Regrets - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

Old 12-31-2011, 01:59 PM

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Originally Posted by onatightrope

If you wanted to just have some fun math resources around, and you're ok with computer games, Singapore Math has cd-roms that do a very good job of illustrating things like multiplication and borrowing.http://www.singaporemath.com/CD_ROMs_s/26.htm

I didn't realize that they had computer games too! Thanks!

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Old 01-01-2012, 04:31 PM

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Regarding "number sense" and making sure you're kid learns it... I once read a really interesting article that seemed relevant, but now I can't find it. I'll see if I can summerize it. There was a teachter--his name was something like "Bennet"--who felt that math shouldn't be taught at all in elementary school because teaching them all these abstract math concepts before they understood the logic behind it was keeping them from being able to understand the logic behind it. He convinced someone in charge to experiment with the kids in a an underpriviledged school (parents would complain if they took math out of a richer school). They didn't teach the kids math until sixth grade, but they did have the teachers in lower graders do counting and measuring exercises with them, just to make sure they knew what numbers were and all that. When they tested the kids at the beginning of sixth grade, the experiment kids had better math logic than the kids in other school but did bad on the math test. They were taught math in sixth grade and tested again: they got as good of a math score as the other schools this time (especially impressive since underprivledged schools normally perform worse), but they kept their improved math logic.

So that could explain why some people don't have good number sense. Not sure it explains the OP's son though.

Quote:
I started thinking about fractions last night. Fractions, I think, were the beginning of my following rules without really getting what was happening or why.  I mean, if I have 1/2 a pie and want to *divide* that, I have 1/4 of a pie.  Right?  Only in English.  If I mathematically divide 1/2 by 1/2, I get 1.  To get to that 1/4 figure, I need to *multiply* 1/2 by 1/2.  And if I divide the pie in half, lets see, that's 1 divided by 1/2, right?  (I can't find the math functions on the keyboard)  Oh, but that's 2.  That's even bigger! I get it now, mostly.  I remember the "tricks", and I always translate into decimals to check my work but if I don't talk myself through it every time, I get confused.  Apparently this weirdness happens with numbers less than 1, so it's almost like working with negative numbers.  Ugh! don't get me started on negative numbers.....

One of my elementary school classes had a brief segment on translating from English to Math and vise-versa, but it seems the terminology isn't too consistent for division. If you think "I want to turn a half-pie into half of a half-pie" the "into" corresponds to the equal sign. e.g. 1/2pie ...do something to it... = 1/2 of a 1/2pie. And "of" means multiplication. So... 1/2pie ÷ 2 = 1/2 * 1/2pie = 1/4pie....

Quote:
The fact is, in my life I've rarely encountered the need for more than a basic use for fractions, so it all kind of gets lost and muddled.  If I get stuck adding fractions in baking, I simply convert to Tbsps or something like that.  In fact, I had an easier time than my math-major-teacher sister when it came to that.  I was halving a recipe, and was jabbering on the phone and came across 3/4 of a cup.  What's 1/2 of 3/4?  While she was doing it in her head, I quickly converted the amount to Tbsps (12 T, 4 in each 1/4 C) and had a more useful answer (6T) than she had (3/8).  (Then I think I finished mixing the cake and baking it halfway before I realized I left the sugar out-- of my daughter's birthday cake!  She was nearly in tears while I was trying to convince her I could start over again.... this time no jabbering on the phone!)

Here's a shortcut: When you want to half a fraction, you can just double the bottom number (which will get you the 3/8 your sister got) OR you can just halve the top number. What's one half of three quarters? One-and-a-half quarters!  In that situation I'd just fill up the 1/4 cup scoop, dump it in the bowl, then fill the 1/4 cup scoop up halfway and dump that in. I don't even own a 1/8 cup scoop, and I don't know tablespoon conversions either. Well, the "halve the top number" thing works better if the top number is actually even, e.g. half of 6/7 is 3/7. This shortcut works with other 1/x.

I do find myself using fractions in daily life, besides baking, but that may be partially because I handle them more easily than decimals (smaller numbers). I feel like ratios make more sense in fraction form. For example, at my data entry job, one of the types of forms we would have to enter was usually very short, so we were supposed to average about 69 documents per hour, but sometimes they'd be crazily long and it wasn't fair to hold us to the 69-per-hour standard. So the (somewhat stupid) rule was that they'd be counted in a different production category if it took us more than 2.5 hours to key a batch of 90 documents... but sometimes we got batches that had less than 90 documents, so I'd need to figure out how much time it would have taken me to key it at the same pace if it did have 90 documents. x/(time I took) equals 90/2.5, so if x is greater than 2.5, it counts.

Here's something crazy: 0.999~ (as in "point nine repeating") is equal to 1. They are literally the exact same amount.

Cyllya is offline
Old 01-01-2012, 06:11 PM

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Originally Posted by Cyllya

Here's something crazy: 0.999~ (as in "point nine repeating") is equal to 1. They are literally the exact same amount.

I remember a high school math teacher trying to tell us (an AP-type math class) this.  None of us believed him, lol.

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Old 01-04-2012, 10:48 PM

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I haven't had a chance to read through this whole thread, though I plan to. I wanted to address a couple points in the OP:

The suggestion that the unschooled 19 year old suffered now because he had "never learned to study" struck a chord with me. I never learned to study either, despite 12 years of school. I learned how to cram information into my head long enough to regurgitate it on a test page. I did the minimum I needed to do to get the grades I needed for University (which, in those days, were far lower than they are now). I had always been a "good student" in that I was "smart" and got good grades.

Imagine my surprise when, after my first term at University, I was failing half my courses.

Thankfully, I found a professor who recognized my "symptoms". I had never learned to study, because I'd never had to. School wasn't about understanding so much as memorization of facts long enough to pass tests. School forced you to do the work, they didn't allow you to take responsibility for your learning. And so I didn't know how to do that. The University courses I took did not assign homework, rarely tested (except at mid-terms and finals) and most definitely did require understanding that built upon itself lecture after lecture. I had to learn how to study, to take charge of my learning, it was hard work but eventually I was getting good grades again.

I myself place loose faith in the concept of "windows of opportunity" that may close. It's easy to suggest that had you done things differently your son wouldn't be struggling now. It's equally possible that had he been in school other struggles would now be presenting themselves. Because you cannot go back in time and do the experiment on your son, you will never know. I think it is fruitless to question what you did because you cannot undo it, and you will never know the answer to "did I do this wrong?". It's impossible to say that unschooling got him in the pickle he is in now. I think your questioning of yourself is a universal trait for us parents (smile) but what good can any of us do with the information? We parents have no other options but to do the best we can, what we feel we should do, at that time. We can't predict the future, nor can we say for certain that another path would have been better. If we have regrets, I guess the most important lesson to learn may be to forgive ourselves. <hug>

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Piglet68 is offline
Old 01-05-2012, 01:05 AM

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Okay, I've read the entire thread now. Thanks, Tigresse, for sharing and stimulating such a great discussion!

One point I wanted to make that hasn't been brought up is that whether to "insist" on certain things being done (subjects, workbooks, etc) depends so much on the child and how they will respond to that.

My kids are extremely sensitive to any suggestion that I have an agenda for their learning. Giving a math example: my 7 year old regularly, but not frequently, will out of the blue announce some number relationship he has apparently been thinking about. It started a couple years ago when he would suddenly say something like "hey mama, there are 11 DVDs [in this series] and we have 8 so that means we still need to get 3 more!". This past summer as we were leaving a fairground he announced that 4 + 4 twice is 16 and then asked me if he did it "twice again" would that make 32? God only knows how he knew that or what thought process led to it, but he does seem to have a gift for understanding numbers. The only time I see him use math of any sort is adding up coins or points in a video game!

So one day I decided to sit down and show him a worksheet I'd created years ago for DD that explained multiplication using pictures of images drawn in shapes (3 circles, 3 cats in each circle) that are then translated to equations. He grasped the concept immediately, but after the second example was done he freaked out, told me this was all "stupid" and refused to do anymore. So its not that it's too hard for him, or that he isn't interested in number relationships, he's just not interested in doing it on my agenda or for reasons that aren't intrinsically motivated.

Which leads me to my main point: perhaps Tigresse's son was the type of kid who could handle a bit of "pressure" from his mama to do things he may not have wanted to do. A recent poster mentioned that they require their kids to do some schoolwork. One of my dearest friends, a mama I greatly admire, does this with her homeschooled kids as well. Their relationships are certainly not damaged by this at all and the few hours a week they do "sit down work" is overshadowed by a lovely, free, and adventurous lifestyle.

However, I know with absolute certainty that were *I* to decide that my kids need to be "made" do some some "schoolwork" it would lead to chaos in our family. The battles, the defiance, etc. would tear us apart. My relationship with them would be damaged in a significant way.

Perhaps the right question is "Could Tigresse have actually succeeded in trying to get her son to do more math even though he was resistant to the idea and insisting it was not necessary?". Could she have won that battle without damaging the relationship she had with him at that time? If the answer is "no" then it was never an option, regardless of present circumstances.

My kids are simply not the type who respond to coercion, and while the youngest may grumble and complain about bedtime being imposed on him I'm not afraid it will lead to a lifetime of hating sleep. On the other hand, coercion in his learning could lead to hating certain subjects. Sadly, I have learned this by experience with DD who used to be way ahead of her peers in math (she was doing Hands-On Equations starting at age 5), and now thanks to my getting anxious about the lack of math in the last couple of years (we have to take a required assessment test this year for kids her age) she has decided she "hates" math, that she sucks at it, and the slightest mention of the subject, however diplomatic, sends her into a frenzy of anger and tears. I've had to let go completely and hope that one day she finds her way back to it because there is no way on this Earth I can "force" any math into her life without causing real damage to my relationship with her.

My point is this: it is perhaps moot to talk about whether parental control should be exerted to ensure that kids don't end up with gaping holes in their education if one doesn't take into account the child in question. I know from my friend that one can do this and not damage either the relationship with the child or their natural curiosity and drive, but that's not true for all children. Any time I get the "unschooling jitters" (and it happens to all of us) I know that there's no point in wondering if I "should" be pushing math (or anything else) because it  simply. wouldn't. work. Not with my kids. If it works for your kids, the relationship remains intact, the child thrives...then how can that be the wrong thing to do? Isn't all of this - unschooling, attachment parenting, gentle and respectful parenting - first and foremost about the Relationship?

That's why there is no one answer for everybody, so long as a conscious parent is at the helm.

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Piglet68 is offline
Old 01-05-2012, 07:25 AM

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Originally Posted by Piglet68

Okay, I've read the entire thread now. Thanks, Tigresse, for sharing and stimulating such a great discussion!

One point I wanted to make that hasn't been brought up is that whether to "insist" on certain things being done (subjects, workbooks, etc) depends so much on the child and how they will respond to that.

My kids are simply not the type who respond to coercion, and while the youngest may grumble and complain about bedtime being imposed on him I'm not afraid it will lead to a lifetime of hating sleep. On the other hand, coercion in his learning could lead to hating certain subjects. Sadly, I have learned this by experience with DD who used to be way ahead of her peers in math (she was doing Hands-On Equations starting at age 5), and now thanks to my getting anxious about the lack of math in the last couple of years (we have to take a required assessment test this year for kids her age) she has decided she "hates" math, that she sucks at it, and the slightest mention of the subject, however diplomatic, sends her into a frenzy of anger and tears. I've had to let go completely and hope that one day she finds her way back to it because there is no way on this Earth I can "force" any math into her life without causing real damage to my relationship with her.

My point is this: it is perhaps moot to talk about whether parental control should be exerted to ensure that kids don't end up with gaping holes in their education if one doesn't take into account the child in question. I know from my friend that one can do this and not damage either the relationship with the child or their natural curiosity and drive, but that's not true for all children. Any time I get the "unschooling jitters" (and it happens to all of us) I know that there's no point in wondering if I "should" be pushing math (or anything else) because it  simply. wouldn't. work. Not with my kids. If it works for your kids, the relationship remains intact, the child thrives...then how can that be the wrong thing to do? Isn't all of this - unschooling, attachment parenting, gentle and respectful parenting - first and foremost about the Relationship?

That's why there is no one answer for everybody, so long as a conscious parent is at the helm.

Ooooo....thanks Piglet for all you posted and what I have highlighted above here.  I know your kids are a bit younger than mine---mine are almost 12 and 9  (and I admit, sometimes when *I* get unschooling doubts I get all annoyed that the happy-dreamy-ooo-unschooling is GREAT sites I come across are by parents with REALLY little ones, like a 6 yr old!  I think maybe they haven't had enough experiences yet LOL!)

This thread really hit home for me.  I came across it yesterday during a discouragement phase for me, and with some of the same haunts in my mind as the original poster about whether I am / have been making a huge mistake. worries about the future and OMG what if I am hit by a bus or something tomorrow! I read the whole thing and felt in a tailspin all day as it hit a raw spot.

I know my dd well, I respond to that look in her eyes, or the openness/excitement she seems to have in the moment, and try to collaberate with her as unschooling is NOT just letting them go all willy nilly to the wind. She came across the term "algebra" and was curious, and out and out stated she wanted to learn more about it.  In Stenmark's Family Math, there are some "bean salad" games that involve that kind of thinking, but not the formal notation. She's really good at it....but,  here I am doing this with a kid who has to count on fingers sometimes and has never done a math worksheet of adding 2-3 column numbers but is starting to mentally do that or reason it out...sigh! So, Hands on Equations would only cause her grief.  The math understanding seems to come much slower for her than her brother.

I can set a time to do some activities from Family Math with her (one thing she does respond to positively) and if she responds to that, or it is meaningful to her, great.  We'll just keep going at it...I see myself as the resource person and tour guide.   Unfortunately I have been lam-blasted on some more radical unschooling lists for even doing that!  Tha't's where I get confused sometimes as to if I am "really unschooling"....now I am old enough to ask if I really have to follow an official "unschooling police list" or look at my own kid.

If I assigned and required her do do "x" pages in Singapore now (beyond us just "playing with it"on the couch for a half hour this week in a spare moment) because I see her number sense improving and thought this would help her or appealed to her, nagged her to do it, etc, then sat with her with MY mentality being "we

are NOT leaving this table until you finish this" or we have to finish this whole book this year, then that's where the line is for us and our dynamic.  I know other homeschoolers in real life who's kids are more advanced with math, have this mentality and like Piglet said have a good dynamic with thier kids and their kids seem to respond well, but I know others who it has totally torn them apart.  And in not ONE of those several families have the kids been willing to stay at home and continue homeschooling...by late jr high to high school age they were in school, just to get out of the house.

I think overall it's deciding what crossing the line is for you personally as an unschooler.  It's times like mine (and Tigress, the original poster) where you wonder if you coulda/shoulda done more (or you are having one of those panics-compare-to-other-kids spells and see kids who do math more conventionally and "school like" be more advanced), or if it would have made a difference, that are the real struggle...>>!!!

Tina, RN, wife-y to J, mom to dd (10) and ds (7)
"Beware the lollipop of mediocracy...one lick and you suck forever!"
canuckgal is offline
Old 01-06-2012, 01:28 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piglet68

My kids are extremely sensitive to any suggestion that I have an agenda for their learning. Giving a math example: my 7 year old regularly, but not frequently, will out of the blue announce some number relationship he has apparently been thinking about. It started a couple years ago when he would suddenly say something like "hey mama, there are 11 DVDs [in this series] and we have 8 so that means we still need to get 3 more!". This past summer as we were leaving a fairground he announced that 4 + 4 twice is 16 and then asked me if he did it "twice again" would that make 32? God only knows how he knew that or what thought process led to it, but he does seem to have a gift for understanding numbers. The only time I see him use math of any sort is adding up coins or points in a video game!

So one day I decided to sit down and show him a worksheet I'd created years ago for DD that explained multiplication using pictures of images drawn in shapes (3 circles, 3 cats in each circle) that are then translated to equations. He grasped the concept immediately, but after the second example was done he freaked out, told me this was all "stupid" and refused to do anymore. So its not that it's too hard for him, or that he isn't interested in number relationships, he's just not interested in doing it on my agenda or for reasons that aren't intrinsically motivated.

I'm thinking this same example could be interpreted in a very different ways. Perhaps he's lacks the experience to have developed the skills to handle his feelings when he tries something new or doesn't immediately know how to do something. Perhaps shutting down isn't proof of his intrinsic motivation but instead of a lack of coping skills. Maybe he hasn't learned to be empathetic enough to understanding mom is interested in helping him. Maybe regular math would have a reaction nothing like the response to mom's self created math worksheet presented due to fears of standardized testing.

Folks can disagree with me but a kid calling new ideas "stupid" and being totally shut down doesn't really say to me that unschooling is producing a desirable result. Let's just say for a minute he believed the ONLY value in this was that it was important to you and you rarely ask such things of him. Is it appropriate that the main reaction if something is important to mom is to call it stupid and refuse to participate? I'm not seeing how this scenario reflects something positive about the unschooling process or about a child's self determination to be intrinsically motivated.

Roar is offline
Old 01-06-2012, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter

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Originally Posted by Roar

I

Folks can disagree with me but a kid calling new ideas "stupid" and being totally shut down doesn't really say to me that unschooling is producing a desirable result. Let's just say for a minute he believed the ONLY value in this was that it was important to you and you rarely ask such things of him. Is it appropriate that the main reaction if something is important to mom is to call it stupid and refuse to participate? I'm not seeing how this scenario reflects something positive about the unschooling process or about a child's self determination to be intrinsically motivated.

I don't disagree with you, Roar! Having a nearly adult kid who never had to do math now saying he hates it tells me that it not having to do it did *nothing* to make it more palatable now.

My younger kids, who are now required to do math among other things, don't necessarily like it, but they know they importance of putting in some effort now to spare them difficulties later on. This is not causing any issues in our relationship, in fact the time we now spend together doing some "homeschooling" has turned out to be quite valuable time for all of us. Lot more valuable than my spending time online trying to convince myself that I was doing the right thing by letting them sit in the basement all day gaming. My 8 yo dd who is working on math at the same grade level she'd be in school (the boys are behind as they were unschooled longer) just calculated with delight how many ice cream sandwiches each kid will get from the package we just bought. This despite the fact that she is required to do math each day. She also just told me she likes the idea of having to do schoolwork each day, it keeps her from getting bored.

Don't get me wrong, there is still very ample free time around here and still plenty of gaming. I just don't think in terms of unschooling as something we began so I would never have to bust heavies on my kids, I hoped for something that would result in a superior education because that elusive intrinsic motivation would be cultivated. The way we did things may have brought about many good things, but a superior education is not one of them.
Tigeresse is offline
Old 01-06-2012, 04:41 PM

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Originally Posted by Roar

I'm thinking this same example could be interpreted in a very different ways. Perhaps he's lacks the experience to have developed the skills to handle his feelings when he tries something new or doesn't immediately know how to do something. Perhaps shutting down isn't proof of his intrinsic motivation but instead of a lack of coping skills. Maybe he hasn't learned to be empathetic enough to understanding mom is interested in helping him. Maybe regular math would have a reaction nothing like the response to mom's self created math worksheet presented due to fears of standardized testing.

Folks can disagree with me but a kid calling new ideas "stupid" and being totally shut down doesn't really say to me that unschooling is producing a desirable result. Let's just say for a minute he believed the ONLY value in this was that it was important to you and you rarely ask such things of him. Is it appropriate that the main reaction if something is important to mom is to call it stupid and refuse to participate? I'm not seeing how this scenario reflects something positive about the unschooling process or about a child's self determination to be intrinsically motivated.

Bolding mine.  This is a long thread - did someone say this?

Lots of kids say things are stupid.  They often mean something else, but have less communication skills than adults, so it is a bit of a catch phrase.  I do think you should probe further to figure out  what they mean by stupid.

You are coming across to me, Roar, as quite critical of USing.  Fine - I think it is fair to critique any system of education - there are no sacred cows in figuring out what works for our kids.  But I also have to wonder if your expectations  are unrealistic.  I am positive that if I asked on both the more traditional learning at home board as well as the learning at school board if they had ever heard their kids say "this is stupid" in relation to something academic that the answer would be "yes!".  You made a good point earlier that success should not be judged next to the lowest acceptable standards (they can read and do basic math or the stereotypical worse experience at public school) but nor should the expectations or ideal of USing be so high as to be unrealistic.

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Old 01-06-2012, 05:29 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar

I'm thinking this same example could be interpreted in a very different ways. Perhaps he's lacks the experience to have developed the skills to handle his feelings when he tries something new or doesn't immediately know how to do something. Perhaps shutting down isn't proof of his intrinsic motivation but instead of a lack of coping skills. Maybe he hasn't learned to be empathetic enough to understanding mom is interested in helping him. Maybe regular math would have a reaction nothing like the response to mom's self created math worksheet presented due to fears of standardized testing.

Folks can disagree with me but a kid calling new ideas "stupid" and being totally shut down doesn't really say to me that unschooling is producing a desirable result. Let's just say for a minute he believed the ONLY value in this was that it was important to you and you rarely ask such things of him. Is it appropriate that the main reaction if something is important to mom is to call it stupid and refuse to participate? I'm not seeing how this scenario reflects something positive about the unschooling process or about a child's self determination to be intrinsically motivated.

I don't know what's going on in anyone else's house, but it took me far too long to figure out that 95% when my oldest strongly declares that something is "stupid" or "boring" it really means that something about the task is making her uncomfortable (when she really thinks something is stupid or boring, she tends to be pretty calm about it).  Usually, it means that she's confused or stuck.  A tough thing with kids is that they can misuse emotion words, because they haven't got them entirely sorted out.

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Old 01-06-2012, 05:43 PM

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I'm curious, Roar, how unschooling is going in your house.  You mentioned Miquon Math being popular.  Your kids sound like they are enjoying it.  Tell me about your experiences with academic work, unschooling, imposed work, how you deal with struggles if any.  I'm interested in what an unschooling family with a strong emotional core *looks* like and *sounds* like.

I really am curious, and it is not just because it annoys me when you take one example we have shared out of the rich tapestry of our lives and declare that something is terribly wrong when resistance is encountered.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:30 PM

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Originally Posted by onatightrope

I don't know what's going on in anyone else's house, but it took me far too long to figure out that 95% when my oldest strongly declares that something is "stupid" or "boring" it really means that something about the task is making her uncomfortable (when she really thinks something is stupid or boring, she tends to be pretty calm about it).  Usually, it means that she's confused or stuck.  A tough thing with kids is that they can misuse emotion words, because they haven't got them entirely sorted out.

Yes, that.

I guess part of what concerns me in this thread, and in some others, is that where are the relationships? We hear that various learning activities if not appropriately child led can lead to damaged relationships. They can damage the relationship between the parent and the child. They can damage the relationship between the child and learning. So, the answer is: parent stop whatever you are doing, stop it.

What I'm not hearing in all of this are two things. One, an acknowledgement that the parent plays some role in the relationship other than dancing around their kids and hoping that they see those glimmers of academics that suggest it will be okay. Where's the part if a kid says "that's stupid" and refuses to participate in what sounds like the one activity the parent has requested, that isn't evidence of a relationship in which both parties are not working with each other? It seems like again and again the choices are presented as forcing a child to do worksheets or stepping away and hoping for the best because you fear any suggestion on your part will set your kids off. I'm just wondering when unschooling lost the gigantic zone in between these two places? To me when we hear again and again variations of my kids are the kind of kids that can't ever have me make a suggestion, what does that say about what is happening in those relationships?

Roar is offline
Old 01-06-2012, 06:37 PM

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I have to get off the computer (16 year old loitering around, a hint to get off, lol!)  but I will come back....

Roar, do you or did you US?

I am sensing negativity (with little acknowledgment of the positives) and even an attempt to save us from ourselves in regards to USing, and it does not sit well with me.

I am just wondering what dog you have in this fight (to borrow an expression)?

purslaine is offline
Old 01-06-2012, 07:05 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver

I'm curious, Roar, how unschooling is going in your house.  You mentioned Miquon Math being popular.  Your kids sound like they are enjoying it.  Tell me about your experiences with academic work, unschooling, imposed work, how you deal with struggles if any.  I'm interested in what an unschooling family with a strong emotional core *looks* like and *sounds* like.

I really am curious, and it is not just because it annoys me when you take one example we have shared out of the rich tapestry of our lives and declare that something is terribly wrong when resistance is encountered.

We talked about this before. We are in a different place - you've got young kids and I'm retired (at home from k-12). To me a functional unschooling relationship involves an actual give and take with respect and communication for both parents and kids. It isn't "all about me" on either side. Parents and kids can work together to set goals and help each other along the way. Areas of development and maturity that would include: communication, empathy, goal setting, coping with frustration, making meaningful and increasing contributions to the home, being comfortable with asking for and accepting help, independence, trust, time management - not in a working at McDonald's way but in the way of learning to be thoughtful about making sure there is some attention to being mindful that the way time spent is leading to a person growing and feeling happy.

Little snippets might sound like this.  "this is really important.. and here's why... I need your cooperation, how can we address this and make it work for both of us..."  "Life feels out of balance to me right now.... it feels different than last spring do you notice that... ? "Can we brainstorm some ideas for solving this problem?"  "My top priority for today is..." "Let's set up some learning goals for this fall..." "I notice you are struggling with... how can I help you?"  What a functional relationship doesn't look like: kid rudely shuts down all parental ideas if they have the slightest whiff of academics and then plays video games 8 hours a day while mom worries and feels guilty for even thinking something different should maybe be happening.

As far as the one example, I didn't at all get the impression the mom felt it was unusual, but rather I believe she said it was illustrative of the response that occurs if the parent has an idea about the child's learning.  Would you consider the response illustrated here to reflect some normal, inherent characteristic of the way children respond to any parental direction?

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Old 01-06-2012, 07:14 PM

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I guess we know the discussion has gotten heated when instead of focusing on the ideas it turns to evaluating if a person has a right to express ideas.  Personally, I've not ever seen a lot of good come from the who discussions of what are the boundaries of unschooling and who is allowed to be a member of the club.  It also seems to me that what defines unschooling is shifting pretty significantly over time. Endless years of video games and entering adult life without even minimal competency in basic academics really doesn't seem like it has a lot to do with John Holt for example.

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Old 01-06-2012, 07:33 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar

We talked about this before. We are in a different place - you've got young kids and I'm retired (at home from k-12). To me a functional unschooling relationship involves an actual give and take with respect and communication for both parents and kids. It isn't "all about me" on either side. Parents and kids can work together to set goals and help each other along the way. Areas of development and maturity that would include: communication, empathy, goal setting, coping with frustration, making meaningful and increasing contributions to the home, being comfortable with asking for and accepting help, independence, trust, time management - not in a working at McDonald's way but in the way of learning to be thoughtful about making sure there is some attention to being mindful that the way time spent is leading to a person growing and feeling happy.

Little snippets might sound like this.  "this is really important.. and here's why... I need your cooperation, how can we address this and make it work for both of us..."  "Life feels out of balance to me right now.... it feels different than last spring do you notice that... ? "Can we brainstorm some ideas for solving this problem?"  "My top priority for today is..." "Let's set up some learning goals for this fall..." "I notice you are struggling with... how can I help you?"  What a functional relationship doesn't look like: kid rudely shuts down all parental ideas if they have the slightest whiff of academics and then plays video games 8 hours a day while mom worries and feels guilty for even thinking something different should maybe be happening.

As far as the one example, I didn't at all get the impression the mom felt it was unusual, but rather I believe she said it was illustrative of the response that occurs if the parent has an idea about the child's learning.  Would you consider the response illustrated here to reflect some normal, inherent characteristic of the way children respond to any parental direction?

Bold passages: excellent ways of beginning a conversation with kids.

Italics:  Hyperbole.  You make wonderful arguments, and then ruin it by doing this.

Underlined: yes, I do feel that it is perfectly normal that some kids do this, and I don't think it's necessarily indicative of the strength or health of the relationship.  So, yes, I would say for many kids, it can be inherent.  Note that I didn't include the word "any", because I don't know of any child who responds this way to "any" parental direction.

In one of my earliest posts, I gave many examples of how some days, in our house, I suggest many activities.  My husband draws a bike maze, not because he is trying to find some magical entrance into their lives, but because it is a sunny day, he looks at the very clean patio, and thinks, "I want to draw them a bike maze.  What fun!"  I tried to illustrate that not all our activities are child led, not all suggestions are ignored, but all very unschoolish.

I hesitate to offer you any examples to illustrate because every time I've tried, you've suggested that something must wrong, "if..."

You ask "where are the relationships?"  Well, in the interest of sticking to the topic, I avoided bringing up everything that happened in our house and lives.  You know one tiny piece of my life.  Did you know about taking down the family tree, all of us together?  The bicycle rides through our gigantic puddles outside, rain pouring down and giggles aplenty?  The brilliant cuddle we just had on the couch, reading Harry Potter?  Brushing the cat?  Getting a long-hoped for phone call from a busy friend?  No, because this thread is about: unschooling, expectations regarding that, regrets regarding that, math and comprehension.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:45 PM

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Originally Posted by Roar

I guess we know the discussion has gotten heated when instead of focusing on the ideas it turns to evaluating if a person has a right to express ideas.  <snip> Endless years of video games and entering adult life without even minimal competency in basic academics really doesn't seem like it has a lot to do with John Holt for example.

You can express what you want.  However, wanting to know if you have ever USed is relevant.  I have never had kids go to a Waldorf school.  I can express opinions about Waldorf schools, but they are hardly as likely to be as expansive or deep (be it positive or negative) as someone who has actually had kids in Waldorf.

Your last line, once again, is about negative stereotypes.  No one here has said they had a kid enter adult life with minimal competency in basic academic skills (and honestly - not only directed at you -  I am getting tired of that thrown around - it is quite uncommon as far as I know in USing and hardly the domain of only the USed).  Yes, the OP's son is struggling in college math.  College math - not basic academic skills.

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Old 01-07-2012, 07:52 AM

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Originally Posted by Roar

I guess we know the discussion has gotten heated when instead of focusing on the ideas it turns to evaluating if a person has a right to express ideas.  Personally, I've not ever seen a lot of good come from the who discussions of what are the boundaries of unschooling and who is allowed to be a member of the club.  It also seems to me that what defines unschooling is shifting pretty significantly over time. Endless years of video games and entering adult life without even minimal competency in basic academics really doesn't seem like it has a lot to do with John Holt for example.

Agreeing with kathymuggle.  As helpful as your comments have been to the OP, for me I simply feel as if you've misrepresented yourself.  I am not about to hop onto the Learning at School board with sometimes wise, sometimes hyper-critical and exaggerated comments, and never let anyone know that I'm actually a homeschooling mom.  I think at the end of a long thread on which I've held up a substantial chunk of the debate, the regular parents there might feel resentful to learn that not only am I am unschooler but I have never even sent my kids to preschool, let alone public school.

I would more heartily welcome your perspective (or anyone visiting the unschooling board) if 1) you admitted up front that your knowledge of unschooling is second hand and academic, not from your own experience raising unschooled kids, and 2) you didn't pepper your arguments with the kind of comments like "endless years of video games and entering adult life without even minimal competency...." which illustrates to me that, while you've clearly done some homework on what unschooling entails, you don't know in the day to day sense, of knowing families who have unschooled their kids for long stretches or throughout childhood and what that might look like for each family.

Be mindful that the OP has been most welcoming of (at least some of) your comments.  You raise some very intelligent points, and then you let slip some hyperbole and the value of all you've written is diminished.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:10 AM

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Roar has been here a long time, both on MDC and in the unschooling threads (even before there was an unschooling board). We used to argue a lot, too, but I think we're really in agreement and probably always have been - we were just talking past each other. Or, to use I statements, I was more focused on winning an argument than understanding Roar's point.

It really is all so individual, and so based on the relationship one has with one's individual child/ren. Piglet68 (who also has been posting on these threads forever) said it well. What my child means when she says something is stupid may be different from what your child means - and what my child meant at 5 may be different from what she meant at 10 or 15. There's a balance in unschooling between not inflicting one'e own agenda on one's children and giving them the information and guidance they need to carry out their own goals, and the younger kids are, the more heavily the balance tends to be weighted towards the former, I think.

Rain was making college plans seriously from the time she was 15 - as in, taking community college classes that she could use to demonstrate mastery on a high school transcript of subjects that she didn't think she could otherwise demonstrate mastery in. For example, she spent a semester taking a Bio college class but just took the SAT II in Lit cold, because she already knew a lot of lit but very little bio. And yes, I talked with her about these choices, and joined email lists for homeschoolers hoping to get into college, and when she talked about how fun an art class would be, I agreed but reminded her of the big goals she has said she had.

On the other hand, her year in Russia messed up a lot of her planning - she couldn't taking the PSAT her junior year, for example (well, technically she could have, but it would have been a major PITA) or a lot of the courses she meant to take, and I floated the idea of taking a gap year before college and thought she agreed with that plan, until the summer before her senior year when she said she really, really didn't want to wait another year. I told her that would mean a really tough semester, trying to cover in one semester what we had planned to do in a year and a half, but she wanted to do it, and did it - not as well as she could have with an extra year, but well enough for her to get into a college she liked with a really good financial aid package, which was her goal.

All of that is really just to demonstrate what I was saying in the second paragraph, I guess I'm not saying I did this perfectly - Rain has said that it would have been great to have more guidance during her teen years from a professional admissions counselor, which I agree with, and I think if she hadn't gone to Russia we might have done that. And when she was 10, things didn't look at all like they did when she was 15, but she was learning and growing and happy.... so it seemed to be enough. And it was.

Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:15 AM

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Originally Posted by kathymuggle

You can express what you want.  However, wanting to know if you have ever USed is relevant.  I have never had kids go to a Waldorf school.  I can express opinions about Waldorf schools, but they are hardly as likely to be as expansive or deep (be it positive or negative) as someone who has actually had kids in Waldorf.

Your last line, once again, is about negative stereotypes.  No one here has said they had a kid enter adult life with minimal competency in basic academic skills (and honestly - not only directed at you -  I am getting tired of that thrown around - it is quite uncommon as far as I know in USing and hardly the domain of only the USed).  Yes, the OP's son is struggling in college math.  College math - not basic academic skills.

It says a lot to me when rather than discussing ideas of unschooling, the discussion is made about who deserves to be in the club and who doesn't. For myself, and I'm guessing quite a few of the people reading here, some would define them as unschoolers and some would not as unschooling doesn't have a single universally accepted definition. The uniting element is that all of us feel drawn enough to the ideas of unschooling that we've in incorporated into ourlives and the education of our kids. Starting from that point, to me it would be interesting if we could actually discuss the ideas. Is that a reasonable hope?

As far as negative stereotypes, the original poster said her son needed help with 4th grade math when he started college. That wasn't lacking college competence, it was lacking an elementary school foundation. She unschooled, that was her experience. And, from what I've seen IRL and online this is not an isolated situation by any means. Is that to say every kid who unschools won't learn math? Of course not, because that brings me back to my first paragraph above. There are many definitions of unschooling. I don't see a lot of John Holt in kids who play PS2 day after day, week after week, while not developing core competency. Do you?

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:30 AM

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Originally Posted by SweetSilver
I would more heartily welcome your perspective (or anyone visiting the unschooling board) if 1) you admitted up front that your knowledge of unschooling is second hand and academic, not from your own experience raising unschooled kids, and 2) you didn't pepper your arguments with the kind of comments like "endless years of video games and entering adult life without even minimal competency...." which illustrates to me that, while you've clearly done some homework on what unschooling entails, you don't know in the day to day sense, of knowing families who have unschooled their kids for long stretches or throughout childhood and what that might look like for each family.

I feel about a hundred years old. I've been in unschooling communities, online and IRL, since before you had babies. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings by not being appropriately enthusiastic about your bike maze or days of fun. There was a time when I loved reading descriptions of days well lived because it was new to me. Now, I just take it for granted that unschooled kids have great days with lots of fun, magic and learning. I was starting from the place of the original poster, which I got as basically - there are tons of wonderful great things that come from unschooling, but that in retrospect for her kid (and for many others) the motivation for particular academic subjects doesn't necessarily kick in. In time it doesn't get easier and in fact can by the teen years be a really tough thing to deal with.

Maybe as a community we can openly talk about these ideas. The poster feels she raised her worries over the years and always got the response that it would be fine, he'd eventually be motivated and learn quickly, or maybe she wasn't trusting unschooling enough (or some other variation of this). As a community of people who see great value in unschooling, can we talk about whether it leaves some kids without core skills they really need? What makes that happen? Is it just about lack of parental trust or do some kids need something different? Why is it that it seems that so often it sorts out either that kids are super gifted and capable in many areas like arts, academics, etc. or that they end up turned off academics entirely? Does any of that have to do with the definition of unschooling or the approach to unschooling?

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:33 AM

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Originally Posted by Dar

There's a balance in unschooling between not inflicting one'e own agenda on one's children and giving them the information and guidance they need to carry out their own goals, and the younger kids are, the more heavily the balance tends to be weighted towards the former, I think.

In our house we're at a transition point, and I think it's making us seem less unschooly.  I've found myself having a lot of conversations with my kids along the lines of "well if you want to do X in the future, then you really need to start working on A, B and C now."  and pointing out that for my oldest at least, she's never going to get past where she is with math until she's willing to put a little effort into practicing the mechanics of problem solving, even if it's not the most fun thing she's ever done.  If my kids didn't have interests that required formal higher education, it might be different, but they do, and so we're talking a lot about what skills they need to get there from here, and how to go about acquiring them.  I've been a lot more comfortable with what's going on in our house since we started having these conversations, and my kids seem happier and less bored than they were before.

I am often glad to be without a real unschooling community.  We hang out with people who homeschool in lots of different ways--- mainly we're among "whatever works" homeschoolers, who are constantly adjusting what they do for the current situation and what is good for a particular child, and so there's no expectation or pressure to meet some outside standard of unschooliness.

None of this is to judge what anyone else is doing.  But I do see Roar's point, and I am glad that I let go of my need for the unschooling label enough that I'm not afraid to have the conversations I'm having with my kids about how to achieve their goals.

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:42 AM

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Originally Posted by Dar

Roar has been here a long time, both on MDC and in the unschooling threads (even before there was an unschooling board). We used to argue a lot, too, but I think we're really in agreement and probably always have been - we were just talking past each other.

It is funny how we seem far apart but our positions have ended up closer than we would guess. Maybe change in us, but also maybe a change in the way unschooling has evolved a bit too.

Rain has clearly had some amazing opportunities and it is obvious you've both put energy into research and planning. The junior year abroad thing can really mess stuff up. I've seen this happen to public school kids who at least theoretically had professional guidance too. It is crazy and unfortunate how much has been squeezed into junior year for any kid who is looking at selective colleges or needs to get a really competitive scholarship packages.

Your point about the balance between child independence and parental information giving and guidance is a good one. For many of us one of the most challenging aspects of parenting is the evolution over time - what makes sense at six is going to be different than what makes sense at sixteen. The key is how does that transition take place and are there foundational steps that really need to be in place when kids are younger?

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:55 AM

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Another thing-- a lot of the time unschooling discussions turn into "we never did anything formal and my kid still aced this test" or whatever.  I've participated in those conversations.  But what gets left out, I think can be things like an experience we had where we didn't do anything formal, and my daughter took a test, and aced one part, but totally TOTALLY bombed another.  As in, asked me in the car afterwards what "those C things" were in the math questions, because she didn't recognize parentheses when numbers were involved.   So, there was our lack of formal math instruction biting her in the behind.  Since we went through that, I've spent more time looking for holes in my kids' education, and trying to fill them so that they have the skills they need.

Having been through that, I get a little frustrated when I see people encouraging someone not to act on warning signs that their kid is not getting some important topic.

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Old 01-07-2012, 10:39 AM

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I've ducked out of this thread for a while and have been pondering some general thoughts, now that I'm the parent of three teens, one of whom is fairly fully 'launched.' Here's what I've been thinking about.

Simplistically you could say that unschooling is allowing the child to choose his own learning path, rather than having an adult choose it for him. As the child gradually grows closer to adulthood, it would be expected that his choices of a learning path would look less and less different from what an adult would have chosen for him, because he is becoming an adult.

This is what I've observed in my family. By the age of 12 or 13 I consider my kids to be nearing adulthood, certainly intellectually and socially they're closer to adults than they are to a four- or five-year-olds. And by that age they were beginning to make rather adult-like choices of learning material, format and structure. Not in every area, but I could see the change taking hold. Gradually they got interested in dividing their learning up into subject areas and making use of occasional textbooks or courseware. They enjoyed occasionally attending structured courses and having their learning measured against external benchmarks. They began to see a place for daily persistence in areas that didn't necessarily have a lot of intrinsic enjoyment for them because they saw them as tools they'd need. They began to see a need to contribute to the world at large in meaningful ways. And over the next handful of years their learning choices began to look less and less like unschooling.

But it seems unschoolers don't talk about this much. While they might proudly crow on unschooling forums like this about how their child spontaneously erupted with an observation about multiplication whilst baking cookies, they are not likely to proudly crow about their child asking to be made to do 20 minutes of khanacademy algebra every day, or taking an English course at the local community college. These things are often shared almost apologetically, as if they might disqualify one from the unschooling "club" and as if they spring from some sort of lack in one's unschooling environment.

To know whether you should be worried about a child's development, maturity and abilities, it helps to have some context. It doesn't make sense to use regular school students as that context for unschooled children. And so I have always appreciated gaining that context from message boards like this ... to hear from parents of unschooled early readers and later readers and those whose kids' math abilities grew steadily or in leaps and lags. If I understand what the range of typical is amongst unschoolers, I find comfort knowing that my kids fit somewhere in that range in a way that makes sense to me and fits with what I know about them.

But I think we're maybe not talking enough about the teen years and how unschooling typically stops looking so much like what we picture as unschooling. How as our kids become more like adults their self-directed learning typically begins to look more like what adults would have chosen for them anyway. It's not that they're not unschooling anymore. It's that unschooling for a 16-year-old is often, typically, quite structured and goal-directed and externally oriented. Just like schooling. And if you're not seeing this trend in your teen, well, there might be cause for concern.

I held my breath all of last year waiting for my ds (then 13/14) to show consistent signs of this shift. I was getting concerned. Then last summer it came, all in a rush. He's attending school part-time now, writing a busy and popular blog of his libertarian-left-atheistic thoughts, nurturing social and mentoring connections in the community. He gave up video-gaming for a full four months, then returned to it in a much-tempered fashion.

If this hadn't happened, I don't think it would have been helpful for me to continue to read on message boards like this primarily about younger children engaged in spontaneous life-learning. And to have parents of teens quietly slip into lurkdom, feeling that because their kids were busily self-directing structured studies and courses and working part-time that they had nothing worth saying to the unschooling community.

I would love to see an ongoing thread on this board about the exploits of teens autonomously directing their own educations. Even if they're now in high school full-time or taking community college courses or whatever. I think it's helpful to know that this is what unschooling often looks like for teens.

Miranda

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter

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Originally Posted by moominmamma

But I think we're maybe not talking enough about the teen years and how unschooling typically stops looking so much like what we picture as unschooling. How as our kids become more like adults their self-directed learning typically begins to look more like what adults would have chosen for them anyway. It's not that they're not unschooling anymore. It's that unschooling for a 16-year-old is often, typically, quite structured and goal-directed and externally oriented. Just like schooling. And if you're not seeing this trend in your teen, well, there might be cause for concern.

But see, there is still a very broad acceptance in the unschooling world that if you don't see what you're describing, that is still OK. In conferences, support groups, online, you name it, the message is that you (mom) have no way of knowing where seemingly wasteful pursuits might lead and that you must release your school mindset and simply look for the learning in these things. Better yet, just join them in doing whatever it is and try to understand the passion better. But it is never OK to impose limits on the activity because that's disrespectful and how would you feel if your dh told you to get stop an activity you loved because he thought it was not serving you in a broader sense? I have even heard lectures telling newer unschooling parents to provide sponge baths and food trays to kids who do not want to draw themselves away from TV or video games.

Now, my ds did pull away from gaming and really broadened his interests at about age 16, but he has told me a lot of that came from a desire to seem more "normal" to his more conventionally educated friends, not from some miraculous intrinsic spark that had been nurtured all the years he only had himself to answer to (maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, we were not completely radical unschoolers, and there were expectations and consequences). Point being, this method does not *produce* the intrinsic desire to learn, imo. It just provides an amazing amount of freedom for those kids who already have that motivation and can truly use that freedom to their benefit.

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter

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Originally Posted by Roar

As far as negative stereotypes, the original poster said her son needed help with 4th grade math when he started college. That wasn't lacking college competence, it was lacking an elementary school foundation. She unschooled, that was her experience. And, from what I've seen IRL and online this is not an isolated situation by any means. Is that to say every kid who unschools won't learn math? Of course not, because that brings me back to my first paragraph above. There are many definitions of unschooling. I don't see a lot of John Holt in kids who play PS2 day after day, week after week, while not developing core competency. Do you?

I was told by the tutor we hired for ds that he needed remediation back to 4th grade math skills. He still has issues with basic arithmetic, though he is grasping many algebraic concepts at this point. I have come to believe that it is by no means a waste of time to hone arithmetic skills before moving on to broader math concepts (and I'm no math person). The classes he is struggling with are high school level remedials, just to clarify.

Unschooling has changed a lot since John Holt coined the term to be sure. I certainly don't think he envisioned an unschooling home full of computers and game systems.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:46 AM

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Originally Posted by Tigeresse

But see, there is still a very broad acceptance in the unschooling world that if you don't see what you're describing, that is still OK.

I've never been one to take advice of supposed experts based on their ideologies. I'm more apt to absorb a range of others' experiences, especially when their ideologies resonate with mine, to get a sense of the range of approaches, and find my own path as a result of this knowledge and my instincts.

But I guess my point is that it's a tiny but vocal minority of unschooling parents that is touting the sponge-baths-for-gaming-addicted-teens, and we don't hear enough about the remaining 99% of the spectrum of unschooling teens. So we get a skewed view of what's typical and acceptable for unschooling families.

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:57 AM

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Originally Posted by Roar

It says a lot to me when rather than discussing ideas of unschooling, the discussion is made about who deserves to be in the club and who doesn't. For myself, and I'm guessing quite a few of the people reading here, some would define them as unschoolers and some would not as unschooling doesn't have a single universally accepted definition. The uniting element is that all of us feel drawn enough to the ideas of unschooling that we've in incorporated into ourlives and the education of our kids. Starting from that point, to me it would be interesting if we could actually discuss the ideas. Is that a reasonable hope?

I think it is a reasonable hope.  Without going back into this thread, I felt you had made some overly negative and stereotypical comments and it was rubbing me the wrong way.  Even the "club" comment is a stereotype.  From the user guide, I felt you had been skating close to this: We will actively discourage an individual from solely posting for the purpose of disagreement, with no interest in practicing the belief or view in discussion, or who posts only to prove unschooling concepts to be wrong, misguided or not based on fact.

I admit I could be wrong, and whether or not you are guilty of the above is subjective.  I don't mind a debate though  so it is hardly something I would report anyone over unless they are a clear troll (you are not).  I do think it is reasonable for me to call you on it, though.

It does not bother me at all the the Op has decided another way of schooling is better for her family - or for sharing that.

It does not bother me if anyone insists their kids do a certain amount of work - nor do I think it is automatically or usually damaging to either the relationship or future learning (although it can be - I trust the parents involved to figure that out).

I am not thrilled with someone coming on and telling us that we really should insist our kids do xyz of academic work.  It seems mildly patronising.   To me, not forcing kids to do work they are not interested in or developmentally ready for is a cornerstone of USing.  It is not as simple as this, but if a parent insists a child is working on something on the parents agenda on a regular basis that the kid does not in any way buy into, that is not USing.  Do you disagree?  If so, it might be a term issue.

I do actually think you brought up a few interesting points, but it was hard for me to see them past my perception of your negativity. Off to get a tea, move on and write some more!

purslaine is offline
Old 01-07-2012, 12:48 PM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar

What I'm not hearing in all of this are two things. One, an acknowledgement that the parent plays some role in the relationship other than dancing around their kids and hoping that they see those glimmers of academics that suggest it will be okay.

Where's the part if a kid says "that's stupid" and refuses to participate in what sounds like the one activity the parent has requested, that isn't evidence of a relationship in which both parties are not working with each other? It seems like again and again the choices are presented as forcing a child to do worksheets or stepping away and hoping for the best because you fear any suggestion on your part will set your kids off. I'm just wondering when unschooling lost the gigantic zone in between these two places? To me when we hear again and again variations of my kids are the kind of kids that can't ever have me make a suggestion, what does that say about what is happening in those relationships?

Italics mine.

Here is the middle ground:

1.  Waiting.  I think this is often appropriate if your kids are young.  I think the work of young children in particular (under 7, but all kids are different) is play. It is often clearly how they are wired, and I think a solid play-based childhood actually help to build strong brains.

2.  finding an alternate resource.  Your child does not want to do worksheets - how about math card games?  Computer games?  This might not be appropriate for the teen set, but certainly is for the younger set.  I suppose it is possible that a child rejects all things where learning is the goal - but unlikely.  If your child really does rebel at anything that smacks of academic type learning, I do think there is an issue.  It might be solved by waiting and trying again in a bit, or by separating yourself out from the process ( having a tutor, friend, other parent, mentor) do the learning activities.

3.  Some sense of developmental readiness.  If my 10 year could not read I would be concerned; if my teen did not understand or was not working on the fact that you need xyz to meet abc goal, I would be concerned.  Concerned for me could result in many things - discussion, changing resources, direct instruction.  Whatever works!  The goal, or my goal, is to produce happy children who are capable of meeting their goals.  The goal is not USing - USing is just a path that might work.

Lastly, I have been known  (rarely) to insist kids do academics.   Because I was worried. I do not know or care if that is not USing.  Sometimes my worry and stress is worse for my child's  learning experience than their desire to avoid work.  Example - if I, as the mother, am becoming stressed and worried my kid can't read, and am perhaps projecting that onto them, it might make more sense to just insist the kid learn to read.  I think this is inappropriate with a 6 yr old but perfectly fine with a nine year old.   Sometimes insisting on academics worked and sometimes it did not.  The times it worked had the following common factors:  the kid, on some level, was ready for it and I (often in conjunction with them) picked a resource that worked.

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