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Let's talk about unschooling really - or ramblings of a very overtired mama *LONG* - Page 2

post #21 of 52
Thread Starter 
I get what you are saying Dar....I've seen that myself. We used to go to an "unschooling" group for park days and there were some parents there that were really anti packaged curricula but then would go on about how they stuck their kids on the computer with learning programs. It was pretty clear it was the parent's agenda and not what the child was wanting. It wasn't an issue for me about what materials were being used, the mentality of it all was an issue for me.

In recent years we were invited to some park things up here and the parents were saying they were "unschoolers" but then the parents mostly seemed to want to have some sort of structured activity at the park. They thought it was all fun and maybe it was but I just noticed that it was about the parents wanting their children to play baseball or whatever else they had going on. This summer some of Nickolas' friends have been doing various get togethers and coming up with activities that they want to do (no parent involvement other than driving the kids to the activities) and while it may look very similar on the outside it's a very different thing.

And then there is the case of my daughter's friend who's mom says they are "more unschoolers" and then I find out that when my daughter was over there the mom thought it would be a good idea for her daughter to try to help my daughter to read by getting out her workbooks. That's a whole different issue there but what I realized in this particular case is that they are very new to the whole idea of unschooling and they think it's just a matter of not having set schooling times and waking up and going to sleep whenever they wish. But it's still pretty much about using certain types of materials and such for them and it's very much about the mom controlling things. (I see this as very similar to the family that Dar mentioned with the 3 hour time thing)

Then of course I've seen the other side where it sortof gets into a who really is an unschooler or not...as several have described on here. And it may be based upon a family limiting tv or having bed times or if they EVER use a workbook or textbook (even if it's the child that searches it out) or if a child uses particular books. And of course one would definitely not be an unschooler if they go to any structured class or are in any program. I think this is a bunch of hooey.

Honestly, where I've found the biggest deal about any of this is in homeschooling groups that are restricted to only homeschoolers (or unschoolers). I see it on the net quite a bit too. My children have friends that are homeschoolers, unschoolers, in private schools, in public schools, in college, etc Usually if they do something as a group it's pretty mixed.

But again I think there is a huge spectrum of what could be considered unschooling in terms of what people are actually doing. For me it really is about the mindset and how the family is relating to learning rather than the specifics of whether they do x, y, or z. I know when we first came to unschooling I read about all sorts of different families that did things all sorts of different ways. What seemed so cool to me is that it wasn't at all about being only this or that. The only thing it was about was following the child's lead and having them determine what it was that they were wanting to "learn". It was a natural extension of Attachment Parenting.

Maybe it's because unschooling has become a thing (sortof like how AP has become) that I'm not liking the label. I don't really think it's something that someone can define for another family.

And yah I totally agree with: "So who came up with "the rules" of Freethinking reguarding education anyway? That is so backwards don't ya think?"
post #22 of 52
Quote:
Laura - that is what I like about this board


that we each have our way of hs and don't prevent other people from hanging on the line because they don't use the same "laundry list"

Me too, Brenoi.

Laura
post #23 of 52
I think this thread is really good food for thought.

You know, my daughter was frustrated with lack of direction. We have talked about how hard it is for me to pull together fun projects to help her do things she likes. And she thought trying a curriculum would be a great solution. It gives us a little space from each other, allows her to be independent and have something separate from all the little kid things we do all day, and gives her something organized to connect to. She can read and read and draw and draw and plug away on handiwork, but she craves a certain kind of additional outside input so that she doesn't always have to make her own beginnings or get them from me. But how we approach it is our own.

I read a lot about unschooling for a while and I think I learned a lot. If school-at-home makes my dd feel good about her daily routine and her independence that's cool with me. If it doesn't work well, am I stuck on it? No way. It's not the foundation of learning--it's just another tool. I think that's the attitude that puts me in this discussion even if I don't bother to claim the label.
post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Openskyheart
The laundry list included things like: True unschoolers never give their children chores, true unschoolers never limit T.V., true unschoolers never limit food choices, true unschoolers never give their children a bedtime, etc.
I have seen that same laundry list and I've seen it here too. However, this site is much more respectful and kind, unlike Unschooling.com (which I'm assuming is the "other" site everyone is talking about). That's why I like MDC and no longer go to Unschooling.com. But it's partly this laundry list that has recently made me think about the unschooling label and whether I fit it.

Do I *need* to fit it? No, my life won't end if I'm not an unschooler. More to the point, no matter what I call myself, our life and my kids education will not change. I do find it a useful label for finding like minded homeschoolers though, just as I find the AP label good for finding parents I have something in common with.

As for the laundry list, if it's true then no, I'm not an unschooler. I do everything on that list except assign chores (and though I don't assign anything, I do *expect* my children to help clean up after themselves so I bet that falls in the same category).

But what does this stuff have to do with education? Like someone else said, I don't think Holt addressed bedtimes, tv, dinner, etc. I haven't read all his stuff though, so for all I know he could have. I think it's probably like AP though. Sears invents the term (no, not the practice, but the term) and gives a definition and then people start adding their own things like cloth diapering, organic food, all natural toys, etc. and making it a blend of AP and natural living. I think a lot of people are adding bedtimes, tv and other stuff to unschooling and turning it into a combination of that and TCS.

At the same time, I do understand the frustration of having a label misused. It does annoy me to hear from people who think bf is gross, co-sleeping is incest and children need to CIO and then happily declare themselves AP because they fit *their* definition. And yes, definitions and movements evolve (especially after the creator has passed on) but who gets to make the decision of what it means? If I decide that the word vegetarian means someone who only eats meat on thursdays, does that make it true?

Totally on a tangent now, sorry, :LOL
post #25 of 52
Also, when Holt defined unschooling and described how children naturally learn, it was before the proliferation of computers, internet, Nintendo, and TV's with 27,000 channels, not to mention way more "options" (overstimulation) for kids outside the home. I really think this has changed the face of "natural" learning. I really have a hard time believing that unlimited access to this type of stuff is what Holt had in mind. I guess this feeling of mine would knock me out of the unschooling camp, although so much of what my kids have learned has come about by their own desires and have nothing to do with anything I've imposed.
post #26 of 52
Although Holt may not have had unlimited access to technology in mind, I don't think that's a reason to dismiss the technology. Especially when so much of life is automated, I think it's beneficial to have as much technology as possible available to my children. My mom's office is going through a change right now where they are automating everything. One of the effects of this is that the older employees (and they have some old ones) who did not grow up with computers are being forced to retire because they just can't keep up with the computer systems. It's very sad because they are perfectly capable of doing their jobs except that they never learned how to do word processing, much less internet searching.

I don't see how anyone can live in a house full of kids and not have some limits or rules or whatever you want to call them. I, personally, do not want to spend all of my time cleaning up my ds' room and messes. However, I don't think it's necessarily fair to expect him to feed and walk an animal that I chose to get. I do ask him to do at least one household chore a day, such as vacuuming or dusting or washing the dishes, since these include the entire family.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife
Especially when so much of life is automated, I think it's beneficial to have as much technology as possible available to my children. .
I don't have an extreme position on technology. But I disagree with this comment. So much of life is automated? "Life" isn't automated. I'd like my kids to be comfortable with life more so than machines. We need to be much more concious of whether any given technology is good for our quality of life. Automation confuses us all a bit about the meaning of life. When and how much of such confusion is appropriate at a given age is a serious concern.

I am guessing that you didn't mean this comment as absolutely as it sounds? I don't think we should take for granted that life is automated and that's the way it is and so we should adapt. There are so many harmful, wasteful technologies out there and their use should be questioned every step of the way. It sounds like assuming the automated world is the "new nature" to survive in and I'm not in agreement with that. In fact, many areas of sustainable technology are reducing automation in favor of designed biological systems, and I think this is the direction for our future. "Biophilia" is one of the giuding themes for our homeschool. The ability to live in cooperation with nature seems to be a lost knowledge likely to become much more important as humanity progresses. Real progress is not about machines.

Having "as much technology available as possible" to our children is not necessary for their future success. This does sound pretty extreme. And computers seems so simple to use--what benefit exists in high-quantity exposure? If our kids are on a computer lots of the time, what aren't they doing? Something else loses out.
post #28 of 52
But a lot of the desgning of bioogical systems is done using technology...

I use the internet many times a day - I work 3 diferent jobs now, and using the internet has been a part of all of them. If I want to go somewhere new, mapquest is usually faster and more clear than following a map (and the info is more recent). I do my banking and bill-paying online. I reserve plane tickets online. I google the answers to all sorts of questions. The more time I spend on the internet, the more things I find that I can do.

And besides the internet, there's technology in everyday life. My 62 year old dad still has not learned to use those POS machines, where you slide your card to pay. He uses cash or checks, or hands someone a credit card. It's a good thing he mastered the ATM... but it limits him. He did master powerpoint, which is a good thing - he teaches med school and uses it for his lectures now. It probably helps that the university has wonderful computer guys who were willing to walk the aging doctors through all of this, and bail them out a few times.

Progress is about people, and technology is tools, made by and for people. It's no more unnatural then a digging stick, or a hammer.

I don't think it needs to be an either/or thing, technology vs. nature. If you plant a garden, you may google plant info, or mapquest directions to the nursery. And having technology available doesn't mean using it all the time. I think unschooling is about having as many resources available as you can, so your child has the freedom to chose.

Unschooling is about believing that if our children are on the computer lots of the time, then being on the computer lots of the time is the right place for them right then. As long as we're there, offering and modeling and interacting, they will learn and grow as they need to.

Dar
post #29 of 52
Dar, I have no disagreement with you as far as technolgy being part of human progress and that that is "natural". I don't think humans are parasites on earth or anything like that. As my post said I do not have an extreme view about technology. I do not have a problem with machines. I have a problem with the fact that our society is out of balance on this and doesn't question the appropriateness of technology very well. We have gotten a little lost with much of it being useless junk. Therefore, the language and emphasis of the pp that bothered me. "As much technology as possible" That is what I disagree with.

I don't think selectively limiting the role of technology in one's family life is "against" unschooling. I don't think selectively restricting what my children eat is "against" unschooling. I mean, would you restrict pornography? Would you restrict it for a five year old if a relative had some that was accessible? Would you restriict it for a twelve year old? Isn't this a tool--one of the ways some people explore and learn about their sexuality? We control lots of things about our family life because of what we judge to be healthy for our children. I have known parents who are absolutely terrified of their own authority and must talk their children into everything and simply give up when that doesn't work. It is a very sad thing to see.

As soon as unschooling becomes dogmatic, it is not for me. It makes it seem as though all of the answers are too simple. Follow these ideas and you will be truly respecting your child. ???? I am not a follower, no matter how much I love the ideas of a "school" of thinking.

Computer and television technology can be directly harmful and this can be a tricky area to navigate with children in our lives. Worries about future computer literacy shouldn't make us go to an extreme with a technology.

BTW I do allow my children quite a bit of access to the computer and to other media and this includes some amount of content that I don't "like". I don't let my children watch junky TV. The commercials on TV can be as bad as pornography. Through content this machine can alter our relationship with ourselves, nature, and society.

Marinewife I do not mean to be too argumentative. I really don't understand where you're coming from on this detail... It doesn't fit with my own perspective and I'm a natural loudmouth. I don't want to offend you and hope you will go on using youur own judgement in your life to determine what is best for your family. Each life is unique and you know yourself and your family and what technology means to you together better than me or anyone else here. I do like to debate, but I only want such debates to inspire us to think for ourselves and become even more clear about our own positions. Life is complex.
post #30 of 52
I've been jumping back and forth between here and unschooling.com so I can get both sides of this debate. Here's what I've gotten so far.

On the one hand, under the idea that unschooling is absolute child led learning, in order to truly let your child be the person they want or were meant to be, we cannot impose our will on them in any way. Limiting access to TV or video games or anything else, setting bedtimes, assigning chores, etc. would be imposing your will on your child. This would stifle the natural development of the child.

On the other hand, it's not fair to the rest of the family to have a child that does nothing to help in the day to day operations of the household. I certainly don't think it's fair for me to spend my entire day cooking, cleaning and doing laundry for everyone while my children and my dh sit on the couch and watch TV or go outside to play. To me it makes more sense to tell my children that as long as they live here and use the space, they have to help keep it clean and orderly. I'm much more lax about my ds' room being clean than I am about him leaving dirty dishes in the living room or towels on the bathroom floor. This is learning about how to live with and respect other people.
post #31 of 52
Yeah I guess I can't be an unschooler because I really believe in child-centered learning far more than child-led. And if "freedom" in education breaks down the very reasonable structure and boundaries in our family I don't need that part of it. I thought uunschooling was about learning from life and honoring our children's natural ways of learning from life. I certainly do that.

Free-for-all computer and TV would not fit with my personal vision of being a responsible parent. School has about nothing to do with it because "school" isn't how we homeschool. Maybe we're lost in no-school/no-unschool land.

I don't mind being "eclectic" I feel like we have more freedom to make decisions this way than I would as an uncschooler--how ironic. How could I close down an option for learning than made everyone in my family get along better and feel more stimulated. Tihs is not measured by "school" standards but by "how we live well together" standards. But I'm not as progressive about parenting as some folks, I guess, and don't really want to be.

I've probably gotten myself on ignore now oh well.
post #32 of 52
Thread Starter 
GRRR I just typed up a very long post and it disappeared!! WAHHH

OK basically I just wanted to say:

Ahhh very interesting!

"On the one hand, under the idea that unschooling is absolute child led learning, in order to truly let your child be the person they want or were meant to be, we cannot impose our will on them in any way. Limiting access to TV or video games or anything else, setting bedtimes, assigning chores, etc. would be imposing your will on your child. This would stifle the natural development of the child."

I think this is just absolute garbage! I know it's not coming from you Alysia but rather from what you have been gathering and many have talked about these ideas in this thread.

Different families have different things that are ok and not ok. So if a family is not ok with tv, computers, video games (whatever) and their child wants them...is the family supposed to run out and get these things? Even if they feel that they are harmful to the child?

I've been at this for many years now and I just really HATE the HUGE misconception that unschooling means that the children do whatever, whenever, no matter what age. I haven't met one unschooling family yet that this would be true of....even those that spout such things on other sites

This idea of that parents are not to "impose" anything on their children is just garbage. I'm sorry but anyone that believes that is fooling themselves. We all impart our values on those around us. Maybe I wouldn't use the word impose (although their are times when it probably fits) but still I'm sorry I don't believe that there is one parent out there that doesn't impart something to their children whether intentional or not.

So if our child wants to run out in front of a speeding car just to see if it really would hurt....is this really something we would allow? If one's child decided they wanted to spend all the families money on whatever...would this be ok?

We all have our own boundaries and whether we want to say so or not - we all have our limits too.
post #33 of 52
Thread Starter 
deeporgarten ~ you are doing just fine! Don't allow anyone else to define what you are doing.

Honestly....I really wonder if some of these things that are brought up really are part of being an unschooler if those who coined "unschooler" would have been able to fit into the definition.

Again - I truly do NOT think it's a laundry list of what we do or do not do but more our mindset and philosophy. I think it's about our overall attitude about learning.
post #34 of 52
I do let my kids watch as much TV as they want but they don't tend to watch more than I'm comfortable with,kwim. They get on-line some not too much though. They would probably get on more if my dh or I didn't use the computer so much.
I think the concept of unschooling has a wide range of what "fits" in with it. I do think everyone in a family needs to do chores, it's part of being a family member imo.
My kids do probably 95% (rough estimate) of what they want to thru out the day and I'm fine with "dictating" that other 5% because as a parent I think it is my place. I'm not really looking for raising "unprocessed" children ( anyone who has read that book you know what I'm talking about). I think it is great in theory but wouldn't work for my family.
I don't find limits or boundaries to be bad things.
I know some unschoolers who ask their young child/ren if they are confortable with doing a certain activity and I'm more inclined to evaluate the activity and if I find it unsafe/inappropriate then I say no (no matter if my child would be comfotable or not). I think both of our reactions to this is in the realm of unschooling.
I don't think unschooling absolutely needs to flow into other aspect of parenting our children but I think it does in a lot of cases. I don't see why bed times and chores is inherently connected to how you choose to school or not school your child, jmo.
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by clothcrazymom
Again - I truly do NOT think it's a laundry list of what we do or do not do but more our mindset and philosophy. I think it's about our overall attitude about learning.
I agree with this. I was trying to say something along these lines but don't know if I was clear.
post #36 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by deeporgarten
Yeah I guess I can't be an unschooler because I really believe in child-centered learning far more than child-led. And if "freedom" in education breaks down the very reasonable structure and boundaries in our family I don't need that part of it. I thought uunschooling was about learning from life and honoring our children's natural ways of learning from life. I certainly do that.

Free-for-all computer and TV would not fit with my personal vision of being a responsible parent. School has about nothing to do with it because "school" isn't how we homeschool. Maybe we're lost in no-school/no-unschool land.

I don't mind being "eclectic" I feel like we have more freedom to make decisions this way than I would as an uncschooler--how ironic. How could I close down an option for learning than made everyone in my family get along better and feel more stimulated. Tihs is not measured by "school" standards but by "how we live well together" standards. But I'm not as progressive about parenting as some folks, I guess, and don't really want to be.

I've probably gotten myself on ignore now oh well.
: *I'm* not ignoring you, Deeporgarten! I pretty much agree with everything you said! Except that dh just hid the TV! :LOL Seriously, the kiddos were just way too enamored of it. They play so much more imaginatively when it's not around. They are little though -- 2 and 4 -- so I don't feel we're depriving them of any super educational opportunities or anything. We can cover Sesame Street stuff in other ways.

O.K. -- back to lurking! This is a very interesting thread.
post #37 of 52
I was getting a little sarastic there though and I really don't want to be a stinker. I just can't help it sometimes.

And I'm trying to remember that when we are introduced to an idea that is attractive and legitimate it is easy to take it to extremes. This has happened to me so many times when I get excited about something great. And that energy does take us in good directions for learning. Some of it we just have to try out, I guess.

My kids would just love to watch television all day long and they wouldn't just stop after a little while-- I have seen kids of all ages do this in other people's homes. For years and years. I cannot imagine doing this. What does it have to do with holistic learning? It's like buying half junk food and half healthy foods and telling your kids they can eat whatever they want whenever they want. I know families who do this kind of thing too. It does not work out well. I feel like even such things as this fall under this weird defintion of unschooling.
post #38 of 52
I'm not sure I see unschooling as child-led or child-centered..."child-led" implies someone following, and my child isn't the "center". It's just life, everyone living thei own and helping each other out.

Bringing up stuff like "the freedom to look at porn at age 5" is a straw man... what 5 yr olds want to go look at porn, unless they're trying to deal with something yucky that happened in their lives. It doesn't happen. Rain has had plenty of opportunity to look at online porn, but as far as I know she hasn't. If she wants to later, as a teen or whatever, it's okay with me. I don't think that has anything to do with unschooling, though.... except that the more limiting there is in any area, the less the child is free to explore.

So, I could say I unschooled, but my kids weren't allowed to watch tv, play computer, read books, or play musical instruments... and I required them to spend 8 hours a day working our family farm. That's going to be a really different unschooling experience than a child who has more time and access to more resources. Most people fall somewhere in the middle...

Dar

T
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Different families have different things that are ok and not ok. So if a family is not ok with tv, computers, video games (whatever) and their child wants them...is the family supposed to run out and get these things? Even if they feel that they are harmful to the child?

Yes! On unschooling.com parents - even long term unschooling parents, even long term posters on unschooling.com are taken harshly to task if they don't run out and get a T.V. or computer, or gaming machine or whatever.

I've seen parents say that their children really don't like computer gaming machines - and some of the regular posters on unschooling.com argue with these parents! The regular posters are so sure that these parents are not really seeing their children, that they are stifling their children, or ignoring their real needs. It's like they cannot possibly entertain the idea that a child might not want a Gamecube (I think that's what they're called).

I ended up feeling physically ill much of the time I was reading on that sight. There are some posts, and some posters who are truly wise, and certainly have children's best interests at heart. But if what they preach is what makes a "true unschooler" - I'm not interested.

My children do not want a Gamecube. They play with these types of games at their cousin's house, and at friend's houses, but they have never asked for one. This summer, we've had many family meetings about living in a small house with four people and one T.V. situated in the main living area. I haven't posted anything about this yet, because I wanted to see how it went first, but we made a family decision to disconnect the cable, move the T.V. to a less public area, and only have DVD and VCR available. We decided (all of us together) that we would try this set up for 3 months, and re-evaluate at the end of that time.

So far - I have to say.....It's GREAT!!! I thought we were a happy close family before - but not having the T.V. blaring away for hours upon hours a day has been such a gift to our family life. My daughter (7 - almost 8) was the one who was watching the most - easily 30 hours a week. Her desire to watch T.V. was becoming so intense that she was starting to choose T.V. even over going to the beach, or dance classes!

So...what is she doing instead of watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for hours straight? Dancing - choreographing dances, learning French, reading, painting, swinging, skating, boogie boarding at the beach, building sand castles, hiking, gymnastics, soccer, memorizing her lines for her two parts in the play "Ella Enchanted," drawing, learning to play chess, cooking, playing with friends, etc. We've had a great summer!

It's not that she wasn't doing some of these things before, it's that she now has about 25 more hours a week to do these things. And - I'm going to go out on a limb as her mother who knows her very well and say - she's definitely happier. I have never been a T.V. limiter before - but it's never taken over either of my children's lives to the exclusion of other activities before. And, to be clear - we just disconnected cable - we have not limited their hours of watching, or anything like that - AND we came up with this plan as a family. We have Netflix, and the children can choose any DVD they want - even Nickelodeon shows, and Disney Channel shows, if they'd like. They can watch DVDs and videos whenever, and however long they want to. The only difference is that they are not under the influence of commercial T.V. Wow! Big difference. I think my daughter is watching about 5 hours a week now. If someone wants to try to convince me now, that commercials don't have that much influence on a child's T.V. watching behavior - I have a single subject study going on in my own family right now, and I can tell you - there is a huge difference.


I know that thinking that my daughter doing all these things is better than T.V. kicks me right out of the unschooling camp as far as radical unschoolers go. And, since I've been able to see the benefits of limiting access (by cutting off the cable) to certain types of T.V. experiences, I have to say - That Is Just Fine With Me.

Are the activities my daughter's particapting in now better for her than 30 hours a week of T.V.? Uh....IMO, hell yes! YMMV - and that's O.K.

Love,
Laura

PS. deeporgarten: I love love love your posts and the way you express yourself. Keep it up, please.
post #40 of 52
We don't have cable and I am very happy with that.
I haven't been to unschooling.com in a very long time and only went there briefly before so I'm not familiar with what "rules" they have for unschooling.
I actually would be bothered if my children spent all their time or a majority of their time watching TV or playing video games. If that happens I will more than likely set limits. My dd has a gameboy color and one game, she and ds play it sometimes (a friend of our family gave it to her). My children spend the majority of their day playing and that I am very okay with. They are still quite young and I think that is exactly what they should be doing.
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