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If you're NOT unschooling... - Page 3

post #41 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
I'm curious about where you're reading this... it's not something I've read here, or on any of the lists I'm on, and it's not something I believe about unschooling. I think you're attacking a straw man here.
Unschooling is such a wide spectrum, I don't doubt there are a significant number who shun all forms of structure. The problem is when someone thinks that they have to shun all structure to unschool, even if that's not right for their family. Personally, I think there's a happy medium of flexible routines without a strict schedule or utter chaos, but if the utter chaos is happy chaos in someone else's home, that's fine, and if your family can unschool while keeping to a fairly strict schedule, that's fine, too. Just don't try to tell me that I have to do it your way... 'cause that kinda defeats the purpose of unschooling.
post #42 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheacoby
I am finding from the post here that some homeschoolers are what would seem resentful to us unschoolers and the advice we offer.
Not resentful, but perhaps drowned out and dismissed.

Quote:
Chalupamom, I often post that people should relax and stop pressuring their kids because there are often posts here from people with 4 year olds who are trying to teach them to read and write. There are a lot of posts that I would respond to differently if the child were 6 or 7.
I *did* teach my son to read and write at age 4, starting actually just before his fourth birthday. He's not gifted, just your average everyday bright kid and I advise any parent who feels that her child is ready and tht reading is desireable that not only is it possible, but the process can be delightful and fulfilling for all concerned.

I consider having started working with my son to read at 4 to have been an act of nurturing love, just as our drug-free labor and nursing relationship.
post #43 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by chalupamom
Not resentful, but perhaps drowned out and dismissed.
Is this how most people feel here?

Seems so divisive but maybe there should be a sub-forum for unschoolers here.
post #44 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move
Chalupamom, I often post that people should relax and stop pressuring their kids because there are often posts here from people with 4 year olds who are trying to teach them to read and write. There are a lot of posts that I would respond to differently if the child were 6 or 7.
I really agree with this. From what I have seen, most of the posts about letting your child play are directed to people who are frustrated because their 4 and 5 year olds don't want to sit down and do school. I do think that there are quite a few people on this forum, unschoolers or not, who do believe that most children are not developmentally ready for academic work before the age of 7.
post #45 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by eternal_grace

Unschooling is a spectrum, IMO. Here is one (broader) definition from a website on unschooling:
It's a website on home schooling, not unschooling - the author identifies herself an eclectic homeschooler and says so even in the quote you posted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
It's not the lack of structure which, in my mind, defines unschooling-- it's the lack of parent-imposed structure or parent-led learning. The idea that children of all ages should be wholly and exclusively responsible for their own educations.
I agree with the lack of parent-imposed structure bit, at least as it pertains to learning. There are unschoolers who are okay with parent-imposed structure in other aspects of life, like chores or bedtimes. Parent-led learning... I don't think I agree. Or maybe it depends on how you define the term. I often suggest things to Rain, and plan them, although she can say no... but I'm leading. OTOH, we had Rain-led learning tonight on the topic of Horrible Harry Potter Fan-Fic.

I definitely don't think children should be "wholly and exclusively responsible for their own educations", and I again don't know of any unschoolers who do. Unschooled children need a parent, to explain things, to tell them about resources, to offer, to suggest, to drive, to buy, to listen, to discuss... that's important. Abandoning a child to educate himself isn't unschooling; it's neglect.

As far as discussing at what age children should do different things, it's not an issue when unschooling... I would be just as likely to advise the parent of a reluctant 3 year old to quit pressuring him to read as I would the parent of a reluctant 8 year old, and I have done both. It's traditional schooling philosophies that seem to see learning as age-related, not unschooling. My 3 year old was obsessed with Greek mythology and The Odyssey, and I read many, many translations to her before she could read well enough to read them herself, as well as getting a few versions on tape. The idea that this was something she whould wait until high school or college to do honestly never occured.

Dar
post #46 of 234
I helped my daughter to learn to read starting at three. she is 4.5 now and is quite the talented little reader. she initiated the reading. I knew she was capable and provided her the resources to feed her hunger for knowledge of many things, including reading. My mom has told me I was reading by kindy. I know my mom to not be a person to push her kids into things like that. I expect I learned of my own volition and passed the interest on to my dd at the ripe age of conception, or through her seeing my love of reading... or maybe she just realized she had the ability and wanted to see how far she could take it. there's nothing academic about the way she got to where she is. We tried a lesson book and quickly realized it was only holding her back and placing her in a learning mold.
post #47 of 234
Quote:
It's a website on home schooling, not unschooling - the author identifies herself an eclectic homeschooler and says so even in the quote you posted.
The link I clicked on to access the page said Unschooling and Curriculum.

Anyway, after reading this whole thread (and others on the topic) I agree with this:

Quote:
I really don't care what other people do or how they define unschooling. I just care what works for my kids.
post #48 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
I definitely don't think children should be "wholly and exclusively responsible for their own educations", and I again don't know of any unschoolers who do. Unschooled children need a parent, to explain things, to tell them about resources, to offer, to suggest, to drive, to buy, to listen, to discuss... that's important. Abandoning a child to educate himself isn't unschooling; it's neglect.
I have met unschoolers who are willing to assist (help with resources, drive, listen, etc) but no more; the child is entirely responsible for the scope and variety of their own education. If the kid doesn't suggest it, it doesn't happen. I've met other unschoolers who are willing to make suggestions, but if the child doesn't show a great deal of interest and keep pushing it forward, it doesn't happen; in fact, I would say that the majority of people I've met IRL who call themselves unschoolers fall into this category. They don't feel that it's neglect, they think of it as the ultimate in respecting a child's wishes. I guess it would be more accurate to say that they see it as an extension (or part) of non-coercive parenting. I see that as putting all of the pressure on the child. If they want to be educated on any given subject, they have to either suggest it on their own or show a great deal of enthusiasm when/if their parent/s suggest it.
post #49 of 234
At the moment we are sort of "unschooling" meaning I am waiting for my dd (4) to give me clues as to what she is really interested in doing. We will likely not unschool completely in the future because dd really likes to learn new things and get introduced to new concepts she was previously unaware of in a teacher/student environment.

She is really interested in structured school and has been for over a year. In fact I am probably a really horrible mother because I insist on weekends and time off when we travel. (or I structure biology lessons on new animals or fauna we will see...I totally suck at providing structure while in a continually changing environment which is most of the time)

She is heavily into science related items partly because she is interested and partly because I am not teaching her reading or writing at all and have no intention of doing so for at least another year. (this relates to how my sister and I read and also because she can phonetically read etc.)

I am interested in classical education, TWTM, and Charlotte Mason. I think we will go with some combination of styles. At the moment I stay away from a lot of classical type stuff because of the heavy emphasis on reading instruction in the early years. Dd is also a very hands-on sort of learner at the moment so I don't forsee a lot of "desk-type" time in her future.

I also won't stay with the classical model for order of subjects because she is interested in some physics concepts now so dh is working with her on that...in that area I guess we unschool...ok so as you can tell I am not really answering your question properly.

In the end though I am split, I don't really think that people need to know much of the crap that they try to teach you in school to be successful at life but I also want dd to have a liberal arts style education. My thoughts on this are fluid at the moment and I am sure will change as the process continues. Luckily dd is very interested in learning about a wide variety of topics so it has been easy to provide opportunities for her to learn.

It just seems so easy for her to learn the basic requirements that you need to know to take an SAT etc that I think most of her time will be self-directed in the areas she is interested in.
post #50 of 234
I am really learning a lot with this thread. I am seeing that no one on this board homeschools the same way and I applaud you all for being respectful of each other's methods and choices.

I love the unschooling philosophy. I try and follow dd's lead and I constantly introduce new materials, places to see, tv shows, games, books, etc. She goes back and forth on how much structure she wants. Lately, she has been asking me to take the reins a little more with her learning and that's fine. Then on some days she resists anything I offer and creates a very educational day for herself. She spent a few years at school, so she's used to being directed and having structure and schedules. But, too much structure as well as too much freedom makes her uncomfortable.

So, I still consider us unschoolers because I do what works for her at the moment. She has days where she'll decide she wants to do an hour of workbook, an hour on a math website, 30 minutes of reading, and a science experiment with me. Then she'll have days where she just practices her dance solo for an hour, plays online games for 2 hours, watches tv, and draws.

I didn't plan on unschooling at first and I can definitely see how it can make some parents uncomfortable. It's so different from the "norm" and the concept is still so new (in our age) that there aren't enough unschooled adults around to make parents feel better and see that it works. It's a huge leap of faith and sometimes it just feels better to play it safe. I believe, though, that unschooling can encompass all methods and the only thing that doesn't consititute as unschooling is forcing the learning - making your child learn what you want regardless of any resistance.

jmho
post #51 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
I have met unschoolers who are willing to assist (help with resources, drive, listen, etc) but no more; the child is entirely responsible for the scope and variety of their own education. If the kid doesn't suggest it, it doesn't happen.
I've heard that some people try to do this, although I've never met anyone. It seems impossible, though - how could you live with someone and never suggest doing something, or bring up a topic in conversation, or bring something new into the home? It would be very unnatural, and not good, in my opinion. I can't imagine it would last long, unless the parent was just not spending much time with her kids at all Maybe someone seeing this as an outsider isn't seeing the whole thing, and there's more going on that you can see from the outside?

Quote:
I've met other unschoolers who are willing to make suggestions, but if the child doesn't show a great deal of interest and keep pushing it forward, it doesn't happen; in fact, I would say that the majority of people I've met IRL who call themselves unschoolers fall into this category.
Hmmm... I think this is the gray area. I've heard a lot more stories of unschooled kids complaining about the opposite, actually - I once heard an 8 year old express some interest in something at a museum, and then turn to her mother and say, "Now, *please* don't go and get a bunch of books and videos about it just because I said that!" Her mom was a friend of mine and kind of an overachiever.

If I suggest, say, going to a lecture with Rain, or getting some books on a topic, or whatever - things I think she'd be interested in - and she says something like, "Yeah, that's be cool" and that's the end of it, there's honestly about a 50% chance it will happen. It's not that I don't want to, but there's so much going on, and there are so many things she's even more interested in, that she seems mildly interested in and then forgets just won't make it to the front of the line.

There are other factors, too... I've talked about how cool international travel would be, and we both bring it up periodically, but we just don't have the resopurces right now. Guitar lessons are similar... she brings it up, we talk about cost a bit, and whether she'd rather have a guitar than do one of the other things she's doing... and then it sort of fades away because she'd rather spend our finite resources on stuff she likes better.

On the other hand, Rain is interested in a zillion things, and responds to almost all suggestions with at least mild interest. I have friends whose children are interested in very few things, and they tend to be *much* more responsive if a child has even a slightly positive reaction to a suggestion.

I do think unschoolers try to make sure children realize that suggestions are voluntary, and that the parents honestly aren't invested in the outcome... children naturally want to please their parents, and it's often fairly easy to get a child to agree to an activity in order to please the parent. This is especially true when people - parents and children - are coming from a school-mindset, where one of the goals of learning is positive reinforcement from the "teacher". Again, since Rain is pretty agreeable to everything, it would have been easy for me to suggest and follow through on things that I wanted her to do... it was more difficult to restrain myself and make sure she wasn't just trying to please me.

Dar
post #52 of 234
Okay, bottom line, here's why we're not unschoolers:

Because I just don't get it.

I don't get how your kid can wake up all of a sudden and say, "Mom, I want to learn calculus today."

I don't get how they're supposed to develop an interest in a subject or an idea without some kind of previous exposure to it.

I don't get how they're supposed to weave together a coherent picture of (for instance) history.

It seems rather inchoate to me. With all due respect to unschoolers, if I'm inadvertently reacting to a straw man, let me know: I'm just speaking from what my impressions are.


post #53 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I don't get how your kid can wake up all of a sudden and say, "Mom, I want to learn calculus today."
Heh. I did that.
post #54 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire

I don't get how your kid can wake up all of a sudden and say, "Mom, I want to learn calculus today."

I don't get how they're supposed to develop an interest in a subject or an idea without some kind of previous exposure to it.
I *think* (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that many unschoolers deliberately expose their kids to new things (like calculus), because they know that the child can't choose something that they don't know exists. Some parents probably try harder than others to do this. Strewing is talked about a lot, which is the idea that unschoolers toss stuff out there that the child doesn't know about. The catch is that, if the child says, "I really don't want to do this.", they don't do it.

So, basically, many unschoolers probably do present math materials or games, but they let the child decided if it's something he/she wants to go ahead with or refuse.

I'm not identifying with unschooling anymore, because I stressed too much about definitions and rules and such. I'm calling myself a relaxed eclectic who is fond of unschooling. But I could easily see calculus coming up in our house. My husband is really into math and my oldest son likes numbers. My dh would want to share his love of math. As my kids got older, it would lead to more advanced math games and frank conversations about what math skills are necessary to achieve career goals. The goals would come completely from the child, with no parental expectations. nak.

In past threads, a couple of methods seem to come up, IMHO. Method 1 is where the child seems responsible for indicating interest. Method 2 is where the parents involve the child in their own hobbies and family trips, to provide modeling and exposure to new things. Method 3 is where the parents deliberately "strew" to see what the child might choose. 3 reminds me of Dar's story about the over-eager Mom who got out library books every time the child mentioned something in casual conversation. Actually, I've mostly seen Method 2a, which is involving the child in parental activities and doing some light strewing. Most people seem to think of Method 1, but I'm not sure that's really common.
post #55 of 234
Quote:
I don't get how your kid can wake up all of a sudden and say, "Mom, I want to learn calculus today."
Not sure what you are trying to get at here. Do you mean that you think that no one would decide to learn calculus of their own volition? Or are you suggesting that unschoolers believe that these things happen in a vacuum?

Quote:
I don't get how they're supposed to develop an interest in a subject or an idea without some kind of previous exposure to it.
They're not.

As an involved and loving parent, I expose my children to all sorts of things. I share information with them, answer their questions, and show them how to do things they want to know how to do.

As an unschooler, I see coercive instruction as neither efficacious nor moral, and I do not want my children to become dependant on others (meaning, not themselves) to make decisions for them about their intellectual lives -- in other words, I wish for them to have the confidence and power that comes from being self-directed, and I wish to avoid undermining that by telling them that they should or must learn this or that at a certain time or in a certain way.

The two sets of things are not mutually exclusive.

Quote:
I don't get how they're supposed to weave together a coherent picture of (for instance) history.
Well, I don't really know how to answer because I don't know what the root of your difficulty in understanding this is -- perhaps it would help if you explain why you think school is necessary for it?
post #56 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
As an involved and loving parent, I expose my children to all sorts of things. I share information with them, answer their questions, and show them how to do things they want to know how to do.

As an unschooler, I see coercive instruction as neither efficacious nor moral, and I do not want my children to become dependant on others (meaning, not themselves) to make decisions for them about their intellectual lives -- in other words, I wish for them to have the confidence and power that comes from being self-directed, and I wish to avoid undermining that by telling them that they should or must learn this or that at a certain time or in a certain way.
Thank you!! I think you have explained (quite well in fact) the roots of unschooling.
post #57 of 234
(re: a coherent study of history; darn, why won't the quote feature quote another quote?)
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Well, I don't really know how to answer because I don't know what the root of your difficulty in understanding this is -- perhaps it would help if you explain why you think school is necessary for it?
i am a tad confused myself- the 'history' i was taught, in one of the most highly regarded school districts, was a mish-mash: one year we did... japan! next year everyone does... california! in 5th grade- well, you get the drift. there was nothing coherent whatsoever about it.

the only things remotely interesting i remember as taught by an actual history teacher were the WWII anecdotes about having to dig up & move a graveyard, & the proper pronunciation of soviet place names. (ok, & the naked public baths in japan. that was pretty cool.) there were some electives i took in high school (that i was discouraged from taking, as i *had* plenty of history credits) that were ok.

but rote dates & names of battles & lists of kings are meaningless without background- background requiring extensive independant NON-TEXTBOOK reading. my love for history was nearly snuffed out by boring history classes. how on earth do you make history boring? by god, they have a knack.

anyways, personally, i appreciate the benefits of a good liberal arts education, but i am in the minority- try making a living with a history degree out of acadamia. most people today care little about a solid grounding in history. (and the more i learn, the more i realize that i couldn't learn all there is to know about one era in one geographical location in five lifetimes.)

ok, i am sick, and have half an ear (and brain) in the backyard supervising toddlers, so pardon the ramble. just some thoughts (i am eclectic, the only label i want or need. who can argue 'oh, but you're not REALLY eclectic...'? :P)

susan
post #58 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
As an unschooler, I see coercive instruction as neither efficacious nor moral, and I do not want my children to become dependant on others (meaning, not themselves) to make decisions for them about their intellectual lives -- in other words, I wish for them to have the confidence and power that comes from being self-directed, and I wish to avoid undermining that by telling them that they should or must learn this or that at a certain time or in a certain way.

Ahh...now I think I'm getting somewhere.

I *do* believe that there are certain (correct) ways of doing things and certain times at which they should be done. I don't consider acting on these beliefs to be undermining or somehow lessoning confidence or self-discovered intellectual power. On the contrary, I see acting on them as both moral, nurturing and loving. Moreover, I feel that acting on these beliefs as providing my children with the tools and foundation they will need for independent decision making of all kinds as they mature.

So, yeah, it appears that our respective motivations are worlds apart. I'd hate to see separate sub-forums for the various HS flavors, though, because I still feel that most of us desire to end up in the same place, even if our roadmaps are wildly different.
post #59 of 234


"(darn, why won't the quote feature quote another quote?)"

It will, you just have to do it manually. For instance

{quote} {quote}I said this...{/quote}You said that...{/quote}

looks like this:

Quote:
Quote:
I said this...
You said that...
post #60 of 234
Quote:
the 'history' i was taught, in one of the most highly regarded school districts, was a mish-mash: one year we did... japan! next year everyone does... california! in 5th grade- well, you get the drift. there was nothing coherent whatsoever about it.
However, while this is how most schools do it, fortunately it's not inherently a school thing, so homeschoolers can do it differently. It's really an argument (ala John Taylor Gatto) against our school system as it exists, right?, not against schooling per se.
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