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Old 07-05-2011, 01:47 PM
 
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Are you the one who accused me of refusing to provide my child with something he wanted within the confines of homeschooling? I don't think it was but it was 2 or 3 days ago that I read that. That's what I was referring to. I don't see the suggestion of letting the child try school if that's what they really want unsupportive. There's a difference between saying that and accusing someone of something without even understanding what was said.

That being said, I do think that in a forum that is supposed to be in support of unschooling, offering solutions at home rather than initially jumping to, "Let him go to school," is more helpful and supportive. While letting the child choose how, when, where and what they learn is a big part of unschooling, school is like the anti-unschool because it instantly restricts all of that. Even though the child has chosen school, I don't think he is unschooling anymore while in school because he doesn't have that choice anymore. Of course, there would always be the choice to leave school and go back to unschooling. So, to me those two things are not the same. Does that make sense?


It does! And I haven't ever said anything about what you have or have not done. :)  I'm sorry you feel attacked.

 

I agree that once the kidlet is *in* school they are no longer "unschooling".  I guess to me, being child-led is more important than the structure of the schooling.  But you don't have to share my bent. :)

 


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Old 07-05-2011, 02:05 PM
 
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I agree that once the kidlet is *in* school they are no longer "unschooling".  I guess to me, being child-led is more important than the structure of the schooling.  But you don't have to share my bent. :)

 



(I cross posted with MarineWife before.  I'm a slow typer.)  I came to unschooling by following my ds's lead.  But it seems like more unschoolers start off with the idea that that is what they will do and then grapple with whether it's best for their child as the child gets older.  Then they have an identity crisis if they send their child to school and they still want to be called unschoolers.  I started off trying to send my ds to school, having it be a horrible fit, having him ask why he had to get older and go to school, why couldn't things stay the same.  I realized they could.  He was a bit damaged by his short school experience, though, so I don't advocate it as a first step with a young child.  But visiting a school could certainly remove some misconceptions of what it's like.


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Old 07-05-2011, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest dc was in school from a very young age, if you count daycare/preschool, since I was a single mother and had to work. I didn't start to consider homeschooling at all until he was probably 9 or so when it became very evident that he was having a miserable time in school. It still took me another few years before I finally got completely fed up with the public school system and pulled him out. We started out with a curriculum and trying to sit down for structured school every day for a certain amount of work. That became a constant struggle and ds and I were fighting all the time over his schoolwork. It wasn't any better than when we'd fight over his homework from school. That's when I started getting into unschooling. I don't know that it worked well for my oldest since he had been in school for so long and had been seriously damaged by the experience. When he got to high school age he chose to go back to school for 9th grade. Even with going to school being his choice, he still had the same problems as before. He finished that year and then chose to drop out at 16. He got a GED at 18. I considered his time from 16 to 18 as unschooling but I don't think he would and, certainly, no one else in my family saw it that way. They just thought he was a drop out. greensad.gif I admit that I do hope he decides to go to college or a trade school or otherwise learn a skill some day because I see him struggling now trying to make ends meet. He has a job and works diligently but doesn't make enough money to get his own place. He's 20 now so he still has time to move up whether he goes to college or not.

So, yeah, I see child-led learning and unschooling as two different things. They certainly can overlap and envelope each other but are not necessarily the same thing to me.

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Old 07-05-2011, 02:39 PM
 
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I do understand that they are different, yes.  I want to drop 38,099,282 smileys so that you know I am trying to not be a judgmental censored.gif but I don't like that interface so please picture me with a neutral to positive facial expression.

 

I am basing my opinions based on my own life experiences rather than from the point of view of a parent.  I haven't been parenting long enough to really know what I will do when the chips are down.  In my personal hierarchy of educational importance, child-led is at the top.  Second on the list is unschooling because based on my readings of the philosophy it fits the closest with the educational theories I believe in the most strongly.  That doesn't mean that I think they are the same things. 

 

I do not know your kids and I am not passing judgment on your parenting.  I am actually a high school drop out who went on to graduate school and I was a public high school teacher.  The irony is overwhelming.  I had horribly traumatic experiences in schools as a student.  I loathed the experience and found it over the top horrible.  Thing is... my kids aren't me.  So I am trying to be careful that I am not projecting my stuff onto their experience.  Because I taught for a number of years I'm very aware of the high percentage of kids who really and truly do thrive in the schooling environment.  That doesn't mean I think it is perfect and that everyone should be in school.  Obviously I don't. :)

 

Thus if my kid expressed a strong desire to go to school multiple times (and this isn't a brand new request from your son if I understand correctly) I would let go of the unschooling identity and be cool with that.  I understand that he isn't pestering you all day every day.  I totally believe you that you are not oppressing him.  I'm just personally very afraid of any dogmatic beliefs that say, "Ok I'm unschooler so that means I can never change things if my kids want to change things."  Which isn't to say that I think you are doing that!  I'm not.  (And yes... if I sent my kids to school I would stop referring to us as unschoolers.)

 

This parenting gig is rougher than I thought it would be.  There are no easy answers.  I hope that things smooth out a bit for you soon.


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Old 07-05-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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As a historian, I am intrigued by this question.  From a historical perspective, those who choose to work on a factory assembly line are free.  In the US, when the 13th amendment ended slavery, one choice that many freed slaves made was the choice to migrate to industrialized cities in the north and work on factory assembly lines.  Assembly line workers have not always been treated well in the US, and for a major chunk of the 20th century, these workers were at the forefront of organizing improvements to pay and working conditions that continue to benefit all workers in the US.  As a consequence, factory assembly line work can, and in the US, often does, offer a wage that provides freedom - freedom from dependence on others, freedom from poverty.  The golden age of the US economy was when domestic manufacturing was at its height, and large numbers of Americans worked on factory assembly lines.  Those workers celebrated their freedom and saw the rewards of their work on factory assembly lines as one component of that freedom.  They saw the continuation of their work, and the preservation of the USA's manufacturing capacity, as vital to the protection of their freedom.  

 

What occupations do you associate with freedom?  What are the rewards of freedom?  What do you think people choose when they are free?

 




When I wrote this I had in mind this video.

 

In MY country, compulsory schooling was designed to keep children out of factories(1880 Elementary Education Act). Everyone was home educated or not 'educated' much other than in religion, before this point. Where we are at now though is a totally different place where schooling is a social construct which aims to produce individuals who are fit to work in industry. In the UK, there is much hand-wringing over the state of education and whether or not it is fit for purpose. The arguments range from going back to the classics to moving forward to e-learning and teaching skills, not knowledge. Constant testing and standardisation have not brought the expected rewards and employers complain that teens don't have the skills to function in the workplace.

 

School has become a social construct which we are told is the only way to get what we want, whatever that is. The fact that many many successful people have been school 'failures' is by the by.

 

Here, what we do is called autonomous learning, not unschooling. Yes, that can encompass school but although the choice to go to school can be an autonomous one, the reality of school is that you have no autonomy. You can be subversive and rebellious but you cannot assert your autonomy.

 

The reason that my third child did not go to school is that when she tried it at 4 it became obvious that she would have to lose something of herself to fit in and get on. The system was so much more rigid than when my first two went to school a decade earlier and I foresaw years of battles supporting her against the system if she stayed there. She needs her autonomy and her personality to remain as intact as we can manage so that she can survive and thrive in the world that lies ahead of us. I don't think school is doing that for my other child and I am doing what I can to ameliorate school's effects on him.

 

My dh and I run our own business and although we are not financially secure we are free-er in our heads than we would be as employees. (Our healthcare is not insurance dependent so this is not a consideration)

 

 

 

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Old 07-05-2011, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I get that from you and wasn't meaning to appear to be arguing with you. I was just trying to give more info about where I'm coming from. I'm not so wrapped up in unschooling that I can't let go of it if my child chooses. I did that with my oldest when he was 15. I'm just not sure that a 7yo is old enough to handle the issues that come with going to school enough to preserve his passion. I'm worried that he would be too easily influenced by the school atmosphere and lose his spark, which is what happened with my oldest. As a prefect example I always like to pull out a quote from him when he was 12. In discussing that all this teachers and these other people at school were telling him he should have enough pride in himself to do well in school his response was, "School has taken all the pride out of me." He had been beaten down so much by not fitting into the box of school that he didn't care anymore.

Just because some children appear to thrive in school doesn't mean they wouldn't thrive at home. Who knows what they could have accomplished if they were given the freedom to develop their own passions and skills and knowledge in their own way. I do believe there is a certain personality type that fits very well into the school environment. Those children who have that personality type will appear to thrive, especially when compared to those children who do not fit well in school. One of the main problems with school is that there are many personality types that don't fit well with it and the school environment can't accommodate that. It needs everyone to be pretty much the same because of the volume of children that must be evaluated. Standardized tests are a perfect example of that. It has been shown time and time again that certain people do very well on standardized tests while others do not even though both are at least equally knowledgeable and intelligent. There are even many people who are extremely knowledgeable and intelligent who don't do well on standardized tests at all. So, while testing makes the job of teachers and school administrators easier, it doesn't necessarily give a true picture of who knows what.

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Old 07-05-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post So, while testing makes the job of teachers and school administrators easier, it doesn't necessarily give a true picture of who knows what.


Actually they suck and make the job harder. Standardized tests disrupt the learning process in my not so humble opinion.


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Old 07-05-2011, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually they suck and make the job harder. Standardized tests disrupt the learning process in my not so humble opinion.


Well, yes, but in terms of having to have a way to evaluate so many students, it's faster, easier and cheaper compared to letting each individual child demonstrate their knowledge and skill in their own way. Another example from my oldest, he had an IEP and was supposed to be able to take tests orally and do work on a simple word processor rather than hand writing because he had trouble with writing. Neither of those ever actually happened, though. It was just too time consuming for the teachers.
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In MY country, compulsory schooling was designed to keep children out of factories(1880 Elementary Education Act).

This is interesting considering that one of the big argument against institutionalized school is that the purpose is to produce workers, not thinkers. I don't recall if it was specifically factory workers but I do remember reading something recently about school producing government workers, which is similar, I think. Many government positions don't require much thinking. It's mostly following procedure. I think that was all based on the German public education system that I've read the US system is based on.


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Old 07-05-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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When I saw the title of this topic, I was all ready to jump into this topic saying, "Heck yeah! Let him go to school!" (Despite the fact that I am such a die-hard school-hater that I can't even imagine someone who does not dislike conventional schooling. Since even my own mother was under the impression that I liked school *shudder*, I can't help but suspect those people are an urban myth.)

 

But then I actually read your post, and I'd say don't let him go to school (yet, at least). By comparison, if you'd asked if you should take him to Disneyland, I'd say yes, but if you had to risk your house going into foreclosure to afford it, I'd say don't go!

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Old 07-05-2011, 09:54 PM
 
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I can't even imagine someone who does not dislike conventional schooling.

 

Well, I liked it.  I liked weekends and snow days too but I remember that I looked forward to Mondays and by the end of summer I couldn't wait for school to start.  I went to pretty average public schools too, nothing special - but I think that average was probably better then (~3 decades ago).   Even today I know kids who enjoy going to school and whose parents have to put their feet down to keep them home when sick. 

 

My decision to unschool is not based on whether I think my dd would like or dislike school.  It is based on the negative impact I believe it would have, on balance, on her learning (and even on her socialization).  She has not demanded to go to school, though she has been curious and would probably have happily gone if I had encouraged it.  For us, being part of a homeschool group made a crucial difference and she really loved going to the weekly co-op.  We aren't part of it anymore and now have plenty of things to keep us busy, but when she was 5-6 it was definitely impt to be part of the homeschool co-op.

 

Assuming that conventional school is awful will not help you serve the needs of kids who view it differently.

Quite recently my dd demanded exams and a report card.  I provided these, and she was satisfied. 


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Old 07-06-2011, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I liked it.  I liked weekends and snow days too but I remember that I looked forward to Mondays and by the end of summer I couldn't wait for school to start.  I went to pretty average public schools too, nothing special - but I think that average was probably better then (~3 decades ago).


What was it that you liked about it so much? Was it the classes and the things you learned and the way you had to learn/do it or was it the social interaction?

I went to what were, and still are, considered some of the best public schools in the US from 1975-76 to 1988. Things started out well enough for me but by the time I was in 5th grade, so 10yo, things started going downhill. By the time I graduated I hated it and just wanted to be done. I was miserable. At first I think it was the social aspects of school. I still did well academically. Later, having to do all the group projects and presentations was very difficult for me, too, and that hurt me academically. I would just refuse to do the work and take an F or 0 rather than have to work with a group that I felt very awkward in and/or have to stand up in front of a class and present my work. Fortunately, by the time I got serious about college I had gained my confidence back and didn't have such a hard time with that sort of thing.

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Old 07-06-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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I can't answer on behalf of the poster you were addressing, but I can try to describe for you what I liked - no, LOVED - about school.  And this is coming from someone who is likely to homeschool her children when the time comes.

 

I loved the structure, the fact that it gave a pattern to my days - we would do X, then Y, then Z.  I loved the social interaction and getting to meet a wide variety of kids who came from families that didn't think or believe the same as mine (I'm a Christian and caucasian, and I lived in a minority area with many African Americans, Jews, and Muslims - the holidays were so fun!).  Honestly, I loved textbooks and workbooks and stickers and stars and achievement.  I loved the smell of books and the school's built-in library.  I even loved taking standardized tests (this love has followed me into adulthood - I enjoy the guesswork required to find the correct answer sometimes)!  I did hate projects, especially group projects, but there weren't very many of those.  I loved rote memorization. 

 

Especially in high school and college, I loved having teachers with deep knowledge of their subjects.  In particular, the two math teachers I had in high school both had master's degrees in math, and they both made math accessible to me in a way that it hadn't before.  I saw the deeper meaning and beauty in all these numbers.  And proofs were a revelation about how math really works, as was calculus.  It was a wonderful experience.  One of my Spanish teachers was the child of missionaries to Guatemala, which enriched the experience in a way that learning from a textbook or the internet or my mother might not have.  I loved high school honors English class, where we would all sit in a circle and talk about what the book we were reading was revealing to us.  I loved the opportunity to participate in a marching band that all its members took very seriously, which everyone would attend because failing to do so would both mess up the formations and result in a grade reduction.

 

And lest you think that all this love produced, in adulthood, a perfect cog for the government machine, I'm so sorry to disabuse you of that notion.  I'm a very independent thinker, the first in my family to graduate from college (and soon to be the first with a graduate degree).  As an attorney, I will be making a career out of my intellect, though of course my love for paperwork will help too.  I did love school, almost every minute of it, and I truly thrived in the school culture.  Still, I don't think I will send my own children to public school.  When I meet my children, I might feel different, though.

 

But that's what I loved about school.

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Old 07-06-2011, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Loribelle ~ I think it's great that you had a good experience in school. But I don't see anything there that you could not have done at home. The marching band may have been a bit difficult but, as far as I know, there are many public school systems that now allow homeschoolers to participate in their extracurricular activities. They certainly should considering we still pay taxes for public education even though we don't use it. I know some families homeschool in order to isolate their children but I do not so I'm not concerned about them not getting the "socialization" that they want or need. That's a big argument against homeschooling but, for the most part, I do not want my children to learn the kind of socialization that goes in schools.

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Old 07-06-2011, 09:11 AM
 
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What was it that you liked about it so much? Was it the classes and the things you learned and the way you had to learn/do it or was it the social interaction?


Well - I liked it fine, not necessarily MORE than other activities, but there weren't always other activities available, so school was this ready-made activity every day.  Also, I don't think I thought I had a choice.  The "can't wait to go to school" feeling was strongest in the early years.  What I liked about it?  I think I pretty much liked every subject, I had no problem doing anything that was asked, so there was nothing not to like.   Socially I think it had some appeal in the early years but not later. 

 

Grades 6-8 were HORRIBLE.  I can't say when things changed but when it became necessary to have designer jeans the entire social aspect of going and being among all these people where I never measured up was dismal and I think I have simply blocked all that from my mind, because I struggle to remember the details.  I am nonwhite but from later discussions I don't think that was the only reason it was difficult.   I would NOT wish middle school on anyone.  Academically however I think I continued to do fine.  I have positive memories of science class.  As I said, pretty average public schools, not difficult for me to get As.

 

Things calmed down in high school - maybe kids got more mature.  There were some teachers who took special interest in me and offered me more challenging assignments, which I liked.  I am not sure how long I would homeschool but I do consider high school an appealing possibility, given the facilities like labs, etc.   And the fact that one would be past middle school. 

 

Another thing that was different in the 80s, when I was in high school.  I am not sure kids today have the kind of freedom I had then - I could attend some classes and not others if, e.g. I was not feeling well.  Some days I would just go to calculus.  Officially I was perhaps not allowed to do this but obviously I was not doing anything wrong.  Teachers knew that.   We could leave the building during lunch time.  I always ate outside.  And since my house was walking distance I even went home sometimes. 


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Old 07-06-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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Another thing that was different in the 80s, when I was in high school.  I am not sure kids today have the kind of freedom I had then - I could attend some classes and not others if, e.g. I was not feeling well.  Some days I would just go to calculus.  Officially I was perhaps not allowed to do this but obviously I was not doing anything wrong.  Teachers knew that.   We could leave the building during lunch time.  I always ate outside.  And since my house was walking distance I even went home sometimes. 


Late 80's high school graduate here, too.  But we didn't have that kind of leeway.  Attendance was taking for each class and you'd better be there...  The thing I liked about my public high school was that they didn't give a darn as long as you weren't causing trouble.  It was refreshing after a private school with teachers who were clueless but very concerned about our emotional health or whether we turned in a minor assignment worth .0001% of our final grade.  But it was a colossal waste of time.

 


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Old 07-06-2011, 10:12 AM
 
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I think school today is different than school was when we all were kids.  Some good ways and some bad.  These days, testing is a huge influence in the curriculum, and even teachers (my sister is one) resent it.  I remember less labeling of kids as delayed, but back in the 70's students were more able to skip grades or drop back.  Kindergarten was more like preschool is today, and we never heard of full-day kindergarten classes.

     We moved from Spokane to Las Vegas when I was 10.  I loved school in Spokane.  Reading was based around books, whereas when I moved to Las Vegas we had to work from on a reading skills workbox.  I was a voracious reader, having read the Sword of Shannara, The Hobbit and was in middle of the Lord of the Rings.  This new work was mind numbing torture!  Plus, socially, the kids in Las Vegas were more "mature".  Not in a good way, as we might describe a teenager or young adult.  I mean they were dating and talking sex and trash and drugs--in 5th grade!  The Spokane schools, by contrast were squeaky clean, at least by appearances.  Although I was a good student and survived the adjustment, I never regained the joy and confidence that I enjoyed before.

     Another important difference between then and now concerns homework.  We had none.  I remember how big I felt when-- in 5th grade in Spokane-- I took home my math book to do my first page of assigned homework.  5th grade!  Las Vegas had more homework, but still assignments were sparse until 6th grade.

     Schools today take up more of the day, if you count homework, and they are trying to require more!  Add in extracurricular activities and little is left of the day to enjoy free play.  When a child's day is taken up by activities doing what other people want them to do, their self-motivation and creativity can suffer.  (I don't mean that they drag their feet for every activity.  I mean even if they enjoy the activities, kids still need free time to invent their own.)

     I'm sure I can find more differences, but I've already made my point.  Our experiences can only be a general guide, because school today is not the school of our own youth.


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Old 07-06-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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Loribelle ~ I think it's great that you had a good experience in school. But I don't see anything there that you could not have done at home..

OP, I understand that you don't think school is a good thing in general, but I think this is a bit dismissive, given the things she posted that she liked:

- daily interaction with a diverse population
- deeply knowledgeable math teachers
- a Spanish teacher with personal experience of another country
- the experience of honors English seminar-style learning

I'm not seeing how she could have done any of those things by herself, at home.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:33 PM
 
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OP, I understand that you don't think school is a good thing in general, but I think this is a bit dismissive, given the things she posted that she liked:

- daily interaction with a diverse population
- deeply knowledgeable math teachers
- a Spanish teacher with personal experience of another country
- the experience of honors English seminar-style learning

I'm not seeing how she could have done any of those things by herself, at home.


zinemama,  I didn't pore over all these posts to check if you are homeschooling.  I think, though, that when an unschooler mentions learning "at home" they simply mean not-at-school.  There is nothing preventing homeschoolers of any stripe from using the people and resources you mentioned.  The difference, especially at the primary school level, is that unschooled kids will be seeking out this kind of expertise rather than having no choice, or the choice of the best-of-several-but-you-have-to-pick-one.  

     You are right in that she cannot do all this herself "at home", but homeschooling is only rarely confined to "at home".

 

     I think this request was asking how families already calling themselves "homeschoolers" would respond if they were in this situation.  It is a given on this forum that homeschooling (or unschooling, since this is the unschooling thread) is a viable and usually preferable option to standard schooling.  

 


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Old 07-06-2011, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Loribelle ~ I think it's great that you had a good experience in school. But I don't see anything there that you could not have done at home..

OP, I understand that you don't think school is a good thing in general, but I think this is a bit dismissive, given the things she posted that she liked:

- daily interaction with a diverse population
- deeply knowledgeable math teachers
- a Spanish teacher with personal experience of another country
- the experience of honors English seminar-style learning

I'm not seeing how she could have done any of those things by herself, at home.

Let me try to address each point.

IME, a diverse cultural population in school usually means a culturally diverse community. Our neighborhood is quite diverse. My ds has many friends from different cultures and countries who speak languages other than English. I will admit there isn't much economic diversity in our neighborhood but he meets people from other economic groups while doing other activities.

Maybe our situation is a bit different than many in that my family is highly educated in math and science. My dad has a PhD in mathematics and teaches at a college. My mom has a Master's in Chemistry. So, we have our own in-family people deeply knowledgeable in math and the sciences. But math isn't always a big thing for my boys so they may not even need that.

Our next door neighbor, who is the mother of my 7yo's best friend, is from Spain and she is more than happy to speak in Spanish to and around my children so they have the opportunity to be immersed in the language and the culture of Spain. Also, she has many spanish speaking friends from South America so they get exposed to those cultures, too.

If my boys want an honors English seminar style class when they are teenagers, they can take classes at the local community college. Kids can attend the local community college here at 15yo. That is a formal class rather than learning at home but at that age they would certainly be able to choose such a thing. They could even audit the class if they didn't want to worry about the pressure of grades.

There are opportunities for individual classes in the arts if they want to get really in-depth and technical with that. I am not skilled in that area so I would be more than willing to provide that for them as much as I can afford it. The nice thing about taking individual classes for such things is that the child can progress at his own pace and the teacher instructs to whatever that child wants to learn rather than having to stick to a specific one size fits all curriculum.

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Old 07-06-2011, 08:57 PM
 
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OP, I understand that you don't think school is a good thing in general, but I think this is a bit dismissive, given the things she posted that she liked:

- daily interaction with a diverse population
- deeply knowledgeable math teachers
- a Spanish teacher with personal experience of another country
- the experience of honors English seminar-style learning

I'm not seeing how she could have done any of those things by herself, at home.

Our homeschool group has African Americans, Asians, Muslims, Jews, people who grew up in several different countries and are native speakers in French, Spanish, and Chinese.  Many of the parents are highly educated and happy to share their passions with the kids.  People form co-ops or classes when there is interest in a subject.  They form book clubs.  There is a ton of opportunities for homeschoolers.  And, around here, they tend to make happen what they want to have happen with regards to experiences.  They have proms and dances.  They can be exchange students or their families can host exchange students.  There are homeschoolers that perform in theater or dance groups.  These are people I know, near me, not hypothetical homeschoolers in hypothetical situations. 

 

And yes, as homeschoolers, sending kids to school isn't going to be the first course of action when seeking a solution to a child wanting an experience.  Just like most people with schooled kids don't hasten to withdraw their kids from school when their child expresses some discontentment.
 

 


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Old 07-06-2011, 10:28 PM
 
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zinemama,  I didn't pore over all these posts to check if you are homeschooling.  I think, though, that when an unschooler mentions learning "at home" they simply mean not-at-school.  There is nothing preventing homeschoolers of any stripe from using the people and resources you mentioned.  The difference, especially at the primary school level, is that unschooled kids will be seeking out this kind of expertise rather than having no choice, or the choice of the best-of-several-but-you-have-to-pick-one.  

     You are right in that she cannot do all this herself "at home", but homeschooling is only rarely confined to "at home".

 

     I think this request was asking how families already calling themselves "homeschoolers" would respond if they were in this situation.  It is a given on this forum that homeschooling (or unschooling, since this is the unschooling thread) is a viable and usually preferable option to standard schooling.  

 


I'm not homeschooling, but yes, I am aware that homeschooling parents can and do routinely arrange these sorts of experiences for their children.

But I was responding to the OP, who as I understand is not homeschooling, but unschooling. Perhaps I don't completely understand unschooling - my knowledge of it is based on reading of this forum over many years. As I understand it, an unschooler might not even know that she had the interests listed by LoriBelle, since - again, this is my understanding based on reading this forum, unschooling parents make a point of not ever directing a child's learning, but rather waiting for the child to evince an interest in a subject. So while a homeschooling parent might say, "Hey, this year we're going to sign you up for this Spanish class with a wonderful teacher from Guatemala," an unschooling parent would shun any sort overt directing of the child into a particular educational path, leaving the entire choice of what/where/when to learn everything up to the child. To do otherwise would be to stifle the child's freedom. That's why it's difficult for me to see how if LoriBelle were an unschooler, she would ever have discovered "the deeper meaning and beauty in numbers." Because, as she stated, she hadn't been very interested in math before encountering these two gifted teachers. As I understand it, an unschooler with no interest in math would just naturally not pursue the study of it. Do I have that right?
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:03 PM
 
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unschooling parents make a point of not ever directing a child's learning, but rather waiting for the child to evince an interest in a subject.  .... That's why it's difficult for me to see how if LoriBelle were an unschooler, she would ever have discovered "the deeper meaning and beauty in numbers." 


I have an unschooler who is passionate about the deeper meaning and beauty in numbers. She spent hours at age 7 building herself a Pascal's Triangle. She read "The Number Devil" for pleasure. One of her favourite things to do is math. Combinatorics is a current passion. 

 

I think what you are missing in your understanding of unschooling (and this isn't really the place for this, but whatever ...) is that unschooled children are meaningfully included in family and community life -- full-time. Unschooling isn't just a void created by the absence of directed learning. It's a world of possibilities created by being busy with stuff out in your community, alongside your parents, siblings, friends and relatives, talking, chatting, exploring and contributing, often alongside people who are living their callings and passions and eager to share. Rather than being busy during most of their productive time with other-directed studies, activities and exercises, where the onus is pretty much on those "others" to make sure that the child is exposed to all the appropriate things that might be relevent in the real world, unschoolers live in the real world. The beauty of numbers is out there in the real world: that's how my kid discovered it. People who speak Spanish, or Japanese, or German, or French ... they're out there in the real world.

 

Miranda

 


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Old 07-07-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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I think some luck or serendipity is involved for anyone in school or out to meet up with just the right people.  My high school chemistry teacher was dull.  Who knows what might have happened if she were more inspired?  This is life.  I ended up as a professional gardener through a fair amount of this serendipity (outside of school, BTW).  It could easily have gone in a different direction had I sought out or met different people.


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Old 07-07-2011, 10:14 AM
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As I understand it, an unschooler might not even know that she had the interests listed by LoriBelle, since - again, this is my understanding based on reading this forum, unschooling parents make a point of not ever directing a child's learning, but rather waiting for the child to evince an interest in a subject. So while a homeschooling parent might say, "Hey, this year we're going to sign you up for this Spanish class with a wonderful teacher from Guatemala," an unschooling parent would shun any sort overt directing of the child into a particular educational path, leaving the entire choice of what/where/when to learn everything up to the child. To do otherwise would be to stifle the child's freedom. That's why it's difficult for me to see how if LoriBelle were an unschooler, she would ever have discovered "the deeper meaning and beauty in numbers." Because, as she stated, she hadn't been very interested in math before encountering these two gifted teachers. As I understand it, an unschooler with no interest in math would just naturally not pursue the study of it. Do I have that right?

Not exactly. You're right that an unschooling parent probably wouldn't say "Hey, this year we're going to sign you up for this Spanish class with a wonderful teacher from Guatemala," but I would certainly say, "Hey, the homeschool group is offering a Spanish class with a wonderful teacher from Guatemala this year - do you want to do it?" And kid might say yes, or no, or depending on her age at the time my kid might have asked if any of her friends were signing up, or what the class would be like, or other things, and then she'd decide if it was something she wanted to do or not. I think Rain actually did do a Spanish class with our homeschool group when she was 6 or so, mostly because her friends were signing up....

And sometimes life "directs" a kid.... if your friends or family are interested in something, often you end up going along for the ride, because you like those people or because it works out better logistically or whatever, and you bring a book so you can read that if you're bored but sometimes you find something you're into...

 
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, everyone gave great responses to the misconceptions of unschooling and my response to the person who listed the reasons she enjoyed school, high school mostly, it seems.

The one big thing that came into my head since my last post was what 4evermom said about how homeschoolers and unschoolers don't look to school as the first choice to fill an interest that a child has. We try to find ways to fulfill their interests outside of school. And, imo, there are usually much better ways than public school classes.

On another note, back to my issue with my ds saying he wants to attend school, this only comes up in the summer. He doesn't ask to go to school during the school year. What do you suppose that is about?

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Old 07-07-2011, 03:22 PM
 
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Well, everyone gave great responses to the misconceptions of unschooling and my response to the person who listed the reasons she enjoyed school, high school mostly, it seems.

Sorry to get your topic off track! Really, that was not my intention.
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The one big thing that came into my head since my last post was what 4evermom said about how homeschoolers and unschoolers don't look to school as the first choice to fill an interest that a child has. We try to find ways to fulfill their interests outside of school. And, imo, there are usually much better ways than public school classes.

I agree with you and I think here you're getting at the fundamental difference between the unschooling and classroom schooling mindsets. Neither I (nor, to be honest, any of the homeschoolers I know) look to school (or home curriculum) as the first choice to fulfill our children's interests. It's the first choice to get them the skills - both basic and higher-level critical thinking - that they will need to successfully apply to college and go on to support themselves and their families (whether through those degrees or not). Of course, there are points where a classroom education dovetails nicely with a child's interests (my son and Pacific NW Native American culture, for example, something that was studied in-depth during his 4th grade year.) But although my son invariably finds himself happily engaged with his classroom studies, fulfilling his interests is not my primary reason for sending him to school. We find ways of fulfilling his other interests outside of school.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:13 PM
 
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On another note, back to my issue with my ds saying he wants to attend school, this only comes up in the summer. He doesn't ask to go to school during the school year. What do you suppose that is about?


That's odd...  Does he play with schooled kids more in the summer?  And maybe they paint school in a rosier light when they aren't going everyday?  I was noticing the school supply displays are in stores now.  That gets some kids more excited about school (if not yours, maybe other kids).

 


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Old 07-07-2011, 04:31 PM
 
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I agree with you and I think here you're getting at the fundamental difference between the unschooling and classroom schooling mindsets. Neither I (nor, to be honest, any of the homeschoolers I know) look to school (or home curriculum) as the first choice to fulfill our children's interests. It's the first choice to get them the skills - both basic and higher-level critical thinking - that they will need to successfully apply to college and go on to support themselves and their families (whether through those degrees or not). Of course, there are points where a classroom education dovetails nicely with a child's interests (my son and Pacific NW Native American culture, for example, something that was studied in-depth during his 4th grade year.) But although my son invariably finds himself happily engaged with his classroom studies, fulfilling his interests is not my primary reason for sending him to school. We find ways of fulfilling his other interests outside of school.


I tend to think of interests and skills my ds might want for the future as one big ball of wax.  They aren't separate things to me so I don't try to fulfill one one way and the other another way...  Dividing someone's pursuits into things merely of interest vs skills presumed necessary for success as an adult is an odd thought for most unschoolers.  We tend not to define some activities as more worthy than others.  It's hard to predict what interests/skills will be helpful in the future.  IMO, it's good to run with whatever current interests/skill development dc are interested in when they are interested.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Building skills is satisfying when its a chosen activity.  And skills can be developed in many different ways.  My own ds is taking off with typing, so pleased with himself that he can communicate with his friends during in game chats, despite not being interested in building writing skills. 

 


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I tend to think of interests and skills my ds might want for the future as one big ball of wax.  They aren't separate things to me so I don't try to fulfill one one way and the other another way...  Dividing someone's pursuits into things merely of interest vs skills presumed necessary for success as an adult is an odd thought for most unschoolers.  We tend not to define some activities as more worthy than others.  It's hard to predict what interests/skills will be helpful in the future.  IMO, it's good to run with whatever current interests/skill development dc are interested in when they are interested.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Building skills is satisfying when its a chosen activity.  And skills can be developed in many different ways.  My own ds is taking off with typing, so pleased with himself that he can communicate with his friends during in game chats, despite not being interested in building writing skills. 

 


Do you not agree that literacy and mathematics are more 'worthy' than other skills?

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Old 07-07-2011, 05:26 PM
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Do you not agree that literacy and mathematics are more 'worthy' than other skills?


Those are huge categories of skills, though... and I'd say it really depends on which particular skills you're talking about, and what your kid wants to do with his or her life. More important might be skills like good time management, or knowing how to interact with others effectively... or if your kid is an artist of some kind then those skills might be more important. I do think understanding basic arithmetic computation and being able to do it by hand or with a calculator are useful things for most people to know, as are reading at a basic level and writing well enough to communicate your ideas... but those aren't really hard things to learn, barring an underlying disability, once a kid is developmentally ready to learn them and wants to.

Our experience was like 4evermom's, though... my kid acquired a lot of skills simply through following her interests (and as a teens made a concerted effort to gain the ones she didn't yet have, and did so).

 
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