, btw, but it was scary for him and his parents!)
ETA: I know I'm continuing the pool example tangent here, I'm sorry if you are annoyed by this, but I wanted to share it anyway (not to purposely be annoying though!)

Could my DS have learned to swim without lessons, with a few tips here and there? Probably. After he could swim, he learned the backstroke on his own (just did what felt natural to him) and was able to do the breaststroke after watching me once. He liked the idea of lessons, though (he wants to have roller skating lessons too, something most kids learn on their own) so that's what we went with.

He takes cooking workshops too, not because he couldn't learn to cook any other way, but because he enjoys them. I guess I don't think of lessons as things you need to take to learn XYZ, but as opportunities amongst many others (and which some kids may not want and that's OK!)
post #32 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
I think you are being overly harsh in your reponses to me, but maybe I am reading too much into it.
I felt just the same way. And I probably was overly harsh, because you really had me feeling defensive. Sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
Safety issues aren't as OT as you might think. Being rigid in one's thinking, even when it can be justified as a safety issue, can get in the way of unschooling. That doesn't mean you compromise safety, but it does mean you look for ways to be able to say "yes, you can" when the knee-jerk reaction is "no, you can't".
Hm. I'm not sure about this. I guess I agree if you're talking about the fanatical over-parenting that some mothers do (e.g., sanitizing shopping carts before a child can touch them). Personally, I try to only regulate safety issues when they're potentially life-threatening, and I just can't see myself ever being flexible in that area. I'm not ever going to be the kind of mother who lets a toddler run out in the street without holding someone's hand. I know some mothers do that, but I can't. And I don't really see how that (admittedly rigid thinking) is related to unschooling. We're flexible in all other areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
I don't think of kids as "teaching themselves" things, but rather finding ways to learn what they want to know and that's where we the parents can really come in handy.
That's a nice way of looking at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
It would make me nervous though to have a swimming 4 year-old and not be able to watch/be near at all times. A friend's kid was that age and could swim and suddenly just ran out of steam halfway across the pool and started going under. I think he didn't realize how tired he was getting. (he was fine, btw, but it was scary for him and his parents!)
I think perhaps my perception may be a bit skewed, because my sister and I were both excellent (competitive) swimmers at a very early age. Our mother was never in the pool with us when we swam. I think she was usually up in the bleachers with a book. Obviously I wouldn't do that. But if she was a strong enough swimmer, I would feel comfortable with her swimming in the deep end without me being right next to her.
post #33 of 35
Oh so sorry to make you feel defensive! I definitely didn't mean to.

I wouldn't let a toddler run into the street either. I meant finding ways to say yes that don't put the kids in harm's way. Sometimes that can mean challenging our assumptions about things, but certainly not abandoning good sense.

However, I'm sure there are articles about this that explain it much better!
post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post
I guess I should explain the reason I asked.

I recently told DD (who is a young, attached 4, and who has never taken a class) that she can't play in a pool until she's taken a swimming class. After I said it, I immediately reconsidered. Why can't she teach herself to swim, if that's what she prefers? I have a visceral reaction to that--it's a safety issue--but maybe I'm wrong.

Then I started thinking about other classes. I'd always thought that DD (who is very interested in learning to play musical instruments) would have to take a class to get a real instrument. I assumed that she couldn't learn ballet (another thing she is very interested in) without a class. I felt certain that she needed multiple classes to learn how to play the full range of classic American sports. Suddenly I'm questioning all of those assumptions.
Swimming was actually one of the things DD taught herself. Now, at 7, she wants to take a class, to reinforce her skills.
post #35 of 35
My eldest has taught himself with some participation from us Visual Basic programming, Visual Studio, Video game making programming, HTML, Video editing, movie making, and a bunch of stuff I don't understand, lol.. and he is 13. He also plays soccer.
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