Edited by skeptifem - 9/14/11 at 6:29am
this thread http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1200031/astra-taylor-on-the-unschooled-life has a link to a vide of an adult who was unschool as was her siblings and they all seem to be doing well. they did all at times choose to go to school but that was their choice was not something their parents pushed for.
it seems like because of the custody stuff if it looks like her mother will put her in school regardless of anyone's wishes. maybe helping her get caught up in some areas and find a way to help her with deadlines would in this case be good since the school has that zap program. i know if my school had had the zap program i would have been in real trouble. i hope something gets worked out that is better than that.
Why do you think Ben Franklin and John Stuart Mill are examples of unschoolers? Even Edison seems like a stretch - I might call him a relaxed homeschooler?
My daughter turns 18 in on Monday, so I guess she's a grown unschooler. :) She seems pretty great to me - she has friends, a boyfriend, a job she loves, speaks three languages, plays on an adult women's rugby team, is applying to colleges...
There's also the Grown Without Schooling video, which you could probably order fairly cheaply. I kinda thought it was boring, but they are definitely grown unschoolers for whom unschooling was not a catastrophe.
How are you managing to unschool your stepdaughter if her mother has physical custody?
Benjamin Franklin attended Boston Latin Academy until he was apprenticed to his older brother, as was the norm for middle class boys (and some girls) back then. He definitely wasn't unschooled. You'd have a really tough sell claiming that any of the Founding Fathers were un/homeschooled: I see that claim with some frequency, but they all received pretty strict classical style educations, as boys of their class did back then.
What I know of John Stuart Mill, he was just about the opposite of unschooled. Honestly, I think that history isn't your way to go... it's really hard to transpose modern definitions on historical childhoods. We have a very different concept of childhood and what children should learn and how they learn than they did even a hundred years ago. I can absolutely bet you that Franklin and Mill were beaten by their parents and teachers a great deal in the name of education. You can find examples of people who educated themselves despite huge obstacles (Frederick Douglass, for example), but in every case I can think of, those individuals would have given their teeth to be allowed a traditional education so I think it's a little disingenuous to claim them as unschoolers.
I'd concentrate on more modern graduates. I had a really good article that was posted here about unschoolers in Canada, but it's off the newspaper's website now :( Here's a thread about Sudbury graduates: http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1254128/sudbury-graduates
Have you thought about trying to do a more structured curriculum with her? The Mom might be more OK with that, and then she'd still avoid ZAP. I'd also look into virtual academies, etc. Honestly, anything to stay out of evil Middle School. ;)
One family that comes to mind is Naomi Aldort's kids. Their stories are online, I believe. :)
I don't think anyone is saying you shouldn't do this, but posters here are looking at the realities of the situation as you've described them and trying to help you find solutions that might work to help you keep your stepdaughter out of middle school. Really, we're friendly folks.
We've come up with some anecdotal examples, and you can find more just searching the forum - a number of members have kids who have been unschooled and are now adults. I'm not aware of any empirical studies that focus specifically on unschooling. It's fairly new - when we started unschooling 12 years ago most people didn't know what it was - and the definition has shifted over the years, and even today I'm not sure there's one shared definition. Most of the unschooled adults I know are quite young - in their late teens or early twenties - and I'm not sure one can see what the results are, really. Some are in college, some are working, none seem miserable or unprepared for life, but they're generally doing the stuff most people their age are doing.
There used to be a camp-like thing for grown unschoolers called Quo Vadis, but it looks like it no longer exists. You might google it and get some info about the people involved. It was a NBTSC offshoot.
There's also a book called The Unprocessed Child, written by a mother about how she unschooled her daughter. The last I heard, her daughter was in graduate school somewhere, working on a PhD.
I think historical figures will be difficult because, as lach said, a lot of the historical figures who were educated in an unschooling-type way really wanted to go to school, and weren't allowed to. IMO unschooling really requires a certain amount of privilege - you need to have access to resources, educated adults, time,.. stuff that most people throughout history haven't had. That said, I might consider Margaret Mead an example of someone who was at least partially homeschooled in a pretty relaxed way (and I would put Edison in the same category, FWIW). One of Mead's more famous quotes is "My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school."
Hi. I'm not sure that I was unschooled. Although I was allowed to pursue whatever I wanted throughout my homeschooled childhood. I am a happily married mother of 2. Going back to finish my degree after a decade of traveling, having weird jobs that I loved, and giving birth naturally to my kids. I am also homeschooling my son, and pretty much unschooling him. My parents are still a part of my life and supportive of whatever my husband and I want to do. That included giving birth at home to my first son and becoming a professional musician....and a commercial fisherman...and other stuff too. :)
I have to say, I do worry a bit when I read about unschooled kids(boys it seems?) that play video games for 8 hours per day. I am wondering how that's working out...but there are plenty of messed up public schoolers, no one seems to mention that in their defense of unschooling! And maybe that's not politically correct. At any rate, it's always harder to go against the grain. And strangely enough, my completely public schooled husband has more backbone than me about this stuff! I'm always questioning everything.....
I dropped out of high school at 15 to unschool my last two years of high school. I did get a diploma from Clonlara and completed some course work of my choosing. It's a bit different than growing up unschooling. I do know a family of 7 who unschooled from the time the oldest was in 2nd grade. The oldest is my age (31) and there are several others in their early to late 20s. None of us have college degrees, though some are working towards that. I dropped out of college three different times. I've found it hard - and I believe several of my unschooled friends feel similarly - to find what I wanted to do and be as adult and where I fit exactly. Of course, most of the people I know who went to school also have had that struggle, so that's not saying much, I guess.
I'm married and the mother of two sons. My husband is finishing his PhD. We basically support ourselves. I'm active in the community and have been organizing for some time, primarily around local foods issues, though also on women's issues. I've also volunteered with environmental and peace movements at varying times in the last several years. I'm an artist and a writer and I unschool my kids.
My friends who were unschooled also support themselves and none are degenerates, drug addicts, or criminals. They struggle, but so do I and so do most folks I know. They're all literate and intelligent and interested in doing work that is meaningful.
This young woman in Canada has a great blog where she's been doing interviews with grown unschoolers. Here's her link, with links to other sites with info/interviews. http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/2010/05/unschooling-grows-up-collection-of.html
I never went to school as a child.
My mother began homeschooling when I was in pre-school because my gifted older sister was bored at school. In my early years, my mom had plenty of curriculum options and formal textbooks. But, her approach was always one where I led the lessons and decided what I wanted to study. She was insistent that I learn the basics - how to read, how to write, and how to do basic math. Once that was accomplished we entered into a more "unschooling" approach.
I would say probably from 4th grade on I learned what I felt compelled to learn and did not bother with "lessons." I studied the French Revolution in great detail, I was passionate about it. I built barricades in my bedroom and spoke in French to my family. I read medical journals for fun. I tried to write a novel when I was 11. I wrote screenplays to act out with my friends. The internet was an amazing addition to this lifestyle and I researched all kinds of things online once we had a computer in the house.
I was intense and motivated. I went to community college when I was 18 and was on the Dean's list. I dropped out the second semester because I got mono (probably from my boyfriend). I impulsively got married. Once married, I made a creative resume and landed a great job as an office manager in a photography studio. My husband and I lived in a small house and I primarily supported us. 3 years later, I realized I was not compatible with my husband and we got divorced. I see friend's today remaining in miserable marriages and I don't get it. Why aren't people self motivated to change their lives for the better, to take initiative and grow?
After my divorce, I was laid off, but never spent long unemployed. I consider myself resourceful. I have never had difficulty landing a job or selling myself to an employer. I worked as a photographer, administrative assistant, receptionist and teacher. My salary did nothing but go up. Finally, when I was teaching, the principal told me I should get a degree because she could not legally pay me what she thought I was worth without one. So, I went back to college. Today, I have a 3.9 GPA and am a member of Phi Theta Kappa and will have many, many options when I transfer to a 4 year school.
I am married again - to my very best friend. We travel the world together and experience life. We have been together now for 7 years.I have driven from Mexico to Canada on Hwy 1 on the west coast, from Yellowstone to New Mexico, from Houston, Texas to Buffalo, New York. We live in a house in a nice neighborhood. We have 2 dogs. We are very happy.
The hardest thing about being an unschooled adult is that I see so much as being pointless. I see the world jumping through hoops that I think are unnecessary. I get very frustrated with the red tape of working in the professional world "You can't be 5 minutes late, you have to be here even when there is nothing to do." I have had conflicts with authority figures at jobs because the rules make no sense to me. When that happens I present my case, am usually told "you know how to advocate for yourself" and the issue is resolved or I quit. That may seem extreme, but it has never worked out to my detriment. As I told a boss recently, "I have a very low tolerance for unhappiness at work."
I think it is fair to say that I have a low tolerance for unhappiness in general. If I don't like my life, I change it. I think that I take action because I believe that I have the power to change my own existence. I think that core belief is rooted in having been unschooled. I had far more control over the outcome of each day than most kids do, and it built a deep confidence inside of me that has withstood the stresses of being an adult.
So, I turn 30 this year. I am attending college, employed full time, financially successful, & emotionally successful. I have had a full wealth of human experiences. I have no clue how to do algebra because I hated it and decided not to learn it. Do you think that has hurt me in the long run? I don't.
Best of luck on the adventure of unschooling.
Thank you for the well-written and insightful post. I especially like the following part:
. If I don't like my life, I change it. I think that I take action because I believe that I have the power to change my own existence. I think that core belief is rooted in having been unschooled. I had far more control over the outcome of each day than most kids do, and it built a deep confidence inside of me that has withstood the stresses of being an adult.
Best of luck on the adventure of unschooling.
Learning what to do with oneself when one has the control is something I am afraid many young people today are not doing.
-- Mai Lon
You might want to check out Jill Ker Conway's memoir "The Road from Coorain". She was Smith College's first woman president, from 1975–1985, and now serves as a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My memory is somewhat hazy but I believe she was somewhat unschooled until she was about 13 when she went to private school.
Or there's "Twenty Chickens for a Saddle" by Robyn Scott. From a web page: "Storybooks-or being read to from them-comprise, it turns out, most of their homeschooled education. That, and searching the surrounding bush for animals (poisonous and otherwise) to let loose in their schoolroom. As a result of the absolute freedom of spirit, thought, and movement that they are given, all three children grow into fascinating, if rather eccentric, characters in their own right." She also went to public school at about age 13.
Or "My Family and Other Animals" by Gerald Durrell.
All of these are about people who essentially lived an unschooling life, mostly because of unusual circumstances, before the term "unschooling" was even coined.
I may be wrong about Conway's upbringing but I think that if she was schooled at home, it was only for a couple of hours a day.
When I was a kid I don't think my parents had heard of unschooling but my 2 sisters(22 months and 6 years younger) and I were 'homeschooled without curriculum'. I would call my mom an experimental homeschooler. Each of us was taught a different way because my mom would try something and it would either work or not, and it may or may not have worked for the next kid. We traveled a lot in my elementary/middle school period so most of our learning was from field trips, museums, and reading while we drove down the road. We would stop at every observatory, state park, public tour, historical site or natural phenomenon.
As a PP wrote, my parents were insistent that we learn to read, write and do basic math. We typically had a few things we had to get done each day, a math worksheet, spelling lists to quiz each other from or something like that. The rest of the time we learned from life. Natural sciences we learned somewhere between traveling across the country, playing in the woods/desert, caring for our barnyard creatures, and helping mom with her garden. My dad was a carpenter so physics, and shop were easy. We often got to play with his tools, or go to his job sites and help out (teamwork). My mom was a midwife and we went to prenatal appointments and occasionally I would be at a birth with her (health class) I usually got roped into caring for other children when there was no one else. We had a set of children's encyclopedias that were great reference for all things. We watched learning TV shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Zaboomafoo and the Kratz(?) brothers(I don't remember the name of the show), and Reading Rainbow.... and that was all we were allowed to watch on TV. I read books A LOT. We were well known at the local library. We learned about money and math from grocery shopping.
When we stopped traveling I had my first job at 13 and started saving and spending my own money (never had an allowance). We lived across the street from a dude ranch where I washed dishes, by the second summer I was leading horseback rides because I was a good rider. When I was 15 I demanded my parents let me join a 4-H club since I wasn't allowed to play sports. There I was still (as usual) one of the oldest kids. 4-H taught me leadership, economics, record keeping, public speaking, community service, and lots of other things. We also participated in a community play. My sister was the performer, I worked backstage.
I took the GED test when I was 16, started college at a state university when I was 19 and have held a job steadily up until last year. Last year I graduated college(dabbled around for 6 years), got married and had our first baby in November. The only adjustment I ever had problems with was with test taking in college. I was raised that if you got it wrong, you go back and fix it until it's right. Not so in 'real' school where you're expected to accept your 'result' and move on without knowing what you did wrong. Socially, I take friendships very seriously and have various friends but no 'group'. I never fit into any specific group so I made my friends one-on-one instead. I like to think it kept me thinking independently and I never really accepted being a follower. In the long run it has given me a broader social network but no core group. I take this to be a good thing.
I'd be happy to answer any specific questions if you have any. :)