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#181 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If school is chosen as the best option available, isn't that like choosing the lesser evil? Sounds the same as voting for one candidate over another because s/he is the lesser of two evils, which is really sad. We all should be able to educate our children the best way there is (and I understand this may be different for different families. Some do think school is the best thing for their children.), not just the best out of the limited options we have. KWIM?

I'm reading a book right now entitled, "How to Raise Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World" (Don't have the book in front of me so I don't have the authors' names.). I'm not very far into it so I'm not sure I like it yet. However, the part I have been reading is about how the US society has gone from one where children were treated as useful, value members of families to feeling devalued, basically. The authors site the change in the public school system once the baby boomers became school-aged. Communities were not equipped to handle the 5X increase in the number of children attending school either at or right after 1946 (I'm terrible with remembering dates). The entire format of how school was done has changed and it has not been a good thing.

I didn't expect to read anything about schools being detrimental in this book. It is, though, yet another example of how schools are failing our children. I've read about it in many books. I hear continuously on the news. I experienced it myself as a student and as a parent even in one of the consistently top 3 public school systems in the country. But, rather than parents and children getting more options on how to educate, we are just given more school.

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#182 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 08:42 AM
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If school is chosen as the best option available, isn't that like choosing the lesser evil? Sounds the same as voting for one candidate over another because s/he is the lesser of two evils, which is really sad. We all should be able to educate our children the best way there is (and I understand this may be different for different families. Some do think school is the best thing for their children.), not just the best out of the limited options we have. KWIM?

I don't understand what you're saying here - can you explain more? I think we're always choosing from the best options available - that's life. If we'd had access to, say, a free part-time school/resource center that offered dance and theatre classes and book clubs and hands-on science classes when Rain was maybe 8-12, I think it would have been a great thing. I could have worked while she was there, and she would have enjoyed it.

When she was 12, she spent a day at this school and thought it was awesome, and had I not been unemployed and living 45 minutes away (and then we moved even farther away) we maybe could have made that happen for her. At least for the year she was 12, I'm pretty sure she would have been happier there than unschooling, because it was a really hard, lonely year for both of us. But then we found our way a bit, and in the end unschooling has worked out pretty well - but it's always been the best option available, not the perfect solution. YMMV, I guess.

 
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#183 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 08:44 AM
 
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ok, I am only on page3 but the question that pops into my head is this:  If her 7 y/o were in school and repeatedly asked to be homeschooled would people be telling her that the boy is too young to decide and that she should keep him in school? 

 We are  homeschooling my 4.5 y/o (yes much younger but he is academically closer to a 6/7 y/o) and he is enjoying it and proudly telling others he homeschools but that maybe one day when he is older he will go to school-this is the plan...I think there are benefits to both school and homeschooling.  He asked about going to school in the fall and for now we are staying at my ils so for now I explained he will have to wait.

 

Why not give him a chance to see what really happens in school?  What is the worst that can happen - he loves it and wants to continue/he hates it and wants to come home?


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#184 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 08:55 AM
 
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I don't understand what you're saying here - can you explain more? I think we're always choosing from the best options available - that's life.


Maybe she is differentiating between choosing the best available option and creating the ideal option?  Obviously creating the ideal option isn't always, or even usually, possible for most people.

 


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#185 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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Why not give him a chance to see what really happens in school?  What is the worst that can happen - he loves it and wants to continue/he hates it and wants to come home?



I sort of feel that that poor horse has been beaten enough.


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#186 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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 If her 7 y/o were in school and repeatedly asked to be homeschooled would people be telling her that the boy is too young to decide and that she should keep him in school? 

 


I think that's a little different. My first instict if a child were unhappy in any situation would be to look for ways to adapt the situation to take into account the child's wants and needs. So when my dd8 was expressing frustration with some of the aimlessness in her unschooled day-to-day life, we discussed what kinds of things she would like to fill her days with. We talked about the balance of structured and unstructured time, social and individual time, the type of extra-curriculars she's involved in, the degree of challenge and self-directedness she'd like in her learning, what things she'd like to do more of, what less, and so on. We ended up changing things considerably: she went from a very unstructured day-to-day life to working systematically through 6th grade math and science courses, multi-media projects, art classes, reading lists and the like. We did this five days a week (Tuesdays and Fridays off)

 

The difference with school is that there is precious little that a parent (or even a motivated teacher) can do to change the particulars. If the child is unhappy the parent can't identify the particular problems and then say "All right, let's see about moving you to a different class with older kids that's held later in the day, and we'll make sure you get some outside-time before reading time every day, and use verbal reports for evaluation rather than written output. We'll move you from 3rd to 6th grade for math, eliminate team sports from your PE program and take every Wednesday off to give you a day of down-time in the middle of the week."

 

So when a child is homeschooled and asking to go to school often the reasons he is asking are things that can be addressed by changing the home-learning environment or approach. When a child is in school and asking to be homeschooled, it can be very difficult to address the child's concerns by changing the school environment -- although I would hope that the parents and teacher would do what they can, assuming that the reasons they chose school over homeschooling in the first place still apply. 

 

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#187 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't understand what you're saying here - can you explain more? I think we're always choosing from the best options available - that's life.
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Maybe she is differentiating between choosing the best available option and creating the ideal option?  Obviously creating the ideal option isn't always, or even usually, possible for most people.

Yeah, something like that. That's why I put in there that I understand that some would decide that school is the best option, period. If one really considers all the options and truly feels that all the options are equally available and comes to the conclusion that school is best, that's different from saying school is the best choice out of the options available. Maybe it's a slight difference in thinking. I don't see how most parents have come to that conclusion based on what I read and hear about the state of schools these days and how much I hear other parents complain about their child(ren)'s schools. Maybe that's where my bias comes in. As I've said quite a few times, I think that school is really not a good place for any child.

I think most families don't even consider homeschooling, and certainly not unschooling, as a real option. There are many reasons for this. Maybe they feel both parents need to work and the children can't stay home alone. Maybe they don't feel they can give their children the same opportunities and exposure that a school can. Or it's a single parent family and there isn't an adult available to stay home with the children. The single parent who has to work is one true reason that I can think of that might truly exclude homeschooling or unschooling, at least in the early childhood years. I think, for the most part, parents have bought into the idea that they aren't as capable of educating their own children as government bureaucrats and certified teachers and I think that is sad. Whenever homeschooling comes up in conversation with non-homeschoolers, I almost invariably get the, "Oh, I could never do that because..." and make comments to the extent that they think I must be some kind of super parent for being able to have my children home with me all day every day. I cannot think of once when another parent has said to me that s/he doesn't homeschool because s/he truly believes that school is the best way for their children to get an education.


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#188 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 11:26 AM
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Yeah, something like that. That's why I put in there that I understand that some would decide that school is the best option, period. If one really considers all the options and truly feels that all the options are equally available and comes to the conclusion that school is best, that's different from saying school is the best choice out of the options available. Maybe it's a slight difference in thinking.

So are you thinking that when people say school is the best option out there for their kids, that means that they haven't fully researched and thought about the possibility of options like unschooling? That's kind of what I'm getting, but again I'm not really feeling like I understand.
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I don't see how most parents have come to that conclusion based on what I read and hear about the state of schools these days and how much I hear other parents complain about their child(ren)'s schools. Maybe that's where my bias comes in. As I've said quite a few times, I think that school is really not a good place for any child.

I think it's impossible to generalize about all schools and all kids.

School was a much better place for me than home was, when I was a kid, and the two years I spent at a funky private school in Kansas City (precursor to the one Rain visited) were very, very good, in lots of ways.

It was better for Rain to spend a year in Russian schools than to spend that same year unschooling here - she thinks so, and I think so. Not that the school was great, but she learned a whole lot there.

I have a friend who had three daughters, 7 years apart. The older two were unschooled happily all the way through and loved. The youngest, by 8 or 9, was determined to go to school, so they found a Waldorf school that seemed like a good fit and sent her... she was in a year, out a year, and then back in, and she graduated from public high school a year ago and just finished her freshman year in college. School - at least the schools she attended - were very good for her, in ways that unschooling wasn't.

 
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#189 of 206 Old 07-17-2011, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I think that most parents do not even consider unschooling as an option. I have never met another parent IRL who had even heard of unschooling before I mentioned it, much less considered it as an option for their family. When school families talk to me about homeschooling they assume we do school at home. Everyone asks what grade my children are in, what curriculum we use, how many hours a day we spend doing schoolwork, if we follow the same holiday schedule as public schools and so on. I've given up trying to explain unschooling to anyone because most people don't seem to be able to wrap their brains around it. If it comes up, I just tell people there are books and info on the web they can read if they are interested in learning more about it. Even among homeschoolers that I meet, unschoolers are very rare. I've actually never met another unschooling family IRL although I have met several homeschooling familes in the past few years. The only other unschoolers I have met have been online.

I did say in the beginning that I do think that sometimes school is better than home for some children. Also, I'm referring mostly to the public school system, not alternative schools like Waldorf or Montessori (although I'm not a fan of either of those methods, either, even though I attended a Montessori school for preschool and kindergarten). I think, though, that if we were to make school the exception rather than the rule, we would discover that instances of school being better than home are rare. Of course, that won't happen because it would require a complete undoing of our society as we know it.

I can't remember the exact analogy with breastfeeding that was presented earlier but I've been thinking that it might be a good one to use. Education or schooling runs on a continuum, I think. The ideal best, most natural would be unschooling, then would come homeschooling with the family (as long as it's not harsh), then would come schooling with a few like minded families, then an institutionalized school in the same way that breastfeeding is the ideal best, most natural way to feed babies, followed by bottlefeeding your own breastmilk, then donated breastmilk, then formula.

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#190 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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Yes, I think that most parents do not even consider unschooling as an option. I have never met another parent IRL who had even heard of unschooling before I mentioned it, much less considered it as an option for their family. When school families talk to me about homeschooling they assume we do school at home. Everyone asks what grade my children are in, what curriculum we use, how many hours a day we spend doing schoolwork, if we follow the same holiday schedule as public schools and so on. I've given up trying to explain unschooling to anyone because most people don't seem to be able to wrap their brains around it. If it comes up, I just tell people there are books and info on the web they can read if they are interested in learning more about it. Even among homeschoolers that I meet, unschoolers are very rare. I've actually never met another unschooling family IRL although I have met several homeschooling familes in the past few years. The only other unschoolers I have met have been online.

I did say in the beginning that I do think that sometimes school is better than home for some children. Also, I'm referring mostly to the public school system, not alternative schools like Waldorf or Montessori (although I'm not a fan of either of those methods, either, even though I attended a Montessori school for preschool and kindergarten). I think, though, that if we were to make school the exception rather than the rule, we would discover that instances of school being better than home are rare. Of course, that won't happen because it would require a complete undoing of our society as we know it.

I can't remember the exact analogy with breastfeeding that was presented earlier but I've been thinking that it might be a good one to use. Education or schooling runs on a continuum, I think. The ideal best, most natural would be unschooling, then would come homeschooling with the family (as long as it's not harsh), then would come schooling with a few like minded families, then an institutionalized school in the same way that breastfeeding is the ideal best, most natural way to feed babies, followed by bottlefeeding your own breastmilk, then donated breastmilk, then formula.


 

Responding to the bolded - honestly that analogy makes so little sense it's kind of offensive.   And I say that as a formula-using, future homeschooling mom.   Breastmilk is clearly the ideal food for infants.  Countless studies have shown this to be true, and formula is formulated to be as breastmilk-like as possible, even though it can't ever be quite as good.   Except in truly unusual medical circumstances, breastmilk is best for every baby  who can get it. Sometimes formula is the best possibility for individual circumstances - we have low supply here, so we use formula (which is far superior to starvation), but even formula canisters say right on them "breastmilk is best". 

 

Schooling is completely different.  There are personality issues, cultural issues, community issues, family issues...  Some kids do better in school than they would unschooling, even with the best unschooling mom in the world.  Some kids need structure.  Some families need school for various reasons.  Some find that school provides the best available education for their kids - even if they could homeschool.   There is no empirical evidence that unschooling is superior to structured homeschooling or a school environment.  And even if there were - every school is different, every home is different, an every child is different.  In some cases,  a good school and a kid who does well in a school environment is really the ideal situation.  In some cases, a good unschooling environment and a kid who does well in it is the ideal situation.     I really do not get the attitude here that unschooling is the ideal situation whenever possible. 

 

And I had a generally negative school experience and don't intend to send my kids to school.  I can still respect that different people in different situations have different experiences. 


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#191 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Schooling is completely different.  There are personality issues, cultural issues, community issues, family issues...  Some kids do better in school than they would unschooling, even with the best unschooling mom in the world.  Some kids need structure. 

I don't see any issues here that can't be dealt with within the confines of unschooling. You can certainly provide more structure to a child who wants it while still unschooling. I think that personality issues can be better addressed with unschooling vs. school. I don't need empirical data to understand that it's better to let a child develop and learn at their own, natural pace rather than forcing them to learn specific subjects and specific times and in specific ways. Schools are not set up to support individual learning or personality differences. They expect all children to do the same thing at the same age. There isn't much leeway in that. School may be better than no education but I don't think it's the best first choice for the child ever.

I wouldn't take cultural or community issues into the equation at all. I don't see how that's relevant. My top priority is my children not any cultural or community expectations. As far as family issues, I've addressed this at least twice already. If there are family issues that preclude unschooling or homeschooling, than school would be the way to go. A public school education is certainly better than no education.

I'm not sure what is meant by some kids doing better in school than unschooling. I think maybe that depends on your goals and expectations. It's very difficult for most people to really trust the unschooling process so they may see children as not doing well if they aren't doing the same things at schooled kids of the same age. That doesn't mean the schooled kids are doing "better". It only means they are doing what is expected of them in school.

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#192 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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I don't see any issues here that can't be dealt with within the confines of unschooling. You can certainly provide more structure to a child who wants it while still unschooling.


But what if your child is 15 and wants structure, wants academic challenge in a course-like format, wants to be held accountable to the structure by someone, yet the personality and relationship dynamics are such that doesn't want the structure, feedback or accountability coming from her parents? What if the child is asking for a place separate from home and family, and away from the distractions of siblings and electronics, in which to do this academic work? And you live in a rural area with no library, no tutors, no community college, no recreation centre, and you have a small home on a remote acreage with lots of family members sharing the space? This was our situation three years ago, with our academically driven eldest. We couldn't provide those things, at least not nearly as effectively as school could, so she went to school part-time and got exactly what she wanted within a flexible self-paced program. 

 

I am a very committed unschooling parent but I still admit that there are times when school can provide for some kids' needs and wishes better than homeschooling can. 

 

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I don't see any issues here that can't be dealt with within the confines of unschooling. You can certainly provide more structure to a child who wants it while still unschooling. I think that personality issues can be better addressed with unschooling vs. school.
 

I think it depends a lot on the specific personality issues.   What if there is a personality conflict between the mom and the child that makes it harder for the child to learn?  Or a kid who REALLY needs a group environment to learn, but no group environments available in the area outside of school.  Or a kid who learns better without little kids running around and a family that has a bunch of little kids and not a lot of space? 

 

 

 

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I don't need empirical data to understand that it's better to let a child develop and learn at their own, natural pace rather than forcing them to learn specific subjects and specific times and in specific ways. Schools are not set up to support individual learning or personality differences. They expect all children to do the same thing at the same age. There isn't much leeway in that. School may be better than no education but I don't think it's the best first choice for the child ever.


Depends on the kid.  Some kids learn better if topics are introduced for them.  Some kids need more structure than some parents can provide at home, for a variety of reasons.  Some kids learn very well in the school environment, even better than they would at home (even if home is structured).  Not all schools expect kids to all do the same things at the same time.  Many schools are in fact set up to support learning or personality differences.  Some schools are terrible about those things, yes, but some schools are not.  Some parents aren't very good at dealing with individual learning or personality differences.  I agree that homeschooling OFTEN or even USUALLY gives the child a more individualized experience, but not ALWAYS. 

 

 

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I wouldn't take cultural or community issues into the equation at all. I don't see how that's relevant. My top priority is my children not any cultural or community expectations. As far as family issues, I've addressed this at least twice already. If there are family issues that preclude unschooling or homeschooling, than school would be the way to go. A public school education is certainly better than no education.
 

Sorry, I think I communicated this one poorly.  I don't give a hoot about cultural or community expectations, in general.  However, I meant that the cultural and community resources available to the home/unschooled child can make a difference in their experience.  An unschooled child who lives in the middle of nowhere with no transportation options and no group classes available locally, who also learns best in a group, may be better off in school.  If that same child lives in a place with lots of opportunities, it could be a different story.

 

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I'm not sure what is meant by some kids doing better in school than unschooling. I think maybe that depends on your goals and expectations. It's very difficult for most people to really trust the unschooling process so they may see children as not doing well if they aren't doing the same things at schooled kids of the same age. That doesn't mean the schooled kids are doing "better". It only means they are doing what is expected of them in school.


Doing better depends on the definition, of course.  But the statement "some kids do better in school than unschooling" is actually pretty flexibile depending on your definition.  You could define "doing better" as "being happier", or "reading more books", or "getting higher test scores" or "having more options after graduation".

 

Some kids are happier in school than unschooled.

Some kids read more books in school than when they are unschooled.

etc. 

 

I'd personally define "doing well" academically along the lines of "getting an education that will open doors while maintaining a balanced life and a love of learning".  How would you define it?

 

 


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#194 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Miranda ~ I have said again and again that I think it's perfectly fine for a teenager to choose school. I think an unschooled teen is much more capable of handling the school environment than an elementary age child. If you read the title of this thread, it's about young children. Hopefully, however, the teen would be able to provide her own structure and accountability by that point. I would fully expect an unschooled teen to be capable of doing that. I would probably wonder why the teen felt she needed external structure and accountability and try to help her find ways to provide that for herself before I just defaulted to school.

A family is a group, and a much more normal, natural group than what is provided in a school setting where children are separated by age. I think it's the parents responsibility to work out a way to make the family group dynamic work for everyone. A rural or isolated setting does not necessarily preclude educational or learning opportunities. There are a lot things that children can learn in that setting that my children, who are stuck in a suburban area, do not have easy access to. I can't really answer a hypothetical question like that. It would really depend on a lot of factors.

I've thought of another way of explaining my opinion. For me, it's about what's normal and natural. Unschooling is just an extension of the normal and natural learning that babies and toddlers are capable of. I've said that before in this thread, too. The continuation of that normal and natural learning process should be the default, not school. That's my point and I think it's being missed in all the details.

Unschooling has a lot more to do with academics so I don't think it can really be defined in those terms. That's why I don't think you can compare doing well in school vs. doing well unschooling. They are very different apples. I would define doing well as being generally happy, pursuing interests and having a continual love of learning. I see everything that my children do as having the potential to provide for them in their adult lives, which is what I'm assuming you mean by opening doors.

If my child appears to be unhappy with unschooling, I look to myself and what I'm doing or not doing that may be contributing to that. Then I try to find solutions within my home and with unschooling to change that before automatically defaulting to school. If after all of that, my child is still unhappy and wants to go to school, then to school he will go always with the option to come back home.



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Miranda ~ I have said again and again that I think it's perfectly fine for a teenager to choose school. ...[snip]... If you read the title of this thread, it's about young children. 


I understand that the dilemma you're facing is with a much younger child, and that's what the original post was about, almost two hundred posts ago. I was responding to the more philosophical, metaphoric discussion that seemed to have sprung up: whether unschooling is the metaphorical equivalent of breastfeeding, whether unschooling is always the ideal form of education. Personally I don't think the metaphor works. While I completely agree (and you'll see, from my previous posts) that schooling should not be the default choice if a 7-year-old expresses some unhappiness with unschooling, I was disagreeing with this:

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife
I think an unschooled teen is much more capable of handling the school environment than an elementary age child.
The ideal best, most natural would be unschooling, then would come homeschooling with the family (as long as it's not harsh), then would come schooling with a few like minded families, then an institutionalized school...

 

 

It sounds to me like you're saying that a teenager should be able to choose to go to school because at that age s/he can handle the fact that schooling is a pretty mediocre-to-poor educational choice. Once I would have agreed with you, but as I have watched a lot of different kids grow up, and move back and forth between the school system and unschooling, I don't really think you can say that school is always the worst of the choices. Some kids thrive in a school environment, whereas they were unhappy and kind of "stuck" as unschoolers -- even in creative, caring, responsive unschooling families. Some kids, at some times in their lives, genuinely like having their learning led by others. Just as I normally arrive in a new city and wish to explore it on my own terms, occasionally I'd prefer a guided tour, finding my curiosity aroused by things others have decided are worth paying attention to.

 

My friends are strongly considering sending their hitherto-unschooled 10-year-old to school this fall. He lives on a homestead with four siblings, two parents and two honourary uncles, a long way from town. They have an amazing, self-sufficient life. He breeds and raises his own animals, helps with the family handicraft import business and market garden, builds fences and berms with big machines, helps with carpentry, busks very successfully with his violin for spending money, watches films and documentaries, plays computer games, spends time with my 14yo ds learning computer programming, skis the mountains in the winter and bikes them in the summer. It's an amazing natural-learning lifestyle, nicely wired and at the same time close to the earth, involved in the stuff of daily living and real, meaningful pursuits of family and community life. Yet he's unhappy. They cannot afford many group-based extra-curriculars, nor can they afford the gas to drive him to town for social experiences more than a couple of times a week. There are only about a dozen kids his age in the region, all of them go to school and none live within walking or bicycling distance. He loves having a daily routine, so long as it's provided by an emotionally neutral source. For example, he has loved the sense of accomplishment he got from participating in the long hours of theatre camps over the past few summers, but spits acid at his parents if they try to gently or firmly enforce a similar routine even *at his request* at home, and blames them for his lack of productivity and achievement. He's been kind of spinning his wheels for a couple of years despite all the creative things he and his parents have tried -- mentorships, more travel, on-line contact with agemates, on-line learning, schedules, rhythms, loose mutually-derived expectations, more responsibility, less responsibility. Yet it all falls short. He absolutely comes alive in group learning situations with children of similar age, finds his passions ignited, his enthusiasm and leadership abilities valued. He dislikes any input or overseeing by his parents, yet struggles to self-structure his academic pursuits, then gets discouraged and avoidant and angry -- and his self-esteem suffers. 

 

The school he'll likely end up attending in September is our small town public school. He'll be in a multi-age classroom (5th, 6th and 7th grades) with an amazing teacher with lots of flexibility and big-picture creativity, a bit of a maverick who is universally loved and respected in the community. I honestly think he'll be much happier, and will learn very well indeed, even though his parents have been fabulous unschooling parents. He may not go to school for years, but I'm pretty sure it'll be good for him in the medium-term.

 

I guess if you mean that in ideal circumstances (if his parents had an extra $20K income a year and they lived close to town, and there was a homeschooling co-op group within 2 hours, and academic mentors available, if there were writers clubs and classes and theatre groups and science clubs nearby) that unschooling could be better for him than school. But then I think you also have to afford school the same courtesy of operating under ideal circumstances. The reality is that no situation is ever truly ideal, unschooling or schooling or otherwise. We do the best we can at the time for the particular people we care about.

 

Miranda


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#196 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post

Miranda ~ I have said again and again that I think it's perfectly fine for a teenager to choose school. I think an unschooled teen is much more capable of handling the school environment than an elementary age child. If you read the title of this thread, it's about young children. Hopefully, however, the teen would be able to provide her own structure and accountability by that point. I would fully expect an unschooled teen to be capable of doing that. I would probably wonder why the teen felt she needed external structure and accountability and try to help her find ways to provide that for herself before I just defaulted to school.

A family is a group, and a much more normal, natural group than what is provided in a school setting where children are separated by age. I think it's the parents responsibility to work out a way to make the family group dynamic work for everyone. A rural or isolated setting does not necessarily preclude educational or learning opportunities. There are a lot things that children can learn in that setting that my children, who are stuck in a suburban area, do not have easy access to. I can't really answer a hypothetical question like that. It would really depend on a lot of factors.

I've thought of another way of explaining my opinion. For me, it's about what's normal and natural. Unschooling is just an extension of the normal and natural learning that babies and toddlers are capable of. I've said that before in this thread, too. The continuation of that normal and natural learning process should be the default, not school. That's my point and I think it's being missed in all the details.

Unschooling has a lot more to do with academics so I don't think it can really be defined in those terms. That's why I don't think you can compare doing well in school vs. doing well unschooling. They are very different apples. I would define doing well as being generally happy, pursuing interests and having a continual love of learning. I see everything that my children do as having the potential to provide for them in their adult lives, which is what I'm assuming you mean by opening doors.

If my child appears to be unhappy with unschooling, I look to myself and what I'm doing or not doing that may be contributing to that. Then I try to find solutions within my home and with unschooling to change that before automatically defaulting to school. If after all of that, my child is still unhappy and wants to go to school, then to school he will go always with the option to come back home.

 

 

Of course a family is a group, but some kids do better in a different group environment.  It really isn't that natural for a nuclear family to live alone without very frequent contact with others. Of course, the school setting is not natural either, but not all kids do best in either of those situations.

 

Yes, there's lots to learn in a rural setting.  Many children thrive in a rural setting.  But if a kid thrives in a large-group setting, and school is the only large group around... 
 

Your last paragraph makes perfect sense to me.  I don't think that unschoolers need to send their kids to school at the first sign of unhappiness, or even if the kids ask to go to school.  I have zero problem with trying to make things work for everyone at home.  I'm totally supportive of that.  I don't think you need to send your 7yo to school just because he asked, and working to find the root of the problem and see if it can be solved within your preferred educational philosophy makes sense to me. 

 

My problem was with the breastfeeding/unschooling analogy, and your assertion below.

 

Quote:
School may be better than no education but I don't think it's the best first choice for the child ever.

 

 


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#197 of 206 Old 07-19-2011, 06:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lonegirl View Post

ok, I am only on page3 but the question that pops into my head is this:  If her 7 y/o were in school and repeatedly asked to be homeschooled would people be telling her that the boy is too young to decide and that she should keep him in school? 


Of course! (Well, to the extent that I believe you can ever say an X-year-old is too young for [anything].) If your kid is in school, hopefully it's because you thought about it and had reason to believe it was best for him. And since a family consists of more people than just that one child, pulling him out of school is probably going to take some adjusting of everyone else's lives. So if you have reason to believe that your 7-year-old child, in his naivety, only wanted to be homeschooled because he believed that he'd be able to play with his school friends all day (even though they'll still be in school), he'll get to go to the zoo every day (even though your family can't afford it), and your family would start to live on a farm (even if you wouldn't), then you probably shouldn't start homeschooling him just because he keeps asking.

 

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post


A family is a group, and a much more normal, natural group than what is provided in a school setting where children are separated by age. I think it's the parents responsibility to work out a way to make the family group dynamic work for everyone. A rural or isolated setting does not necessarily preclude educational or learning opportunities. There are a lot things that children can learn in that setting that my children, who are stuck in a suburban area, do not have easy access to. I can't really answer a hypothetical question like that. It would really depend on a lot of factors.

I've thought of another way of explaining my opinion. For me, it's about what's normal and natural. Unschooling is just an extension of the normal and natural learning that babies and toddlers are capable of. I've said that before in this thread, too. The continuation of that normal and natural learning process should be the default, not school. That's my point and I think it's being missed in all the details.
 



It's actually very common in many "more natural" societies for children to move into peer-group based situations, where they spend most of their time with other children rather than exclusively with family members.   While throughout human history these groups have been more mixed in age than a single-age class, there is a great deal of precedent for teenagers wishing to spend their time working and learning in larger groups of other teenagers, rather than alone, or just within just the nuclear family.  The most "natural" continuation of the "normal and natural learning process," once a child is let down from moms hip and is weaned, is to turn them loose to be with a larger group of children from other families.

 

Just saying that the "what is most natural" argument isn't the best one, given that leaving a child alone or only with parents siblings is also not the most natural setup.  Actually, the kind of high school program my husband was in, where most of the curriculum moved on a 4-year cycle and everyone from 14-18 worked on the same general topics together, is probably "more natural" from a social structure point of view.


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#199 of 206 Old 07-20-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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Any structure where attendance is required is not natural, I don't think.  Cooperative learning is great.  But learning "by the bell", judged by a narrow definition of achievement and against other students is not a requirement for cooperative learning.  Learning from teachers and learning from direct experience, are as old as humanity itself and older.  But historically, teachers didn't need an education degree, they didn't have superintendents, they had some control over what they taught.  School today is unlike that.  It is not a natural construct, though we could debate the meaning of "natural" until we breathe our dying breath.  (Now I think I'll go and have a nice, relaxing abortion debate with that guy standing on the corner there....)

 

I think it's sad that kids are routinely whisked away, told how "to learn" completely separated from what they are actually learning about at a time when direct experience is so important and self-directed learning so common.  Then, after they graduate, THEN they are told to go and follow their interests.  It's seems backwards to me.  Though schools (meaning teachers and superintendents, etc.) might say otherwise, the bottom line is that they operate on the belief that children cannot be trusted to learn the things required of modern society unless they coerce them into "learning".  (To use a nursing analogy again, some kids and families will do very well with scheduled feedings, but the vast majority would do just fine, even better letting mama know they are hungry.)


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Sure, the attendance requirement is unnatural. So is same-age classrooms.  Spending the vast majority of your time with your mother and siblings post-weaning is unnatural.  Needing to know how to read, write, and do mathematics in order to function in society is unnatural.  

 

Some kids thrive in a nuclear family environment, in spite of it's unnaturalness.  Some kids thrive in same-age classroom with required attendance, in spite of it's unnaturalness.  The "natural" scheme of a mixed age group running around unrestricted is not available to most kids, so most of us are finding the "unnatural" situation that best suits their needs.  However, even that idealized tribe, I suspect, would not be ideal for all children. Nature doesn't work that way.

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#201 of 206 Old 07-20-2011, 07:45 PM
 
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The beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor it to fit your children, your family and your community.  Like moominmama stated in a pp, you can teach your children based on their actual level, not on their grade.  School has some flexibility but is ever focused on the middle.  This can leave kids who are otherwise perfectly normal feeling like they are somehow deficient when quite often it is nothing more than lack of readiness.  And kids at the top can find that a ceiling exists for them, too, within the school system.  Homeschooling can address all these issues with a flexibility that schools are incapable of, and no two families will look alike in their approach.  Some will be more secluded, either by choice or situation, others are hardly ever at home and use the community resources liberally.  So to say that kids being with parents and siblings most might be true, but is usually the preconception that schoolers have about homeschooling in general: the "school-at-home" model.

 

It is regretful that parents choices are limited regarding their kids.  Most of us only have two options, if that: homeschooling or public school.  I know I could not get a job that would make private school, or even preschool, a good financial option.  I wish there were more cooperative learning schools that could follow child-led learning but without specific demands on kids.  Or, just like the variety of homeschooling styles, have schools with varying amounts of demands, from rigorous to completely open (and public!).  If only!  Then parents would have a true choice to fits their needs and their child's.  

     The fact is that most parents would still choose school over homeschool, and it's nice that "free" education is available.  Unfortunately, my experience has been that most parents choosing this option just can't wait to be rid of their kids for the day, and are not choosing it for any notion of superiority over the homeschooling models.  Fewer are the parents I meet that regret not being able to homeschool due to financial constraints.  PPs addressed the rest of this issue, so I won't "retread the thread"!


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#202 of 206 Old 07-21-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

School has some flexibility but is ever focused on the middle.  This can leave kids who are otherwise perfectly normal feeling like they are somehow deficient when quite often it is nothing more than lack of readiness.  And kids at the top can find that a ceiling exists for them, too, within the school system.  


We've actually been very impressed with the flexibility we've found in our public school.  

 

.... I know that we are fortunate to have such an open-minded flexible school. Not all schools are as willing to accommodate. But my limited experience suggests that it is at least possible to get a lot of flexibility. I thought our example might be reassuring to parents whose children are expressing an interest in attending school.

 

Miranda

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#203 of 206 Old 07-21-2011, 01:00 PM
 
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Miranda,

your local school is truly incredibly exceptional. I think most of us here would love to move to your town, to have this option available to us winky.gif. You also seem to have exceptionally self motivated, gifted children. This is all very inspiring to those who just start unschooling, because we all imagine we'll have self motivated learners and supportive schools. I'm honestly not sure this is very helpful to those who are struggling with the typical school systems and typical children. I'm not even sure what's your point anymore.

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#204 of 206 Old 07-21-2011, 04:12 PM
 
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Miranda,

 I'm honestly not sure this is very helpful to those who are struggling with the typical school systems and typical children. I'm not even sure what's your point anymore.


I'm sorry if it's demoralizing to those of you dealing with other types of schools. I've edited that post to remove most of it. I guess my point is not to assume that because schools are generally inflexible that all of them will be. I know a family in your area who had a very position reception and transition into school with their ds into Grade 8 in 2010. Fifteen years ago my local school's leadership was adamantly anti-homeschooling and put a lot of obtacles in the way of families hoping to transition in one direction or another. A few good people and a few good experiences have made for a totally different climate. 

 

Miranda

 

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Miranda,

 

I like hearing about exceptions, because it means that, despite the bad experiences so many people have with schools, that isn't the rule.  Thanks for sharing!  

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#206 of 206 Old 07-23-2011, 08:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post




I'm sorry if it's demoralizing to those of you dealing with other types of schools. I've edited that post to remove most of it. I guess my point is not to assume that because schools are generally inflexible that all of them will be. I know a family in your area who had a very position reception and transition into school with their ds into Grade 8 in 2010. Fifteen years ago my local school's leadership was adamantly anti-homeschooling and put a lot of obtacles in the way of families hoping to transition in one direction or another. A few good people and a few good experiences have made for a totally different climate. 

 

Miranda

 



You are right, and it is inspiring to hear positive stories. I wasn't in the best state of mind when I read your original post. Living not far from a drug-infested school doesn't help. I guess I'm still cranky lol.gif. I just want to make sure I clarify that I'm not cranky because of your post, but cranky because of the lack of options here, and it wasn't even about schools specifically. And I know I shouldn't be even complaining because I live in a relatively big city that has more resources that your community. I'm having a cranky week. Please ignore my sour crankiness.Sheepish.gif 


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