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Classical, Unschool, combination of the two?? - Page 2

post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

I very much view myself as combining a classical education with unschooling.

I perhaps have a slightly different view of unschooling, in that I don't just leave my kids to learn what they learn, and let it go at that.  I call my philosophy "subversive unschooling." 

When my kids were young I did a bit of this but my kids proved to be incredibly adept at sniffing out (and emphatically resisting) my hidden agendas. My elder two in particular had very high autonomy needs and high levels of perfectionism and anxiety. Me wanting them to do something was enough to make them not want to do it, or too aware of being observed to be willing to try.

I had to back way off and avoid even the subtlest of educational-agenda interaction. These days I can share authentic interests and enthusiasms and my kids are often receptive. If I'm sharing in the same manner and for the same reasons as I might share with my dh or with my friends or parents, my kids are cool with it. For example if I encountered something and it seemed like the sort of thing they'd just love. Or if it's something I've been mulling over and want to talk through with someone. Or if it's something I'm so genuinely intrigued by that I feel the need to share. But if I'm sharing because I think it's "good for them to be exposed to this" or whatever, they (inwardly) roll their eyes and check out.

Different kids, different approaches I guess. But I'm posting mostly to point out that even without "subversive" intentions, I think all unschooling parents do more than "leave their kids to learn what they learn." The members of unschooling families are part of each others' lives, and as such there's a lot of natural, authentic cross-pollination of interests and enthusiasms that occurs.

MIranda
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post



 If I'm sharing in the same manner and for the same reasons as I might share with my dh or with my friends or parents, my kids are cool with it. For example if I encountered something and it seemed like the sort of thing they'd just love. Or if it's something I've been mulling over and want to talk through with someone. Or if it's something I'm so genuinely intrigued by that I feel the need to share. 
 The members of unschooling families are part of each others' lives, and as such there's a lot of natural, authentic cross-pollination of interests and enthusiasms that occurs.
MIranda

This is how it is in my house.  My being interested in other things and sharing doesn't preclude all eye-rolling, or the little kid versions (like "What started this??!!")  but it is not with an agenda when I get on a talking spree, it's just that I can be something of a nerd about some things.  Some things do click, though.  I decided to show dd1 the difference between alternate and opposite leaf arrangements as we were looking at nettles.  It was one of those moments where mama just goes way, way beyond the necessary answer, (often there being no question in the first place) but this time dd was interested.  Cool!  

 

I agree on the distinction between inspiration and philosophy.  

 

For example, I like the way that Waldorf (outwardly) teaches art.  I am inspired by it, like Luckiestgirl.  But you can't "do" *real* Waldorf art without being fully immersed in Waldorf, because the philosophy behind what you are doing with the art extends beyond that subject and into the whole of life and childhood.  Wet-on-wet watercolor makes lines impossible and the paint is active and alive and--this is the whole of the Waldorf early education philosophy--expansive.   Even THE WAY you perform the painting-- the way you prepare the paint, the paper, the way you use the brush, clean up, transition to the next activity-- is so integral.  And the art is integral with the rest of the day, so, according to Waldorf philosophy, Waldorf is an entity as a whole.  Even the singsong way the teacher *speaks* to the child while doing art is all part of the package.  You can be inspired by it, but you don't "do" Waldorf without immersing yourself because *the philosophy* dictates this as paramount!

 

Normally, I would be the first to say "Whatever."  It is a favorite mantra of mine.  I am inspired by a lot of philosophies, I even call myself an unschooler, but I am fully prepared with the knowledge that some of the limitations in my house might make other, more radical types think that no way is this unschooling the way they consider it.  Well, not a problem.  I would love to have that conversation, but in the end, it's a useful label *for me*, that is all.  Labels are for communication, not for dogmatization.  Every word is a label.  The first step in a debate is to agree on the terms in question so that semantics don't derail the conversation. 

post #23 of 58

I haven't read the responses. However, you may be interested in reading "Legendary Learning." http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Learning-Homeschoolers-Self-Directed-Excellence/dp/0983151008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337058288&sr=8-1

 

his is probably the best parenting book I have ever read. How you can offer your kids the skills they need to follow their passions and succeed (as they define it) in the world. Although it is geared to homeschoolers, most of this can be applied to children who attend school. She discusses Montessori, Charlotte Mason, A Thomas Jefferson Education (a form of classical education,) and unschooling. She has researched how many highly successful people were educated as they grew up. Although all were homeschooled for some period of time, many also went to school for awhile as well. She discusses people like Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Pierre Curie, Agatha Christie, Margaret Leakey, and many, many others. The bottom line is to help your child find their passions and teach them the creativity and skills to attain their goals.

post #24 of 58

I only have a minute.

 

I did want to say that I can see how my earlier post could be misconstrued.  I know I used the word "subversive", but I don't actually trick my kids.  You're right.  That would be deceitful, and would certainly backfire.  Nor did I mean that I thought unschoolers didn't do anything with their kids.  I was trying to say that I understand my method is a little more methodical and organized than many unschoolers, while still being very unconventional and informal.

 

So, here, I am known to be following a reading list for bedtime books.  We aren't locked into it, and I will read a different book if asked.  But, we are working through a list (and the kids don't know it).  The "problems" I meant, are real life things that I can use help doing.  I don't just contrive meaningless things and fake that I can't.  As mentioned by previous posters, it is much more of a working together relationship.  I know this is basic level stuff (but I can easily see how it can move up to the more complex), but things like writing my shopping list for me while I nurse a baby, or tallying up purchases off a receipt, are things I truly need done, and appreciate the help.  The kids, obviously, are practicing writing, and math by doing those things for me.  Sometimes, it's a little too hard for them, and they need a little instruction on how to finish.  And, I am actively watching for things I can have them help me do that I know will stretch what they already know.

 

I hope that explains a bit better.

post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

Sometimes I have a "problem" I need them to solve for me.  Sometimes, I'm deliberately too busy to solve their problem for them. 

 

Not to be a pain in the neck, but I don't see any other way of interpreting these statements.  Why would you put quotation marks around a real problem?  How can one be actually too busy, and deliberately too busy at the same time? 

 

It sounds to me as if you want to trust that your children will learn without you controlling the process tightly, but that you aren't quite there yet.  And that's cool.  But I think words matter, and they sometimes do a really good job of revealing differences in the philosophies we hold.

post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

 

Not to be a pain in the neck, but I don't see any other way of interpreting these statements.  Why would you put quotation marks around a real problem?  How can one be actually too busy, and deliberately too busy at the same time? 

 

It sounds to me as if you want to trust that your children will learn without you controlling the process tightly, but that you aren't quite there yet.  And that's cool.  But I think words matter, and they sometimes do a really good job of revealing differences in the philosophies we hold.

 

I think another poster said semantics was a pretty big issue in this sort of discussion.  I agree.

 

Sigh.  I am actually too busy lots of times, and I can pretty easily chose not to help when I feel that the process of coming to a solution is just as valuable as the solution itself.  Sure, I can hold off supper to help them...I dunno...get the batteries back in the remote control car.  But, by standing back and being busy making supper, ds learned how to do it himself and is pretty proud of it.  I could have made time (and sometimes do!), but there's a lot of value, I feel, in letting them do things that are real and useful.  And in developing the "I can figure it out" confidence that those situations allow.  So, yes, I do deliberately tell them "just a minute", or "hang on, I need to finish x" before I can help you.  Often, that 5 to 10 minute delay is what gets them going on their own.  This wasn't deliberate, but an example is when dd3 was born.  I couldn't read to dd1 on demand anymore, and with the few skills she had, she taught herself to read because she was tired of waiting for me. 

 

As far as unschooling, I already said I'm working with a bit of a different definition.  I totally and truly believe that children learn best in a non-formal atmosphere, doing things that really matter, especially that really matter to THEM.  I also believe that there is a core set of stuff that classical education builds (writing skills?  speaking skills?  upper level math?  chemistry?) that well-educated people have well in hand.  It is my desire to give them as much of that upper level stuff in as unschooling a form as possibe.  Lots of things can be accomplished as a way of life, and don't need that nitty gritty I mentioned earlier.  Some things do, but I intend to do as little of that as I possibly can. 

post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

As far as unschooling, I already said I'm working with a bit of a different definition.  I totally and truly believe that children learn best in a non-formal atmosphere, doing things that really matter, especially that really matter to THEM.  I also believe that there is a core set of stuff that classical education builds (writing skills?  speaking skills?  upper level math?  chemistry?) that well-educated people have well in hand. 

 

Ah, okay, so your definition of unschooling is about informal, learning-through-life education. 

 

My definition of unschooling has nothing to do with formality vs. informality, but with who decides what should be learned and how: the learner. My unschooled kids have actually done quite a lot of formal learning. 

 

Miranda

post #28 of 58

For me, as well, the autonomy of the learner is central to unschooling.  A related concept is the lack of specific outcomes that I as the parent am trying to check off some real or imagined list.   John Holt addresses this idea in Instead of Education:

 

Why does there always have to be an "outcome?"  When I go to see something that interests me, I don't have to do a dance afterwards or make a six-foot papier mache map and hoist it up to the ceiling.  I can decide for myself what sort of outcome, if any, I want to have for my experience.  More important, I can wait until the outcome reveals itself to me.  This takes time, sometimes years, and it never happens if "creative teachers" are busily pushing and prodding and motivating to make it happen. (page 120)

 

I'm not saying I'm perfect at this, but it is the ideal toward which I am working.

post #29 of 58

I've been homeschooling for  4 years now, and on some retrospective thought, yeah we combined the two. It does depend on how your child works, and honestly I have 2 girls who work totally differently. Our eldest loves to learn, so she wanted to read. Once she learnt how to read, classical education came naturally. Even before that she was watching a certain type of movie or I was reading her a more classical book. She's read abridged versions of some things and complete of others. But its been from pleasure. Math, I''ve supplied workbooks and she's done computer games, again, I don't force. I think the combination of the two is an attitude shift rather than an actual curriculum choice. If you are child led, then you are an unschooler in many ways, and you can live a classical education lifestyle which they in turn absorb.

Now saying that, I'm just in the process of ordering the Oak Meadow curriculum, as we need a bit more bite in our life. My girls are so excited by it. I can't wait to try it. Its the closest I've ever seen to a curriculum for unschooling and its classical based to... with a bit of Waldolf thrown in. Check it out for sure! <3

post #30 of 58

I'd say you have to know your child and yourself.  Neither of my kids are super self directed at this point, although they have a super rich play life full of fantasy and innovation, curiosity and discovery.  We use some of The Well Trained Mind's guildelines and materials, and some others that we like, Singapore Math and All About Spelling for example.  My feeling is that my kids may be more interested in self directed study as we go along and I can be open to that.  I think you can absolutely do some unschooling, say with science, history, art while having a specific curriculum for math and spelling. 

 

Good luck!

post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeidiYarrowMom View Post

  I think you can absolutely do some unschooling, say with science, history, art while having a specific curriculum for math and spelling. 

 

Good luck!

This just sounds a little funny to me, though I'm pretty sure I know what you mean.  You mean, child-led, exploratory, not outcome-oriented?  You mean that the parent trusts the child in these areas to make their own decisions, their own way, in their own time?  I can understand it in that context, it's just the usage of the term "unschooling" in this manner seems out of place to me.  And "having a specific curriculum" means, then in contrast, chosen by the parent, with specific times for practice, a specified work load and goals for particular accomplishments?  (Unschoolers like Miranda's kids use curriculi, but make their own choice to use them, and choose which ones, themselves-- without parental expectations or goals.  Sorry, moominmamma, for borrowing you for my example!)

 

In the end, what is wrong with accepting a few labels that have become part of the greater HSing vocabulary?  Granted, they are not iron-clad, set-in-stone definitions, but they have a really useful range.  "Eclectic" and "relaxed" homeschooling are really nice, useful words for that in-between spectrum, where some degree of education and lifestyle is child-led, others are parent-led to varying degrees.  They have been in use for a long time within the HSing community, and are not cop-outs or concessions.  They are for parents who like to do a little of this and that, depending on what goals they have, what expectations, what works, what doesn't.  Inspiration comes from across the spectrum, and each family can look wildly different.  The *same* family can look wildly different over time!  

 

When you use those terms, HSing people nod knowingly and *understand you* without needing specifics, though they might be curious what exactly you do and how and what has changed over the years, what works now, what ended up not working.  

 

Same for the term "unschooling".  Using this word, you conjure up another spectrum where people understand that at least where education is concerned, the child is directing the flow of his own learning and making it happen themselves as much as possible. Many people who claim they are eclectic are, for all intents and purposes, unschooling, so it is an unbroken continuum all the way to the most radical unschoolers.  (BTW, I have not yet known any unschoolers who haven't let it leak into non-academic family life *at all*.  It just seems a natural extension of the philosophy.)

 

And though I understand what is meant, "do some unschooling" and phrases like it doesn't really make much sense, at least to this USing parent.  I imagine Waldorf parents might also cringe at "do some Waldorf".  

 

Yes, it is more a spectrum that a hard and fast book of rules, but some things, like this, seem definitely out of range.

post #32 of 58

I've been homeschooling for 3 years now, I combine waldorf and unschooling, here's how I do it: I have wood/natural toys, water color paint, beeswax crayons, main lesson books, basically lots of waldorf school materials, good quality reading books- the classics like beatix potter, heidi, a little princess, narnia, etc. but I don't do formal lessons. The stuff is available, and they go to it when they want. I supplement what they do at home with trips to the library, dance class,bike riding, hiking, play dates and t-ball. They do have set bedtimes, no t.v./computer -except for the rare movie, and are expected to help with chores around the house. That said, my oldest dd, who's grade 2 age, went from a non-reader in September to reading novels within a few months. Most of the time they learn thru playing.

post #33 of 58

As I understand it unschooling is child-centered and child-driven. From what I remember from reading John Holt children probably aren't ready to be "taught" until they are around 12 before they are ready for any formal classes or learning from books. A child that is in 2nd grade wouldn't need books or learning plans. What the child would need is a home that is rich learning environment and at least one adult around that is available for the child to do things with the child and to take advantage of what might be called teachable moments. If the child asks where milk comes from then that is an opportunity for all kinds of learning to take place if the child is really interested. It takes a lot of faith to unschool your children through high school and hope you won't get in trouble with the state and that they will be able to handle college. I unschooled my 3 sons.

post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

From what I remember from reading John Holt children probably aren't ready to be "taught" until they are around 12 before they are ready for any formal classes or learning from books. 

 

That's certainly not anything I remember Holt writing. He wrote a lot about the power of natural, unstructured learning. And he wrote about children he had observed who had chosen not to partake of formal learning until adolescence and then rapidly "caught up" thanks to the efficiency afforded by maturity, motivation and prior informal learning. So he would have said that many children don't gravitate to formal learning until adolescence, and we should trust their inclinations about their readiness. He spoke a lot about the damage that could be inadvertently caused by the imposition of the agendas of adults. But I don't recall him making statements about the inadvisability of learning from books or classes prior to age 12 for children who are keen on that sort of learning ... that seems really odd to me, because I know he was good friends with and an ardent supporter of families like Nancy Wallace's, where the kids were very precocious in some areas and doing quite high-level learning from books and through structured work with mentors long before age 12.

 

Miranda

post #35 of 58
Quote:

Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

That's certainly not anything I remember Holt writing.

 

I wonder if this poster might be thinking of Raymond and Dorothy Moore, who wrote Better Late than Early.  The Moores place the average age of readiness for academic learning between the ages of 8 and 10.

 

One thing to note about John Holt: his views evolved significantly over his lifetime.  By the time he wrote such works as Instead of Education, he was thoroughly anti-school (S-chool, actually, as in the compulsory sense, distinguished from s-chools that a learner chooses to attend for the purpose of learning specific skills, like a language, or ballet, or whatever).  The Holt who wrote How Children Learn and How Children Fail was much less at odds with parents directing learning activities.  In his later books, he often critiques his early ideas, saying things to the effect of, "I don't know why I thought they wouldn't figure that out, in their own time, in a better way." 

 

So maybe I'm suggesting that anyone still exploring homeschooling philosophies, and attracted at any level to Holt's ideas, might want to read some of his later work in addition to his earlier books. 

post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

 

The Holt who wrote How Children Learn and How Children Fail was much less at odds with parents directing learning activities.  In his later books, he often critiques his early ideas, saying things to the effect of, "I don't know why I thought they wouldn't figure that out, in their own time, in a better way." 

 

So maybe I'm suggesting that anyone still exploring homeschooling philosophies, and attracted at any level to Holt's ideas, might want to read some of his later work in addition to his earlier books. 

Those earlier books were written, I think, when he still had hope for a reformed education system, something he later abandoned quite vocally.  I am no Holt expert.  My library has very limited selections from his books.  I do know that he eschewed coerced, compulsory learning (as opposed to the compulsory learning to achieve a chosen end-- like boring scales practices in a chosen musical education, or required classes for a chosen degree--the s-chool/ S-chool difference that was mentioned.)

post #37 of 58

I just got out "Learning All the Time" by John Holt and skimmed through to refresh my memory. This was the book he was writing at the time of his death. The over-arching ideas in the book seem to be "There's no hurry, it's never too late to learn, and children learn incredible amounts with little direct teaching." His five-word thesis is "Teaching does not make learning." Instead he says that "Learners create learning." And he does not say anywhere I can see that one should not start formal learning before adolescence. He says merely that there is no precious window of learning that will be missed if you do not start when children are young -- and there are significant risks with leading formal learning too vigorously on the learner's behalf at any age. (He fleshes this latter idea out in more detail in "Never Too Late," his book about learning the cello as an adult.)

 

But it's important to recognize on the semantic issue that Holt was not trying to define unschooling as distinct from homeschooling. For him unschooling was a synonym for what we now call homeschooling: it just meant learning outside of school, regardless of the style or approach. Obviously he favoured an approach that was highly child-centred, based in family life, play, community and imagination. But the word unschooling to him simply meant learning without going to school. 

 

Miranda

post #38 of 58
We started out unschooling kindergarten, but found it just didn't work for our family. My dd felt that unschooling meant I was a slave to her educational needs, and I had to be willing to put that ahead of my own needs..... It was destructive for us. I also realized that I did have educational goals for my kids that I was not willing to let go of. So my version of eclectic homeschooling has actually very gradually moved from unschooling to a more classical education style. Each year we have added one or two formal sit down subjects, and done a child led, relaxed approach to the others. This year for 4th grade, we did spelling and grammar for the first time, adding those to our math and Story of the World history and handwriting. We did a huge amount for science, which was a combo of a science curriculum dd chose and various activities she chose. I also chose a few classic books to read aloud to her, and she was free to read all she wanted.

Just sharing one more way....

Peace,
post #39 of 58

I got super excited at this thread, and then it wasn't what I thought it was at all... My son is 2 so we haven't started worrying too much about all this yet, but I'm currently considering trying to find a way to meld public school and homeschooling, that's what I thought we were discussing :( I have no idea if it will work or not or how receptive my school district will be when the time comes, but I thought it would be nice to give my son the experience of public school without forcing him to sit in a classroom for 8 hours 5 days a week. I'd love to be able to just allow him to wake up at his own pace, bring him in for a portion of the day a few days a week so that he has interaction with other kids in the community and then bring him home to actually learn about life. Has anyone considered this idea at all? I am very curious if anyone has attempted to approach a district with something like this, and if so what kind of response was received.

post #40 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maria Van View Post

I got super excited at this thread, and then it wasn't what I thought it was at all... My son is 2 so we haven't started worrying too much about all this yet, but I'm currently considering trying to find a way to meld public school and homeschooling, that's what I thought we were discussing :( I have no idea if it will work or not or how receptive my school district will be when the time comes, but I thought it would be nice to give my son the experience of public school without forcing him to sit in a classroom for 8 hours 5 days a week. I'd love to be able to just allow him to wake up at his own pace, bring him in for a portion of the day a few days a week so that he has interaction with other kids in the community and then bring him home to actually learn about life. Has anyone considered this idea at all? I am very curious if anyone has attempted to approach a district with something like this, and if so what kind of response was received.

 

The tricky thing about what you're describing is that all the other kids in the school would be there to learn, not socialize, and having your child there part-time for only social reasons could be disruptive.  If your goal is for your child to interact with other kids in the community, I would look for non-school settings like dance classes or sports teams.  

 

Having said that, I think you could approach your local school to ask if your homeschooled child could participate in the elementary school orchestra or art classes, or some other specific activity in the school, but you would need to send your child with the expectation that he would participate in the activities and do any homework.  Otherwise, it's unfair to the teacher.  

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