all this publicity about unschooling - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What effect do you think all of this publicity will have on unschoolers?

I love that folks who may be interested in learning more about it are finding out about it, but I'm a bit afraid that we're going to be newly on the radar of so many that really won't be able to wrap their heads around the concept and that there will be an outcry to make us stop.

What do you think? Is all publicity good publicity?
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#2 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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Hi,

I think that all of the publicity that unschooling has been attracting lately is a very good thing.
I also think that by being more out in the open with unschooling, we are making it easier for more people to see it as the truly remarkable learning experience that it is and that awareness makes it easier in some places for unschoolers.
And because I happen to believe that unschooling would be very beneficial to most families who have the option of providing their children with educational choice, I think that it is just a matter of getting most people to see that they truly have choices in how their families "educate" themselves.

The only problem that I have with what I have been seeing in some of the recent MSM reports is a sense that only really academically advanced(gifted) children and/or families should attempt it.
And while I think that to unschool, you really need to be prepared to be very involved in your child(ren)'s lives, I don't believe that you need to be scholarly and/or academically talented to unschool, just naturally curious and willing to follow your child(ren)'s lead.
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#3 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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The thing I like about the media covering unschooled gifted kids is that it's pretty hard to deny that unschooling works when you look at them. It's a lot easier to look at an unschooled kid with learning disabilities (for example) and think that unschooling is neglect even though unschooling could be just as appropriate for that kid. I think once people come to understand and accept that unschooling can be appropriate for gifted kids, it'll be easier to convince them that it can work for other kids as well.

Plus, as the parent of a gifted unschooler myself, I think it's great that the educational needs of gifted kids are also getting some attention.
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#4 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 07:43 AM
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I also find the focus on "gifted" unschoolers off-putting - I feel like it misses the point. I haven't found the concept of giftedness to be particularly meaninginful or relevant with respect to unschooling anyway, and IMO parents who begin interviews by listing, for example, how many words their now-teenage child knew by her first birthday just come off as, well... one of "those" parents.

 
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#5 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dar View Post
IMO parents who begin interviews by listing, for example, how many words their now-teenage child knew by her first birthday just come off as, well... one of "those" parents.
She was answering a question...how did they get started in unschooling.

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#6 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post
The thing I like about the media covering unschooled gifted kids is that it's pretty hard to deny that unschooling works when you look at them. It's a lot easier to look at an unschooled kid with learning disabilities (for example) and think that unschooling is neglect even though unschooling could be just as appropriate for that kid. I think once people come to understand and accept that unschooling can be appropriate for gifted kids, it'll be easier to convince them that it can work for other kids as well...
But see I think the presentation of unschooling as being for gifted kids makes it hard for the family with children who learn at a different(slower) pace feel that unschooling can work for them.
I also think that it sets families up to think that some how they must have "failed" at unschooling because it didn't produce an "academically gifted" child who is ready for college at an early age. And I see that this worry is particularly true when kids hit the teenage/high school years and they are not looking to go to college and/or start a career sooner than their schooled peers.
And I might add that I am saying this as the mother of several academically gifted children who are now successful adults.
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I also find the focus on "gifted" unschoolers off-putting - I feel like it misses the point. I haven't found the concept of giftedness to be particularly meaninginful or relevant with respect to unschooling anyway, and IMO parents who begin interviews by listing, for example, how many words their now-teenage child knew by her first birthday just come off as, well... one of "those" parents.
Thank you Dar for putting into words what I felt when I saw the piece.

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"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail..."
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#7 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 02:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ErikaDP View Post
.
I also think that it sets families up to think that some how they must have "failed" at unschooling because it didn't produce an "academically gifted" child who is ready for college at an early age.
When we first started hsing, I heard from a lot of people about how hsing was okay for those kids who are advanced, OR for those kids with special needs that the school could not meet. It seemed people thought hsing was acceptable for those on the fringe only. (And I wasn't even throwing around the word "unschooling" in those conversations.)

If unschoolers are going to be in the news, I'd rather a broad spectrum of kids be represented instead of having people think it's only for special cases, yk?

I do think that the publicity is likely to elicit some negativity though--of course there will be people (some in power) who will think unschooling is a very bad idea and maybe even take steps to regulate what we do. I think hsers will need to be watchful and organized and communicate well with their representatives if it comes to that.

I kind of just want to lie low and do what we do without any publicity, but I think that ship has sailed.

(p.s. Good to "see" you around again, Erika--I've missed your posts here.)

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#8 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 02:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ErikaDP View Post
But see I think the presentation of unschooling as being for gifted kids makes it hard for the family with children who learn at a different(slower) pace feel that unschooling can work for them.
I also think that it sets families up to think that some how they must have "failed" at unschooling because it didn't produce an "academically gifted" child who is ready for college at an early age. And I see that this worry is particularly true when kids hit the teenage/high school years and they are not looking to go to college and/or start a career sooner than their schooled peers.
I guess I can see that. I just think that people who are likely to consider unschooling aren't going to get their information from news stories like these. I do see a number of people posting on this board who have children who are clearly very advanced, and perhaps that is as big a cause as any of the insecurities you'd like to avoid.

I think that the majority of the audience of these news stories is people who would never consider unschooling under any circumstances, so I like seeing an undeniably positive portrayal. My fear is that when they interview a normally developing unschooled child, they'll be able to find areas in which the child is "behind" and they'll exploit that to argue that unschooling doesn't work. Now, you and I know that the age at which a child learns xyz is irrelevant, but that's not what the American public believes.
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#9 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post
She was answering a question...how did they get started in unschooling.
Yeah, I know, but there are less off-putting and more inclusive ways of answering that question...

 
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#10 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Yeah, I know, but there are less off-putting and more inclusive ways of answering that question...
But they might not be as honest. My path to unschooling also began as a search for schooling options for a kid who seemed too gifted for normal school. If she hadn't, we probably would have never even considered homeschooling, much less unschooling. Now, of course, the reasons we love unschooling are not the same as the reasons we first considered it.

If I were asked, I'd probably say something about discovering, as a parent, that kids teach themselves everything they need to know in their own time. As examples, I'd probably give learning to talk or walk. But the truth is that I first had that epiphany when DD taught herself to read at 2. That's something I don't go blabbing about IRL, because I don't want to be seen as what some call "one of 'those' parents," but that's less about the truth and more about the fear that others will judge me.

I wonder whether people would be so put off if she'd said that they first considered unschooling because it became clear that due to ADD or dysgraphia her child would not be well-served by school.
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#11 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 06:44 PM
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I wonder whether people would be so put off if she'd said that they first considered unschooling because it became clear that due to ADD or dysgraphia her child would not be well-served by school.
Hmmm.. because Rain and I were watching that video together and we both independently wondered if the older girl was on the spectrum... not that that's something you can definitively know from a short video clip, but I think it's interesting that we both picked up on something.

I do see where you're coming from. I pulled my kid from kindergarten in part because her teacher didn't realize until November that she had been reading for years (and she found out by accident, which in some ways makes it worse). It was more about realizing how little her teacher actually knew about her capabilities and interests, though. I mean, she dragged her two favorite books to school with her every day...

At her second kindergarten they were thrilled to have as fluent reader and pushed her through the world's most boring set of readers while Rain really just wanted to play with the division flashcards.

I guess I never framed it as her being too smart for school, or beyond school, or however it was stated on the video - more that school wasn't meeting her needs and it was clear that she was perfectly capable of learning without it, if only people would get out of her way. And that's something I think is true of most (all?) kids... not just the ones precocious/bright/gifted/early learner ones.

When I've been interviewed about unschooling, I've tried to be really clear that Rain wasn't always way ahead at everything... sometimes she was, and sometimes she was behind, and sometimes she was in another universe altogether. Maybe when she was little she was "ahead" in everything, but as kids go on in school and learn certain things that she wasn't learning then, there were definitely times she was "behind"... and I would be surprised to find unschoolers who didn't have this experience. I don't want people seeing unschooling as a way to create genius children or a philosophy only suited for "gifted" kids... and I guess I get concerned when I see parents who seem focused on that.

 
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#12 of 15 Old 07-24-2010, 08:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dar View Post
...I guess I never framed it as her being too smart for school, or beyond school, or however it was stated on the video - more that school wasn't meeting her needs and it was clear that she was perfectly capable of learning without it, if only people would get out of her way. And that's something I think is true of most (all?) kids... not just the ones precocious/bright/gifted/early learner ones.
Once again Dar, you are putting to words what I am thinking about this issue!
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(p.s. Good to "see" you around again, Erika--I've missed your posts here.)
Ah thanks Sag! I have been reading the posts here a lot but I haven't had much time to post in the last year or so. Hopefully, I will be able to post more now that things are returning to normal around here!

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"I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma"- Eartha Kitt
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#13 of 15 Old 07-25-2010, 04:41 AM
 
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I'm of two minds about the publicity. I think I'm coming full-circle on this issue.

I started out very bright-eyed and eager to impart my new-found knowledge about child led learning to everyone in my life. Then I got badly burned, and wished I'd just "laid low" about it to quote SagMom.

And I've gone through this phase of feeling very pessimistic about "most people," at least in terms of their ability to rethink their views on education.

But I've lately been reminded of all the racial and sexual prejudice that people used to insist was "here to stay" -- and, yes, there's still major room for change, but there's still no denying that we've come a long way from where we were in 1960.

So now I say some publicity is good, and some "lying low" is also good. Change is possible, but I also agree with those who worry that unschooling is going to be increasingly on the radar from here on out.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#14 of 15 Old 07-26-2010, 01:54 AM
 
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I feel like maybe my experience is different because I'm not the US and unschooling hasn't gotten the coverage here that it seems to have there. Or maybe it's just that I don't watch TV and so it's easy to miss.

I'm interested in the discussion about giftedness used to promote unschooling. For myself, it certainly helped with keeping the family from intervening that DD was academically precocious. I will say that in my old homeschool community (we moved recently) many of the children were "on the spectrum" or had their issues. It was just as often that reason that the parents withdrew their kids from school or didn't start it in the first place.

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#15 of 15 Old 07-26-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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I think some publicity is good. It is nice to see a lot of the stories portrayed positively. We don't tell my in laws that we unschool but it is also nice that we aren't SO out there and other people do this as well.
I just don't want this to blow up and have more rules and regulations put on us.
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