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Does anyone think there are any legit & intelligent arguments against Unschooling? - Page 3

post #41 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
You know, I can't think of a single one.


Sorry, I couldn't resist.
nak had to know you would post that!

I don't really have any argument against unschooling that I can think of as a valid across the board argument. there will always be anecdotes of crappy us'ing... as there will be of crappy hs'ing... and even moreso crappy ps'ing *I* couldnt us though, because i AM lazy lol. I think if us really works for you, then great
post #42 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
Is unschooling one of those theories that is beyond reproach? Is it the one perfect theory?
IMO, I'd say no. In order to be perfect, it would have to work for all people in all times and all places. Unschooling did not work AT ALL for Desta. Yes, Desta comes from a completely unique set of fairly abnormal experiences, but in order for a theory to be beyond reproach and perfect, it has to, imo, be universally applicable.

dm
post #43 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
I've said many times that I want my kids to "learn how to learn" or "know how to know". Knowing how to learn about something you want or need information about seems so much more important to me than requiring someone to learn all the stuff you've decided is important for them.
And this is something my son wrote eloquently about in his college applications. It wasn't in the course of trying to explain or defend the way he'd been educated - there was clearly no need for that - but in the course of describing how grateful he was for the educational freedom he'd had, how it had helped him develop his ability to think for himself and research for meaningful information, and how he looked forward to being able to apply all that to the kind of education offered at those colleges. The son of a friend wrote home from college to thank her for being supportive of his unschooling all those years - because he felt that it was an absolutely vital element in the way he was able to successfully function in college.

Someone wrote that all the unschoolers on a conference panel had mentioned things they wished their parents had made them study, but my own experience with unschooling grads in panels has been just the opposite. There was one panel in particular that wasn't planned to consist of unschoolers - it just happened that way - and it was amazing. I was supposed to be moderating, but at one point they stopped handing the mic back to me and just kept passing it around and sharing their passionate thoughts about the freedom they'd had. The audience listened with rapt attention, and some people said afterward that the panel was the thing that made them decide at that conference that they definitely wanted to homeschool - because they wanted their own kids to grow up with that kind of maturity and ability to think and speak so articulately and independently outside the box.

I don't know how many of these particular young people know much about gerunds or capitals of South America, but they're full of a whole lot of other knowledge that's unique to each of them - as well as the ability to go about learning whatever they want to pursue.

Lillian
post #44 of 408
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
IMO, I'd say no. In order to be perfect, it would have to work for all people in all times and all places. Unschooling did not work AT ALL for Desta. Yes, Desta comes from a completely unique set of fairly abnormal experiences, but in order for a theory to be beyond reproach and perfect, it has to, imo, be universally applicable.

dm
I think that's very interesting and totally valid.

I absolutely see in my own family that my kids have various needs. Some prefer greater parental input , some prefer less. But they all ask something slightly different of me. I am always trying to understand individual needs.
post #45 of 408
I'm going to toss in links to two very lengthy old threads where this subject has been passionately debated - because among these posts are the most biting criticisms up against some of the strongest defenses, with a whole lot of responses in between. So you'll find it all.

Misconceptions about unschooling

Is unschooling really a good idea?

- Lillian
post #46 of 408
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
I'm going to toss in links to two very lengthy old threads where this subject has been passionately debated - because among these posts are the most biting criticisms up against some of the strongest defenses, with a whole lot of responses in between. So you'll find it all.

Misconceptions about unschooling

Is unschooling really a good idea?

- Lillian
Do you think it's possible for folks who feel they are clear on unschooling, respect it, but have concerns, or who might feel it works really well for some, but might need tweaking for others? Do you think it's an infallible theory/idea?
post #47 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
Do you think it's possible for folks who feel they are clear on unschooling, respect it, but have concerns, or who might feel it works really well for some, but might need tweaking for others? Do you think it's an infallible theory/idea?
I'm sorry - I can't figure out what you're asking in the first question and/or what it has to do with the links. Do I think what's possible?

But as for the second question, I honestly don't think there's even agreement on what unschooling is, so it would be pretty hard - shall we say impossible? - to answer that. I don't see it as an infallible theory/idea - I see it as a whole lot of theories/ideas that are all loosely referred to as unschooling. And some of it works for some but not for others. I do think the idea of listening to and respecting a child as a person has infallible wisdom to it - and unquestioningly following a traditional school model without your child's input on how he/she feels about it is not doing that. And I think that most children, being people, do have a better idea about how they learn best than someone not living inside their heads. But to say that "unschooling" is an infallible theory/idea just doesn't seem like a conundrum I'd even be interested in trying to resolve, especially given all the variables.
- Lillian
post #48 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa49 View Post
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.
post #49 of 408
Quote:
If we allow children to decide what to learn, then we limit them to what they already know."
I really can't wrap my mind around this - this doesn't even make any sense to me. It's not as if you just leave them alone at home and run off to Timbuktu or something while they grow up in a vacuum. You're constantly presenting new ideas, new experiences, new people and places, a world of materials and opportunities, passions, conversations, books, movies, computer resources, outside classes... I can't tell you how frustrated I get with the idea that unschoolers just leave their children in a vacuum to figure out all on their own about what they might like to learn - it's just not like that ... You'd have to be a real nutcase to think a child is going to know what's out there all on his own - and I've never met such a person.

- Lillian
post #50 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post


I really can't wrap my mind around this - this doesn't even make any sense to me. It's not as if you just leave them alone at home and run off to Timbuktu or something while they grow up in a vacuum. You're constantly presenting new ideas, new experiences, new people and places, a world of materials and opportunities, passions, conversations, books, movies, computer resources, outside classes... I can't tell you how frustrated I get with the idea that unschoolers just leave their children in a vacuum to figure out all on their own about what they might like to learn - it's just not like that ... You'd have to be a real nutcase to think a child is going to know what's out there all on his own - and I've never met such a person.

- Lillian
It doesn't make any sense to you because you would never, ever do that. I have met people who really, truly believe that the television and the people they happen to stumble upon will be enough of a launchpad to make a whole person, a whole education. Some people really believe that, Lillian. I promise! (and yes I do agree with your assessment)

You did what you're describing, I do what you're describing. That's how unschooling in particular is so darned effective. But if the parent doesn't bring those opportunities, unschooling doesn't work, at least not on a par with other homeschooling modalities. I think a parent can come at it with the very best intentions and just not "get it," that the unschooling parent is more active than they might appear at first blush. It's our language, I think. We don't like words like "teach" or "assessment" or "schedule."
post #51 of 408
I guess this is part of the problem with trying to tell UU what we think about unschooling as an ideology - or "infallible theory/idea" - because trying to define what unschooling in the first place is so much like trying to catch a greased pig. So which "unschooling" would we even be talking about?

And the funny thing is that I'm not even particularly concerned with "Unschooling" as an ideology, as much as I'm concerned with parents thinking of their children as people who have a certain sense of themselves and how they think and learn - as compared to assuming their minds need to be trained and molded from the outside by someone who lives in an entirely different body, with a whole different life history, who is getting instructions from someone else who lives in an entirely different body, with a whole different life history. It's a matter of respect - as in recognition of the reality of that person's wholeness as an individual. Oh my gosh...I'm starting to ramble like an idealogue of some sort - time to get to bed before I lose complete track of what the heck I'm talking about... Lillian
post #52 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.
Many unschoolers believe that these are completely normal and valuable ways to spend time. My family has learned a lot from watching TV, and my son learned so much mental math from video games. Unschooling embraces and welcomes the radical idea (lol) that knowledge can come to us from a variety of different sources.

Quote:
What I have seen is parents claiming to be unschoolers but in truth are just plain lazy.
Define lazy In this case it sounds like lazy might mean "different than me" or "different than how I think it needs to be done".
post #53 of 408
Well, I don't have any real theoretical problem with it, but here's why unschooling didn't work for us:

1. My son has PDD. By definition, he is very inner focused. Unschoolers do best when they are actively looking outwards, trying to take in their environment. Also, his thought patterns are immature, so whereas a typical 7 - 10 year old might know that "what society expects", "what others want" etc. all must be taken into consideration along with "what makes me feel good", my kid was still in the "me and only me" stage. He also overgeralized his experiences, so that if he once had a frightening experience with a magician, at age 3, at age 10 he was still frightened of birthday parties and wouldn't go to them. He needed to have another magician experience to find out it was OK, but he wasn't going to seek that out himself. He became more and more limited as a result.

2. Unschooling presupposes that all experiences, facts, skills etc. are equally valuable. Algebra is no better or holier than knitting or surfboarding. However, I feel that Jewish text study is of a higher value (for us) than Greek myths. Unfortunately, the amount of text an observant Jewish child is expected to master is HUGE! If they wait until they are older, it becomes almost impossible to master (I am a case in point), plus they are unmotivated to do so because they are so far behind, they might as well not try (perfectionism). If I could have been an example to my children (like vegetables) or if my knowledgeable dh was supportive it might have worked for us, but you don't learn prayers by rote if you're not reciting them 3x/day. I really struggled with this one, and felt incredible pressure to "make" my dd12 study for her bat mitzvah but ultimately I hope I made the right choice for my kids (and they are free to reject religion when they are old enough to base their decision on knowledge and not ignorance).

I've also thought ds would have been happier if he were born into an American Indian tribe - he would be a great tracker & artisan, he wouldn't need to give speeches or memorize texts. Different societies have different values, and I was afraid to shortchange him from what our society expects.

3. Practically, it's hard for kids to make friends when the other kids are all locked up in school until 4pm. There aren't so many homeschoolers in my area, and friendships which depend on complicated arrangement and extensive driving weren't practical.

4. Lack of resources: attention from mom (3 kids mean that the other 2 are getting shlepped around a whole lot), lack of money, lack of books (I don't have a great library system here) and cool toys, lack of places to go (small country, plus I am not a great driver nor are my kids great passengers), lack of support groups, and lack of home space (apt).

School hasn't been perfect for us, but unschooling wasn't either. I have seen other families for whom it has worked out much much better - more power to them.
post #54 of 408
I don't think there are any legit/intelligent arguments against unschooling (as in why it's not a good idea across the board). There are likely legit arguments about why it wouldn't/doesn't work for everyone, though. However, I don't take arguments like "they just play xbox and don't wash their hair" very seriously.

I don't really care that much about unschooling theory (not knocking those who do!). I know it works for us in practice and I wasn't aiming to unschool when we first decided to not send DS to school, it's just worked out that way. For some kids it is going to be the most effective way to learn, by far. Which kids, I don't know-- their parents need to figure that out.
post #55 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by Needle in the Hay View Post
I don't think there are any legit/intelligent arguments against unschooling (as in why it's not a good idea across the board). There are likely legit arguments about why it wouldn't/doesn't work for everyone, though.
Yes. I think this separation is key. Not everyone wants to unschool.

If someone says they don't trust their children to learn, or they require their childen to be "on grade level" or to learn xyz by the time they're ___ yrs old...then unschooling probably isn't for them. But that doesn't mean that unschooling doesn't work, or is flawed. I think, in theory, it can work for everyone, but not everyone wants to go that route.
post #56 of 408
I do think there are valid philosophical arguments against unschooling that are based on particular spiritual views or beliefs about child development. Obviously, these arguments are only valid for those who share these beliefs, but if I understand the OP, these would constitute an intelligent, coherent group of arguments against unschooling.

For example, Waldorf philosophy holds a particular view of child development. Waldorf education is designed to educate the whole child, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, etc in a way that is appropriate to his/her stage of development. The Waldorf curriculum teaches certain subjects at certain ages based on this view. So unschooling would not make sense from this perspective (although there are some interesting parallels to unschooling in the early years). Fairy tales are seen to speak to the soul of the 7yo, and it would not be appropriate to teach physics in first grade.

Now, this is not an argument against unschooling for those who don't share the waldorf view of child development, but it is an intelligent argument against unschooling for those who do. You could make similar arguments about Montessori education or other educational philosophies that are based on child development.
post #57 of 408
I am wary of "unschooling," especially as I've seen it practiced, but frankly I'm also wary of "homeschooling" as I've seen it practiced by many others- and I homeschooled my daughter for four years! I have seen quite a few families whose children really *aren't* doing anything all day. They cannot carry on a conversation with a peer, let alone an adult, they can barely read in their teens, etc.

The reason I homeschooled is I have higher academic standards for my children than the available schools. The reason I might return to homeschooling for high school is the same. I want my child to have a certain broad base of knowledge, whether she's interested in math/science or art/literature or not. People *should* know some chemistry, physics, biology, algebra and trigonometry just as they should know geology, government, music, literature and art. Making your child learn something doesn't have to be equivalent to "forcing" them. Education makes one a finer, better person, and it is valuable to have some knowledge even of subjects one is not interested in.

But as far as the original question, it seems futile to ask such a thing when any argument can be put down to anecdotal evidence and personal experience, and the important thing is to have the freedom to do what works for the individual, whether that's a flavor of homeschooling, or public school, or private school. I love the benefits of homeschooling, and I like the positives about our current private school (even as the negatives are growing intolerable), but if it were possible for my children to go to the public high school I attended, there would be no other choice, because there is nothing better than that.
post #58 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
Define lazy In this case it sounds like lazy might mean "different than me" or "different than how I think it needs to be done".
I agree with this. What, exactly is lazy? Who decides whether it's good or bad, and for that matter, who decides what good and bad IS?

I will definitely be following this thread. I have a few years before I have to make my decision but so far I have no idea what I'm going to do.
post #59 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa49 View Post
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.
Quote:
I've said many times that I want my kids to "learn how to learn" or "know how to know". Knowing how to learn about something you want or need information about seems so much more important to me than requiring someone to learn all the stuff you've decided is important for them.



Pat

post #60 of 408
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmeis View Post
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.
Wisdom is knowing how little we know.~Socrates

Life teaches this. Children know it inherently. Adults think they know.


Pat
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