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What's Your Definition of Unschooling? - Page 2

post #21 of 36
It's a good question and a tough one, for my part, to answer. For some reason, it's much easier to describe what it isn't than what it is.

I guess I would define it as a conscious choice to see education as something to be shared and experienced rather than something to be bestowed or enforced. Schooling sets limits and boundaries as to what is or is not educational and age-appropriate. Unschooling is a practice wherein the parent recognizes those boundaries as artificial (because the child is an individual with his/her own priorities/values/talents/interests) and removes them, so that the child is free to follow her own goals and desires without the pressure of externally imposed benchmarks and expectations.
post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariew View Post
Although I try to respect all of ds' decisions we all have to compromise because no one person's needs are more important than anyone else. We talk about what he wants compared to what his younger brother wants compared to what mama and papa want and any needs involved as well as how our decisions effect others and then re-evaluate what we think we should do.
This is what I was trying to say. It seems as though I've seen some RU's put their child's needs and wants above everything else, including other people's needs and wants, some of whom are not even in their family. Case in point - a teenage girl we know from a self-professed RU family asked that a 3 year old child be cooped up in a playpen while we have our gym time because she 'couldn't bear to watch her almost get hit by balls, etc.' It wasn't the girl who asked that this be done - it was her mother, on behalf of her daughter. And it happened two different times. Another example - an older daughter of another family we know hasn't been doing anything except going out and being with friends. She comes home at all hours, makes messes, and is generally disrespectful to the fact that she lives with other people. I'm not saying that those are typical, or anything. However, in every RU family that I have PERSONALLY have seen around me, things such as this are a general occurrence and it bothers me.

That said, some US'ers I know do a great job providing stimulating/fun/interesting things for their kids, and, some don't. Like a PP said, I think it depends on the family more than their unschooling philosophy.
post #23 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qalliope View Post
It's a good question and a tough one, for my part, to answer. For some reason, it's much easier to describe what it isn't than what it is.

I guess I would define it as a conscious choice to see education as something to be shared and experienced rather than something to be bestowed or enforced. Schooling sets limits and boundaries as to what is or is not educational and age-appropriate. Unschooling is a practice wherein the parent recognizes those boundaries as artificial (because the child is an individual with his/her own priorities/values/talents/interests) and removes them, so that the child is free to follow her own goals and desires without the pressure of externally imposed benchmarks and expectations.
I like this!
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabyMae09 View Post
I'm not saying that those are typical, or anything. However, in every RU family that I have PERSONALLY have seen around me, things such as this are a general occurrence and it bothers me.
Well, I only know the one RU family IRL, and it's the same way over there.

I recently began thinking, though, that it may be just correlation and not causation. For example...I don't believe that violent video games make people violent. I believe that people with a propensity for violence are attracted to violent video games.

Likewise, I'm beginning to believe that RU doesn't create permissive parents, but that permissive parents are attracted to RU philosophy. It doesn't mean that all families who practice RU will be permissive....but the ones who are will paint a picture for RU, unfortunately.
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
Well, I only know the one RU family IRL, and it's the same way over there.

I recently began thinking, though, that it may be just correlation and not causation. For example...I don't believe that violent video games make people violent. I believe that people with a propensity for violence are attracted to violent video games.

Likewise, I'm beginning to believe that RU doesn't create permissive parents, but that permissive parents are attracted to RU philosophy. It doesn't mean that all families who practice RU will be permissive....but the ones who are will paint a picture for RU, unfortunately.
ITA. For a long time I didn't consider unschooling because most of the ru i knew were permissive and i thought that was a necessary part of us until i met new us and saw how they parented like me then started researching.
post #26 of 36
My definition is that learning is natural and happens all the time and everything counts, for children as well as adults. Our learning happens in a relationship-based environment, our home (plus anywhere we go), and it is reciprocal: I teach my children some things, my husband teaches them some things and they teach us some things. We, my DH and I, have the role and responsibility to be parents and we love, care for and enjoy life alongside our children, while teaching them personal safety skills and habits that will enable them to find happiness for themselves in life. We have unschooled right from the beginning. My kids are now 8, 5, 3 and 1. I believe that we can learn the things we need to do to get along in life by just living life. Sometimes that means 12 hours of video games, or another week, it is a weekend of camping with Dad, or another week it is lots of Lego play and time with some friends, or listening to stories with Grandpa or Mom. It evolves as the person's needs and interests evolve. It is always growing and changing, it's a living thing that needs to be fed, that inborn curiosity and desire to experience life.

Our learning flow changes week by week and day by day. For 6 weeks, I read aloud to my oldest and he practiced his handwriting a la Charlotte Mason each morning for 15 minutes. Then, we spent some time practicing singing in the morning. Another week, it was outdoors in the morning to parks and time with friends. Then, recently, it has been time with Dad and playing video games and Legos. We aren't afraid to go with the flow and change things up when things need to change. And I do not fear the word "teach" :-D
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post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
Likewise, I'm beginning to believe that RU doesn't create permissive parents, but that permissive parents are attracted to RU philosophy. It doesn't mean that all families who practice RU will be permissive....but the ones who are will paint a picture for RU, unfortunately.
I've mused on this occasionally too. I know a number of unschooling families irl. Most, while they would fit written definitions of RU (no set bedtimes, self-regulated food/screentime etc) don't call themselves RU. If asked they would probably say something diplomatic about attempting to fully meet their children's needs in all areas and trusting their children know what those needs are. Unfortunately the one family we know who do identify as RU seem to me to fit the scenario above.
My definition would be something along the lines of learning with no external agenda.
post #28 of 36
I first wrote about this on http://familyrun.ning.com

Describe what Radical Unschooling means to you:
First I'll describe "Unschooling", which is one of the ways to homeschool. Unschooling can be described as life-long self-determined learning. When someone learns something, in a way that is actually understood and retained, they need to be intrinsically engaged in that thing. When someone tells you "You need to learn this" when you are not interested in it, you may learn enough to pass their test, at least initially, but you will probably not retain it because it wasn't meaningful to you - your brain isn't working to create the strong connections to other things you already know because you aren't truly motivated to do so.

Kids are natural learners - I remember my daughter memorizing complex dinosaur names, not because I made her, but because she was interested in them; she was 3 years old. My son did the same thing with our solar system at the age of 5. It's when we, as parents or educators, get in their way & start telling them what they "should" know that we end up squelching true learning.

Unschooling doesn't mean one never uses more traditional methods of learning, such as going to classes, reading text books or studying something complex. It does mean that this doesn't have to be the only method of learning - in fact, it probably is only necessary for sophisticated material or specialized skill sets. My kids have learned some pretty amazing stuff from rather unexpected sources - & that is the beauty of unschooling - that learning opportunities are everywhere & that the love of learning can be life-long.

So where does the "Radical" part come in? Radical Unschooling means moving past the "schooling" aspect entirely. It's not just about how we home school but how we as a family live together, grow together & make our way in the world together. It's about being fully engaged in your children's lives. It's about helping them explore the world around them - not because they might "learn something" but because it makes life so much better. It's about honoring & trusting their abilities & passions, knowing that these will lead to a richer life.

It's not about "un-parenting", the anything-goes behaviors that unfortunately seem to haunt the image of radical unschoolers. In my family, there absolutely are consequences for each of our choices and behaviors. The key is that the consequences are logical and directly related to the behavior. Punishments are rarely logical - they are a form of external control. I want my kids to develop internal control, so that they will choose to do the right things even if I'm not there with them.
post #29 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoollife View Post
I first wrote about this on http://familyrun.ning.com

Describe what Radical Unschooling means to you:
First I'll describe "Unschooling", which is one of the ways to homeschool. Unschooling can be described as life-long self-determined learning. When someone learns something, in a way that is actually understood and retained, they need to be intrinsically engaged in that thing. When someone tells you "You need to learn this" when you are not interested in it, you may learn enough to pass their test, at least initially, but you will probably not retain it because it wasn't meaningful to you - your brain isn't working to create the strong connections to other things you already know because you aren't truly motivated to do so.

Kids are natural learners - I remember my daughter memorizing complex dinosaur names, not because I made her, but because she was interested in them; she was 3 years old. My son did the same thing with our solar system at the age of 5. It's when we, as parents or educators, get in their way & start telling them what they "should" know that we end up squelching true learning.

Unschooling doesn't mean one never uses more traditional methods of learning, such as going to classes, reading text books or studying something complex. It does mean that this doesn't have to be the only method of learning - in fact, it probably is only necessary for sophisticated material or specialized skill sets. My kids have learned some pretty amazing stuff from rather unexpected sources - & that is the beauty of unschooling - that learning opportunities are everywhere & that the love of learning can be life-long.

So where does the "Radical" part come in? Radical Unschooling means moving past the "schooling" aspect entirely. It's not just about how we home school but how we as a family live together, grow together & make our way in the world together. It's about being fully engaged in your children's lives. It's about helping them explore the world around them - not because they might "learn something" but because it makes life so much better. It's about honoring & trusting their abilities & passions, knowing that these will lead to a richer life.

It's not about "un-parenting", the anything-goes behaviors that unfortunately seem to haunt the image of radical unschoolers. In my family, there absolutely are consequences for each of our choices and behaviors. The key is that the consequences are logical and directly related to the behavior. Punishments are rarely logical - they are a form of external control. I want my kids to develop internal control, so that they will choose to do the right things even if I'm not there with them.
I really like your post - can you explain more about what you mean by giving logical consequences?

I dig the 'internal control' aspect, how do you encourage that? Learning how to help my DS control himself, his actions, and think about others, etc. is one of my biggest challenges right now.
post #30 of 36
With respect to "logical consequences", here are some examples from my own home:

DD chose to stay up late in bed doing crosswords last night (we have a set bedtime, but so long as they are quiet and the room is relatively dark - save a couple of nightlights - they don't *have* to go to sleep). She slept in so she missed out on some activities I did that morning with DS, who is an early riser. We talked about how, if she wants to have that opportunity, perhaps she needs to put down the book/crosswords/drawing earlier. Or if it is more fun or meaningful for her to have that evening time, she has to accept that I'll be doing things with DS when he wakes up and she might feel she missed out.

DS thought it would be funny to open the car door while I was driving. I put the child lock mechanism on (it had been off for a while) and let him know that, due to safety, this had to be in place. Also, he ran off on me one day in the supermarket, so now he has to ride in the cart. These consequences are presented as a safety issue and the topic is always open for discussion. If they feel ready to try again, they get to try again. I don't set the limit on how long this goes on for.

In our tiny house, anybody who is having a hard time expressing emotions in a way that doesn't disturb everybody else in the room (yelling loudly in exuberation, or anger, for example) needs to go to another room (or outside, weather permitting). The child is not "banished" to their room, and doesn't need permission to come out again. But being removed from the main living area is a logical consequence of disrupting everybody else. It's not done in a punitive way, rather "You have a lot of energy right now and the way it's coming out is disturbing the rest of the family. Let's see what we can do about this problem."

HTH!
post #31 of 36
Although I could use some help with self control in our house as well we do do the logical consequences.

For example ds likes yo gabba gabba but it is only on at 10:30 at night so we talked about how if he didn't lay down for a while earlier in the day he would be too tired to stay up and watch yo gabba gabba and he decided to stay awake and then ended up falling asleep later and missing his show. Although I didn't make him miss his show because he refused to take a nap it happened and now I remind him at nap time and sometimes he decides he would like to take a nap so that he will be able to stay up and watch.
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabyMae09 View Post
I really like your post - can you explain more about what you mean by giving logical consequences?

I dig the 'internal control' aspect, how do you encourage that? Learning how to help my DS control himself, his actions, and think about others, etc. is one of my biggest challenges right now.
I'm happy to explain more. Most parents use punishments & rewards to discourage or encourage desired behaviors. It's probably how most of us were raised, & is recommended by many parenting methods. The issue I have with this is that sometimes the the punishment or reward has no direct connection with the actual behavior. Here's an example. My young niece was looking forward to having a sleepover at our house. A couple of weeks before the date, she did something her parents didn't like. As a punishment, they told her that her sleepover was going to be cancelled unless she behaved the way they wanted her to. Now, this may seem like a reasonable parenting strategy, but what is the real lesson she learned? She didn't learn why the behavior her parents desired was better than what she had been doing, only that if her parents didn't like what she was doing they would take away a highly desirable time with her beloved family members. The severity of the punishment (losing a treasured sleepover) completely outweighed the severity of her misbehavior, which in turn took an opportunity to understand the why of choosing one behavior over another & turned it into a memory of being threatened with a huge loss. All she will remember is feeling the threat of punishment to make her do something - where is the internal decision-making development? The behavior decision wasn't really hers anymore, she was simply obeying what someone told her to do. How will this help her in making her own decisions about behavior choices in the future?

When my kids were younger & couldn't see the real consequences of their actions I would do my best to help them see it, but those real life consequences sometimes created the learning opportunities. An example of this: we used to have a dog, named Buster. My kids loved playing with little toys, like LEGOs & Polly Pockets, and they often ended up scattered about the house. I didn't leave the toys out "to teach them a lesson", hoping that Buster would grab a snack, & I didn't yell or guilt them into picking up. I made a point of cleaning up whenever I could, mentioning that I wanted to keep Buster & the toys safe. When the dog eventually gobbled up some of their toys when they weren't watching, they quickly realized the importance of putting their toys into bins - the natural/logical consequence. I was sympathetic that their toys got damaged & continued to help them find solutions - they were completely motivated to keep the living spaces cleaned up without any punishment or reward system because they understood the "why" behind the behavior choices.

I hope this helps clarify what I mean.
post #33 of 36
To me unschooling is the opposite of formal schooling... I feel the teacher lecturing in front of students and requiring them to parrot back the info is the worst possible way to learn. I believe learning should be an interactive, interest based, experience with some form of an emotional stake involved. I consider unschooling to be about learning in real world applications through actual experience rather than phony recreated made up meaningless rhetoric. Of course sometimes going through the formal schooling process and getting a slip of paper indicating you did so is the only way to get where you want to go... but being an unschooler I recognize the utter absurdity and foolishness of this and will always favor alternative ways of accomplishing the same objective, especially if actual learning is the ultimate goal.
post #34 of 36

post #35 of 36

My children had the control over their learning lives. :)

 

We often used curriculum. It just wasn't mandatory.

post #36 of 36

I believe it is learning without a hierarchy.

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