I'm wondering what everyone else's experiences have been with finding structured learning opportunities that are compatible with an unschooling philosophy.
We live in a small town, nearly an hour from a smallish city. We have been fortunate to find some learning opportunities that mesh well, but we've also had some major strike-outs. We've quit a few activities or not signed up for others because the programs had very authoritarian/childist philsophies, or were wedded to doing things in a very schooly way.
The impetus for this post was a swim lesson this morning. Last summer, we had a wonderful teacher. This summer, the teacher started the first lesson by explaining that she was a former teacher/middle school principal and so she knew how to enforce rules. Then she called on the children one by one and asked them to read one of the rules off the posted sign. The kids were ages five to seven, and the rules included phrases like "subepidermal tissue" (as in, don't swim if you have this kind of injury). I find drilling kids on reading to be really rude (I mean, who would do this to adults?) and to be a way of labeling kids before one even gets to know them. DD isn't yet a fluent reader, so I whispered to her, "You can just say, 'I prefer not to,' if she asks you to read." She chose to read the words she knew.
The actual lesson was okay, though the teacher's tone was pretty condescending. Afterwards she offered the kids candy for "trying so hard." Then she approached each parent and made statements like, "I can tell Joe is a really great student. He does well in school, doesn't he?" and some that weren't so positive.
DD is already a pretty good swimmer, so I think the confidence she got from swimming well (and the fact that the other children were really pleasant) made it an overall good experience for her. I asked her if she wants to keep going, and she does, and so we will.
I just get tired of this stuff. I'm sure if we lived in an area with more unschoolers (still hoping to relocate in the next year or so!) this wouldn't be such a problem. Also, a larger area would inevitably mean more to choose from overall.
Experiences, anyone? Do you have a particular process for "screening" to avoid a bad experience?