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#1 of 14 Old 10-08-2010, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know about unschooling, I have known about it for a few years now, but I can't quite get my head around it. I wonder if you have to be a certain sort of creative, idea inspiring parent to unschool and wonder if it is possible a bookworm like myself can do it.

I know kids learn to talk and walk with no overt teaching but they learn by example, I think these are more of a biological drive in the human being. I am not sure learning Pi falls under the same category.

Let's take maths for a moment. I know how I can teach my kids math using real life everyday things to make it relevant, I get that. But what happens when at 14 my kids need to know how to do paper math as over here they sit exams for it when they are 16, suddenly the fun math just doesn't fit any more and they have to learn more and more abstract math that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with real life learning.

I have to show my local education authority that my children are progressing and learning things and unschooling seems possibly a hard way to do this.

I wonder if they need things to challenge them to grow or do I just let them learn things that they find fun? What if they never write, my dd hates to write as at 10 she is slow, she does write little bits here and there in her notebooks but she doesn't write at length about anything, I think she would need a lot of encouragement to write more and I don't know if this would be unschooling.

How on earth do you let go of the need that your children should learn things? It has made me question what is my goal of education as it used to be academic success, now I wonder if they can have that but have fun along the journey?

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#2 of 14 Old 10-08-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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If you want to look at it from a "biological imperative" standpoint, I think you can definitely lump learning about pi into it. I think human beings are pre-programmed to learn to walk and talk, but I think another thing that sets us apart from most of the rest of the animal kingdom is that we are programmed for learning. Humans have memes as well as genes: bodies of knowledge that are passed along by the culture that surrounds us. And I'm not talking about school-ish learning here. I'm talking about the sort of learning that in the distant past let hunter-gatherer kids know which plants near where they lived were safe to eat, how to fashion a weapon, how to build a shelter. We are hard-wired for learning. These days the things children are driven to learn are less of the "building a shelter" type and more of the "swapping graphics cards" or "calculating interest charges on a loan" type. We are hard-wired to learn whatever is necessary in our particular environment for becoming a productive, capable member of our society.

Unschooling doesn't mean no formal learning: it just means no uninvited teaching. Much of an unschooler's learning may be informal, but if they want formal structure to their learning that's totally cool. My unschooled 11-year-old is currently getting up every morning to sit down with a high school math textbook and do work with pencil and paper to master it. She has decided that higher math is likely to be useful to her, so she wants to learn it. My 14-year-old son who until recently had nothing you could call handwriting gradually discovered that there were a few occasions in real life where it was helpful to be able to write neatly and efficiently with a pen. Since real life wasn't giving him enough practice to get good at it, he set to work making himself practice on a daily basis, and now has a neat legible written script.

Proving learning to an overseeing body hasn't been a problem for us. My kids are learning like crazy, and progress is well-nigh inevitable. It isn't necessarily linear and steady, but over the long term, like a school term or two, there's always stuff I can point to as evidence.

I've also not found that my kids need much if any prodding to challenge themselves. Occasionally (rarely) they have needed some substantial support from me in following through on their desire to challenge themselves. But for the most part when they know that they are fully in charge of their own learning their ambition and motivation rises up and propel them forward. In fact they often challenge themselves far more than I would ever have thought of expecting of them.

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#3 of 14 Old 10-08-2010, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i just worry that if I let go and unschool my children MAY never learn the more school ish type subjects, it is hard to let go and trust..... what if mine are the ones who wont stretch themselves?

At the moment my daughter (10) spends most of her time reading about rabbits, making notes in her notebook, reading Harry Potter and watching youtube. She is very happy doing this but I am afraid to offer her more stuff to do in case she feels she HAS to do it as it is school time.

Do I sit my kids down and talk to them about unschooling or do I just ask them what they are interested in? I don't know what to do about math as J finds it hard and wants to avoid anything mathy.

This is giving me a lot to think about what I want for my children's lives.

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#4 of 14 Old 10-09-2010, 02:58 AM
 
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I look at it like this: The goal is not to make sure they know X, Y, and Z. The goal is to give them the tools to be able to learn about X, Y, and Z when they want to or need to.

Many people do not know HOW to learn. They don't know where to look for information or how to ask questions...they need someone to teach them and if it isn't being spoonfed to them, they are lost. Knowing how to learn, where to look for information, and how to ask questions is far more important than any preset bit general knowledge. They may not know Pi, but they will know how to find out about it if they ever do have an interest or a need for it.
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#5 of 14 Old 10-09-2010, 05:20 PM
 
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I look at it like this: The goal is not to make sure they know X, Y, and Z. The goal is to give them the tools to be able to learn about X, Y, and Z when they want to or need to.

Many people do not know HOW to learn. They don't know where to look for information or how to ask questions...they need someone to teach them and if it isn't being spoonfed to them, they are lost. Knowing how to learn, where to look for information, and how to ask questions is far more important than any preset bit general knowledge. They may not know Pi, but they will know how to find out about it if they ever do have an interest or a need for it.
I am just subbing here....but, SpiderMum that is a great way of looking at it, I feel like I am constantly teetering on the unschooling/schooling seesaw, and while I will most likely stay there I do think that when looked at from this angle it sort of brings a lot of what I am doing, what I want to be doing into perspective for me, so thank you!
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#6 of 14 Old 10-09-2010, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by SpiderMum View Post
I look at it like this: The goal is not to make sure they know X, Y, and Z. The goal is to give them the tools to be able to learn about X, Y, and Z when they want to or need to.

Many people do not know HOW to learn. They don't know where to look for information or how to ask questions...they need someone to teach them and if it isn't being spoonfed to them, they are lost. Knowing how to learn, where to look for information, and how to ask questions is far more important than any preset bit general knowledge. They may not know Pi, but they will know how to find out about it if they ever do have an interest or a need for it.
You see I understand that.

My goal before was always to get them to know X, Y and Z but now I am thinking I could still do this as well as teaching them how to learn and find out information but try to do it in a fun inspiring unschooling way- is this impossible?

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#7 of 14 Old 10-09-2010, 09:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DharmaDisciple View Post
My goal before was always to get them to know X, Y and Z but now I am thinking I could still do this as well as teaching them how to learn and find out information but try to do it in a fun inspiring unschooling way- is this impossible?
I guess my question is, do you care if you are unschooling? I mean, if you could accomplish what you stated above, would it matter to you whether or not you were unschooling?

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#8 of 14 Old 10-10-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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Well my oldest is only 6 but my SIL has been unschooling for a while so i'll give it a go answering your questions.

GCSE maths - they don't have to do it, if they want to they will study for it. Maybe take a look at the GCSE curriculum and see how the subjects can be incorporated into real life - many science subjects include a lot of maths.

You're LEA should know about unschooling/autonomous education - what have the local home educators said about your LEA? I have a couple of autonomous friends who have LEA meetings and they have never had a problem, they talk to the children, discuss what they have been doing. You can do so many things to show how your children are learning.

I think encouragement is fine, i think she will do more writing as she needs to, i guess in this day and age most people use the computer. Can you see if she wants to make a lapbook about rabbits? Maybe she would be interested in calligraphy? Using proper pens?

I don't think you have to let go of the need for them to learn things, just if they are not interested you have to back off. See what her goals are right now and what you can do to work towards them, talk to her about GCSEs in the subjects she does enjoy. Let her try everything and anything to see what she enjoys doing. Go out with your local home ed group as often as you can.

I don't think there is any hard and fast rule about what 'type' of home educator you have to be, whatever suits your family and your children.

Hope that helps

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#9 of 14 Old 11-06-2010, 07:18 AM
 
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My oldest is only 10, but I can give you our experiences with things like math and state testing. Here in North Carolina, it is mandatory for all homeschoolers to do state testing every year (it's really not a big deal, we don't have to turn it in to anyone, just have the results on file in case something happens like your nosey neighbor calls DSS on you or something).

Anyhow, when my 10 year old comes to, say, a math problem he doesn't understand (mostly has been language usage tools for him though - punctuation, etc.), I just explain the concept and he *gets* it really quickly! He is not a stupid kid; since he's not afraid to learn and is very open to new ideas - most of these math and grammar and whatever else rules are really simple when you think about it. For example of math, on his last test he didn't know what the written fractions equations were all about - that took less than 5 minutes to explain and he did all the questions no problem - no need for extensive drilling, worksheets, etc - IMO math is really pretty simple and interesting concepts.

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#10 of 14 Old 11-10-2010, 07:50 PM
 
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I think a lot of unschooling IS faith, because we have completely lost our belief in the "biological imperitive" of learning. It's very similar to breastfeeding: people stop breastfeeding, nobody sees breastfeeding anymore, a whole generation grows up having lost the knowledge and some don't even believe that it's all that possible (witness the plethora of "I tried to breastfeed but I couldn't because...." as if female mammals aren't designed to nurse). Similarly, as moominmama so eloquently put it, children are programmed to learn, to obtain that information that allows them to become a functioning, productive member of their society. Since that set of skills and knowledge can vary greatly depending on what time and place a child is born into, children are programmed to want to learn those things their unique society requires for success. So many people think kids can't learn outside the model of school (with it's teachers, curricula, and coercive learning) and very few people have ever witnessed natural learning in anyone older than a preschooler (it excites me to no end to see it, like I've just discovered something totally new, lol). So it is a matter of faith in a way.

 

I also love what SpiderMum said. If your kids know HOW to learn then they can learn X,Y,Z if and when they need to. Of course I will say that I believe all children know how to learn, but coercive schooling and our whole culture's belief in the necessity of school sends a very strong message to children at a very early age that they cannot, in fact, be trusted to learn of their own accord. They stop believing in their own innate ability to learn, whereas unschooled kids generally don't ever lose that belief in the first place.

 


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#11 of 14 Old 11-10-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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The math question always interests me.

 

I loved math. I ate up my math classes like candy (except for geometry when we did proofs of theorems - just not my thing). I was a stoner headbanger who spent my lunch breaks hanging out smoking and listening to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and W.A.S.P. and Metallica and whoever...except for one day a month, when I jumped on the chance to compete in the Canadian Math League competitions (a couple of times, I forgot it was Math League day and got stoned at lunch break, before writing the contest quizzes, and was really upset with myself). I just really loved math. It was the only class in high school that I never got bored with and never blew off. I was in Honours/Scholarship math, and even most of my classmates weren't really into it, like I was. With just a tad fewer emotional issues taking me in other directions, I'd have been a full-on math geek. I used to do math at home for fun sometimes.

 

My oldest son is an enthusiastic student (well, up until this year, anyway), but he hates math. He completely dropped it for his grad year. He loves to learn...just not math. DD1 doesn't seem crazy about it, either. DS2 loves it, as far as I can tell.

 

The thing is...people frequently worry about math and whether unschooled kids will learn their math. IME, there are an awful lot of kids who do go to school and don't learn math. If dd1 never learns it to a level that screams "academic success", is that about unschooling? DS1 has consisently brought in his lowest grades in math - ever since about 4th grade. He does very, very well in English, Social Studies, the sciences, various arts classes (drama, art, choir) and whatever miscellaneous other classes he's taken (including the shop class, whatever it was called, and law, and psychology and Spanish). He has a hunger to learn all kinds of things (off the top of my head...he's either started to learn or expressed interest in learning: leatherworking, origami, guitar, ocarina, crochet, knitting, blacksmithing, glassblowing, spinning wool, juggling, drawing/sketching). He just plain doesn't like math, and doesn't have a strong aptitude for it (he actually does well at grasping underlying concept, however complex, but the ins and outs of actually performing the calculations aren't this thing).

 

DD1 is looking like she'll be a lot like ds1. DS2, I'm coming to suspect, will be a lot more like me.

 

DS1 has been public schooled from day one. DD1 and ds2 are both homeschooled/semi-unschooled. Math and the method of schooling are two different things.


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#12 of 14 Old 11-10-2010, 09:36 PM
 
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a couple of times, I forgot it was Math League day and got stoned at lunch break, before writing the contest quizzes, and was really upset with myself). I just really loved math. 


LOL at this: Storm Bride, this was me too, except that we didn't have Math League at our (minimally academic) high school. But I missed a midterm worth 25% in Gr. 11 math for the same reason and only ended up with a 75% mark at the end of the year. Was more upset about missing challenging myself on the exam, rather than about getting a low grade.

 

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#13 of 14 Old 11-11-2010, 01:33 AM
 
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#14 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 09:46 AM
 
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When people ask "what about math", they usually mean how will they learn to do higher-level math, like algebra, trig or calculus, yet they don't think about "how" we use math.  There are some very standard day-to-day living-your-life moments that need to be figured out using math, only we might not even think of it as "doing math".  Figuring out when to leave the house to get errands done before going to an scheduled appointment, planning out a menu & deciding which thing get prepped or cooked first, gauging how many miles you've got left before your gas tank is empty, calculating savings at a store when different racks have different "% off" signs.  Mathematical puzzles are present in life always.

 

So what happens when your unschooled child needs to take a required test?  You help him/her prep for it!  Find out what is expected.  Is it just to show progress in his/her homeschooling journey from year to year?  That requires a different, easier, level of preparation than testing for college admission.  Remember - your child doesn't have to be "better" than the schooled students - you're not comparing, simply complying with legal requirements.  Use a practice test, if possible, to see if your child scores within accepted levels.  You may be surprised at how much they really know about mathematical concepts - the prep may be more about teaching them the language of math (when they say "product" it means this...) than the actual use of math.

 

If your child is prepping for SATs have them take the practice test & understand how the scoring works (penalties for guessing, better scores for longer essays, etc.)  Just as you would give them whatever guidance they needed for any other task help them feel prepared for this one.  And know this, more & more colleges & universities are de-emphasizing SAT scores, so your child should check their hoped-for college's admission requirements.


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