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Does anyone think there are any legit & intelligent arguments against Unschooling? - Page 2

post #21 of 408
The arguments that I've heard against unschooling seem to fall into two catagories:

1) They are based on misunderstandings about what unschooling is, or

2) They are based on beliefs that I don't personally hold.
post #22 of 408
Thread Starter 
"Every time you use an apostrophe to pluralize, a kitten dies"

Each time I read that I laugh so hard I cry, WP. It's my favorite sig line of all time.

I'll come back later and try to share our discussion. But it wasn't a clear 'agains't discussion. It was more that often direct instruction is better for a child, and that all people are different and respond and interpret information differently. It was not so much things I had not considered or heard, but the presentation was not emotional or anti anything. She was totally pro child and respect for the child.
post #23 of 408
I think that unschooling works for some people just as school at home works for some people. Each family and each student needs different things. I am against unschooling for our family because it won't work with our personality and our needs as a family. But there are other families that it works great with and for them it is perfect.

I also think that unschooling means different things to different people so someone who is anti unschooling might not have the same image in their head as I do or as another person does.

The "one size fits all" approach taken in the PS system doesn't work for everyone and, IMO, the same is true for an "unschooling works for everyone if you just give it a chance" attitude.
post #24 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
So I just wondered if there were any of you here on MDC who felt similarly.
not really. i'm too busy trying to figure out what in the world i'm still doing.
post #25 of 408
We basically unschool, but here are my concerns (all revolve around the tenet of unschooling that kids shouldn't be expected to learn on any "arbitrary" schedule):
1. A kid may be allowed to get very far behind in some subject, and then when the time comes that they would like to use that skill/information, the idea of catching up may be so intimidating that they will silently abandon the project or interest. Of course the ideal unschooling parent would help and encourage the kid if they know about it, but we can't see inside our kids' heads.

2. Unless the family only socializes with unschooling/unschooling friendly folks, there may be social consequences for a child for being far behind, particularly in the three rs. I understand that some people may feel like this would encourage a kid to work on those areas, but it seems like an unkind thing to set a kid up for.

3. I have an asynchronous kid, so I know from experience that a lot of formal learning assumes that kids have worked through subjects at about the same rate. So if a kid is looking to move into learning subject A formally, the fact that he/she has largely ignored subject B may suddenly keep him/her from doing what he/she wants to do. Again, it could serve as an impetus to to work on subject B, but it doesn't seem like the kindest type of motivation.

My feeling is that we will continue to follow an unschoolish path for the next few years, as long as my kids are at least at grade level in the 3rs and making progress in the other major subjects. But I expect to get more structured later in my kids' education. I am not a philosophically pure unschooler, as you can see, though I do see a lot of value in child led learning.

ZM
post #26 of 408
nak....

i read, but couldn't respond because ds is needy....but now i can just ditto zelda
dd is currently unschooled, but i have similar concerns and observations (and plans!)

i do think that temperament plays a role. for me, needing to play catch up to do something new (use a computer game, have a pen pal, or take a college course) might be stressful enough to discourage trying at all....
post #27 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by SagMom View Post
The arguments that I've heard against unschooling seem to fall into two catagories:

1) They are based on misunderstandings about what unschooling is, or

2) They are based on beliefs that I don't personally hold.
:
post #28 of 408
My teen has never said "I wish you had made me learn..." Just for the record.

I'm with UnschoolingnMa. No hole-filling - no conceptualization of holes, even - and no fact-banking. I think it's far more important to know how to quickly find out the capitals of South American countries than to memorize them - memorizing strikes me as a huge waste of time, unless it's something you're truly interested in doing. If an unschooler of any age needs to know what a gerund is, she can probably find a way to get that information.

To me, unschooling requires a lot of trust in your child's ability to make his own decisions about learning. If it matters to you that your child be learning about the same stuff as other kids, at about the same time, then unschooling isn't a good choice. Some people are really, really uncomfortable with this, and sometimes they pass that on to their kids, and it just tends to go poorly. if you think it's important that your kids share a common set of knowledge with others their age, then you probably shouldn't unschool.

Dar
post #29 of 408
I am not okay with unschooling for my kids. The experiences I have seen irl with those who claim to be unschoolers is kids who lay around watching tv or playing video games all day, 10 years old and still not able to read, 9 or 10 still unable to perform basic math such as simple addition or subtraction etc. What I have seen is parents claiming to be unschoolers but in truth are just plain lazy. I have a certain standard I expect in my children's education, and it will allow them to do whatever they want with their lives as adults, at that time they can make all the choices they want about what they want to learn. They may choose to go to uni/college or they may choose to go to tradeschool or even go straight into the workforce. I plan on making sure they have every option 100% open to them, not risk that, because I left everything up to them to decide.
post #30 of 408
The only argument I have against radical unschooling is that it's not a good fit for every child, but every radical unschooler I have met/talked to seems to think it is.

dm
post #31 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post

i do think that temperament plays a role. for me, needing to play catch up to do something new (use a computer game, have a pen pal, or take a college course) might be stressful enough to discourage trying at all....
I think a lot of it is temperament. I don't mean to suggest that unschooling is always a bad thing (with the right kid I think unschooling rocks). I just think that the kid needs to understand and be comfortable having the responsibility, along with the parent be comfortable with trusting their kid with the responsibility. And I fear that some kids who aren't there may not have the ability to articulate their discomfort, or be able to see the big picture and make a fair choice.

ZM
post #32 of 408
This isn't exactly an argument against unschooling, just something I've been wondering about lately. If we let DD decide for herself what she wants to work on, given her personality (which is very much like mine and DP's), I could see her avoiding a lot of things she mistakenly sees as "too hard." There might be things she would really be interested in, things she actually could be pretty good at, that she might avoid for years, or even permanently, just because she was afraid of not doing them perfectly right from the start. I wonder sometimes if she would benefit from being regularly required to do certain things just to help her see that she COULD do them, and that the world would not come to an end if they weren't done perfectly.

DP told me he read about some study where one class of art students was graded only on the quantity of their work, and another class was graded only on its quality. The class graded on quantity actually produced higher quality work, which isn't that surprising once you think about it. I wonder if we should (once she gets older) try for the same effect with DD by requiring her to spend time doing things like writing, or designing science experiments, or studying a foreign language, or whatever she seems to be kind of afraid of that we think she might actually enjoy - without any pressure to do a "good job." In fact, mediocrity would be encouraged, so as to avoid that perfectionist paralysis DP and I know so well.
post #33 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
In fact, mediocrity would be encouraged, so as to avoid that perfectionist paralysis DP and I know so well.
fascinating! I am all-too familiar with that perfectionist paralysis....as is dd
post #34 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by swellmomma View Post
I am not okay with unschooling for my kids. The experiences I have seen irl with those who claim to be unschoolers is kids who lay around watching tv or playing video games all day, 10 years old and still not able to read, 9 or 10 still unable to perform basic math such as simple addition or subtraction etc. What I have seen is parents claiming to be unschoolers but in truth are just plain lazy. I have a certain standard I expect in my children's education, and it will allow them to do whatever they want with their lives as adults, at that time they can make all the choices they want about what they want to learn. They may choose to go to uni/college or they may choose to go to tradeschool or even go straight into the workforce. I plan on making sure they have every option 100% open to them, not risk that, because I left everything up to them to decide.
i don't unschool at all. but i did want to say that some of the things you mentioned definitely are lazy and are not unschooling, regardless of the parents who call it that. when john holt talked about unschooling, he was not referring to children who have no academic future, but rather he felt school was stifling the growth of children's ability to truly learn. he wanted to reform schools, not delete learning. i agree with some of the things you said totally - but i don't think that's the heart of what unschooling truly is.
post #35 of 408
I believe that "perception makes it so". And that our thoughts create our experience. So, if one believes that there are 'legit and intelligent arguments against Unschooling", their belief makes it so for them. The child's perception might not be the same.

My husband recently asked me "Is your definition of intelligent that someone agrees with you?"


Pat
post #36 of 408
QUOTE=thekimballs;10234284]My argument "against" it (and I'm not really against it) is that it's the HARDEST way to homeschool well. Many, many parents seem to think that it's easy, and it's not. You have to be constantly aware of what holes are in the child's education and constantly gently pushing to fill them.

I think you also run into some serious problems with fact-banking, especially once the child is in the upper grades. It's easy to make sure that a first-grader is basically getting enough information, but when you rely on spontaneity and teachable moments for a sixth-grader there are going to be very few moments when the function of a gerund in a sentence, or the capitals of ALL the countries in South America, instead of just her favorite, is a natural topic.

I also worry about the responses that many unschooling parents have to the worries of others. They tend to fall in the area of "Well, she's never going to have to know the function of a gerund in a sentence" or "He's going to function just fine without being able to prove that if a number is odd, its square will also be odd." [I]Those parents are making choices about the eventual professional life of their child without the child's permission.[/I] As a professional editor, I make a decent living that absolutely requires that I understand the function of a gerund, and I didn't know I was going to do this as a kid. If you'd asked me at age 15, even 25, whether my paycheck was going to depend on gerunds, I would have laughed. But there it is--because I had a tough grammar course in high school and had to diagram several thousand sentences, I can stay at home with my kids and still contribute to the family income.

So I am very concerned when I see parents rejecting the idea of a necessary fact-bank or of acquiring knowledge that "seems" to have no relevance. Again, that is what makes unschooling so hard. You don't have the fact-bank available in a textbook; the child isn't obligated to master the knowledge. You have to keep the "holes" all in your head and find ways to make it a topic of interest, and that can be really tough.[/QUOTE]

The bolded part really struck me as odd. I see it as the complete opposite. If I were to homeschool, using a curriculum, or send my kids to private or public school, there would be many, many limitations on what they learn and to what extent they are given opportunities to master anything that interests them. (Believe me, I came upon many a frustrated student while teaching)
As an unschooler, I am able to help my kids grow the skills, talents, interests and desires they hold dear.

Here's a good example of why I disagree with what you said...My DH is in the computer field. He is completely self-taught, no degree, very little schooling beyond high school, and almost *none* of it is pertinent to his career. He pushed himself to learn everything he knows because *he loves the world of computers*. In fact, as a student, he will b e the first to tell you he sucked at math!

I think the only valid argument against unschooling is the person who admits they cannot get past their fears/concerns to let go and let their child learn. I definitely feel that is valid,a nd a parent should be honest with what they are comfortable with.
post #37 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChattyCat View Post
To use an analogy, my kids love broccoli and asparagus and all sorts of vegetables. If I had never asked them to try them, and let them choose what to eat, they'd probably eat cookies all day. It's not their responsibilty to decide what is healthy to eat yet, just as it's not yet their responsiblity to decide what to learn. We'll save that for their teen years and college.
But no one says that unschooling means not encouraging your kids to try something new. It means not pushing the issue, if they're disinterested, and going with something else that they are interested in.

FWIW, I don't really restrict my son's eating, but I do gently guide him. If there's a food he eats too much of, and it's unhealthy, I am less likely to keep it in the house. If it's in the house and he asks for yet another graham cracker (or whatever), I often suggest, "How about a banana instead?" and he will happily eat one sometimes (other times, he wants another cookie).

I think it's unnatural to assume that children are genuinely disinterested in learning about much of anything "important," or that real learning occurs when you force a child to learn about something that doesn't interest him.
post #38 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by warriorprincess View Post
I went to a conference once where they had a HS teen panel ( older teens) and when asked what they wished their parents had done differently EVERY response started with "I wish my parents had made me learn..."
I've never heard this but I'm sure there are unschooled kids who say this the same way there are schooled kids who say "I wish my parents hadn't made me learn..." Several adults I know say that about forced piano, violin, guitar lessons, karate, dance, and on and on.

I wish I hadn't been forced to waste my time in high school chemistry, physics and advanced math in order to get accepted into a liberal arts university for an honours degree in English Lit and Buddhist Studies. So many tears and stress and wasted nights on homework for something I knew I didn't need and would never need in my profession. I wish I had been trusted by the school board to direct my own studies.
post #39 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by warriorprincess View Post
This is the heart of why I don't agree with homeschooling.
Just want to note that I assume this was an oversight in wording - meaning to refer to "unschooling," rather than the more general term, homeschooling, since the comment actually came from a homeschooler who likes homeschooling. Lillian
post #40 of 408
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WuWei View Post
I believe that "perception makes it so". And that our thoughts create our experience. So, if one believes that there are 'legit and intelligent arguments against Unschooling", their belief makes it so for them. The child's perception might not be the same.

My husband recently asked me "Is your definition of intelligent that someone agrees with you?"


Pat
Bery interesting. My friend and I were chatting earlier and it made me wonder: Is unschooling one of those theories that is beyond reproach? Is it the one perfect theory?
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