I wasn't saying that I necessarily feel compelled to set anyone straight, or tell them that their interpretation/application is wrong. I don't actually have a problem with someone saying, "We unschool except for math" -- it may not be what I
see as an unschooling lifestyle, but it's fine with me for someone else to see it differently.
And I bit my lip when a friend went through a phase of calling her style "structured unschooling," and talking about how, in response to her child's "needs," she'd lock him in his room without distractions when he was taking too long to complete an assignment.
I guess my friend saw her approach as unschooling because she didn't purchase a boxed curriculum, and she didn't make her son spend more than (I think) about 2 hours a day on school work.
She'd build unit studies around subjects that she
wanted to learn more about ... as I recall, she once told him that he had to write a 3-page essay on a courageous woman of the Bible -- I guess the "unschooling" part was him getting to choose which woman. He still had to be locked in his room to do it, but he finally got it done.
Oh, well, my friend finally decided that she was more Eclectic than Unschooling. Without any nudging from me.
But I'd have more of a problem with a leader of a homeschooling group presenting such inaccurate descriptions -- such as the one I've shared, as well as the descriptions shared by the OP and at least one other poster.
I think if you're going to lead a homeschooling group, you should be willing to take some time to learn about the different philosophies -- and yes, I now realize that even my very basic definitions are different from how some of my fellow unschoolers perceive unschooling. Still, it just doesn't sound like the "unschool is very cool for holiday fun" person made even the slightest effort to learn about this way of life.
But I'm open to criticism. I was trying to give very simple, basic definitions for the two concepts: Unschooling and Radical Unschooling. I see Karen's point that with my unschooling definition, you literally could just take a week or a month off from your lessons and say you're an unschooler during that time. Just as public school families have summer and holiday breaks where the kids often don't have to do anything.
And maybe I was over-simplifying Consensual Living by by likening it to Radical Unschooling. I just can't see a difference between these ideas in practice
(though I realize that CL, TCS, and RU were all developed by different people with different worldviews) -- because in each case, you're seeking to work together as a family, rather than applying the traditional model where parents "know best" and impose their wills on their children.
These philosophies seem more similar than different, but I'm probably wrong to use the terms interchangeably.
And it's honestly okay with me if parents want to use the unschooling label to describe certain times of their lives, even though I agree with everyone who's said that it really takes a while to de-school -- and if a child's been in school for a few years, and you just take off for a month to unschool and then say it "didn't work" for your child, it's my opinion that you didn't give your child or unschooling an adequate chance to flourish. But you're probably not asking for my opinion anyway.
I agree that one short sentence definition isn't adequate for someone who's really endeavoring to embrace unschooling philosophy and apply it to life. I guess the point I was trying to make was that it shouldn't be that hard for someone to google "Unschooling" and get at least a very loose, general idea of what it means -- at least enough of an idea to know that it doesn't include locking your child in his room 'til he gets his assignment done.
Still, I agree that it's usually more diplomatic to just bite my lip and let people butcher the concept to their hearts' content. The same friend who thought it included locking-kids-in-rooms, went through a phase of calling my style "hands-on learning."
That was so irritating to me, but I just let her ramble on about all the hands-on learning stuff I could prepare and implement with my child. She'd go on and on about these extensive projects -- and especially as my oldest was just a toddler at the time, I was puzzled as to how she expected her to be able to follow so many step-by-step instructions.
Oh, you mean she actually thought I'd
want to do all that hard work myself? I guess she's been slow to grasp the concept that unschoolers are lazy -- or at least I am.
I couldn't see the point in me
doing all that stuff, and planning out science experiments, when my little girl was having so much fun just looking under the patio-bricks in the yard for bugs, for instance. And also, though I realize that an unschooler has way more freedom to pursue learning in a hands-on way, which is what small children generally prefer, many children also enjoy learning through books and stories, TV, computer games, and so on.
Unschooling allows total freedom for children to pursue life in their own unique ways -- which may sometimes be hands-on, and sometimes be more focused on observation, reflection, or discussion. But my friend just saw it as "hands-on learning" -- possibly because we first got to know each other when my oldest was a toddler, and that's what my friend saw happening most of the time at our house. I guess it makes sense now that I think about it.
I just couldn't understand why my friend thought I'd want to knock myself out with all those projects, when my babe was already doing such a great job on her own!