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I want to learn more

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was born and raised in a developing country where school is a luxury. School is way out of poverty. You cant get a job without showing college certificate and you cant get into a college without showing school certificate. Unschooling by choice is beyond imagination.
So, with that background, I am here to learn more about the philosophy of unschooling. I live in US now and this country is so rich! Its like a giant school to be honest. Everything is free and there are so many resources given to public just free, just like that. We cant get over this fact:)
Anyways, so help me understand some basic concepts:
1. How do you awesome mamas who choose to unschool expect your children to earn their living?
2. Do you believe in the saying that it takes a village to raise a child? I ask this because I see a lot of you are opposed to your child being raised by others, and my heart agrees on this, but as I said, I come from a different culture, where people raise each other's children. Everyone is involved in everyone's business:)
3. Can you suggest me some resources which give me a good understanding of what unschooling entails? And is this practiced elsewhere in the world?
post #2 of 12

I'll bite, though I am not going to take up the task of personally convincing you.  But I'll give you some things to think about.

 

The US is not a developing country.  There, not only is school a luxury, libraries are, too.  The internet.  People with academic skills (in and out of a school environment).  This is not to say that every house and family in the North America has the same resources, and I am not going to nitpick this issue.  

 

Unschoolers find the availability of school rewarding as well.  It is a valuable resource, for sure.  Read John Holt and his differentiation between compulsory schooling and school as a choice.

 

As for others raising our children, a village is an extended "family" of adults that weave in and out of children's lives from day to day, year to year.  With most schools, that teacher is involved in a child's life for one year, if not less.  I might be raising my child on my own (which is more a statement of Western culture than unschooling vs. schooling), but I have no illusions that I am going to be the sole source of knowledge for my child, even though I don't send them to school.  My neighbor knows way more about electricity.  My BIL more about cars. DH is great at chess and math, and I am better with words and reading.  We attend 4-H and gymnastics..... on and on and on.  The world is our "school", you are right!  

 

John Holt "Teach Your Own" is a good place to start.  Unschooling is popularly practiced anywhere homeschooling is legal.

 

When you've researched and read a bit more, I think that last question need not even be asked.

 

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you, I will read the book!
post #4 of 12

School is probably the most efficient and effective way to introduce higher education in a nation that is just moving towards post-industrial post-agrarian status. I think it has a terribly important positive role in such places. Unschooling may be the oldest, most natural way for humans to learn, but it works well to pass along the skills and knowledge already widely present in family and community. When you're looking for a way to move an entire population forward to a higher or different sort of educational expectation, I think mass education by trained teachers is the way to go. I've often thought that unschooling must seem incredibly bizarre and probably arrogant to citizens of developing nations. So yes, I definitely understand why your perspective is a little different.

 

1. The thing about unschooling is that children learn and grow in an environment that does not separate learning from living. We read a lot about unschooling young children on boards like this, but less about what unschooling tends to look like amongst teens. As the mom to three teens who have unschooled fully or partly through their "high school years" I can tell you that they tend to get out in the real world a fair bit. They tend to have mentors and contacts within the community, within their fields of interest. They have a lot more flexibility than school students in terms of gaining experience in those areas. They have more experience in direct contact with the working world. My eldest dd, who wanted a career as a musician was able to: travel in order to get higher level training, travel for gigs with orchestras which earned her experience, money and lines on her resumé, work as an accompanist for an adult choral ensemble, work as an accompanist for young string students, and get a part-time job in the service sector at a café to learn one of those "day job" skills that every freelance musician needs. She was able to build a robust network of contacts, people who would write her letters of reference, who would put her in touch with people she "needed to know" and so on. My ds, who is interested in computers and digital media, has spent hundreds of hours building websites, mixing music, trouble-shooting system failures, swapping out graphics cards, volunteering with a computer recycling program, fixing other people's computers, editing movies, learning Photoshop, etc. etc.. He has professional references in the computer repair sector. His plan B is to be a musician, and he's already earning money playing gigs with his viola. I'm pretty sure all my kids will opt to go to college; eldest is there now, the others plan to go. I anticipate them having the qualifications and resumés they'll need to do whatever they want, and probably a better sense than many schooled children of what it is they want, by virtue of having been out and about in the real world a lot more.

 

2. While I believe strongly in the primacy of family, I also believe strongly in the value of community. I don't want my kids to be at the mercy of an institutional version of discipline and values for a huge portion of their waking hours, but I am very happy if they spend lots of time away from home and in contact with other people. I just want to retain my (and their!) ability to observe, limit, filter or temper influences that feel wrong and undermine their happiness and our values. I love the teachers at our local school; I think most of them have wonderful hearts and nothing but their students' best interests at heart. But there's still the reality of a few people there who believe in a top-down authority-based model of judgement and discipline, and of the peer-driven values and social garbage that tends to take root when large groups of age-matched children are together for large chunks of time with no caring adults nearby to be witness to their interactions. My kids probably spend far more time involved in real community life. They know every member of two community choirs, all the stall-keepers at the community market, the dozen elderly ladies who do step-aerobics at the community gym, they know every grocery store cashier and café staffperson by name, they volunteer at the community garden, at concert performances, and so on. When it comes to our village, my unschooled kids are out living in it, while their schooled peers are sitting in classrooms at school. 

 

3. I really think the best resources for giving a person an idea of what unschooling entails are places like this. You can't write unschooling up in a book easily, because it looks completely different for every child, for every family, in every community. My 9-year-old is musically and mathematically precocious, lives near a rural village in the mountains, has doctors and a musician for parents, loves formal academics and is very outgoing. For a 9-year-old who loves imaginary play and painting, lives in a city, hates pencil-and-paper work, and whose parents run a food wholesale co-op, unschooling is going to look totally different. The only thing they may have in common is this: that the reason they learn anything is because it has meaning for them which motivates them to learn. So I've found that tapping into the vast breadth of individual experiences with unschooling is the only way to begin to understand. What does unschooling look like? It looks like the whole world!

 

I would say that unschooling is practical anywhere it's legal -- if the child's parents have basic high-school-level education and access to a variety of real and/or virtual resources. 

 

Miranda

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Miranda, thank you!!! This is exactly what I was looking for. In this world of google, I have read what unschooling " definition " is but I wanted to hear from real people. Thats why I chose to post here. Also, many books and articles online are written assuming a US audience and I wanted to ask real unschooling parents if they thought school as a concept is wrong. You made the perfect sense explaining to me how its relevant in US and other western world.

Thank you so much.
post #6 of 12
I think there is no right or wrong way to educate, as a general rule. There is what provides a good education to a particular child, and what does not.

As for expectations of my child's work, he is free to choose what he wants. Perhaps he does not give as much consideration to occupations that require an advanced degree because he likes the freedom of unschooling. But when I look at my nieces and nephews, with higher education working jobs that don't require degrees, I wonder if he's right not to place as much emphasis on higher education.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Pek64, I agree that there is no right way...for anything in life.
can you tell me what jobs your neices and nephews hold?
post #8 of 12

I'd like to chime in here a bit about unschooling older kids, who are preparing for careers and independent living and such. My oldest is 14, and has just started thinking about these things. He's a very active and adventurous fellow with only a passing interest in typical academic subjects. I really never expected he would want to bother with college, or tie himself into the kind of jobs that require much academic knowledge. We traveled a lot when the kids were little and we now live in a rural area mainly because everyone in the family (the kids included) decided this is where we wanted to settle down. Ds especially wants to set down roots in this town. I fully expected he would end up working general labor clearing roads for the forestry service or at the lumber mill or something after he turns 18. Not great pay, but enough to get by, and doing something he truly enjoys. Those are the values I instilled in him, after all. The money isn't as important as the personal satisfaction. 

 

As it turns out, he's decided to go a different route. He has talked off and on about becoming an EMT when he turns 18, but has decided he wants to become a doctor instead. Of course, he'll have to go to college, and it's a fairly competitive and difficult path, at that. A "normal" diploma would remove some obstacles, so he enrolled at the local high school. The general attitudes of the other students, who are forced to attend and are not personally invested in their educations, was a significant hardship for him, though. We sat down and researched his options together. He's now enrolled only part time at the high school, taking P.E. and math. He's working on a self paced independent study program from home that will allow him to earn a formal diploma whenever he completes the work they require. In this case, unschooling meant that the child decided what he wanted to do with his life, and how he wanted to go about achieving that goal. He was (and is) able to change his mind and path as he sees fit. As an unschooling parent, I didn't tell him what to do or make his decisions for him. I discussed his goals and options with him. I shared my personal experiences and opinions, but ultimately I am merely supporting his attempts to achieve his goals. He has what I think is a solid, detailed plan and each step or goal along the way is very attainable. Actually taking those steps is his responsibility. 

 

My 11yr old dd, on the other hand, spends an awful lot of time creating digital art on her computer, experimenting with new hair styles, or just playing with the cat. *shrug* 

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
incorrigible, thats fascinating to read. I am astounded by how relaxed and confident you ( and other unchooling mamas ) are about your kids future. It sounds so simple " to do what he loves to do" but majority of the world doesnt get to live by it. I am beginning to realize unschooling is a lot about living without pretentions.
My hubby is a nephrologist. At age 34, he finally finished " studying " and joined a job just 2 months back. To be where he is, his parents have been planning/ pushing / sacrificing from last 3 decades:) My husband doesnt resent any of it and he genuinely is proud of his achevements but its no way similar to your son, who will be a man of his own making! its a relentless drive in our culture atleast to earn more, achieve( materialistic) more etc with successive generation.
post #10 of 12

I'm not in the US but we're unschoolers.

 

1) How do I expect them to earn a living?  They're 5 and 9 so lots of time to think about that.  It's not my job to decide what they'll do for a living.  I hope that they will have the skills and confidence to do well in whatever field interests them.

 

2) A village to raise a child is something I strongly believe in, but schools aren't villages. My kids were stuffed into over filled classrooms where kids were climbing over each other's chairs to move about.  They had the same teacher all year and spent years with only one group of children the same age as them.  For the eldest, that was more like prison than any other social construct.

 

3)Resources - there are lots of books on unschooling.  I got a few from amazon but I'm realising that every family is different with different needs and we are all doing it in different ways, which is something most schools can't do.  Other countries - yes - see above.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy@STL View Post

I was born and raised in a developing country where school is a luxury. School is way out of poverty. You cant get a job without showing college certificate and you cant get into a college without showing school certificate. Unschooling by choice is beyond imagination.
So, with that background, I am here to learn more about the philosophy of unschooling. I live in US now and this country is so rich! Its like a giant school to be honest. Everything is free and there are so many resources given to public just free, just like that. We cant get over this fact:)
Anyways, so help me understand some basic concepts:
1. How do you awesome mamas who choose to unschool expect your children to earn their living?
2. Do you believe in the saying that it takes a village to raise a child? I ask this because I see a lot of you are opposed to your child being raised by others, and my heart agrees on this, but as I said, I come from a different culture, where people raise each other's children. Everyone is involved in everyone's business:)
3. Can you suggest me some resources which give me a good understanding of what unschooling entails? And is this practiced elsewhere in the world?

My kids are two and four so listening to the more experienced ladies is smarter than listening to me. But I like the sight of my own typing. smile.gif

1. I have no idea what they will want to do yet. smile.gif both their father and I took non traditional routes through school and we happen to know quite a few all grown up unschoolers because my husband works with computers. His field is an excellent place for people to care what you know and not whether you have a degree. If you are elite it doesn't matter. The way to get to be elite his an unthinkable level of practice while attending traditional school for most people.

2. I actually believe it takes a village. I was put throu the compulsory education system. I am lucky I survived. I understand that my experiences were highly unusual but issues like mine run in families. I want an actual caring village for my kids. So, as mentioned above we are very active in our community. We know a lot of the kids who go tour local school because we play withi them on walks. But we spend school hours out in the community. As my kids get older I can only see that increasing. I do t know what their preferences will be yet so I'm kind of taking them all over town meeting people so they will have many options of people to be influenced by.

3. Amazon has books on unschooling. You can google for blogs. It is kind of funny, but part of the reason we are unschooling is because my children and I will travel in third world nations together when they are older. I feel like every family has different gifts, different things they could focus on to be their "thing". I have had a very unusual set of life experiences. I don't think I could settle into the traces and just live an ordinary life now. I'm too weird. My kids would be beat up for it. Ok ok, maybe not- but seriously. These things run in families. They are going to be privileged and sheltered and yet they are going to learn about the extremes on the other side as well.

I went from being homeless and stealing to eat toeing financially secure and technically kind of rich when I married my husband. The "normal" thing to do would be to try to ignore the perspectives I have and be self serving for my current self. I can't. I feel weird about this but I need my kids to understand with me. I am not going to make them homeless with me but I need them to have a deep understanding that what they have in life's not a right. I don't know how to give them that within the parameters of a "normal" American life. I'm sure that is a failure on my part but I am what I am.

Thus unschooling. I'm not worried about my kids being able to attend college if they want to. Home schoolers have a ridiculously high acceptance rate into prestigious schools and both their dad and I dropped out of high school to go to college at 16/17. It will work out.

One of the unschoolers all grown up I know has had a very rocky adulthood. He has been poor and kind of sad. It wasn't the unschooling. It was that his parents isolated him for years and he had huge periods of his life where he felt no motivation to grow or change. He had a hard time figuring out how to move forward. On the other end I have a friend with a phd in science who is an unschooler all grown up. She is doing fabulously well. Her mom kept her engaged and learning all the way through. She has had an amazing life.

I want my kids to see diversity but not because they are suffering. We'llsee how it goes. smile.gif
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have been devouring all the posts. Thank you for sharing! Its given me lot of food for thought.
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