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what exactly is unschooling?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I know there was a talk show covering this recently but I forgot to watch it

I hear the term occasionally but am rather ignorant to it's meaning. Can someone enlighten me? (I'm not looking to make any education changes, necessarily, but I like to know about other options).

Thanks!!

~Heather
post #2 of 12
My very short and very general definition would be:

Letting the child lead their own education.

-Angela
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
As in, choosing their own schooling or not going to school at all and learning by general, daily life? Or am i way off?
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinkerbell View Post
not going to school at all and learning by general, daily life?
:

As someone who taught in public schools, I'll be the first to say an unschooled child is better prepared for the real world than a traditionally schooled one.



-Angela
post #5 of 12
Hi,

We Unschool. Are you meaning the Dr Phil episode? I woudn't bother - it was rubbish. Unschooling is also called natural learning, child-led learning. We don't have a curriculum or any scheduled learning apart form the classes my kids choose to do like art, dance and sport. If the kids choose to they can use workbooks or computer programmes etc. but it is their choice. What they learn and when they learn it is also their choice. The biggies misperception is that kids won't learn unless made to or that they won't learn the same things that school offers but in reality they do and usually much more than schooled kids do. We socialise with schoolies, homeschoolers who practice school-at-home and also go to unschooling groups where everybody learns the way we do. It's about life-long learning for the joy of it.

Here's two of my favorite unschooling sites with loads of info and links that will explain how it works:

Sandra Dodd - Unschooling
http://sandradodd.com/unschooling.html

Unschooling and Peaceful Parenting
http://home.earthlink.net/~fetteroll/rejoycing/

Cheers
post #6 of 12
Dang, the mods here should really organize the stickies so this question is answered there, since it's asked so often...

I will do that, really. Someday. In the meantime, if you search this forum for thread titles with "unschooling", there's a lot of great stuff.

To me, it's about living and learning as if there was no school - think of an endless summer vacation, during which you do all sorts of cool stuff with your kids because they enjoy it, and your kids can initiate the activities they want and you play whatever role they want - a co-learner, a guide, a resource-arranger, a teacher, or no role at all. It's about ignoring what the school kids are learning and focusing on what works for you and what you want to do. If kids want to spend 6 months on playmobil set-ups, that's okay.

dar
post #7 of 12
post #8 of 12

I LOOOoooove unschooling (long rave below...)

The above articles and links pretty much sum it up. To the OP, DEFINITLEY open them up and read them and think about them!!! For me personally, in the way it is unfolding for us so far, it is being a facilitator, a helper, a tour guide for my children in this world. I answer their questions and encourage them to think about things in a different angle. We learn through everything, including TV, computer, play dough, a walk outside, a family crisis, etc. You never know what questions watching Angelina Ballerina will lead you to! The key for us is to stay connected and engaged in conversation with each other..."that's neat...what about...I wonder why...what do you think..." If I focus on that, then that helps with feeling of " this isn't educational" As alot of unschoolers say, learning is everywhere, not just in a textbook.

Someone in our homeschooling group's mom's night the other day said to me "so you do unit studies then" I said no, not preplanned ones where I come up with objectives, a specific way of presenting something, specific activities to meet certain goals etc. I guess it can be compared to an ONGOING "on-the-fly" unit study where we draw connections between everything. DD has had a fascination with animals, which has led to discoveries of where they live and what a jungle is, where Africa is, which has led to other geography, which has led to the earth as a whole, which has led into outer space/planets, etc. She understands now that we were all babies once, so history wise we can relate things to when Grandma and grandpa were babies, or before they were born, etc....so in her almost 7 yr old world, this is history in CONTEXT, which is meaningful to her. It will grow and expand as she grows, and stick with her as it is meaningful to her. Heck, ds is grasping his colors from playing with his BOB the Builder toys! BUT, not because I "chose" them to teach this to him...it is just unfolding naturally.

It is all one big web of the universe. Sandra Dodd (who I think is linked somewhere above) describes it as your unit study being the universe so everything is relevant and everything connects... like math has a history component for example. Joyce Fetterol is linked above, and describes how one even learns the 3r's as a result of living real life, that they are a tool, and would one NOT want to write or communicate well. I see dd writing because she WANTS to write notes, not because I force her to. She is learning to spell and write in a real context. Same with her number sense, sense of larger, smaller, etc. I would have never believed all this, but now I have seen her know her alphabet and an increasing amount of "school-y" things we traditionally think about, without tears, coercion, or force. I have just answered their questions as they come up. I have started to write things down, books read, trips taken, neat questions they have had, and that helps with doubt. Mostly, my trust has developed as I see things happening in our family life.

We do not test, or expect that because someone is "X" age, they need to know "Y" now. I guess we believe the objective to learn comes from the learner, not from a curriculum's goals. This does not mean we never use worksheets, or a curriculum book, or go to a class, but that motive has to come from the learner...and it will look different depending on the age and goals of your kids.

To sum it up, it is believing that my kids are naturally curious, and want to learn. It is believing we learn best when we learn what is meaningful to us, not because someone else says we should learn such and such at a particular time....the links above do a better job at explaining this than me.

OK, I know that was a mouthful! For a discussion of the academic side of it (how can we learn "all there is to know"? IS there even an "all there is to know?" ) I would highly recommend Mary Griffith's The Unschooling Handbook. The links above to internet stuff is all great too, and also I would recommend the book "Challenging Assumptions in Education" by Wendy Priesnitz which is great about discussing the pitfalls of the institution of school and rote learning....could be applied to at home too. Life Learning Magazine and Live Free Learn Free (folkeypoet here on this board publishes that one) are great too.

When I get time in the next few days I am going to start a "rhythm of our day" thread (inspired by Dayna/Bradley LLL's response in another thread) and point out the learning in it.

And Dar, yes, you should really work on that unschooling sticky!

Tina, dh James, dd Stephanie (6 1/2) and ds Jonathan (3 1/2) learning by living in Manitoba, Canada
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
Dang, the mods here should really organize the stickies so this question is answered there, since it's asked so often...

I will do that, really. Someday. In the meantime, if you search this forum for thread titles with "unschooling", there's a lot of great stuff.
Well, :::nudge, nudge:::, when the mods do get around to it, here's a thread that links to most of the others (at least as of a month ago when I was online last):
How Does Unschooling Work?

Lillian
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all! I def. get that kids are curious and WANT to learn and are such little sponges they can walk away from the simplest moment with a huge lesson learned. But (and this is ONLY a question!) what about long-term goals for them, such as a career? Meaning, they have to make money somehow later in life which usually means college first. So does unschooling provide enough framework to pass SATS and/or MCAS and state exams necessary for a HS diploma in order for the child to get into college? Are there stats on that?

And please, do not think I am frowning on unschooling! I am very curious and while all the links were great, they were just huge and full of SO MUCH to read...I couldn't really find the basic answers I was looking for.

It's a very interesting concept. And you're the second person, lotusmama, to tell me that Dr. Phil episode was junk so I didnt bother trying to find it.
post #11 of 12
There aren't a lot of studies down specially on unschoolers, as opposed to homeschoolers, because often the line is blurred, and many don't unschool for their entire school careers... anecdotally, many unschoolers have gone to college (and many have chosen not to - and I don't know any personally who wanted to but couldn't because they were unschooled) and many are thriving as adults. There was a "camp" last year (and the year before, I think) for grown unschoolers (former NBTSCers) called Quo Vadis, and there might be info about them onlone... and Peter Kowalke (I think I spelled that wrong) did a documentary called Grown Without Schooling, about a bunch of unschoolers now in their twenties, and what they are doing. I found it sort of, um, dull... but he proved his point (he's also a grown unschooler).

dar
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinkerbell View Post
I am very curious and while all the links were great, they were just huge and full of SO MUCH to read...I couldn't really find the basic answers I was looking for.
But you really do need to read through a lot in order to find the basic answers you're looking for - that's the only way you're ever going to get a sense of it.

If you read through these threads here in MDC, you'll find a broad range of comments and personal stories as well as links to a lot of good material in other places (including book recommendations). There's really no such thing as an unschooling framework to refer to - it's different for everyone. My son did very well on the SAT, and was actually a bit annoyed with himself that his verbal score wasn't quite perfect; and he got scholarshop offers based partially on his scores. But there's no one person who can represent all unschoolers anymore than there's any one person who can represent all kids who've homeschooled or who have gone through school. If you were to see stats on how many schooled kids go into college, that might look discouraging - and yet, lots of schooled kids do get into college, and many more could if they wanted to. The research and formulation of statistics on any of this would be impossible. Every family and person is different. Like Dar, I've never heard of anyone who couldn't go to college because they unschooled - the concept doesn't even make sense, because there are lots of ways to get into college, and lots of different kinds of colleges. Here's a whole page of interesting articles and links to information on some of this: Teen Years, Homeschooling High School, College & Career Information - Lillian
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