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Do you think most people unschool b/c of the philosophy or b/c of the child?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Here's something I've been pondering for some time, but I haven't figured out how to say it clearly and diplomatically. I'm still not sure that I can do either, but I will try.

When reading unschooling threads, I notice that the kids usually seem very self-motivated, resistant to being directed, advanced in at least one area, and interested in a wide variety of things.

This is like a chicken and egg question. Do you think that most unschoolers go this route primarily b/c of the philosophy itself, and that the philosophy confers those traits to the kids? Or do you think that most choose unschooling, whether overtly or sub-consciously, because their kids already possess those traits to some degree?

I think that children are brighter than society gives them credit for and if all were somehow magically homeschooled, that 99% would be advanced compared to where they'd be in regular school. You know, instead of being forced to learn bits and pieces of everything in the same manner as a crowd of kids, they would naturally gravitate to what they're good at and like, so their option of organizing their own internal resources would result in comparative advancement in some area(s).

I'm wondering if school can kill self-motivation in kids, so perhaps they would all be very self-directed if left alone. I'm not sure though. I think that it's a personality trait, for the most part.

Ok, so I'm just thinking out loud. And I don't mean to offend anyone. It's just something I want to know. Do a certain combo of traits in kids make unschooling very appealing to some? Or does following an unschooling lifestyle highly develop those specific traits?

For me, I was drawn to unschooling simply b/c it was the only philosophy that seemed to work with my child. He's very self-directed, resistant to being directed by others, etc etc. He would not fit into school very well. He would be starting next year, and we just can't imagine him there. He'd be miserable for several reasons and I don't think he' cooperate with their plans for him. But now that we have experienced unschooling, we plan on going with it with our second child, whether he is like that or not. I mean, I'd tailor whatever had to be tailored for each kid, based on what they wanted.

I'm just wondering about this. Are unschoolers a self-selected group or does the philosophy change the kids in some ways? Again, i'm not trying to offend, just genuinely understand and toss this question around with the wise people on this board.
post #2 of 50
Okay...how's this for a non-answer....

I think some unschoolers recognize that their kids don't fit in a box and they search for a better way to educate them. Then they hear of unschooling and the philosohpy. They like the philosophy and adopt it. Because their kids are selflearners , the process goes well for them.

Unschooling didn't work for my kids. They are super smart , excel at one or two things each , but they crave direction. They wandered around bored to tears. They desperately desire to be told what to do. So although I LIKED the philosophy of unschooling , it didn't work.

I think you have to have the right combination.
post #3 of 50
For me, unschooling will depend on each kiddo ... ds#1 is an unschooler at heart. He likes to be able to direct most of what he learns. He is very, very inquisitive, loves science and painting, and doesn't do too well when I try to directly teach him. Some days he'll make comments about how he needs to do "homework" and so I'll give him some workbooks to play with and he gets it out of his system. But, if I were to decide we were going to do some "work" one day, he'd balk at the idea. He very much, even at age 4, directs his learning and we allow him to do so.

I'm not sure what ds#2 will be like; he isn't quite 2 yet and just seems to like to do whatever big brother does. I can tell already he is quite different from his brother in that he is much more artistically inclined; he is also very independent, yet attached to us. So, he may naturally unschool as well.

I also like unschooling because it fits my personality (I used to teach public school and tried so hard to "unschool" while there ... didn't work too well). I'm not big on someone telling me what to read and when to read it by ... I love reading but will completely ignore a book if told I must have it read by such-and-such date. I think I would have done very well unschooled myself.

So, I'm thinking, at least for me, we unschool because it fits our kids very well. I want our time to be a joy, not drudgery. "Schooling" would definitely change the overall feeling here (and my blood pressure), so we don't go that route. Unschooling fits and allows me to sit back and let my children take the lead.
post #4 of 50
I'm planning on unschooling for the philosophy. We'll see how it goes. It's about what I want for my children, which is real freedom. I want my kids to grow and be confident about who they are without depending on the opinions of others to form their self-image. I think that unschooling goes hand-in-hand with unconditional parenting.
post #5 of 50
Interesting question.

Quote:
Do a certain combo of traits in kids make unschooling very appealing to some? Or does following an unschooling lifestyle highly develop those specific traits?
Both

I am unschooling partly because I believe in the philosophy but also because it's the only way to go with dd. She takes after her mom and bristles at being told what to do
post #6 of 50
I decided to unschool DS because of the way he learns however, I think DD could have learned that way too if I hadn't let the school get hold of her I don't feel comfortable taking an unschooling approach with her because she seems to really need lot of direction. I do try to keep my instruction pretty minimal though so as to leave her lots of time to explore things on her own. Ds seems to learn things through osmosis
post #7 of 50
It's totally the philosophy for me. I believe that the freedom unschooling provides allows for kids to get what they need, and to develop the traits noticed in the OP. An unschooler who felt they were needing more structure in their lives could just go after it.
post #8 of 50
Thread Starter 
Cool. So here's a related follow-up question. Do you think that adults who are drawn to unschooling fit the traits listed? Perhaps we grown-ups find unschooling so appealing, partly because we had the types of personalities that hated being controlled.

I was pretty good with taking direction as a child, but I got in trouble constantly for day-dreaming. I really think that I would have blossomed with relaxed homeschooling at a minimum. I cannot say for sure if I'm very self-directed. I mean, I go after what I'm interested in and dh says that I become obsessed with the topic de jour. But I tend to start lots of projects and finish none. I usually read multiple books at once, but I may not finish any of them. When I took the Meyers-Briggs in college, one of those letter combos basically said as much (I used to work with someone who was obsessed with Meyers-Briggs and loved to chat about our personality quirks).

Anyway, if I were unschooled, I think I would have really liked it, because deep inside, I hate following other people's plans. I always had a lot of crazy ideas and if I were unschooled, I would have had all the time in the world to follow those ideas. Now, whether or not I would have finished anything is up in the air. But neither my dh nor I think that we've ever used anything from K-12 in our careers, save reading, writing and basic math. And I think that those three come from living as well. I sincerely believe that if I were unschooled K-12, that my reading and writing would have developed to the same degree. All that other stuff fell to the cram and dump strategy.

Ok, now I'm really going on a tangent...Dh, who only recently accepted unschooling and who was never a huge hs advocate, actually said that he felt K-12 was filler time. After we both concluded that we used nothing from K-12 in our career, save some basic skills that would have developed anyway, I asked, "So why do you think we spent all those years in school? What were we doing?" He thought about it and said, "Well, it was just a way to pass childhood. It was something for people to do with us while we waited to grow up."

Does anyone feel that they are attracted to unschooling, because it's what they wish they had experienced? Without going on too much of a tangent (again), I have to say that I follow certain types of parenting practices, because I wish it's what I had experienced as a child. I know someone who had an AP childhood who deliberately avoided much of AP for her kids, because she felt that it negatively affected her. Maybe we're drawn to what we crave for ourselves. Maybe parents love Waldorf, because they would love to have a Waldorf childhood for themselves. I know I desperately wanted to do classical education for my kids at one time, because it's what I really wanted for myself in some ways. Maybe we unschool, because it's what we wanted for ourselves and since we can't change our past, we give it to our kids. But then there's the whole combo thing as Jen123 mentioned; we choose what we we like and what works for our kids.

Sometimes I just wonder what makes us all tick and why we all choose different types of homeschooling. There are so many types and all have many proponents. I find that interesting.
post #9 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
Cool. So here's a related follow-up question. Do you think that adults who are drawn to unschooling fit the traits listed? Perhaps we grown-ups find unschooling so appealing, partly because we had the types of personalities that hated being controlled.
I think control is a large part of it. If you give up control of your children (or never take it in the first place) that mindset certainly lends itself to unschooling. I know my beliefs about children are rooted in my memories of how it felt to be a child--and I certainly hated being controlled!

Before I heard of unschooling, or ever considered homeschooling, my beliefs about children being free and self-directed were forming. For a while, we tried to make that philosophy co-exist with going to school, but that was impossible for us, so the kids came home.

Here's a thought: What if most kids (maybe all) naturally start out as independent/self-motivated/resistant to beng directed, but because lots of parents believe they must "break" their child of this, "make" them "obey," and take direction and follow others, they loose that independant spirit and end up expecting, needing and looking for direction from others?
post #10 of 50
I'm drawn to unschooling because, as I researched various curricula, it became apparent that with these curricula I would only be able to duplicate all the same inferior teaching methods used in the school system. Sure, I could go at my Dd's pace, but I kept thinking that these methods of teaching math or reading or whatever were developed purely to work with groups of children rather than individuals. Also, they were arbitrarly cut into subjects that don't exist in the real world. It wasn't making sense to me to use these inferior methods to work with my child, one individual. I kept thinking, if I want to learn about a topic as an adult, I don't go for resources such as schools use. I go for higher quality books from the library, and to discussions with knowledgeable/experienced individuals, and to direct experiences. Suddenly, it dawned on me that my Dd could learn in the same way and that she would actually remember what she learned, unlike most school children who forget most everything they're taught because they have lost the love of learning and because they're taught things they don't care about or in a manner so artificial that it becomes meaningless.

I really want to preserve that love of learning that was drained from me by the public school system. So, to be explicit, I think I'm choosing this method more on the philosophy than on the child, but, obviously, already knowing my child, I think it will work with her.
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField

I know someone who had an AP childhood who deliberately avoided much of AP for her kids, because she felt that it negatively affected her.
Sorry if this is taking the thread OT but I was wondering if you had any examples of what practises she feels affected her negatively. I'm curious because I've never heard of anyone saying being raised AP affected them negatively (I was raised AP myself and get a lot of inspiration from the way I was raised).
post #12 of 50
I feel unschooling is respectful of my children, and treats them as I would want to be treated. My love of unschooling is rooted in respect and then branches out into some other reasons lol. I did not get that in my own childhood, and I want to be sure my kids do.
post #13 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eternal_grace
Sorry if this is taking the thread OT but I was wondering if you had any examples of what practises she feels affected her negatively. I'm curious because I've never heard of anyone saying being raised AP affected them negatively (I was raised AP myself and get a lot of inspiration from the way I was raised).
I'm sorry I missed this! I didn't actually know this lady, but she was a friend of a friend. The big thing that I remember my friend talking about (wrt to the anti-AP lady) was that she had lots of sleep problems and attributed it to cosleeping. So she would not cosleep with her child, because she felt it led to unhealthy sleep habits. I'm not sure what her objections were to the other things, but I remember my friend saying that she deliberately did the opposite of her mother's AP practices, because she blamed them for problems she had.
post #14 of 50
Thanks! That's interesting. I co-slept as a child, and I feel that it affected me in a very positive way (it contributed to a very positive self-image and good self-esteem as well as a fundamental feeling of security).

My feeling is that other factors are at play here as well.
post #15 of 50
Didn't get through all the posts yet....

I happen to be a control freak (and I know this about myself so I try to do what I can to not be over-the-top about it). So you would think that I homeschool for control reasons (to control my dd's education and where it comes from...) and that I would use books and lectures and lessons and all that stuff to control the homeschooling situation. But somehow (maybe it's her age) we have leaned toward unschooling for now, and I think it is a great process for me as well as her as it allows me to relinquish the control I usually desire. And that makes me feel free and not so binded. Even though I am a control freak in a lot of ways I am realizing that there are plenty of things that I prefer to do by free-thinking and RayeAnne prefers this approach as well. So more or less we just stumble upon things that work best for us and didn't plan any of it ahead of time. In fact, I think I spend more time researching hs topics for the benefit of those that question it rather than for our own purposes, so I wouldn't have even known that what we do had a term attatched to it if it were'nt for that.
post #16 of 50
For us it is a philosophical choice.
post #17 of 50
Well.... even though I grew up in public schools, my folks were at the height of the John Holt movement ( I was born when they were both in college).. so my whole childhood was exposure to many opportunities and adventures... it was great! Nature walks.. political discussions at age 6... I remember staying up the night of the Kennedy / Goldwater election with a giant map mapping votes.. I was 6 at the time... so when my husband and I decided to homeschool...it seemed like a natural choice given that I already had that mind set... we also at that time had the pleasure of having dinner with Micki and David Colfax who were pioneers of the unschooling movement...they were able to mentor us for a time to give us the courage to totally let go...that was 14 years ago.. all but one of our children is grown.. and they are all happy and following unschooling ways of life for themselves....

My oldest son jokes that he is simply trying to get through as many life expereinces as he can in this life~smile~

Lea
www.homeschoolblogger.com/endoftheroad
post #18 of 50
Philosophical here. We pretty much made the decision to do it when dd was a tiny baby and I was leaning that way before dd was even born.
post #19 of 50
Lea - I just wanted to say that your post was totally cool. Thanks. I wish I had such amazing mentors on this journey, and I love the life philosophy that has emerged in your son.
post #20 of 50

Unschooling Starts Now

My little ones are ds: almost two, and dd almost three, so... i have had the thought that what i have been doing these last few years is preparing them and myslef for their "future" education. It's all learning. when we're taking a bath, when we're putting toys away, when we are digging.... It's a chance to learn and impart knowledge and an opportunity for creativity and questions.
i truly have only skimmed the surface looking at Waldorf home learning and Unschooling. it makes sense to me.
i am nervous at times thinking about how impatient and unorganized i can be. Then i also know there is alot of support available. i really don't want my
kids to be alone. That is also my husbands biggest fear. He says homeschooled children can be kid of "weird". To me it shows the stark difference between the Garbage that others are learning and wallowing around in all day and the quality time we'll be able to spend on practical learning.

i know this is getting long so i should.... SHHhhhhhhh~
Maybe there's another mama out thiking and preparing in the same way?
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