Originally Posted by physmom
Going back to my thoughts on school (pre-college), I wonder, though, about students where the parents don't put a lot of emphasis on education/learning etc. Like parents that never read, take their children to the library etc. I tend to think that an unschooling (or free schools etc, I'm using the term loosely here) approach wouldn't work nearly as well for them since one of the big things I see as a motivation for learning in an unschooling environment is to emulate those around you. If your family doesn't read why should you learn to? Clearly the current system isn't working well but what would work instead? DH insists that unschooling only works for "smart" kids or at least for kids that have parents that emulate a continued learning environment... I definitely see his point but do wonder about it...
I think that kids are naturally inclined to explore the world around them, and they do it very well unless someone gets in their way. Certainly a child can't learn in a vacuum, but most kids, even kids from non-academically-minded families, are exposed to enough of the world that they can decide for themselves what they are interested in learning more about. Maybe some kids might choose not to learn a lot of the standard public school curriculum, but I just don't see the problem with that. If they aren't interested, they're not going to remember it anyway (and even if they do remember, there won't be any benefit to the knowledge). What is taught in schools is largely arbitrary (and often incorrect) anyway.
Now, of course, there are kids who are raised in anti-academic and/or abusive environments, and that does make it harder. My mother was ridiculed for reading and wasting paper on artwork as a child.
She still grew up loving to read and paint, and those are still two of her passions. The strict Catholic school she went to didn't help much with that, but I'm sure it was better than unschooling would have been, because at least it got her away from her abusive parents and gave her access to a (very limited) library. Of course, her parents couldn't have unschooled her, because they were constantly making judgments about what she learned and how she spent her time. In other words, even if she had stayed home from school, it wouldn't have been "unschooling."