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#1 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As sort of a spin off to the other thread...

I've heard a few people say this both at MDC, and at our local homeschool group. Something along the lines of, "We unschool for science and reading, but I have lesson plans my kids have to do for math and social studies."

Without getting hung up on labels and all that, this has always sounded a little funny to me. I guess to me, unschooling is more a philosophy that's applied to the way you learn, not just to specific subjects.

Anyway...I'm certainly not trying to start a debate or a label war, I'm just curious what everyone else's thoughts are. How do you define unschooling?

Jen...wife to Shawn...Radically Unschooling Mommy to Connor (4/03), Autumn (1/07) Aiden (1/08) and Ella (10/14/09) Just had the of our dreams!
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#2 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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I've heard it a bit around here and I think it means that they trust that their kids learn enough about science (or whatever) through daily life and exposure so they don't use curriculum for that, but that they really want their kids to learn certain things in math or reading so they do use a curriculum (or some such form of instruction) for that.

I can see how that would make sense to someone. It's not my approach, but I get it.

When I was first testing the waters with unschooling and still learning about it, I felt like I was willing to trust that most of the important things would come up along the way but I was still really concerned about math and thought I'd be a little more 'active' in my guidance with that. Not curriculum, but just playing games and pointing things out a bit more than I would about any other subject. I've come a LONG way since then but I remember that line of thinking. It's just where I was along the path you know?

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#3 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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And as to what I define unschooling to be:

Throwing out the arbitrary list of 'should know and is important'. Trusting that my kids have their own lists that are right for them.

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#4 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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I think its all about comfort level. I personally am quite comfortable that my children will learn what they need when they need and can just sit back and guide as needed. I do not believe it needs to be all or nothing tho. Some parents are just not comfortable in letting everything come natural. I find math and science are especially troubling to some people. I would never advocate people to parent outside of their comfort level and so fully support those who part-time unschool.
Also some people I have heard say things similar to what you quoted, mean that if their child shows an aptitude for math or science they have course and worksheets to break out, you know as the child chooses.
So yes, although I think unschooling is a philosophy that applies to how you learn not WHAT, most of us have been traditionally schooled and are not entirely comfortable just letting learning happen organically for all subjects. I don't think that precludes them from using the unschooled label tho.

Austin June 2006; Xander March 2008; Shay Nov 2009; 5 babies gone to heaven.
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#5 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 06:07 PM
 
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I posted a little bit ago about whether or not it was possible to unschool a child with special needs. My ds has deficiencies in visual and auditory processing. Part of his therapy is to assist him with reading, writing, spelling and phonetics according to the therapy schedule. So, while I'll let him pick out books that he wants to read, spelling words that he wants to learn, etc., I also have some additional guidelines on how often this must be done as well as additional strategy on learning some "rules" to help him better organize his learning (ie. a phonetic approach to spelling by learning the rules and blends.)

He just can't skip a week or month of doing any kind of reading or writing, he pretty much has to do some type of therapy daily for it to be effective. Now, I do try to make this as fun as possible and we've talked about the reasons he needs this therapy, and he agrees with the goals of the therapy. Does he always want to do it? No. It doesn't feel like completely unschooling to me, but I do follow his interests in a variety of other ways. We may focus on other topics of his choosing, spend days exploring, etc. but he's going to have some "sit down and accomplish ABC before we can move on to XYZ" in his days for the time being.

I have no idea if this can even be called unschooling, but I am working very closely with the therapists to make sure that we are meeting my ds at his level. Maybe I'm just an unschooling mom wannabe.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#6 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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I guess i'm one of the ones that gets a little confused/irritated when someone uses the unschooling label to describe being relaxed or more "child led" in some areas but not others. I dont get why they can't just say *that* (we use a curriculum for math but not language arts) rather than trying to say they unschool part time. I really do think its like being a parttime vegetarian (as i wrote on the other thread, so i wont belabor the point here)...to me it feels a little dishonest, though i know its not intentional.

I think there is a difference in someone being new to unschooling, and not yet being able to fully let go of certain things like a math curriculum, but their goal is to get there, and they are actively working to develop that trust....and someone who has no intentions or beliefs whatsoever that those things can be learned without a parent-enforced curriculum, who then says they "unschool" everything else.

I think it just serves to confuse people who are new to the concept of unschooling, for someone to give them misinformation about what unschooling is. And since i think trust is the foundation of unschooling, it confuses me how someone could trust for one subject but not the next. Personally i have a hard time grasping how someone is "academically" an unschooler but rejects "radical"/whole life unschooling. If i had to choose between formal curriculum but keeping the rest of the unschooling stuff (yknow bedtime/chores/tv/food etc), or vice versa, i would rather be academically a school at homer and have RU in the rest of our lives, then be an academic unschooler and be strict/parent led/coercive/whatever in other day to day areas. So if i can hardly wrap my mind around that, i have a real hard time with being a "part time" unschooler. I mean, people can call themselves whatever they want, and i'm happy for their kids that at least they get a break in certain areas....but it still confuses me. But maybe thats another thread too!


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#7 of 257 Old 01-16-2009, 11:34 PM
 
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I guess i'm one of the ones that gets a little confused/irritated when someone uses the unschooling label to describe being relaxed or more "child led" in some areas but not others. I dont get why they can't just say *that* (we use a curriculum for math but not language arts) rather than trying to say they unschool part time. I really do think its like being a parttime vegetarian (as i wrote on the other thread, so i wont belabor the point here)...to me it feels a little dishonest, though i know its not intentional.

I think there is a difference in someone being new to unschooling, and not yet being able to fully let go of certain things like a math curriculum, but their goal is to get there, and they are actively working to develop that trust....and someone who has no intentions or beliefs whatsoever that those things can be learned without a parent-enforced curriculum, who then says they "unschool" everything else.

I think it just serves to confuse people who are new to the concept of unschooling, for someone to give them misinformation about what unschooling is. And since i think trust is the foundation of unschooling, it confuses me how someone could trust for one subject but not the next. Personally i have a hard time grasping how someone is "academically" an unschooler but rejects "radical"/whole life unschooling. If i had to choose between formal curriculum but keeping the rest of the unschooling stuff (yknow bedtime/chores/tv/food etc), or vice versa, i would rather be academically a school at homer and have RU in the rest of our lives, then be an academic unschooler and be strict/parent led/coercive/whatever in other day to day areas. So if i can hardly wrap my mind around that, i have a real hard time with being a "part time" unschooler. I mean, people can call themselves whatever they want, and i'm happy for their kids that at least they get a break in certain areas....but it still confuses me. But maybe thats another thread too!


Katherine
I agree with the RU stuff. When we started down the unschooling path it was absolutely impossible for it to NOT seep into every other aspect of life. I can't see us ever going back to that way of life no matter what academic changes happen for us.

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#8 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 12:25 AM
 
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I agree with the RU stuff. When we started down the unschooling path it was absolutely impossible for it to NOT seep into every other aspect of life. I can't see us ever going back to that way of life no matter what academic changes happen for us.
Thats why it was hard for me to think of us as "not unschoolers" when my son chose to go back to school...because nothing really changed in my parenting, or the way i related to him, or how our home was run other than having to get up early and that sort of thing. I supported his choices about whether or not to do his homework, and that freaked his teachers right out. I didnt care if he got "bad" grades as long as HE was happy with his experience. The experience of him being in school showed me just how much unschooling truly was a part of every aspect of our lives.


Katherine

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#9 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 12:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thats why it was hard for me to think of us as "not unschoolers" when my son chose to go back to school...because nothing really changed in my parenting, or the way i related to him, or how our home was run other than having to get up early and that sort of thing. I supported his choices about whether or not to do his homework, and that freaked his teachers right out. I didnt care if he got "bad" grades as long as HE was happy with his experience. The experience of him being in school showed me just how much unschooling truly was a part of every aspect of our lives.


Katherine

I agree with both of you. And I read your 'part-time vegan' point on the other thread, and I totally agree with that. I have a hard time wrapping my head around "part-time unschooling."

Again...remembering this is the unschooling forum....

My son is only 5, and this is our first year, and I am certainly not an unschooling expert...but it seems strange to me when people say, "Well, this may be what unschooling is, but in our house, it only applies to science and social studies." I just want to reply..."Then you're not UNSCHOOLERS!" You may be more relaxed, and more child-led, but you're missing the point of unschooling! I would certainly never claim to be a home-birther just because I did my labor at home, but birthed at a hospital "just to be safe."

I suppose it doesn't really matter...what one person does or doesn't do doesn't effect what I do. But, I agree it does get a little irritating sometimes.

Jen...wife to Shawn...Radically Unschooling Mommy to Connor (4/03), Autumn (1/07) Aiden (1/08) and Ella (10/14/09) Just had the of our dreams!
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#10 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 01:08 AM
 
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I have heard homeschoolers say they were going to unschool for the summer months for a break and then get back to real homeachooling. Erg.
Not unschooling, in my book!

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#11 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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I have heard homeschoolers say they were going to unschool for the summer months for a break and then get back to real homeachooling. Erg.
Not unschooling, in my book!
Or "We did really well this fall and finished school three weeks early, so now we're just going to unschool until the first week of January." Erg indeed.

Unschooling is not just what's left when you take away all the school. It's something unique and amazing that gradually germinates, takes root and then springs to life -- in the presence of ongoing whole-hearted trust and freedom.

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#12 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Unschooling is not just what's left when you take away all the school. It's something unique and amazing that gradually germinates, takes root and then springs to life -- in the presence of ongoing whole-hearted trust and freedom.

Miranda
Awww...I love that! :

Here's an interesting article from joyfully rejoycing that discusses the differences between the PRACTICE of unschooling and the PHILOSOPHY of unschooling.

http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/unschoo...ounschool.html

Jen...wife to Shawn...Radically Unschooling Mommy to Connor (4/03), Autumn (1/07) Aiden (1/08) and Ella (10/14/09) Just had the of our dreams!
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#13 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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I don't like these discussions where the "real unschoolers" sit around discussing how anyone who has a different take isn't a "real unschooler". My impression is that most of the "real unschoolers" have a background with over-controlling parents. I grew up with parents who were always on the benign neglect end of the spectrum, and since I know what that feels like (it's stressful and scary), I'm staying away from that as I parent my own children. As a result, I may be a little more authoritarian, and less inclined to just let my kids figure things out than some of you, but I believe I am still much more of an unschooler than anything else.

FTR, I'm not suggesting that anyone here is neglecting their kids, just that I have my own reasons for finding a different style of unschooling than the rest of you might, and it isn't based on a distrust of kids or a need to control. My goal is to be the parent my kids need as they find their way to adulthood, and if sometimes what they need is for someone else to make some structure for them, then I'm willing to do that, even if they aren't able to fully articulate their need. Sometimes I may mess up and do too much, but I don't want to be so afraid of interfering with their learning that I don't offer support when it's needed.

I read the article at the link, and I think there's a key difference between buddhism and unschooling. Buddhism is something that primarily goes on within the practitioner. Unschooling is a parenting approach, and primarily affects my family relationships, and so its not something I can do all by myself, or even a decision I feel I have the right to make all on my own. So we're going to reevaluate as we go, and if unschooling stops working for us as a family, we're going to do something else.

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#14 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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"I'm an atheist, but when I fly I pray to God." Does THIS make any sense?

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#15 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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I don't like these discussions where the "real unschoolers" sit around discussing how anyone who has a different take isn't a "real unschooler". My impression is that most of the "real unschoolers" have a background with over-controlling parents. I grew up with parents who were always on the benign neglect end of the spectrum, and since I know what that feels like (it's stressful and scary), I'm staying away from that as I parent my own children. As a result, I may be a little more authoritarian, and less inclined to just let my kids figure things out than some of you, but I believe I am still much more of an unschooler than anything else.
I had the opposite of over controlling parents, much closer to "benign neglect" (they did all those RU things like let us eat/sleep when we want, go to school or not, no forced chores, etc etc....but it was more from lazy parenting i think than a real desire to give us freedom)...and that has made it SO MUCH easier to slide into RU effortlessly. I often read posts by parents who "get" academic unschooling but really struggle with letting go of control in those other areas (even though they want to), and its hard for me to understand, because it never would have occurred to me to control those things at all. I feel like *because* of the way i was raised i am so far ahead in the learning curve as far as RU goes. I just dont have that same control baggage that *some* parents have.

I also take issue with the characterization of unschooling as "letting kids figure things out"...i think thats a common misconception. Is it just letting them work it out on their own if you are right there helping/advising/talking with them every step of the way?



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#16 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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Personally i have a hard time grasping how someone is "academically" an unschooler but rejects "radical"/whole life unschooling. If i had to choose between formal curriculum but keeping the rest of the unschooling stuff (yknow bedtime/chores/tv/food etc), or vice versa, i would rather be academically a school at homer and have RU in the rest of our lives, then be an academic unschooler and be strict/parent led/coercive/whatever in other day to day areas.
We have been "unschoolers" (although I have always resisted labeling our homeschooling) up until just a little bit ago, when I started introducing math and handwriting practice to my 7.5yo for specific reasons. We may be unschoolers again in the future. But, we have never been, nor will we ever be, radical unschoolers with regards to our parenting.

We have a loving, mutually respectful, trust based relationship with our children. They are given a lot of choices, a lot of freedom, and are incredibly happy. However, I firmly believe that we are the adults in the relationship, and we have the responsibility to guide them simply because we have had more life experience. They are brushing their teeth, every night, end of story. We know that they need to get a certain amount of sleep in order to function, and we will make sure they go to sleep before they start running into walls (which is literally what will happen otherwise). If they throw toys all over the living room floor, they will pick them up. They may not hit us, or speak to us rudely. We will get angry if they do that, and we will likely tell them they need to go their room to calm down. We certainly won't feel like taking them to mini golf after they have screamed at us.

These are all just small examples, but basically what I'm trying to say is that dh and I have no problem being the "authority" figures of the family, and it has nothing to do with our "control baggage." Just like unschooling, radical unschooling means a lot of different things to different people, and unfortunately most of the families I've known IRL who call themselves radical unschoolers tolerate horrible behavior, and don't step in when their children are mean and violent towards others. Years ago we stopped attending park days and field trips associated with two different unschooling groups because of the behavior from the radically unschooled children. Some other unschooling families also stopped going because of the behavior.

Are they all like this? Of course not, and I would never presume to make such sweeping generalizations. But that's been our experience. And just as the mother lion gives her cub a bonk upside the head when he does something wrong, so do we step in as the parental authority when our children are doing something we don't think is acceptable. We don't hit, we don't shame, we try not to threaten or bribe (although some things can be interpreted that way), but we absolutely do discipline (even though most mainstream parents don't think we do).

So the concept of unschooling academically but not in parenting makes perfect sense to me. Academics as we know it is an artificial concept made up by school boards and textbook manufacturers. We don't feel that we need to make sure our children abide by those artificial rules. But generally acceptable behavior, safety, health and hygiene are real issues for which I believe children need guidance and yes, sometimes discipline (or whatever you want to call it).
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#17 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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So the concept of unschooling academically but not in parenting makes perfect sense to me. Academics as we know it is an artificial concept made up by school boards and textbook manufacturers. We don't feel that we need to make sure our children abide by those artificial rules. But generally acceptable behavior, safety, health and hygiene are real issues for which I believe children need guidance and yes, sometimes discipline (or whatever you want to call it).
I'm glad you've found something that works for you!

I dont have a problem with that, *I* think there is a better way that could benefit your family, and i said that *I* personally dont get it....but if its working for your family i'm not one to tell you you're wrong. There are all sorts of ways of raising kids.


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#18 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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These are all just small examples, but basically what I'm trying to say is that dh and I have no problem being the "authority" figures of the family, and it has nothing to do with our "control baggage."
For many parents though, it IS about control, which they freely admit. I have read so many posts from parents who say they want to be able to let go of the control (controlling what and when their child will eat, sleep, pick up toys etc) but that due to the way they were raised, its hard for them to let it go and do something differently. If someone DOES feel that way, and wants to move further along to a more "RU" whole life unschooling experience, having their assumptions challenged (in a respectful way of course) could be very helpful for them.

Again, i think there is this idea that RU parents just let their kids do "whatever"...i dont know how it works for every other RU parent, but i didnt just ignore my kids at night until they collapsed from exhaustion in front of the tv. I often created an "atmosphere conducive to sleep" esp when my son (who is now 12) was younger, had a bedtime routine, encouraged sleepiness, etc. I didnt just say "oh, eat whatever you want, there's the fridge, have at it! i'm going off to read email!" i brought him yummy nutritious snacks while he was working on the computer, provided a wide variety of food etc. I didnt force, and i wasnt emotionally invested in his choices (most of the time.....i am only human, so i have had my moments)....and in talking to alot of parents, esp ones who have unschooled for a long time, thats how they do it.


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#19 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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radical unschooling means a lot of different things to different people, and unfortunately most of the families I've known IRL who call themselves radical unschoolers tolerate horrible behavior, and don't step in when their children are mean and violent towards others.
I'm sorry this has been your experience. I dont live near a large group of unschoolers so my only experience spending alot of time with a huge group of unschooled (esp RU'd) kids is at unschooling conferences, usually the Live and Learn conference. I havent experienced what you've experienced. Sure, there was the random kid hitting another kid situation, which i think will occur in any large group of kids no matter what the educational philosophy. I do think that what one parent considers "horrible behavior" might not be that at all for another parent (a couple of years ago some of the boys took the really nice expensive chairs out of one of the meeting rooms that was also for the conference, and took them across the hall and wer playing "race" with them which also involved some rough treatment for the chairs...one of the moms was "horrified" and she went on and on how "embarrassed" she was....while it wasnt a great idea, and the next year those rooms were closed to us to protect the chairs, i thought their behavior was just normal kid behavior, nothing to be horrified by. yknow? )

I do think there is a tendancy, esp for newish unschooling parents to not really know when to step in, and also they may feel pressure if in a group of other unschoolers to step in later than they would normally. For example, if i'm in a group of mainstream parents i know no matter what my response to my son it will probably be more "radical" than the other parents....but when i went to my first unschooling conference, there were situations (esp with OTHER peoples kids) where i wasnt quite sure if i should intervene...little things, like kids throwing big rocks into the pond at the hotel, destructive or creative fun? I wasnt sure. Or the thing with the chairs, above, was it harmless or potentially bad news? I noticed that some of the more seasoned moms had no problem whatsoever saying "hey there knock that off!" if person or property was being hurt.

That being said, i've spent years now on unschooling lists and have never seen advice that differs from stepping in and immediately addressing things like kids hitting or being mean. Its unfortunate that the parents in your group didnt get such advice.

Did the parents who sat by and didnt seem concerned about hitting (for example) or mean behavior say why? I'm assuming this was discussed amongst the group...what was their rational?

My son was a "hitter" and when he was younger i had to stick close by him to make sure that he wasnt set off for some reason. What was frustrating to me as a parent was that the other parents surely noticed him hitting, but never ever addressed what their kid did to lead up to that...not excusing the hitting but sometimes there's an underlying cause. But thats probably another thread!


Katherine

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#20 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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Here's my analogy to this question.

Define "made from scratch". For some folks, baking a cake with a boxed mix, eggs, and whatever (umm not sure what all is used for mixes LOL) is cooking 'from scratch' because they didn't buy the finished product from the store pre-made.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by using purchased flour, grocery store eggs, milk, etc.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by milling purchased wheat, buying eggs from a local farm, along with raw milk.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by milling wheat they've grown and harvested, using eggs from their own chickens, and raw milk from their own cows.

Who is accurate/correct? What 'level' of the definition is considered acceptable? Well, it depends on who you ask.

And, for me, the even bigger question...why on earth does it MATTER? Why does anyone have the personal need to define, justify, or validate the use of the phrase 'from scratch' for someone else?

After all....the result is still a cake....right?

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#21 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 04:26 PM
 
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Did the parents who sat by and didnt seem concerned about hitting (for example) or mean behavior say why? I'm assuming this was discussed amongst the group...what was their rational?
They just didn't seem to be at all concerned about the behavior. A lot of the problem for me was that the clique of the RUs kind of all sat together and paid no attention whatsoever to what their children were doing. I mean, they weren't neglectful - they had snacks and if their kids approached them they were attentive. But when their kids were out on the playground, their parents weren't checking in on them or responding when there was an obvious problem (another child crying, for instance). I got tired of not only being the only parent stepping in, but of the attitude from the other parents that I was being too uptight, that the kids should be left to work it out on their own. And while I can agree with that to a point, when the older kid is throwing sand in the face of a younger kid, I think it needs to be addressed. There were several children that every single time would taunt or hit or push some of the other kids, and never once did the parent step in.

I was at one mom's house (who I really like, I think she's a wonderful person) and her dd, who was about 7 or 8, walked in looking for cream cheese or something for her sandwich. The mom informed her they were out, and the dd proceeded to scream and berate her mom about this. The mom didn't say anything, the dd calmed down, and they went about making a sandwich. Now, maybe after I left she addressed the behavior with her dd, but honestly, it felt to me like this was just a ok stuff that went on all the time. No way no how would I continue to help my child make a sandwich after they screamed at me. But hey, if that works for her, fine. It just doesn't work for me.

But I know what you mean about differing views of acceptable behavior. We tend to hover somewhere in the middle. We allow our kids all sorts of freedoms that many other parents find pretty shocking. But then I tend to feel that way among the radical unschooling groups, and most of it is directed to how the kids treat other people. Wild stuff like the chairs you mentioned, or jumping off the equipment or what have you - that generally doesn't bother me. I only care if someone is going to get hurt.
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#22 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 04:34 PM
 
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Here's my analogy to this question.

Define "made from scratch". For some folks, baking a cake with a boxed mix, eggs, and whatever (umm not sure what all is used for mixes LOL) is cooking 'from scratch' because they didn't buy the finished product from the store pre-made.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by using purchased flour, grocery store eggs, milk, etc.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by milling purchased wheat, buying eggs from a local farm, along with raw milk.

Others see this as unacceptable, and they make their cake 'from scratch' by milling wheat they've grown and harvested, using eggs from their own chickens, and raw milk from their own cows.

Who is accurate/correct? What 'level' of the definition is considered acceptable? Well, it depends on who you ask.

And, for me, the even bigger question...why on earth does it MATTER? Why does anyone have the personal need to define, justify, or validate the use of the phrase 'from scratch' for someone else?

After all....the result is still a cake....right?
I completely agree - I have never understood the discussions about labels within the homeschooling community. Call yourself whatever you want! I can personally disagree that using a cake mix is from scratch, but like you said, that's MY definition.
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#23 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I completely agree - I have never understood the discussions about labels within the homeschooling community. Call yourself whatever you want! I can personally disagree that using a cake mix is from scratch, but like you said, that's MY definition.
I know a lot of people cringe at labels, and sometimes for good reason. But at the same time, labels are also what we use to find people who have similar opinions, lifestyles, beliefs, etc. for support or advice or friendship.

Just look at AP parenting (which itself is a label): lactavists, intactavists, natural living, cosleepers, etc. Each of these is a label, but they allow us the chance to talk with like-minded people.

Unschooling and radical unschooling are both labels that allow those of us who live that way to find other people who subscribe to the same philosophy. But when people who don't follow the same philosophy, yet still CALL it unschooling, label themselves the same way, it becomes less clear who I can turn to for perspective or advice on the way we live.

In the end, does it matter all that much? No....like you said...there's still a cake at the end. However, if I want advice on milling the wheat I've grown, I'm probably not going to seek out a person who used a box mix!

Jen...wife to Shawn...Radically Unschooling Mommy to Connor (4/03), Autumn (1/07) Aiden (1/08) and Ella (10/14/09) Just had the of our dreams!
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#24 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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And, for me, the even bigger question...why on earth does it MATTER? Why does anyone have the personal need to define, justify, or validate the use of the phrase 'from scratch' for someone else?
I guess what i dont get is why someone would want to use a label that doesnt apply to them. It seems almost dishonest. Why not just be accurate and say what you do? Its really ok to say "well, our homeschooling is probably closer to unschooling than school at home" or "we take a really child led approach" or "we're very eclectic, relaxed homeschoolers...probably closer to unschooling than not" or some such thing than "we unschool except for math" which seems to me wanting to co-opt a label that doesnt apply.

Certainly within "from scratch" there is a spectrum, just within unschooling there is a spectrum (or any group really...natural birth may encompass unmed. hosp birth as well as homebirth as well as unassisted birth; cloth diapering might range from a diaper service, to using AIOs exlusively, to using pins and prefolds...on and on)...but at some point there is "not unschooling" isnt there?

I'm baking a cake for my baby's first birthday in a week, and i've told a couple of my relatives this. I always add "from a mix" because to me it just seems weirdly dishonest to not clarify that. If while eating a piece someone asks "Did you make this??" why would i not say "its from a mix....the frosting is from scratch"...

I think within any group there is a tendancy to group with your "own kind" or to feel that your way is better....maybe some raw foodists feel superior to plain ol' vegans (and vegans to veggies and veggies to organic foodies etc etc)...but that doesnt mean that by merely pointing out the differences that one is feeling superior. When i was eating mostly vegetarian and mostly raw, i didnt have an issue with saying "i eat mostly vegetarian and raw" rather than "i AM a vegetarian" or "i'm a raw foodist". Unschooling at the very basic level (before you get to parenting issues and RU issues and bedtimes and all that), at its very simplist definition means no parent-imposed curriculum. If defending *that* on an unschooling board means something elitest/exclusionary/negative/etc...well, sign me up!


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#25 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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Unschooling and radical unschooling are both labels that allow those of us who live that way to find other people who subscribe to the same philosophy. But when people who don't follow the same philosophy, yet still CALL it unschooling, label themselves the same way, it becomes less clear who I can turn to for perspective or advice on the way we live.

In the end, does it matter all that much? No....like you said...there's still a cake at the end. However, if I want advice on milling the wheat I've grown, I'm probably not going to seek out a person who used a box mix!

Thank you, thats what i meant to say in my very longwinded post! You said it better than me though


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#26 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I know a lot of people cringe at labels, and sometimes for good reason. But at the same time, labels are also what we use to find people who have similar opinions, lifestyles, beliefs, etc. for support or advice or friendship.

Just look at AP parenting (which itself is a label): lactavists, intactavists, natural living, cosleepers, etc. Each of these is a label, but they allow us the chance to talk with like-minded people.

Unschooling and radical unschooling are both labels that allow those of us who live that way to find other people who subscribe to the same philosophy. But when people who don't follow the same philosophy, yet still CALL it unschooling, label themselves the same way, it becomes less clear who I can turn to for perspective or advice on the way we live.

In the end, does it matter all that much? No....like you said...there's still a cake at the end. However, if I want advice on milling the wheat I've grown, I'm probably not going to seek out a person who used a box mix!
But here's the thing...labels are for categorizing ourselves, not for others to categorize us, and certainly not to imply approval or disapproval or 'qualified entry' into a labeled category. I have never seen anyone on MDC or IRL ask someone to clarify when they say they are pro-NFL, AP, lacitavist, or that they cosleep, or anything. Imagine the brouhaha that would (rightfully) ensue if someone declared that 'mamas who breastfeed AND use sippy cups aren't REALLY breastfeeding moms'. Or 'mamas who cloth diaper AND use sposies aren't REALLY CD mamas'. Etc. Etc. I mean seriously now. We all know people do all of these things to varying degrees and intensity levels. But unschooling is, from what I can tell, the only areas where people want the label rigidly defined to clarify what does and doesn't qualify (in someone else's family, nonetheless) as unschooling. And yet the irony of this is missed on virtually everyone.

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#27 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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The mom informed her they were out, and the dd proceeded to scream and berate her mom about this. The mom didn't say anything, the dd calmed down, and they went about making a sandwich. Now, maybe after I left she addressed the behavior with her dd, but honestly, it felt to me like this was just a ok stuff that went on all the time. No way no how would I continue to help my child make a sandwich after they screamed at me. But hey, if that works for her, fine. It just doesn't work for me.
I think sometimes what we see on the outside looking in is very different from what is happening within a family (not always, but often.) I remember reading posts on unschooling.com from an unschooling mom who has a very spirited daughter. I would read these posts that sounded very much like what you described above, or posts about how her dd had her days and nights kinda mixed up (causing the mom to be awake at times that she would much rather be sleeping)...and i thought "wow sounds to me like she's raising a self centered brat!" i didnt get at all why she was always "giving in" to her dd. But then i MET the daughter, and found she wasnt really a brat at all. She was wonderful. And what seemed like "giving in" was just her parents respecting the emotional place she was currently at. And trusting that as she got older she would likely be more able to tolerate certain situations. I think its much easier to just correct "bad" behavior, then to really look at the root of the behavior and meet *those* needs. Being as noncoercive as possible can be really hard work at times.

Little kids arent always in control of their emotions...hunger and really wanting something particular (cream cheese) might cause a little girl to throw a mini temper tantrum when she didnt get what she was expecting. These things pass. Sounds like your friend knows that, knows her daughter well, and decided to meet her daughter's need (for food) rather than use that situation as some lesson in not yelling at your mother. Its likely the little girl *knows* she didnt respond in the correct way, anyway.

I would have made the sandwich too. Seems like the kind thing to do. If i wanted to tell my child i didnt appreciate their behavior, i think i would wait til our guests left, as well.


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#28 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 05:47 PM
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After all....the result is still a cake....right?
Well, yes, but you'll have a very different cake depending on how you defined scratch. If my kid gets ill from eating your "made from scratch" cake, and maybe a couple of others, I may conclude that cake made from scratch makes my child ill... but if I ask more questions, I may realize that your cake was made from a box mix that had HFCS, and when my kid eats scratch cakes not from boxes there's no HFCS, so she's fine.

So, to bring it around to unschooling, if someone is unschooling but using a definition that allows her to say she unschools "except for math and reading" or "when we finish our unit early", IMO her cake will be really different than mine, because her recipe is so different. So for me to offer suggestions based on my unschooling would be not so helpful, because we're really not doing the same thing at all.

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#29 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 06:02 PM
 
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But unschooling is, from what I can tell, the only areas where people want the label rigidly defined to clarify what does and doesn't qualify (in someone else's family, nonetheless) as unschooling. And yet the irony of this is missed on virtually everyone.
But its not rigid. To me, seems really easy. Parent imposed curriculum is not unschooling. Why does that offend people? Why do people want to be called unschoolers when they arent? Non-unschooling homeschoolers make up the vast majority of homeschooling parents...why can't this one little corner be different?

If i said "i'm a nonsmoker, well, except i smoke five cigs before noon everyday" ...really? Thats being a nonsmoker? Sure, its not a pack a day and yes its better for you than being a heavy smoker...but i bet if you went to a "nonsmoking support forum" and said that, there would be plenty of posts encouraging you to go all the way.

You really think if someone went to the "Gentle Discipline" forum and said "i practice GD, i only spank when the kids run out into the street or if they touch a hot stove" no one would take issue with that?!

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#30 of 257 Old 01-17-2009, 06:12 PM
 
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I would have made the sandwich too. Seems like the kind thing to do. If i wanted to tell my child i didnt appreciate their behavior, i think i would wait til our guests left, as well.
I get what you're saying. It just doesn't work for me. If it was a 3yo, it's a different story. A 7 or 8 year old not only knows the difference, but is capable of making their own sandwich. So if you want my help, you may want to rethink berating me about something that wasn't even my fault. On one of the RU threads on here it was suggested that a smilie for RU be adults=children. I get the sentiment behind it, but here's where I diverge: If my dh berated me for being out of cream cheese, I don't think anyone here would be encouraging me to go ahead and make him a sandwich anyway.

Again, I don't think one reaction is right and the other is wrong. It's that one doesn't work for me, and one does. My main point was that I think it is entirely possible to unschool academically and not fall into the category of a RU when it comes to parenting style. My tolerance level for how my kids speak to me has nothing to do with whether I make them use a curriculum against their wishes.
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