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#1 of 317 Old 12-17-2011, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have posted before about some of my unschooling regrets, and since we are in the throes of another setback in my son's life, I thought I'd share so others can learn from our experiences.

I have come to the conclusion that I either did not unschool properly, or it is just not true that all kids will learn what they need to learn when they see the need, because ds just cannot seem to get past the remedial math he needs to get to the certain class he needs for college credit. He is 19 years old and desperately wants to transfer to a 4-year college as nearly all of his more traditionally homeschooled and ps friends have already done.

When he did not want to do any traditional math, I respected that wish. When he wanted to immerse himself in gaming I allowed and supported that (and told myself it was what he needed at the time), when he did not want to write papers for his homeschool co-op classes, fine. He would do it when he was ready. When he said he wanted to begin remedial math classes at the cc without having done much at all in our unschool/homeschool environment, that's what we did. When he started to have troubles with math, we got him a tutor. He tells me that the difference between him and other students at the CC is that he never learned how to study, how to manage homework, how to take tests, even though I tried to expose him to these things through various homeschool classes.

I have come to believe that unschooling is great for young kids who still need ample time for free play, it also can be great fro older kids and teens who are highly motivated and passionate learners. It may also be fine in families who really are truly OK with their kids taking all the time they need to get to where they want to go, even if it takes them well into their late teens and twenties being all-night gamers in their basements. We do not have the means to support that route indefinitely.

There are no blanket truths in unschooling, it really depends on the kid and the parent needs to be savvy enough to recognize when continuing on this path is not in their best long term interests. I tried to believe that it was OK for ds to fall well behind his friends because he was not ready, he was learning in his own unique way, I was respecting his right to do that, or who could say where his passion for gaming would lead? I really did *not* believe it, and maybe some would say that is the problem, but I think it has more to do with him making the calls in areas where it really was my place to do it as the parent.

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#2 of 317 Old 12-17-2011, 01:02 PM
 
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Sorry to hear your son is having trouble. hug2.gif Has he been evaluated for any special needs like ADHD? I ask because he said he never learned "how to manage homework," but that never occurred to me as an actual "skill." What does not knowing how to manage homework look like? Forgetting to do it? Poor time management? Losing the papers? Those are problems kids with ADHD often have with homework--even if they're school children.

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#3 of 317 Old 12-17-2011, 04:16 PM
 
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Of course, unschooling could take the blame for something like this, but it could also be that he might have done poorly (grade-wise) in school (or school-at-home) because a lot of the success in school is due to good schoolwork-and-time-management practices.  That was a good reason for me not getting the best grades I could.  I also was not particularly savvy at math.  I could do well enough for homework, but honestly anything past basic algebra and geometry never really clicked for me.  College math was touch-and-go at best, and I received a passing grade merely, which was good enough because I was a drama major (the math class was entitled "Humane Math", and I think it was mostly consumer math, but it also had the connotation of being "humane" for those students who were pursuing degrees elsewhere.)

 

So, while it is impossible to defend "unschooling" (the broadest definition of...) it is also unhelpful to second guess yourself and the decisions you and your son made.  A different path might not have made a difference in the outcome-- and it could have been worse, really.

 

But the point is well made, that unschooling really isn't a passive acceptance of whatever arises.


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#4 of 317 Old 12-17-2011, 04:44 PM
 
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Like you, as time goes on I am discovering that I'm not quite as radical an unschooling believer as I used to be. I've discovered that I do have two very firm expectations for my kids' learning. If they're not naturally accomplishing those things in their own unschooled ways, I now feel confident that I would intervene. And in fact I realize that from when they were very young I've been manipulating their learning environments and strewing opportunities to learn in those two areas quite intentionally.

 

For me, those two "required subjects" are empathy and deferment of gratification. I think that if unschooled life doesn't offer natural ways for kids to master these, or if they are more of a struggle for a particular child than average, it is imperative that parents take an active role. Unschooling can, if untempered by these traits of maturity, end up being about "me, and now." Our society is set up to provide a reasonable level of personal comfort and immediate gratification, so without the constraints of a school system, unschooled kids might not experience the discomfort and necessity that might, several generations ago, have forced them out of a comfortable daily life of ease. 

 

I wonder if maybe your ds did not learn adequately or deeply enough to defer gratification in pursuit of his goals, if he got stuck in a rut pursuing the easiest in-the-moment choice. It certainly sounds like you made an effort to offer him opportunities to learn otherwise, but for whatever reason they didn't really become ingrained habits. 

 

I've always told my kids (half jokingly, but only half!) that it's my job as a parent to give them something they have to get over as adults. "Everyone needs a little baggage," I tell them. Maybe this is your ds's baggage. Hopefully he will pick it up and do something with it. No doubt there will be some blame, and self-blame in the interim. But hopefully he will realize that this is his problem to solve.

 

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#5 of 317 Old 12-18-2011, 10:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

For me, those two "required subjects" are empathy and deferment of gratification. I think that if unschooled life doesn't offer natural ways for kids to master these, or if they are more of a struggle for a particular child than average, it is imperative that parents take an active role. Unschooling can, if untempered by these traits of maturity, end up being about "me, and now." Our society is set up to provide a reasonable level of personal comfort and immediate gratification, so without the constraints of a school system, unschooled kids might not experience the discomfort and necessity that might, several generations ago, have forced them out of a comfortable daily life of ease. 



This is a very insightful comment.

 

Of course kids have different personalities and develop according to individual time tables. But, I do wonder if there are windows of development where some of these personal skills are more easily learned for a particular individual? If you learn to feel comfortable with learning requiring some degree of persistence and struggle when you are seven, does it make easier to tackle something that doesn't come easily when you are twelve?  Is there a point where if you haven't learned to keep plugging away even when you are frustrated that it becomes much more difficult to acquire this habit?

 

 

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#6 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 07:04 AM
 
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Our own struggles around this led to a bit of a course correction a couple of years ago (mine are 11 and 7). My kids have tremendous freedom to learn or not learn as they wish, but experience with my own kids has shown me that letting them teach themselves is not helpful to them.

 

I remember when my pretty dang bright first was struggling with reading and  I sought advice here. Some was tremendously helpful, especially *how* to do watchful waiting on it.

 

But I remember someone(s) insisting that I must be pressuring her or she must have gotten pressure from a schooled peer or cousin....that she couldn't be frustrated and pissed off with having to struggle with something that was obviously so pleasurable to others without me or someone else having been an asshat to her. 

 

Because of those comments, I stopped using any terms at all to describe how we homeschool. Someone else who saw us would at times be sure we unschool; at others, completely certain that we are strict school at homers. We carve out time to do academics nearly every day. Long stretches of watching teenager shows on netflix are actively discouraged. My kids choose what they want to learn and when and with whom they want to learn it. 

 

But sitting around doing nothing and feeling bad isn't an option. I just don't believe that happy childhoods are constructed around plugging in  and tuning out the world around you.

 

It was a bit of a relief to just concede the "you're more unschool than me" card to other folks. 

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#7 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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But, I do wonder if there are windows of development where some of these personal skills are more easily learned for a particular individual? If you learn to feel comfortable with learning requiring some degree of persistence and struggle when you are seven, does it make easier to tackle something that doesn't come easily when you are twelve?  Is there a point where if you haven't learned to keep plugging away even when you are frustrated that it becomes much more difficult to acquire this habit?

 

The scientist in me has been mulling your question over. I think there are probably developmental windows for these things. Generally it seems that human traits that are part of our evolutionary heritage (like spoken language, ambulation and so on) tend to have developmental windows, whereas human traits that are more recent acquisitions (written language, bicycling, etc.) tend not to. I'd put empathy and deferment of gratification in the former group. Hunter-gatherer proto-human cultures would have had to have both these traits in spades to survive.

 

Miranda
 

 


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#8 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your thoughtful comments thus far....

What's interesting about my ds as that he did display a certain amount of self-motivation, esp. around age 16. He voluntarily curtailed his gaming and began learning guitar (mostly self-taught). He took up photography and really enjoyed taking several classes. He is into rock climbing, mountain biking and snowboarding. He is also an avid reader and writer and would like to pursue a degree in English. The problem is mainly the math, and some related courses in the sciences. When we hired the tutor for him, she did say he really needed to go back to almost 4th grade level and try to catch up. She is experienced with unschooled kids as well as LD's and did not see an issue there, but I certainly cannot completely rule out that possibility. Even though home/unschooling allows for greater flexibility and more time to pursue passions, it does not change the fact that there are still requirements to be met outside of one's area of interest in order to earn a degree.

So, all the things we unschoolers have touted as "math" including gaming (he was also into D&D for several years), legos, real life situations with cooking, money, etc, really did not cut it. And believe me, there was a lot of it. I used to think to myself that kids who are following more formal math program would also encounter these situations in addition to their courses, how on earth can these life-situations possibly be enough? But I wanted to believe. I wanted it to be organic, the way they learned to read. And for some kids it will be. For others they will be motivated enough to overcome obstacles. For others, direction perhaps even *gasp* coercion from the parents may be necessary if the goal is a certain level of competency in academic pursuits.

But unschooling promotes the notion that if a child is not specifically asking or at least willing to pursue certain subjects/tasks, then it is the *parent* that has the issue, it is the *parent* not trusting/respecting, it is the *parent's* baggage. The parent is too much in the "school" mindset. It's OK to verbalize concerns to the child, but the end decision rests with the child. I did do this. I provided a series of workbooks, explained what would be involved in remedial classes, the $$ it would cost, reminded him often that he would need to take a placement test and it would be wise to do the workbooks, he said he wanted a teacher and was not going to do the books on his own, even if I pushed him. I gave him wayyyyy to much freedom in this situation. I needed to remove my unschool hat a lot sooner than I did.
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#9 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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If he did want a teacher for math, then that wouldn't be outside the realm of (my definition of) unschooling.

 

But the main reason I wanted to hop back into this thread--I've been thinking about it, especially because our family is in the beginning of homeschooling--is because kids so often demand freedom to do things a certain way.  And as unschooling (or child-led or whatever) parents, we don't pressure, or try not to.  Sometimes kids protest any pressure vehemently.  What do we do?  Push and risk the issue affecting our whole day, or our entire experience of homeschooling, for every kid in the family?  Or do we back off and try to have faith that it will come around someday?  

 

I mean, I could look back on my own upbringing and point here, here, and here and say "This is where I should have been pushed more", "this is where I should have had more freedom", "this is where this should or shouldn't have happened", "my mom shouldn't have let me quit this", "my parents should have made me commit to my homework better."  And if I am right, then *maybe* things would have turned out differently.  What *would* have happened if my parents would have monitored my homework better?  Made me stick with cross country instead of quitting for a school play?  What if anything?

 

Some areas my parents let me flounder on my own, for better or for worse.  This can be a very visible issue in unschooling, but it not an issue exclusive to it.  My own maturity evolves as I stop spending time looking back and blaming my parents for what they did and didn't do and start taking the responsibility for my life into my own hands.  And that journey is not over for me, but I realize that regardless of what happened it is my job to remedy it, if I feel it needs attention.  

 

So, ranting aside (so sorry, again), whether or not your son's math deficiency is the fault of unschooling, your decisions or his, it is his job to fix it.  A solution was offered to him at the time, and he chose not to take it.  Please excuse the rant-i-ness of this post (again!),  I don't mean anything by it.


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#10 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 05:52 PM
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Math is still Rain's weakest subject, and she's also not done great with chemistry. She's done okay with it but not great, and she'd be happy to never have to take another math class. She loves all things related to literature, film, and language, so she's spent a lot more time on those things, and they're easier for her. I'm okay with that.

It sounds like you have a couple of problems - one is your son's weak math skills, and another is his weak study skills. The second may be easier to tackle first, and he could tackle it in the context of a class he enjoys and feels strong in. Get him a planner, sit down with him after the first class session and look over the syllabus, and mark in the dates that he has papers due, quizzes, etc. After each class he needs to structure his studying - does he need to make flashcards on index cards? Read and take notes? Write a draft? In the beginning you may need to help him a lot, but he should catch on as the semester goes on.

Have you tried ALEKS? I think Rain actually learned a lot of math during her couple of months of ALEKS, and it as in small enough chunks that it felt manageable to her, and it also let her choose what to do next rather than being linear, which is good because she would tend to get freaked out over a concept and freeze and get stuck.... so this would let her work on something else and go back to it later.

And, he's 19. That's not really all that old. I'm teaching adult learners as an adjunct now and many of them have crappy study skills, so he's not the only one. I guess I think if he really was so desperate to get his skills up to where they need to be so he could go to a 4 year university, he'd be the one leading the charge, so to speak... but it still sounds like you're trying to do this for him. When Rain took math at the community college she went to the professor's office hours, found the math tutoring center, looked up Khan videos... and really took charge of the process. She did come to me for homework help, but that was more because I was good at math and lived with her than because I'm her mom, you know? So, what has your son done?

Whether or not you should have pushed math harder is a moot point now anyway. Rain and I have talked about what if she hadn't been unschooled, if I'd made her to math or sent her to high school... and usually we decide that maybe it would have been better for her but maybe not... we can't know what would have happened. I don't mind talking about it with her, because it's all academic at this point anyway, and she doesn't seem to resent being unschooled... and I'm not defensive about it, so I can see potential benefits other ways of schooling might have had for her.

 
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#11 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 06:00 PM
 
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So, ranting aside (so sorry, again), whether or not your son's math deficiency is the fault of unschooling, your decisions or his, it is his job to fix it.  A solution was offered to him at the time, and he chose not to take it.


That's pretty much my attitude...  My ds can be very reasonable but he can also really dig in his heels about things.  I'm not willing to have a contentious relationship with him.  I'll give him my opinions and advice and all the help I can manage.  But he needs to take responsibility for his choices.  I think I'd laugh at him if he told me I should have made him do something, as if he has the kind of personality that can be "made" to do something he doesn't want to do without a knock-down drag-out fight, lol.

 

There are kids who have gone through traditional schooling and needed remedial math in college.  There is no way to say whether your ds's math problems are due to unschooling or not.

 

I can see that some unschooled kids could go through a comfortable childhood happily not taking risks, not trying difficult things, etc.  I'm sure some kids need a little respectful nudging at times.  It is hard to figure out if and/or when that should happen.


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#12 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 09:12 PM
 
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But the main reason I wanted to hop back into this thread--I've been thinking about it, especially because our family is in the beginning of homeschooling--is because kids so often demand freedom to do things a certain way.  And as unschooling (or child-led or whatever) parents, we don't pressure, or try not to.  Sometimes kids protest any pressure vehemently.  What do we do?  Push and risk the issue affecting our whole day, or our entire experience of homeschooling, for every kid in the family?  Or do we back off and try to have faith that it will come around someday?  

 

From my perspective something is skewed if a parent is walking around feeling like if they provide guidance or direction on something that they believe is important the child will respond by ruining the whole day or the entire experience of homeschooling for the entire family. What does it say about the relationship and about the child's learning of some of the core skills mentioned like empathy or ability to delay gratification. Sure, if a kid is in school and they determine nothing about their education and it maybe is a total mismatch for their needs and they have minimal free time, I can see negative reactions to some guidance. But, in a trusting relationship with a parent, does it seem right that the parent would believe any direction would result in all of the day or all of the homeschooling experience being ruined?

 

I do agree with the sentiment that you and others expressed that right now there is no changing the past and the best option is to focus on the present and finding solutions. But, that said, I think it is reasonable for the poster to express her feelings and beliefs about her experience.


 

 

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#13 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 09:19 PM
 
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The scientist in me has been mulling your question over. I think there are probably developmental windows for these things. Generally it seems that human traits that are part of our evolutionary heritage (like spoken language, ambulation and so on) tend to have developmental windows, whereas human traits that are more recent acquisitions (written language, bicycling, etc.) tend not to. I'd put empathy and deferment of gratification in the former group. Hunter-gatherer proto-human cultures would have had to have both these traits in spades to survive.

 

Miranda
 

 


That makes sense. Using the framework that you just identified, I'm wondering how you would classify being able to receive instruction from an elder. Is tthat a developmental task and is there a window.

 

 

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#14 of 317 Old 12-19-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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Using the framework that you just identified, I'm wondering how you would classify being able to receive instruction from an elder. Is tthat a developmental task and is there a window.


Receptiveness to informal instruction (side-by-side work, modelling, apprentice-like situations) seems like a basic human trait that would have been important for millennia -- and I guess within the framework I delineated it would be likely to have a developmental window. Receptiveness to formal instruction is a recent invention of "civilization" so probably not for that.

 

Just speculatin' of course.

 

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#15 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 05:31 AM
 
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I'm not an unschooling home school mom, I do school mine including math for a variety of reasons I'd be happy to share, none of which include a belief that if I unschooled math, my kids probably wouldn't be able to do it when they were ready to choose it.  Wow a lot of negatives there.  I don't believe that you  need to study math formally in childhood to learn.  That's just my personal belief.  I do think once you start, fairly sequential mastery is useful. 

 

What I'm trying to say is that I spend a great deal of time thinking about, reading about, and talking about math education and I think you are confusing correlation with causality.

 

Reading your post my gut feeling is that this is something that should be evaluated.  I also do not think there is a critical period or developmental window for math.  I study math education fairly often and I've not heard of such a thing, granted I have not been looking.  But I think it would have come up in curriculum discussions.  I think it would have been hotly debated.  And I suspect that there are a LOT of figures in history who didn't study math until well into their teens.

 

There might be a time when it is easier to tolerate the math drill necessary for fluency, and perhaps it's easier to memorize at 9 than at 18, and 18 than 38.

 

The next step IMO should be a pschoeducational evaluation, and if he has a learning difference, that is something many colleges will accomodate. 

 

I also don't think there's anything wrong with looking at careers and money-making that does not require a 4 year degree.  It's quite coming into vogue actually.

 

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#16 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 05:41 AM
 
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Just wanted to point out that the areas of deficit you mention: time and (home)work management, as well as the delayed gratification the other poster mentioned are all "Executive Skills" of the brain. It doesn't have to be a special needs issue - all of us have strengths and weaknesses in the executive skills area.

I have found the following book helpful to understand how these executive skills work: "Smart but Scattered" - The Executive Skills Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
http://www.amazon.com/Smart-but-Scattered-Revolutionary-Executive/dp/1593854455/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324388135&sr=8-1

I have also ordered the following book, as the preview looks promising: Late, Lost, and Unprepared - A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning
http://www.amazon.com/Late-Lost-Unprepared-Executive-Functioning/dp/1890627844/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1324388339&sr=8-3

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#17 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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From my perspective something is skewed if a parent is walking around feeling like if they provide guidance or direction on something that they believe is important the child will respond by ruining the whole day or the entire experience of homeschooling for the entire family. What does it say about the relationship and about the child's learning of some of the core skills mentioned like empathy or ability to delay gratification. Sure, if a kid is in school and they determine nothing about their education and it maybe is a total mismatch for their needs and they have minimal free time, I can see negative reactions to some guidance. But, in a trusting relationship with a parent, does it seem right that the parent would believe any direction would result in all of the day or all of the homeschooling experience being ruined?

 

I do agree with the sentiment that you and others expressed that right now there is no changing the past and the best option is to focus on the present and finding solutions. But, that said, I think it is reasonable for the poster to express her feelings and beliefs about her experience.


 

 


I wasn't meaning to refer to all guidance, introductions, parent-led activities, or even saying "Hey, this needs to be fixed."  Sometimes a parent could say "Your math needs more work, we are going to work on it for one hour every morning until you catch up and gain some confidence" (or whatever, pick your ideal approach.)  And oftentimes the kids comply without issue.  No problem.

 

I am bringing home all kinds of books and ideas for activities and taking my daughters places without getting a thumbs up necessarily from them.  I don't do it because they "need" it, I do it because that is the kind of person I am.  I am excited about things.  And I let them know if I feel something is missing.  Yesterday was a good example of both.  The girls played all morning (5 and 7yo) then they started really not getting along, even after repeated attempts to play together.  So, after lunch  I pulled out their Horseless Horse books (4-H) and they did that for a while.  I decided we had time before gym tomorrow to visit a tack shop (on the list of activities).  I asked dd2 if she wanted to get her bike out and ride the bike maze my husband drew (again, parent-led) on the back patio.  That idea was greeted with enthusiasm from both girls.  After, I enticed my youngest with the pictures from Charlotte's Web.  Earlier, dd1 and I talked about her not wanting to read books without color pictures (this from a girl who sat through The Hobbit 3 times and LOTR once through) and how I felt sad because we were missing some really good stories (about horses and farms no less!  But she didn't budge.)  But I did talk dd2 into letting me read it to her and she has loved it (and yes, dd1 sat and listened, the little grump!)  Some days are like this, others they want nothing better than to do whatever *they* want.  And, yes, I do call what we do "unschooling".

 

So, what I was referring to are those moments when a parent can see this is going to be a big fight, or when it is one already.  This forum and the Learning at Home forum are filled with threads about those moments.  I hear about parents wanting to give up homeschooling because of this, and about how it affects homeschooling with the siblings.  This is not just about unschooling, as I am reading stories of this from homeschooling parents of all stripes.  What is a parent to do when a kid *really* digs in their heels?  When the issue starts to spill over into daily life, affecting siblings as well.  When a parent-child relationship becomes temporarily defined by this disagreement?  "Protest vehemently" is what I wrote.  So, what if a parent chooses to let it go?  To have faith that this hot-button issue will resolve itself somehow?  I think this is an acceptable choice.  

 

Edited to add: or simply setting the issue aside for a while.

 

So, those are the kids and the moments I am referring to, not every moment of parental guidance.  I should have clarified that better, but I assumed that those reading my post would get that from what I did include.

 


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#18 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 04:16 PM
 
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Sweetsilver - I'm having trouble getting a handle on what you are trying to say. It sounds like this is a list of the things that won't risk ruining the entire day or all of homeschooling. Okay, what is the thing you were referring to before that had to be avoided?

 

It sounds to me like what the original poster was saying is that she wishes sooner she had said more formal instruction in math was a requirement because in retrospect the informal math in life approach left her son with significant need for remediation.

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Sweetsilver - I'm having trouble getting a handle on what you are trying to say. It sounds like this is a list of the things that won't risk ruining the entire day or all of homeschooling. Okay, what is the thing you were referring to before that had to be avoided?

 

It sounds to me like what the original poster was saying is that she wishes sooner she had said more formal instruction in math was a requirement because in retrospect the informal math in life approach left her son with significant need for remediation.


The OP regrets handling this issue the way she did.  Regrets not pushing more, not insisting on math work earlier.  She trusted in the unschooling process, and now her son's struggles with math are making her reconsider her decisions.  Initially I just commented on her second guessing herself-- that her unschooling approach might have lead to this trouble, but that it could have been any number of things outside of that.   Several other pp commented on this as well.  

 

What I was commenting on in the subsequent post was that some parents, when met with monstrous resistance, or if they feel that a real fight is on the horizon, might choose to back down in the interest of preserving the peace.  They might put it off until they sense some change of heart or more readiness, or they might drop it if met with continual resistance.

 

I was responding to your comment-- damn! I wish I had multi-quoted before I wrote all this!-- "... something is skewed if a parent is walking around feeling like if they provide guidance or direction on something they believe is important, the child will respond by ruining the whole day or the entire experience of homeschooling for the entire family."  And "But in a trusting relationship with a parent, does it seem right that the parent would believe any direction would result in all of the day or all of homeschooling experience being ruined?"

 

I would agree with you, the way you wrote it, that would be a freakishly dysfunctional situation.  But I wasn't saying that parents should avoid any guidance and direction for fear of meeting resistance.  I was saying that some parents choose to avoid intense conflict when they know it will happen or it is happening so that they can better focus on other areas.  How do you know it will happen?  The answer to that is different for every parent.  Usually because the conflict or resistance has happened.  

 

I used an example from my day at home to illustrate that I use guidance and direction without fear of resistance, even though I did meet with mild resistance on some fronts.  I pushed a little, met the same resistance.  Backed off a little, but not before I expressed my feelings.  No fear.  Didn't ruin the day.  By using my own example, I meant to show that in my previous post I was absolutely not talking about tiptoeing around kids though I don't know how well I made the point.

 

So, to bring it back to OP-- she met resistance, big resistance.  She chose not to push harder than she did, and she regrets it.  Other parents choose to push even harder than she did.  Some have success, for others it does ruin homeschooling.  Parents need to know that this does happen sometimes if they push really really hard on an issue that the kid is pushing really really hard back on.  This is a huge issue not just with homeschooling, but with school and life in general.  At what point does the parent choose to push more intensely, and when do they choose to let go?  It's a judgment call every time.  I felt that the OP made a good decision under the circumstances.  Not the only good decision, mind you, but one that any parent who loves and respects their kid might make.  I don't think she should regret the choices she made, even though her son is struggling, not just because it's past but because it *was* a good, thoughtful decision.

 

So, nothing *has* to be avoided.  I merely say that sometimes, with some parents, some kids, some situations, things get intense, or can threaten to get intense and some parents choose to avoid that for any number of reasons and that is OK.

 

So, either I've clarified what I meant, or I've just added another layer of confusion.  nut.gif

 

 

 

 


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#20 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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I wasn't sure from the OP's post if she met with big resistance or intense conflict. I just got that she accepted the notion that math would take care of itself through baking or video games or whatever and now it appears this was not the case. Facing an adult who is working 4th grade math she feels the not doing something more structured earlier was a mistake.

 

My notion was that perhaps the idea that resistance and daily conflict and negotiation reflects something that is not working. I wonder if it is really a natural part of human children to feel so resistant to guidance or to the idea of pursuing something that was not originally their own idea. Should that really be a daily judgement call? Or, is being in the place where that's such a negotiation suggest that some core emotional and social skills are not being developed? This may feel like a logical way to live when your kids are little, but as they get older your attempts to attempts to "entice" them or tell them how you feel sad when they don't choose your book - that may not be a place you want to be.

 

As far as the idea that he could still be behind because look there are kids who went to school and they need remediation too, I personally don't feel that is a particularly strong or logical position. For one, the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school nor should we presume learning disabilities any time a student doesn't learn something they not taught and may have devoted virtually no time to. Really, don't think we can have it both ways. If we are going to credit unschooling when kids turn out to be independent, creative, etc.when those things could have happened anyway, we need to take the lumps too.

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#21 of 317 Old 12-20-2011, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As far as the idea that he could still be behind because look there are kids who went to school and they need remediation too, I personally don't feel that is a particularly strong or logical position. For one, the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school nor should we presume learning disabilities any time a student doesn't learn something they not taught and may have devoted virtually no time to. Really, don't think we can have it both ways. If we are going to credit unschooling when kids turn out to be independent, creative, etc.when those things could have happened anyway, we need to take the lumps too.

yeahthat.gif

The main reason I was motivated to post our situation here was to inform others who may be considering this path that all does not take care of itself when following this philosophy, and that not all kids are going to learn what they need when they "need" it to meet their goals. Heck, some kids may never have any goals beyond the "next level" in whatever game they are trying to master. Hopeful unschooling parents of young ones who get excited when their kids learn some simple fractions by cutting a pizza really need to hear this.

FWIW, My ds spent 2 afternoons per week this past semester in the learning center. He would then visit the teacher to go over the work he did with the tutors. He was involved in s study group as well. He has used ALEKS, as I believe that is or was required for some of his classes. He has taken the 1st semester of remedial Algebra twice, and now faces having to retake the 2nd semester. I do believe he let himself get a bit behind, and perhaps began tutoring a bit too late in the semester (I'm not sure when he began). He had gotten himself up to some "B's" on tests late in the semester, but he bombed the final (although he was very confident he had done well) and missed the "C" by 15 points.

I am quite sure that math would have never been his strong suit had he gone to school or was homeschooled more traditionally, but at least we would have had plenty of time to address issues and work a step at a time to achieve some reasonable competency. Instead it was just avoided (although I made several attempts to convince him to try it). So, I do have regrets that I did not "require" some work from him, especially in math. I feel it was my responsibility to facilitate his education, and I made the choice to unschool. That puts a lot more control in the hands of the student, but doesn't the buck ultimately stop with me when it was my decision to follow this approach in the the 1st place, even if it was my ds whose decisions about math led him to where he is today? He was a kid, he didn't know enough to ask me to work with him on math so he would be better prepared to get those requirements out of the way later on. He didn't have to do it so he didn't. I believed (hoped) he would take to math when he needed it, the way he had reading and writing. Just was not the case.
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#22 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 02:38 AM
 
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Well, there are about four main possibilities, no?

 

(1) His trouble is because of something he missed in childhood and adolescence -- and there was a window, so now his work is harder.  Well, I've not heard of that for basic remedial math, basic algebra, but ? 

 

(2) He can learn it as fine as he ever could, but the curriculum isn't right.  The pacing is too fast for him to retain mastery, or the sequencing is wrong, or another tutor might click better.  Or, and I doubt it, but the college might be doing constructivist math. 

 

(3) He is hindered by a learning disability that might play into #2, or a strong aptitude valley, we can't all be good at everything.  Was he all first person shooters, or could he do a good game of Tetris too? 

 

(4) If he'd done formal math as a homeschooler, he'd have spent, let's say, a thousand hours on it in K-12, and he really needs to spend 300 hours now as an adult to get to the same place, and he's not giving himself patience and credit for saving himself 700 hours.

 

I tutored math for many years, and I had some students who just needed the one-on-one to succeed.  And I had one student, of normal intelligence (ITBS subtests generally 50th-80th percentiles), who started coming to me in fourth or fifth grade for math to supplement her Catholic school instruction.  I would work with her for an hour or two a week, get her through the test each week, she could do it with help, but I didn't see as much mastery from year to year in 4th-6th.  Test to test only.  I only saw her periodically through junior high and high school, because I had babies then.  But she had the same problems ongoing, into college.  And I suspected later she should have been evaluated.  She's a stunning visual artist.  I think she may just have a deep valley where math is concerned.

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#23 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 08:58 AM
 
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I'm not sure how much of a factor this is for the original poster, but there is also a financial reality here for many families. Remedial college work can be expensive, but contribute no credits toward graduation. If a student needs extensive remediation they can hit up against credit limits for financial aid. Some families can support their kids into their 20s and their kids feel okay about it. But for many of us that's not a financial option and kids may want to be independent when they see their friends have these capabilities.

 

When the student has put the formal work in and hasn't been able to learn it, then you know to investigate a learning disability. If they haven't had the foundation, it makes it very difficult to make those kinds of investigations. It seems odd to me to give a great deal of weight to the validity of the feelings of a ten year old's disinterest in math, but if when an eighteen year old is in distress because they can't pass courses and see a huge long road ahead, it seems like the reaction is to dismiss them as not trying hard enough or not being willing to do what is necessary or being overly interested in blaming their parents.

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I wasn't sure from the OP's post if she met with big resistance or intense conflict. I just got that she accepted the notion that math would take care of itself through baking or video games or whatever and now it appears this was not the case. Facing an adult who is working 4th grade math she feels the not doing something more structured earlier was a mistake.

 

My notion was that perhaps the idea that resistance and daily conflict and negotiation reflects something that is not working. I wonder if it is really a natural part of human children to feel so resistant to guidance or to the idea of pursuing something that was not originally their own idea. Should that really be a daily judgement call? Or, is being in the place where that's such a negotiation suggest that some core emotional and social skills are not being developed? This may feel like a logical way to live when your kids are little, but as they get older your attempts to attempts to "entice" them or tell them how you feel sad when they don't choose your book - that may not be a place you want to be.

 

As far as the idea that he could still be behind because look there are kids who went to school and they need remediation too, I personally don't feel that is a particularly strong or logical position. For one, the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school nor should we presume learning disabilities any time a student doesn't learn something they not taught and may have devoted virtually no time to. Really, don't think we can have it both ways. If we are going to credit unschooling when kids turn out to be independent, creative, etc.when those things could have happened anyway, we need to take the lumps too.

I do agree that daily conflict points to something that is not working.  Plain old resistance now and then?  That's just kids, or every kid I know.  Resistance to guidance in general?  Some kids are like that.  Resistance to guidance in a particular area?  Some kids are like that too.  My own daughter is resistant and stubborn in some areas, and yes, I am always vigilant to the root cause of this, in case it's not just a personality quirk.  And I am well aware of the limitations of comparing a young unschooling family with unschooling teenagers.

 

So, my reassurance to Tigresse was unnecessary, that she shouldn't second guess herself, as she has already decided what she would rather have done.  Personally, I think that 19 is a little young to definitively decide what did and didn't work.  But, no big deal, it is just an opinion.  I also pointed out, in my earlier post, when she mentioned her son only wanting a teacher to push math that, in my definition of unschooling, that would have been totally appropriate.  Apparently, she rejected that idea (OK, Tigresses, my brain feels like it's patched together with silly putty at the moment, so please correct me if I've blanked out here) and he rejected her help.

 

While my arguments might not have been strong (I'm not agreeing necessarily, just letting that one go), I disagree that they were not logical.  And, what exactly do you mean when you write "the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school"?  Are you referring to Tigresse's effort being akin to the worst from public school?  I'm guessing because I just don't really know what you were saying if not.  caffix.gif  (that's my little coffee emoticon, showing that I am perfectly aware that my brain might not be fully functioning without caffeine.  But please, I've read the sentence several times and am still trying to work it out.)

 

I agree, unschooling is not perfect, not insignificantly because there is no perfect kid, perfect family, perfect situations.  Kids resist.  Don't yours?  Even on trivial things?  And parents choose how they respond to resistance.  My mother responded the way she did because she developed a parenting philosophy based on (and opposed to) her own upbringing my her meddlesome busybody of a mother.  Other mothers base their decisions on the fact that they are unschooling and they have a particular idea of what that entails. 

 

If I were in the same position, having made the same decisions, (and again, I'm not saying this was the best decision, but far, far from the worst) I would come to a different conclusion than Tigresse did.  (For now-- that's years down the road for my family!)  And I don't think I would be any more right or wrong.  I would see this as a situation that to remedy properly, the child needs to be fully on board.  Having made the decision to reject the help I offered I would expect him to take full responsibility to remedy this and not lay the responsibility for it fully on my lap.  I treated his decisions with respect, even though in the end I might have thought they were not the best decisions.  And whether or not I felt my decisions based on that respect were the best ones, he needs to see that they were out of respect for him and stop passing the the full burden of blame on me.  That's a key part of becoming a mature adult, claiming responsibility for the outcome of the rest of your life.  This struggle he is currently experiencing and his chosen path to remedy it could be the most transformative experience of his life for all he knows.  

 

Tigresse is choosing to shoulder the burden of this challenge onto herself, and on her former faith in her homeschooling philosophy.  All debates asides, it's good to hear how a mom who took this path to the finish feels about her experience, and letting other parents know how her ideal philosophy was transformed by it.

 

 


 

 


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#25 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 10:09 AM
 
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As far as the idea that he could still be behind because look there are kids who went to school and they need remediation too, I personally don't feel that is a particularly strong or logical position. For one, the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school nor should we presume learning disabilities any time a student doesn't learn something they not taught and may have devoted virtually no time to. Really, don't think we can have it both ways. If we are going to credit unschooling when kids turn out to be independent, creative, etc.when those things could have happened anyway, we need to take the lumps too.


<shrug> I'm not trying to have it both ways, personally.  After all, I'm a creative independent person who went through 17 years of traditional schooling.

 

I got the impression from the OP that her ds has been taking classes and trying to do well, asking for a tutor, etc.  It sounds like he's expressing that he wishes he had done this before simply so it would be done and he wouldn't have to do it now.  I wish my parents were able to teach me a second language when I was young so I'd know it now and not really remember any effort involved.  Oh well.  It's not their fault and it is my problem if I want to get fluent.  It also sounds like the OP's ds has been actually trying to master remedial math and not succeeding despite actual classes and a tutor so I don't think looking at learning differences is unreasonable.  It's either that, or he simply isn't good at math, or he isn't trying.  If he were naturally good at math, he wouldn't need much in the way of study skills.  It would just make sense.  People that are average at math benefit from studying and it could be he falls into that category and lacks the study skills.  People who just don't think mathematically should perhaps be guided to non-math fields.  Lord knows my dh fits into that category despite his years of traditional schooling.

 

Through unschooling math, I expect my ds will know how to get along in the world and manage his finances.  I don't expect he'll just be able to enter college and magically do well at calculus. 


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#26 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 10:13 AM
 
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And, what exactly do you mean when you write "the best math teaching effort of homeschooling should hopefully not be akin to the worst from public school"?  Are you referring to Tigresse's effort being akin to the worst from public school?  I'm guessing because I just don't really know what you were saying if not.  caffix.gif  (that's my little coffee emoticon, showing that I am perfectly aware that my brain might not be fully functioning without caffeine.  But please, I've read the sentence several times and am still trying to work it out.)

 


 

Sorry, if I was unclear... I wish I could multiquote but that function doesn't work for me.

 

My comment relates to the response that there are many kids who don't get math or end up in remedial work at community college. It seems to me that on some days unschoolers take this as a proof of the ills of public school - they have them for years and still fail to teach the basics. Look lots of kids don't get the stuff because most kids in remedial classes went to public school. On the flip side like in response to this poster, we see the large number of students who need remediation that her son would probably have needed it if he went to school. What I'm saying is that the best math education available through homeschooling really shouldn't be the same as the worst through public school. The two choices weren't the crappy public education that leads to the need for remedial classes or let's hope he learns it from making cookies. There was an option of a more formal approach at home and the poster wishes she would have incorporated some of that earlier.

 

As far as resistance, I do not see it as a central defining element of the educational experience for all children, but I often hear unschoolers defining it as such. When I read your description of your day about trying to "talk kids" into being read to, "enticing" them with pictures, talking about you feeling sad because they don't want to read a particular kind of book - for me that just sounds like a lot of energy and dancing around fear or resistance. My suggestion was that perhaps regular resistance (no matter how masterfully a parent works around it) is a sign of lack of development of core emotional and social skills that are foundational to learning. Just based on my observation of many children it is hard for me to see that unschooling typically lowers resistance or makes kids more open as time goes on. Instead it seems to sometimes reinforce an "it's all about me and what I want" attitude that over time develops more, not less, resistance. I don't know that it is an inherent thing in the approach of unschooling, but it is what I often see in practice.

 

As far as taking full responsibility, it sounds to me like the kid is going to the tutoring center twice and week and retaking remedial work. When he sees friends moving on to adult life and he's frustrated with this place where he's stuck for now, is he actually not allowed to feel upset with that? Just getting a bit behind in a math class can feel like digging out of a gigantic hole, but starting at the 4th grade level, that is discouraging. Is it totally unreasonable for a person to say as a child I didn't have an adult understanding of the implications of my choices, but you as an adult did and I wish you would have guided me more? To say to an adult "tough luck, shoulda listened to me and known better" seems sorta mean spirited.
 

 

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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View PostHaving made the decision to reject the help I offered I would expect him to take full responsibility to remedy this and not lay the responsibility for it fully on my lap.  I treated his decisions with respect, even though in the end I might have thought they were not the best decisions.  And whether or not I felt my decisions based on that respect were the best ones, he needs to see that they were out of respect for him and stop passing the the full burden of blame on me.  That's a key part of becoming a mature adult, claiming responsibility for the outcome of the rest of your life.  This struggle he is currently experiencing and his chosen path to remedy it could be the most transformative experience of his life for all he knows.


ITA

 


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#28 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 10:24 AM
 
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If he were naturally good at math, he wouldn't need much in the way of study skills.  It would just make sense.  People that are average at math benefit from studying and it could be he falls into that category and lacks the study skills.  People who just don't think mathematically should perhaps be guided to non-math fields.  Lord knows my dh fits into that category despite his years of traditional schooling.

 

 



As a parent of a math major I totally disagree with you. Math success doesn't just happen by magic. Yes, understanding making snese of math is much easier for some people than for others. But, even for the people it is easy for it still requires work, completing assignments, being able to focus to study, ability to work through frustration, ability to use the written language of math, etc.

 

I don't really see the second language as comparable because for most of us living in the US, it is something that is optional. Math is required to complete a college degree and that includes fields where math is totally irrelevant. Not everyone has a college degree as a goal but the majority of people do.

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#29 of 317 Old 12-21-2011, 12:16 PM
 
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As far as resistance, I do not see it as a central defining element of the educational experience for all children, but I often hear unschoolers defining it as such. When I read your description of your day about trying to "talk kids" into being read to, "enticing" them with pictures, talking about you feeling sad because they don't want to read a particular kind of book - for me that just sounds like a lot of energy and dancing around fear or resistance. My suggestion was that perhaps regular resistance (no matter how masterfully a parent works around it) is a sign of lack of development of core emotional and social skills that are foundational to learning. Just based on my observation of many children it is hard for me to see that unschooling typically lowers resistance or makes kids more open as time goes on. Instead it seems to sometimes reinforce an "it's all about me and what I want" attitude that over time develops more, not less, resistance. I don't know that it is an inherent thing in the approach of unschooling, but it is what I often see in practice.

 

As far as taking full responsibility, it sounds to me like the kid is going to the tutoring center twice and week and retaking remedial work. When he sees friends moving on to adult life and he's frustrated with this place where he's stuck for now, is he actually not allowed to feel upset with that? Just getting a bit behind in a math class can feel like digging out of a gigantic hole, but starting at the 4th grade level, that is discouraging. Is it totally unreasonable for a person to say as a child I didn't have an adult understanding of the implications of my choices, but you as an adult did and I wish you would have guided me more? To say to an adult "tough luck, shoulda listened to me and known better" seems sorta mean spirited.
 

 


I didn't mean in my description of my day to give the impression that I spend the entire day enticing and talking them into things.  I definitely said that my interest and excitement in so many things leads me to introduce a lot of parent-led activities.  I do dance around resistance sometimes, somedays more than others.  I studied Aikido for many years, and "dancing around resistance" is one way you could describe it.  In that training, I learned that that dance is not really backing off or giving in, but holding the center and bringing energy into balance-- whoops! I'm not really sure I should be bringing up something so new at this point in the debate.  Bottomline: not every moment, every decision in my day is based on avoiding resistance, or anything to do with it.  I never meant that and I didn't mean to imply that.  Was my point really that obscure?

 

I get your point about regular resistance, and I agree that one possibility is that something is missing in their core development.  I also believe that some kids are just naturally prone to this kind of thing (not that the OP was ever saying hers was--mainly on this one issue) and if it is a deficiency in their core emotional development, then some are particularly sensitive to it.  I see both my girls, and they are very different in some profound ways.  DD2 plays and works alongside me regularly and often, dd1, not so much.  Different outcomes, same house.  

 

I also agree with you and with pps that unschooling can often lead to "me and now" problems.  Not all the time, but they can.  I agree about empathy and delayed gratification.

 

To me, there is a wide divide between a parent refusing to shoulder all the blame, and saying "tough luck, kid".  And nowhere did I refuse to acknowledge the understandable feelings that her son is going through.  I stated, or implied, that to put all the blame on his mother is immature.  Age appropriate, perhaps, but immature nonetheless.  Perhaps the truth is in the grey area, where he does put some blame on himself at the same time wishing his mother would have pushed him harder.  I get that (my, oh, my, I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't get that.)  But it comes across that the blame for his current struggles was placed full-square on his mother.  And his mother puts the blame full square on her trusting to her idea of unschooling.  

 

I think you are taking what I write and stretching them to the ends of possibility.  Guidance and resistance become "any guidance" or resistance.  dealing with resistance becomes "dancing around resistance" for fear of meeting it head on.  Insisting on not shouldering the entire burden of the situation becomes "tough luck, kid".  Please read what I write more carefully before you extrapolate my meaning for your own ends.  Please reread my earliest posts to understand where I began.

 

A last point-- I am unclear as to when her son asked for a teacher for math, but in her place, I think I would have agreed and hired the teacher if were in my means.  And I would still call my style unschooling, and would agree with another parent if they did the same.  And if someone more radical than I disagreed with the label?  Well, fine, read my signature down below. I would dance around that resistance and let it go.  (Actually, *that* might need to be the new one!)

 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post

I don't really see the second language as comparable because for most of us living in the US, it is something that is optional. Math is required to complete a college degree and that includes fields where math is totally irrelevant. Not everyone has a college degree as a goal but the majority of people do.


Aren't foreign languages required at most 4 year colleges?  One doesn't need to be fluent but neither does one need to do much higher math, either, for some majors.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

 

To me, there is a wide divide between a parent refusing to shoulder all the blame, and saying "tough luck, kid".  And nowhere did I refuse to acknowledge the understandable feelings that her son is going through.  I stated, or implied, that to put all the blame on his mother is immature.  Age appropriate, perhaps, but immature nonetheless.  Perhaps the truth is in the grey area, where he does put some blame on himself at the same time wishing his mother would have pushed him harder.  I get that (my, oh, my, I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't get that.)  But it comes across that the blame for his current struggles was placed full-square on his mother.  And his mother puts the blame full square on her trusting to her idea of unschooling.


Exactly, I'm sympathetic that math is a struggle.  But if I've guided and suggested things to my ds that he has refused, I'm not going to be riddled with guilt.  I'm letting him be responsible for his choices while he is young so this won't be a huge leap for him when he is 19.

 


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