Originally Posted by lisa49
I read a quote by Charlotte Mason that made me realize what my problems are with unschooling. It was something to the effect of "If we allow children to decide what to learn, then we limit them to what they already know." I agree with this. I try to push my children to master something new and then they can decide if they like it.
I couldn't respond better than this.I have zero problems with unschooling as defined by Dodd.
According to her site, I would be squarely in the unschooling camp with how we approach things here. I do have a problem with the philosophy of radical unschooling, as defined by people I have seen all over the net*. If "strewing" is wrong, for instance, then I am pretty comfortable with not labeling myself as radical.
One of my biggest life lessons was discovering that there are things I don't know, and that there are things I don't know that I don't know. A whole realm of experiences and knowledge lies beyond my understanding, and that is a very teachable / learnable place to be.
As a result, I feel better with the "eclectic" label, because while I am an unschooler in practice, I do have goals for my children about which they know nothing -- yet. I would prefer that they be soundly in a position of intellectual power when they really are in charge of their own destiny, which to me means my job is to make sure they have well-rounded access to just about everything. I really loved what Synthea had to say about this. To the credit of unschooling theory, it has simultaneously been my experience that I have had to do exactly nothing to encourage them to explore the academic world. They're meeting those "goals" of mine just by living their life. All I have to do is guide them when they research, show them how to work the technology, and discuss what they do learn so they have a sense of context.
To specifically answer the OP, unschooling is not all about the kids, and I think that when people look at the dynamic and think that it is, unschooling can fail big time. The motives of the parent, as mentioned by a PP, really
matter. Parents are a huge factor in whether a child gets a sound education-- whether that education is academic, vocational, whatever-- because they're not just there to parent, but to set the stage for the child to do what she needs to do. If the parent isn't ever home, or isn't taking the kid to the library, or providing a prepared environment--somehow, in some way
enabling the child's journey--then I think it is neglectful. Unschooling is more work for the parents than it looks, because IME with all the homeschooled kids I know, their appetites for learning are voracious. We often discuss on these boards the difference between unschooling vs neglect. It's easy to say well "if they're neglecting the child, then they're not unschooling," but I think that's a bit if a copout as well. Some people genuinely seem to think that kids will learn as if by osmosis. They're like sponges indeed, but they need something to absorb. Without attentive parents, unschooling doesn't work.
I have read about the unschooled kids on the xbox*, but I don't know one of them in my real life, and in the PNW, I know scads of unschoolers. All the children I know, from the teens on down, are bright, inquisitive and full of a love of learning. It's almost shocking to me how fantastic they all are, and I am already sold on the idea. I like what Unschoolnma said about being able to find the capitals on the map. That's what matters. That's what professionals do. In our adult world, it is far more about how well you function in any given situation than what you already knew when you got there. Knowing how to learn is THE key (IMO), and that's where unschooling shines.