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Is unschooling really a good idea? - Page 6

post #101 of 591
Wow, it's a good thing I : ducked.

I think I've been misinterpreted, so I'll try to explain better: I'm not saying that unschooled children will, by definition, never learn to read or speak articulately. What I'm saying is, I don't see how that's a likely outcome of any other home education program, but I can see how it could potentially be an outcome of radical unschooling. I'm not saying that I've met loads of inarticulate unschoolers, nor that I believe that unschooling is at the root of functional illiteracy or gramatically incorrect speech, or anything like that. I've got major issues with the school system, and I don't think that's helping, either.

There are so many places between "radical unschoolers" and "school at home;" not all education at home is coercive.

As to not planning your life around extreme, what-if situations, I'm not saying that anyone should, but in my opinion it's important to have a back-up plan for just about anything that you're doing. I plan on being around until my children are grown and entirely self-sufficient, but things don't always go as planned, so I have taken measures to ensure their health and well-being in the event that I'm not around. It's not about expecting the worst, but being somewhat prepared just in case; In my mind, it's one of the responsibilities I assumed by having children in the first place.
post #102 of 591
Quote:
4. There are kids who bury themselves in TV or video games for years. They plug in and tune out. This may be of no concern for a parent considers these pursuits of equal value to anything else, but it would personally be a concern for me.



Are these unschoolers??? That would be bad for sure, but as a rule I don't think any unschoolers do this. The unschoolers I know have a totally different lifestyle than the average family and I can't see this being an issue. If it is then I would say that is a rare case.
Oh I have DEFINITELY been on radical unschooling boards where kids "plugging in and tuning out" for years defined the "radical" in radical unschooling...

Thankfully many other radical unschoolers see the issue differently...
post #103 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by judejude
Are these unschoolers??? That would be bad for sure, but as a rule I don't think any unschoolers do this. The unschoolers I know have a totally different lifestyle than the average family and I can't see this being an issue. If it is then I would say that is a rare case.
We are (radical) unschoolers and my son (and Dd to a lesser extent) spend a lot of time playing video games and watching TV. We believe it to be a very valuable way to spend our time. It could be overdone just like anything else I suppose. But one person's "over doing it" is another person's "just right" or "not enough".
post #104 of 591
Quote:
I think I've been misinterpreted, so I'll try to explain better: I'm not saying that unschooled children will, by definition, never learn to read or speak articulately. What I'm saying is, I don't see how that's a likely outcome of any other home education program, but I can see how it could potentially be an outcome of radical unschooling.
Sure, if the parents doing the radical unschooling were totally checked out. It could also potentially be an outcome of institutional schooling, and in fact, is on a regular basis. Either way, I would consider that plain ole neglectful parenting, and would not chalk it up to unschooling as a method of education. To me, that's like saying that homeschooling can lead to child abuse. Since some homeschoolers neglected and abused their children, children being abused could be an outcome of allowing families to homeschool. In reality, it has nothing to do with the way the child is being educated, but everything to do with the way the child is being parented.
post #105 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama
Oh I have DEFINITELY been on radical unschooling boards where kids "plugging in and tuning out" for years defined the "radical" in radical unschooling...

Thankfully many other radical unschoolers see the issue differently...

I imagine you would put us in the category lol. Though we do plug in I don't believe we tune out. We turn on!
post #106 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
It also seems contradictory to me when a parent believes that if they say "on Tuesday morning we are going to spend some time on math" will harm their child but isn't at all concerned that the soccer coach says "on tuesday afternoon we are going to work on defense" (or whatever sorry for my lack of soccer knowledge!)
Did the child choose to sign up for soccer? Did the child choose to sign up for math?

Rain has done many very structured activities - ballet and theatre are both quite structured - but she chose to do them, and she could always chose not to... although she never once skipped out on a play after she had been cast, because she had undertaken the commitment herself and thus fully understood its significance. She dropped some classes that didn't work for her, but stuck with others that did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
-- that is, when a kid brings up deadly nightshade (like mine did), to immediately stop what you're doing, google "deadly nightshade," read about it, look at pictures of it, talk about tomatoes and potatoes and atropine, and make a note to go to the library later for deadly nightshade info.
I had an unschooling friend who used to do that. She finally stopped when her daughter was 7 or so... her daughter made a chance comment or question one day, and then before her mother could respond the daughter said quickly, "And I don't want you to go get a bunch of books about it, and I don't want you to make a big thing about it - as a matter of fact, let's just pretend I never asked."

My response is generally a brief sentence or two based on what I know, a quick google search and maybe more conversation if I'm also interested, and otherwise an offer to give her a turn on the computer... as soon as I finish. This has resulted in a child who has more varied interests than she has time, and lots of esoteric (and not-so-esoteric) knowledge.

As far as math, Rain did pretty much no formal math until 6 months ago, except for learning the addition algorithm once (which she found to be much fun, and she requested long addition problems for everyone she met for a while). Six months ago, at her request, we spent a total of maybe 4 hours with the GED prep book, and she learned (or solidified her knowledge of) basic math up to Algebra. She dropped math after that, but after deciding to go to college a couple of weeks ago she started working on Algebra, and in two weeks she's about 20% through Algebra 1... at that rate she'll finish the whole thing in under 3 months. She's 13 now... if I had worried about her lack of math knowledge 2 or 3 or 4 years ago, I would have wasted my time and disrupted the process, which clearly worked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
I'm not saying that unschooled children will, by definition, never learn to read or speak articulately. What I'm saying is, I don't see how that's a likely outcome of any other home education program, but I can see how it could potentially be an outcome of radical unschooling.
Children in other sorts of educational systems are accustomed to others having the responsibilty for the children's education. It seems perfectly possible to me that they would see their inability to read or speak well to be someone else's problem - indeed, I've seen teen school-at-homers and schoolkids to whom this applies. Unschooled kids see themselves as being in charge of their own educations. Really, does it make sense that people would do a shoddy job at something they saw as their own responsbility, or the responsibility of another?

dar
post #107 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
:True, but I can't think of anything more worthless than spending energy and precious life learning mathematical equations if one isn't going to have a use for them, or at the very least an interest in it.
Okay, but what about the fact that sometimes you don't know a) that you'll like something until you try it, b) that you'll need a piece of information later, or c) that you train your brain in a particular way that helps you? For example, I was "forced," if you will, to take geometry, a subject for which I had no liking or interest. However, once there, I actually found myself liking the proofs (!!!) because it was the very first time in my life that anyone had compelled me to think in a straightforward, logical manner. At the time, I could practically feel my brain developing new wrinkles (or maybe it was a killer headache, or both ) The obvious moral of the story is that I never would've figured that out had I not been forced to take geometry, yadda, yadda, yadda.
post #108 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
Thanks for explaining. It was interesting to hear your perspective. My opinion is that is very reasonable for a teacher to expect a student to uphold their part of the bargain. For some teachers it is all about the paycheck, but for others there is more to it. I think it is reasonable for a teacher to decide what kind of students they wish to work with. When my son started an instrument his teacher was very clear on two things - she's not interested in teaching kids who don't want to be there and she isn't interested in spending time with kids who don't practice. I think that is quite reasonable.
First off, I do not teach lessons for the paycheck. That would be extremely unfulfilling and dumb since I make WAY more tending bar. I teach to share something I love to do. I do not care if the student has their sights of making a career out of it or to just learn how to play "twinkle twinkle little star".

I would not be at all comfortable with a teacher that felt they had any say over what my child did during thier free time. Any good music teacher will be having a constant discussion with the student about what that student's goal is. If the student has no other goal than to spend one half hour a week working on their music with a teacher, that should be OK. If the student's goal is to practice a great deal sometimes and not at all others, that should be Ok too. Unless we are talking about very high level, audition based lessons, I do not see why is should matter to the teacher how quickly the student chooses to progress.

Sorry, but the type of teacher you are talking about is the type that stamps out the joy of music for many many kids. Sure, there are a very small handful of students that are driven to be concert musicians that might WANT to have that kind of commitment. But for every one of those, I would bet there are 100 more that would like to dabble, learn to appreciate music, maybe play in their school band with little commitment and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately most of them quit before they even get enough of a taste to make an informed decision because of rigid ideals like the teacher in the quote. And we wonder why the arts are dying in this country......

ETA - I agree with your dc's teacher in that I will not teach any child that does not want to be there. If their parents are that hell-bent on their kid learning the clarinet they will have to find another teacher.
post #109 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
Wow, it's a good thing I : ducked.

I think I've been misinterpreted, so I'll try to explain better: I'm not saying that unschooled children will, by definition, never learn to read or speak articulately. What I'm saying is, I don't see how that's a likely outcome of any other home education program, but I can see how it could potentially be an outcome of radical unschooling.
But surely you realize that there are many many schooled children who are not reading or writing at very functional levels. I am guessing more children attend school than are unschooled (I dont have stats or anything I am just assuming that school is still seen as the norm and therefore has greater numbers.) So wouldn't the illiteracy that you are referring to be a product of schooling more than unschooling?

I tend to think that kids in unschooling (and just homeschooling in general) families are the children of parents who have spent a great deal of time examining the way school works and education in general. They've decided to go against the grain, and if they are unschoolers, in a pretty big way. They are involved and present and mindful of what this means and why they are doing it. I am not sure that's an environment that really fosters illiteracy by and large.

Some folks just do not take to reading and writing so great. Some folks don't take to math so well. It just depends on a whole bunch of things.
post #110 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
The obvious moral of the story is that I never would've figured that out had I not been forced to take geometry, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But maybe you would have found something else that you loved... or maybe, if you'd been unschooled, you would have come across proofs somewhere and, having no bias against them, you would have explored them and found your passion.

Schooled kids, ime, don't like to try things that they have preconceived ideas about. Rain at 13 will try almost anything and likes a good bit of it. Rain at 7, not so much...

dar
post #111 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa
But surely you realize that there are many many schooled children who are not reading or writing at very functional levels. I am guessing more children attend school than are unschooled (I dont have stats or anything I am just assuming that school is still seen as the norm and therefore has greater numbers.) So wouldn't the illiteracy that you are referring to be a product of schooling more than unschooling?
I specifically said that I was talking about home education options; are you saying that "schooling" means "anything that's not unschooling?" I don't see it that way. Home education is, thankfully, much broader than that.
post #112 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
Okay, but what about the fact that sometimes you don't know a) that you'll like something until you try it, b) that you'll need a piece of information later, or c) that you train your brain in a particular way that helps you?
No one "knows" that they'll like something until they try it. That doesn't mean that one must be forced or talked into trying things--they can do so at their own choosing. If someone needs a piece of information later, they can simply learn it later, when they need it. The unschooled kids I know don't say, "I wish I'd learned _____ when I was younger/last year/etc.." If they want to learn something, they express that and their parents help them.


Quote:
The obvious moral of the story is that I never would've figured that out had I not been forced to take geometry, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Maybe. I guess it's a question of, "does the end justify the means?" There are other ways to find out that you like something, besides being forced into it. Or, maybe, if you hadn't been forced into geometry, you wouldn't have discovered that you liked proofs--maybe you would have found something else that you loved passionately.
post #113 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
No one "knows" that they'll like something until they try it. That doesn't mean that one must be forced or talked into trying things--they can do so at their own choosing. If someone needs a piece of information later, they can simply learn it later, when they need it. The unschooled kids I know don't say, "I wish I'd learned _____ when I was younger/last year/etc.." If they want to learn something, they express that and their parents help them.
About a year ago (maybe longer?) I read a post here by someone who knew two unschooled sisters who said this very thing. They went to college and were very unhappy with all of the remedial work that they had to do, and all of the things that they didn't know because they had never had any structure imposed on their learning. They were irritated that they had to waste money doing it in college, when they could have learned it just as quickly and easily years earlier, if only their parents had introduced the work.
post #114 of 591
Schooling is (mostly) schooling.

I admit there is a difference between the kind of schooling one gets at school and at home, but if there is a required curriculum or assignments that the child must do even if they are not interested and do not wish to do that is schooling to me. It's certainly more one on one schooling, and there is clearly a different (and better IMO lol) environment than public or private school but it's still schooling.
post #115 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
About a year ago (maybe longer?) I read a post here by someone who knew two unschooled sisters who said this very thing. They went to college and were very unhappy with all of the remedial work that they had to do, and all of the things that they didn't know because they had never had any structure imposed on their learning. They were irritated that they had to waste money doing it in college, when they could have learned it just as quickly and easily years earlier, if only their parents had introduced the work.
This doesn't quite make sense to me. (Not that I'm doubting the veracity of it, or anything!)

But, if these kids were unschooled, why would they be blaming their parents for not "introducing" the work? If the kids had wanted to learn it, they would have learned it, right? If the parents hadn't facilitated then is that really unschooling?

Why would they be upset that they were learning something now that they didn't know?

And if it were that easily learned, they surely could have dropped those expensive classes, learned it on their own, and resumed classes later?
post #116 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
About a year ago (maybe longer?) I read a post here by someone who knew two unschooled sisters who said this very thing. They went to college and were very unhappy with all of the remedial work that they had to do, and all of the things that they didn't know because they had never had any structure imposed on their learning. They were irritated that they had to waste money doing it in college, when they could have learned it just as quickly and easily years earlier, if only their parents had introduced the work.
I don't see how this would happen to any of the unschoolers I know. We talk about future options often, as my friends do with their children. Our kids know that some careers require college and that colleges require certain knowledge. My older two have no trouble identifying what skills they might need in order to do what they'd like to do.

I don't know the sisters you're talking about, nor do I remember the post you refer to.

The unschoolers I know seem to be very different from the unschoolers some of you know.
post #117 of 591
Ok- I rarely visit MDC lately and just happened here tonight for some reason....I'm not going to waste my time reading all of the responses but will give you my answers.

First though .... you question makes me angry...but I was once clueless and scared about unschooling so i'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

My son was unschooled his whole life up until last August. He was almost 10. He had been reading for just 2 yrs. He did great his first year of school.... of course it is montessori ...but even on the required state testing that i am philosphically opposed to - He did great. He had 2 hours tops ( and I'm being liberal with my estimate) of school work his ENTIRE life before entering school last year.

Now my daughter was public schooled until the end of 3rd grade. Unschooled since. She is now entering her second year of community college. She is taking remedial classes. She has tested at or above what would be her grade level if she were in high school though. And every other member of the class she was in that was a non-credit remedial class was a recent High School grad.

It took me years of reading and then actually meeting dozens of unschooled kids to find the answers you are asking here.
I've never met an unschooler that couldn't read by 15. I've never met an unschooler that failed a college class.
I've never met an unschooler that was unemployed at age 18.

And as far as your funny foreign language comment .... I know many non-unschooled/homeschooled people who have never learned a foreign language and the ones that did take a foreign language did so in high school and remember none of it. My cousin just visited and after taking 5 years of spanish in her public school ( and getting all A's) she now knows little more than my almost 3 year old does from hearing people in the neighborhood speak it ocassionally.
And then there are the many adults i know that learned a new language ( usually for a spouse) and are more fluent than native speakers.


I really could type on and on. How i have seen learning happen without school lessons and how i don't even believe school is how most children learn.
I have to get back to my real life and stop letting people get to me i suppose.
Oh, and an interesting ( to me anyway) note. I am now married to a public school teacher. He has a masters degree specialized in special ed. And he also has seen a lot through the years and very strongly does not believe that formal education is the most effective way of learning for children under 14 or 15.


and one more thing - how many schooled kids do not have the fundamental skills at 7 or 8 ? How many kids have graduated from high school with skills to obtain a job or a higher education? How many homeschooled or unschooled kids have had this problem?





Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I'm trying to ask this question as politely as I can -- please forgive me if I show lack of tact -- because on more than one post over time here on MDC, I'll read a situation like, "My son/daughter is 6/7/8/9 years old and since we've unschooled during our homeschool years, she or he can't read/do math and we now have to enter him/her in the public/private school due to XYZ circumstances."

If I were an unschooler, this would really concern me.

I have a few basic questions:

1. If you're an unschooler, aren't you concerned that your child will never learn some of those skills that are fairly fundamental to almost every other form of learning -- and I'm thinking specifically of reading and math?

2. If your answer is something along the lines of, "I want my child to decide for him- or herself what's important," what about the fact that she or he may decide they need a particular skill long after the optimal "window" for learning it is gone? For example, research very clearly demonstrates that optimal foreign language learning takes place before about age 12, and that after that approximate age, you can pretty much count on never speaking without an accent and (probably) never being truly fluent.

3. What if they decide at, say, age 17 that they want to go to college, but the unschooling method has left them very much unprepared to do that in terms of basic skills?

4. What if your circumstances change, as in the example I posted above, and you now are faced with the fact that your child is considered "behind" when he or she gets into school?

Just wondering.
post #118 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
Things I've observed that concern me:

1. Some kids, especially anxious ones or ones that are bright and things tend to come to easily need the life experience of doing something that makes them a wee bit uncomfortable or that is hard for them. Some kids will seek out challenges and get the experience of working toward a goal and see how incremental progress can happen and some simply won't. It can be a great thing for a kid to learn to work past frustration.
This is my dd's situation to a T. Like me -- wonder where she gets it from? -- she handles frustration very poorly and wants to give up. I honestly think that if she'd never built up her...what shall I call it? Frustration muscles? Frustration calluses? Frustration tolerance? over time, that the first time she really encountered it as a hypothetically always-unschooled adult, she might not have the emotional wherewithal to deal with the consequences.

This has happened to at least one friend of mine, a prodigously gifted guy who flunked out of Harvey Mudd because he'd never actually learned how to study (he'd never had to) and couldn't deal with the fact that he needed to sit down, be disciplined, get over his frustration, and do it. It occurred to me at the time that, ironically, I (who was and am far less gifted than he) might have succeeded where he'd failed: I knew how to buckle down.

That said, I'm sure there are many USers who *do* buckle down at the subjects they like -- but how common is it, I wonder, to really work not just "up to" frustration (which is where many of us, I suspect, would quit if we had the choice, at least speaking for myself in many cases), but through and finally beyond it? In all, painful as they were, I treasure the experience those times of working through-and-beyond frustration have given me.
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post #119 of 591
Quote:
Oh I have DEFINITELY been on radical unschooling boards where kids "plugging in and tuning out" for years defined the "radical" in radical unschooling...

Thankfully many other radical unschoolers see the issue differently...


I imagine you would put us in the category lol. Though we do plug in I don't believe we tune out. We turn on!
LOL only if you think, as I said, that another family having less media makes them less "radical".

Insofar as unlimited tv and gaming goes...that is not radical to me, that is what most Americans I know do. They have no idea what the kids watch nor do they seriously attempt to control or limit tv watching or game playing past kindergarten. Unlimited tv seems as radical as fast food. Fine if you want to do that, sure, but I wouldn't presume to know your experiences with RU based on it.

If ds wanted to study rattlesnakes I doubt I would be agreeable to having one in the house as part of that experience. I would support him in other ways...visiting rattlesnakes at the zoo, or nature center, or getting a closer look with a professional snake handler. At home he could have skins, teeth, books, DVD's on rattlesnakes to study between visits.

TV is much the same to me. If he has a specific interest in media we explore that in ways that are not harmful to him(he has many DVD's and we do rentals etc.). He also has game systems and he saves his money for games. He has "media" days for sure! He loves the Simpsons and owns 7 seasons on DVD's. He learned the words "nuclear" "fusion" and "fission" thanks to Homer's job at the power plant *LOL*

My point is that how I feel about rattlesnakes in the house or cable in the house doesn't put the radical in RU to me. But for some RU's, media decisions seem to be a litmus test....
post #120 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
This isn't really an issue of unschooling. It's an issue of being different, not fitting in, being what you know is regarded by others (even as uninformed as they are) as sub par.
Well, it's actually both, from my POV.

Quote:
So, what's the point? That her parents should have done things like everyone else so that the mainstream kids couldn't make her feel bad? Where do you draw the line in conforming, at the expense of your principles and beliefs about what is good for your children, so that no one can ever possibly make them feel bad for being different?
That's a genuinely difficult question and one that I can't adequately answer, myself, having been an ubergeek who basically couldn't fit in even when I tried. Honestly, one of the reasons we're homeschooling in the first place is to allow my dd to develop as an individual in an environment where it's safe for her to do so and she won't have to sell her soul to fit in. In the case of the non-reading unschooling girl, I'm torn between adherence to your principles and not wanting to expose my child to ridicule of this nature.
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