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Is unschooling really a good idea? - Page 4

post #61 of 591
I wanted to thow in a personal anecdote, for whatever it's worth:

My parents sent me to an unusual private school for 2 years in 7th and 8th grade. We were basically allowed to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, except that we had to complete our contracted goals (mutually agreed upon by student, teacher, and parent) by the end of the school year. The contracted goals usually covered the same basic academic material as other schools, but we could spend our days doing puzzles, reading, drawing, and work whenever we felt like it. The teachers offered lectures on certain topics, which we could attend if we wanted, or not. There were end of the year exams that were comparable to what students in the same grade took at other schools. It was pretty unschooly, as far as schools go.

Anyway, in my first year there, I did NO math assignments until the last week of school. Math lectures are very dull. If the math teacher was giving a lecture, I went and worked on jigsaw puzzles, or I wrote letters, or whatever. Anyway, I knew I had to take the math exam in the end, so in the last week I finally picked up the book, and I learned a year of pre-algebra. No problem. On the end of year math exam, I got the highest score in the class.

I know I'm not "average," but that was my experience.

I don't think unschooling means you can't study math. You make choices about how you want to spend time, based on your goals. If your goals include attending college, you'll cover the prerequisite materials as needed.
post #62 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
One thing I wanted to mention about this. A large percentage of the families I knew that initially planned to always homeschool or unschool now have children in school. Things happened: kids got more vocal about demanding school, parents got divorced, parents faced mounting medical bills and needed more income, etc.
My point wasn't that there could never be a circumstance under which my child would go to school. My point was that any difficulty they had in school could be addressed, and that this type of difficulty could just as easily be a problem by simply switching schools, and is not a problem unique to unschoolers.
post #63 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar

3. For me too much of support for unschooling is based on fear and I don't like to operate out of fear.
That's interesting to me, because it seems like it is precisely fear that you are basing your educational philosophy - fear that a child won't be able to learn necessary skills unless they are specifically taught.

I can't say that we are unschoolers yet, but our leanings towards unschooling have nothing to do with fear that being "taught" would damage my son, but rather that we see it to be an optimal learning environment.

(Damn, baby awakes, no time to edit or expand.)
post #64 of 591
I have to comment on the musical instrument thing.....

My parents really did not care if I did music or not. They bought me an instrument and provided lessons but never ever nagged me to practice or do any regular playing. I took lessons sometimes, other times I did not. Sometimes I played daily, other times I let it sit for months at a time. Most of my music friends were forced to practice and forced to take lessons. It was an all or nothing thing. None of them are playing anymore. I still have the same pattern. I practice sometimes, do not other times. I have been playing for 21 years. I play in a symphony orchestra and just got done doing a paying gig for a chamber orchestra even though I am not a professional and have no music degree (in fact I was the only non-professional in the group). I love to play when I want to. I suspect that if my parents felt that a "systematic and regular" learning progression should be forced on me, I would not be playing to this day. I have picked up two other instruments as an adult with the same pattern....spurts here and there. I see nothing wrong with it being directed by the child (or adult for that matter). It is very possible to pick up music on a sporatic schedule. In fact I think it is better to take breaks when your interest wanes. I have found time and time again that when I take a break, I come back refreshed and often play much better than I was when I was struggling with not wanting to do it.

Of course I would like to share my love of playing with dd. I will sign her up for lessons the minute she asks. But not a minute before. And she will be free to do whatever she choses with the lessons.....practice or not.

On being pushed past comfort zones......I very much disagree with that. I see no value in pushing my child to learn or do something she is afraid/disinterested in. What is the point? I auditioned for the school musical in the 5th grade because it was the "cool" thing to do. Unlucky me was cast with a solo role. I was terrified. On advice from a "friend" my parents decided to make me keep the part even though I tried to quit the day I was cast. They felt that I had made a commitment and had to follow through although it would have been very easy to recast the role. I was basically forced to get up and sing alone in front of the entire school and their families for multiple nights. It was AWFUL! To this day I refuse to even sing in the shower. Maybe I was destined to be an opera singer? I will never know. Maybe I would have been ready to try for a solo role the next year? Maybe I would not have been afraid of public speaking and performing for years? I guess I will never know. But it was an awful experience I will not force upon my child. Maybe it works for some or even most kids, but I am not going to take that chance. I would hate to see a potential love of performing/math/knitting/swimming/etc be squashed because I pushed it. If a person is truly interested they will come into it in their own time.
post #65 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby
That's interesting to me, because it seems like it is precisely fear that you are basing your educational philosophy - fear that a child won't be able to learn necessary skills unless they are specifically taught.
I didn't suggest that children need to be taught or they won't learn - in fact I said clearly in my post that I feel quite certain unschooling works well for some children. Rather, I said that I don't understand the fear I hear from some unschoolers about anything that smells like a parent setting a limit or a child being formally taught. 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!)
post #66 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma
Well of course. You were being subjected to a top-down curriculum that assumed you had learned things you hadn't. Explanations went over your head and no one noticed much of the time; compared to your classmates you were struggling with things they took for granted. The method of teaching new skills and concepts relied on assumptions that you had certain skills and concepts in hand that you didn't. In fairly short order you were feeling frustrated and anxious about math, something which will shut down receptiveness to learning like nothing else. Unschooling would never proceed in such a fashion.
Yeah, you hit the nail on the head, all right.
Miranda[/QUOTE]
post #67 of 591
Yooper,
Did your music teacher support you not practicing for months at a time?
Did you ever think that wasn't a fair way to spend their lesson time if you hadn't done your part?
post #68 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
To kids who were schooled, right? Maybe the school environment is (at least partially) responsible for their lack of desire to learn?

namaste!
I'm certain it is, which is one of the (many) reasons we're HSing (and hoping I don't kick the fabled bucket anytime soon). And hey, I've seen a great deal about the power of choice: I teach in a magnet school, which means that all the kids who go there actually wanted to be there. It's made all the difference in the world to discipline, classroom management, overall attitude, my ability to teach, etc. Now, unfortunately, not everyone who takes my class wants to take it, which really stinks. At the very least, I wish that they could basically start "majoring" in subjects by age 13 and have more classes that they actually chose, rather than ones foisted on them.
post #69 of 591
Quote:
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?
nope. i believe that kids learn what they need to learn when they are ready. if they are not interested in reading by 9, oh well ... then maybe they are at 10/11/12. doesn't matter to me what age they learn to read. we read alot in our family and it is such an important part of our lives that i cannot imagine any of my children not showing a desire to learn to read.

math ... well, my kids know the basics so far that they have picked up through daily life, games etc. my 2 dd's are using signapore math and that is because they *want* to.

in my understanding, families commited to unschooling seem to be believe that learning is a lifelong process and that what is important is nurturing a child's inborn desire for learning and that what they learn isn't as important as that they recognize and attain the skills to learn what they want when they want.

Quote:
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.
i don't believe in the optimal window either. i have never even given this any consideration. let's say that the window does exist ... i still place faith in the fact that learning takes place at any age so long as the desire is there. i attended the Universite de Lausanne and took their french programme for foreigners and there were people of all ages attending and some of them had little experience with french and it may have been more difficult for them to learn the language and the accent but it was very inspiring to see that they had the drive to learn the language regardless of whether or not they had an accent. fluency did not seem to be much of a problem.

Quote:
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?
did you happen to see the People magazine with Brook Shields and her new baby on the cover? if you flip through that issue, there is a story about unschoolers, and one girl in particular who is attending Harvard. she said that it was a bit of a struggle to catch up on some of the stuff but once she got through that she was fine.

there are many kids going through the school system who lack the basic skills to succeed at college. like others said, there are so many options now available ... upgrading, correspondence etc. unschooled kids who have the drive to go to university/college will make sure they acquire what they need to be able to succeed.

my uncle teaches math at the University of Waterloo. he sat on the admissions board last year and said that homeschooling students tend to fair much better than kids who come through the school system.


Quote:
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?
well, what if? we'd deal with it when it happens. what happens if your child is on the school bus and their is a crash and they don't know the basic first aid skills to help those who are injured? what if you are a single mom and you get sick and your child doesn't have the basic skills to cook a meal or prepare a meal for themselves?

people deal with stuff no matter what it is when it happens. choosing to unschool is not a decision to be made on the "what ifs".
post #70 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper

On being pushed past comfort zones......I very much disagree with that. I see no value in pushing my child to learn or do something she is afraid/disinterested in. What is the point? I auditioned for the school musical in the 5th grade because it was the "cool" thing to do. Unlucky me was cast with a solo role. I was terrified.
That isn't being nudged gently in the direction of trying - that is being thrown out of a plane without a parachute and I agree it could cement a fear that was just emerging. That isn't at all what I'm talking about.
post #71 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
There are people who were born, raised, and (ostensibly) educated in this country who are unable to communicate effectively because they were left to their own devices. There are people attempting to communicate over the internet, on these very boards, who are so impaired that they cannot effectively communicate through text, despite an apparent desire to do so. I think that's absolutely tragic, and I think that radical unschooling is, of all home education methodologies, the most likely to lead to such an outcome. :
i disagree. the majority of people come from the public school system, the majority of homeschoolers do NOT unschool. i don't buy this at all.
post #72 of 591
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
I think that radical unschooling is, of all home education methodologies, the most likely to lead to such an outcome. :
What I genuinely worry about with some unschoolers is this: I suspect that conscientious unschooling involves a great deal of work and responsiveness on the part of the parent -- 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. (All of which I did, BTW, except for the note to go to the library). Maybe we're more unschooly than we know.

However, I genuinely do worry about the outcome you're describing, Rynna, with some parents who -- for all intents and purposes -- let their kids play video games all day (or whatever) and their child is functionally illiterate by age 18 but has a score of five million in Doom. I am sure that they are in the minority, but unschooling seems like it's so easy to screw up in this fashion.
post #73 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
What I genuinely worry about with some unschoolers is this: I suspect that conscientious unschooling involves a great deal of work and responsiveness on the part of the parent -- 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. (All of which I did, BTW, except for the note to go to the library). Maybe we're more unschooly than we know.

However, I genuinely do worry about the outcome you're describing, Rynna, with some parents who -- for all intents and purposes -- let their kids play video games all day (or whatever) and their child is functionally illiterate by age 18 but has a score of five million in Doom. I am sure that they are in the minority, but unschooling seems like it's so easy to screw up in this fashion.
We do both of those "types" of unschooling all at once. We'd gladly google deadly nightshade (and Isis, and the difference between field mice/kangaroo mice/house mice/ and meadow mice, and what "floss" means in terms of slang, and the process of finding common factors...just to name our recent stuff) and we gladly spend lots of time playing video games and watching TV without concern. Of course then the TV watching leads us to something that we wonder about so we research it, and then a video game causes us to look up a code or something. (Ds was interesting in learning how to create codes for video games, and he is looking into the math needed.)

Those things you've mentioned aren't two different types of unschooling for us. They are the same thing.
post #74 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
What happens, however, if you have a child who basically wants to play Doom all day and has no interest in reading, math, history, et cetera?
I only started HS/unschooling last year and I have to say that what I learned is that when you judge HS kids by the kids you see in school---well, it's not accurate.
Kids who have always been in school dread assignments and try to get out of doing their homework, are excited when there's a snow day, etc.,etc.

Kids who are unschooled are able to tap into that natural drive to learn things which you may not see in kids who are being "made" to learn. The HS/unschoolers I know have a way different life/lifestyle and their kids have a way different view on "learning".

MY dd hated everything about school and when I took her out of school she didn't even want to see a book (even if I read it) and was always afraid we were going to try and "teach" her something.
As the months went by she slowly started getting interested in things on her own, which I had never seen before and was worried would never come to pass. I asked a lot of these same questions when I first took her out of school. It was hard to wrap my head around some of this stuff coming from her being in school.
Turns out everyone was right and she really is getting more and more interested in learning stuff.
She now thinks we don't do anything school related because it is all hidden in real life things. She still doesn't like to sit and read a book, but she is reading in other ways. There's a lot of things she likes to do that she has to know how to read in order to figure it out----that's her incentive to read---not because I'm making her sit and do it.
post #75 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby
That's interesting to me, because it seems like it is precisely fear that you are basing your educational philosophy - fear that a child won't be able to learn necessary skills unless they are specifically taught.
I agree.
post #76 of 591
CB, I see your point, but I think it's the equivalent of saying that it's really easy to kill your kids love of learning by schooling at home, resulting in them being bums with no future. Ignoring your kids and over-controlling your kids are both bad extremes.

Yeah, having kids that have strong passions for learning, letting those passions lead our way is a lot of work. I suspect it's more work than using a boxed curriculum would be. In my house, more learning and better learning takes place because of it.

I know a number of unschooled kids-turning-into-adults. Some have bummed around a bit before college. Some have gone straight to college. Some have pursued interests without college.

Exactly like the kids from my very-competitive-top-10-in-the-country-college-recruiters-lining-the-hallway public high school.

I have no idea if I'm an unschooler. My kids would be considered profoundly gifted if it mattered for their education. One is tremendously easily frustrated and perfectionistic. Yet she manages to learn more every day than I can keep up with. I'm convinced that directing their learning would only inhibit that learning and increase dd1's frustration.

Plus, it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun.

I'd love to see some empirical data that suggest that interest-based learning produces poor educational outcomes. I've looked around some and haven't seen it.
post #77 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
Yooper,
Did your music teacher support you not practicing for months at a time?
Did you ever think that wasn't a fair way to spend their lesson time if you hadn't done your part?
My music teacher did not know. I was in an audition group. If my skill level fell below the minimum requirements, I would have been asked to leave the group. As for my lesson teacher, she was paid. Even if I did not practice, something could always be gained from my time with her. I teach lessons myself from time to time and frankly I have no problem with a student that chooses not to practice. My job is to do as much to help the student during the half hour I am being paid. What they choose to do with that help is up to them and (unfortunately) thier parents. I suspect that many of the students I have taught practice very little. The ones that do practice more, progress faster. But I still encourage the people that do not practice to continue lessons if they enjoy them. In some cases, lessons are the only times they bring the instrument out. So they progress by one half hour a week. It is still progress and if they are happy, I am happy. Ironically, it is the students that have natural talent that tend to practice less. They see little point as they are typically in school band in which the whole group is stuck at the level of the weakest players. The stronger ones can coast by and progress just by being at rehearsals with little or no outside practice. I believe they still gain much from lessons in which they can take back to rehearsals with them.
post #78 of 591
Quote:
However, I genuinely do worry about the outcome you're describing, Rynna, with some parents who -- for all intents and purposes -- let their kids play video games all day (or whatever) and their child is functionally illiterate by age 18 but has a score of five million in Doom. I am sure that they are in the minority, but unschooling seems like it's so easy to screw up in this fashion.
Having a child who is illiterate at 18 is not bad unschooling, it's bad parenting. And again, I would wager that of those illiterate children, a higher percentage of them were schooled rather than unschooled (proportionate to the number of schooled vs. unschooled students).
post #79 of 591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
However, I genuinely do worry about the outcome you're describing, Rynna, with some parents who -- for all intents and purposes -- let their kids play video games all day (or whatever) and their child is functionally illiterate by age 18 but has a score of five million in Doom. I am sure that they are in the minority, but unschooling seems like it's so easy to screw up in this fashion.
Well, I see this as basically the same kind of "concern" that public school parents express for home schooled kids. I just trust that parents like UnSchoolinMa know what their kids need and respond -- the same kind of trust I hope hsers could get from more psers.

And I think that sometimes, there are just going to be people like you have described. I know schooled people like this. I know way more schooled people than homeschooled people like this. I think people who have kids with these tendencies are more likely to homeschool (and unschool), and that it's easier to point them out as an example of unschooling/home schooling failure.
post #80 of 591
Yooper, can you come teach my kid? And me?

Just out of curiosity, what instrument do you play?
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