Mothering Forums

Mothering Forums (http://www.mothering.com/forum/)
-   Unschooling (http://www.mothering.com/forum/439-unschooling/)
-   -   Project Based Homeschooling and Unschooling (http://www.mothering.com/forum/439-unschooling/1381840-project-based-homeschooling-unschooling.html)

Attila the Honey 04-17-2013 08:10 AM

Has anyone else read "Project Based Homeschooling" by Lori Pickert?

 

I am reading it now and I really like it.  It's about having a child pick a project and topic and completely "owning" the work.  Planning, implementing, creating... all of it.  The parent is there to facilitate however needed, but not to push or assign work.

 

My husband, daughter and I sat and talked about it and everyone is really excited about it.  My daughter brainstormed in her project notebook for quite awhile yesterday - topics she wants to learn about (volcanoes, herbs, the french revolution, rocks, and multiplying).  She also brainstormed how to learn about these things (youtube, netflix, the library, google, asking people, khan academy) and what she wants to do with what she learns (make a zine, make a sign, make a lapbook, make a book, or film a movie).

 

This, to me, feels like a good baby step towards trusting unschooling.  It seems to me it IS unschooling, but with a final result (if that makes sense).  That helps me.  If she wasn't excited about it I wouldn't push it.  If she loses interest and abandons a project (or puts it aside for awhile) I won't push it.  

 

The part I really like about PBH is that it focuses on giving kids a sense of ownership and empowers them to take learning into their own hands.  That's especially helpful, I think, for those of us transitioning from curriculum based homeschooling (or school).  Also, I love that it is more about children learning they CAN learn anything, that the resources are out there.  that's almost more important than the actual topic they immerse themselves in.

 

Anyone thoughts?  Has anyone else read this book?  She has a blog, as well - http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog/


moominmamma 04-17-2013 10:58 AM

I haven't read the book, though I agree it sounds interesting and it might be a really helpful for someone who wants to move gradually to a more autonomous style of home-based learning. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have worked for me and my older three kids, though. My youngest, yes, she likes to externalize her learning to show off and provide evidence of what she's learned to earn adult approval. She's much more of a 'pleaser' than my older three. I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing, though superficially it makes her a poster-child for home-based learning. 

 

It sounds to me like PBH is a child-led type of unit study homeschooling -- but the "P" part is very much a parental expectation. The fact that the child has a lot of autonomy to decide what that project will be and how it will be developed and presented makes it a much more child-led style of unit study learning than, say, parent-assigned worksheets about the topic of the week. But there is a basic overlying expectation that one will create "evidence of learning" to serve, presumably, an implied evaluative mandate by the parent. You will create a project. That's the bottom line. My older, always-unschooled kids would have looked at me with suspicion and resistance building in their minds: why do we have to create a project? what's the point of that? why can't we just learn? why do we have to make something from it?

 

Until I started thinking hard about it I assumed that projects would be and enticing opportunity for my unschooled kids to pull together with pride the pieces of what they had learned for their own satisfaction. But because they had never subjected to school-like expectations, they tended to look at me blankly or suspiciously when I suggested anything of the sort. They sniffed out an agenda that I had to admit to myself was lurking underneath, the evaluative agenda. As kids who had never been subjected to school-like assignments and evaluations, they had very keen noses for that sort of thing. They used to complain when they encountered "questions that aren't questions." Like, when a piano teacher would ask "What does 'dolce' mean?" They knew that the piano teacher didn't want to know the answer to the question. She already knew perfectly well what 'dolce' meant! She wanted to know whether the child knew the answer. My elder three kids, all introverted and perfectionistic, bristled at the evaluative intent of such queries. They knew adults didn't interact with each other this way. They found it dishonest, or at least inauthentic. The more honest question, they felt, would be "Do you know what 'dolce' means?" It is evaluative but at least it is honest about that, and implies that the answer "No, I don't" is an option and will open the door to the imparting of the information.

 

Interestingly, when my eldest dd (then 14) started school in 10th grade, this whole "creating evidence of learning for evaluative purposes" thing, which seemed so natural and obvious to me, was the big thing she had to learn in order to acclimate to the school environment. She assumed that her poster or powerpoint were supposed to impart useful and desired information to an audience (the teacher) wishing to be educated about the topic. So her standards for herself were impossibly high. She kept saying "But I'm sure he already knows that! It's in the textbook. How could he not?" or "That's so obvious. Other students will put that in their project. How is it going to be helpful to repeat what they've said?" I had to keep reminding her "The point of the assignment is just to reassure your teacher that you've learned what he expects." She had been so thoroughly resistant to this sort of "evidence of learning" thing as a youngster that it took her a while to get herself into the mindset even when she chose school as a teen.

 

Anyway, all of this is just to point out that to some kids the basic expectation that a project be created may feel inauthentic even though they have complete autonomy over how that project evolves. Perhaps not in an upsetting way that invites resistance, but nevertheless in a way that says "I do my learning in order to satisfy my parent's expectations." I think it's a great way to encourage more autonomy and self-direction by a child, especially if they've been involved in a more other-directed style of learning thus far. If it means that a parent who wants to get to a point of unschooling feels a little bit more comfortable with continuing to move in that direction, that's a good thing too. 

 

Miranda


Emaye 04-17-2013 10:58 PM


Quote:

Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

They used to complain when they encountered "questions that aren't questions." Like, when a piano teacher would ask "What does 'dolcemean?" They knew that the piano teacher didn't want to know the answer to the question. She already knew perfectly well what 'dolce' meant! She wanted to know whether the child knew the answer. My elder three kids, all introverted and perfectionistic, bristled at the evaluative intent of such queries. They knew adults didn't interact with each other this way. They found it dishonest, or at least inauthentic. The more honest question, they felt, would be "Do you know what 'dolce' means?" It is evaluative but at least it is honest about that, and implies that the answer "No, I don't" is an option and will open the door to the imparting of the information.

 

 

This reminded me of my son while he was learning reading.  I brought home some basic phonics books and handed them to him.  He looked through them and declared "I already know how to read these."   So, I asked: "Really? Can you read them to me?"   He replied: "I don't want to.  Why do you need proof any way!?"  This is how I found out he knew the word "proof" lol.  

 

OP, what I quickly found out about formal projects is, I sort of found myself getting too involved.  As I got involved and my expectations/agenda became clear to my kids, they lost interest and wanted to do something else.  By that point, I had invested enough energy in the project that I got pissy with them when they wanted to quit.  So, yeah, that kind of learning was not a good fit for us.  

 

Now, the kids do "projects" on their own.  Like, they have been talking/dreaming about a farm they want to move to.  They talk in detail about it: what animals, where, weather, water source, energy, food, garden, etc.  It is a this massive thing they are planning and talk about consistently.  Sometimes, they make lists but they lose them.  A couple of times, I suggested they make a map so we can all visualize the farm and they sort of did -- very make shift, nothing polished.  This project is happening all in their heads (and ours) and it is massive and it is fun! But there is no product from it... not much to see/show.  

 

Another project they have been talking about is, crossing the globe in a boat (paddle boat, no less).  Again, very much a fantasy (AND impossible in this case but I didn't tell them that).  But in the process, they have learned so much.  They have made fishing rods, looked at boat plans, studied maps....  I consider this one of their ongoing projects since they continue to talk about it and sometimes make artifacts that complements their ideas.   

 

My son is also quite interested in weapons.  So, he has been coming up with different types.  He has been drawing his designs out -- rough sketches and nothing neat or pretty but totally his own.  Loads of history learning there too. 

 

Another one he has been doing lately is using his magnifying glass to burn patterns on wood (yes, fire, ahem but we have taught him to be safe and he is pretty good about listening).  

 

I guess what I am saying is, I consider these ongoing well developed, well thought out ideas "projects" even if there is generally no end product. And they are a lot of fun because I don't get invested and become all nutty when they don't "pan out".  There are zero expectations.  And there is an impressive amount of learning that comes along with them.  


Attila the Honey 04-18-2013 07:43 AM

I really liked this book because I felt like it's a good way to empower my daughter.  She's coming from a year of cyber schooling and I think the thought of unschooling makes her feel unmoored.  I hope that will change, I think this will help.  I know others feel differently, but I am uncomfortable with her spending a lot of time on video games and watching TV and that seems to be her "go to" activity.  This project that she is immersing herself in gives her something else she is excited about doing. 

 

She owns everything about her project, and it's exciting for her.  There is nothing she has to answer to us about.  I am not looking for an end result, and if she decides to abandon it I am fine with that.  She's the one that wants to do so many things - build a volcano, make a zine/write a book and maybe make a movie.  If she decides not to do projects at all then it will just be another thing we tried and moved on from.  

 

I should mention that her father and I are also working on projects. :)  He is learning about and getting ready to build a compost pile.  I am learning about something I've always meant to learn about - the wives of Henry VIII.  In many ways this is just normal life, finding something you want to learn about and learning about it, but giving it a name gives my daughter a sense of pride in her work (and play).  It's made it a priority for her.  


pek64 04-18-2013 08:18 AM

I'm all for anything that generates interest and excitement!! The only advice I have is to keep in touch with your daughter throughout the process. Sometimes we all need a little outside help, so be available to give it, without taking ownership and control of the project(s) . That's a fine line, but if you're careful you can manage.

The other, general, piece of advice I have is to spend less energy worrying about labels. If you are unschooling, homeschooling, cyberschooling, eclectic schooling, or whatever, the important points are : is everyone learning, and is the family functioning well.

I think you're doing great!

moominmamma 04-18-2013 08:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

The other, general, piece of advice I have is to spend less energy worrying about labels. 

 

I don't think ATH is particularly concerned about labels, but I do think this is good advice. I notice that Wendy Preisnitz of "Life Learning Magazine" has recently begun work on an on-line project devoted to un-unschooling smile.gif .... for people fed up with trying to decide whether they're unschooling or not. 

 

Miranda


SweetSilver 04-18-2013 09:58 AM

Love it!  "Un-unschooling."

 

I haven't read the book, TBH.  I just wanted to add that my girls are positively thrilled to be working on their first-ever public presentations for 4-H.  It is based more on what they know.  It is an exciting process, and they get a ribbon (they are primaries and just get participation awards) and it helps towards earning their pins for the year.  I like that it is entirely optional, but at the same time gives them a chance to get up there and talk to people about something they love.  DD1 loves earning the awards, so it's nice for this unschooling mom to give her a chance to seek that kind of approval in positive, non-coercive ways.

 

And yes, Emaye, we have a farm/horse project that continues and changes.

 

I'll check out the blog-- I think I've stumbled across it before.


loripickert 04-18-2013 10:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

It sounds to me like PBH is a child-led type of unit study homeschooling -- but the "P" part is very much a parental expectation. The fact that the child has a lot of autonomy to decide what that project will be and how it will be developed and presented makes it a much more child-led style of unit study learning than, say, parent-assigned worksheets about the topic of the week. But there is a basic overlying expectation that one will create "evidence of learning" to serve, presumably, an implied evaluative mandate by the parent. You will create a project. That's the bottom line. My older, always-unschooled kids would have looked at me with suspicion and resistance building in their minds: why do we have to create a project? what's the point of that? why can't we just learn? why do we have to make something from it?

 

hello. :)

 

actually, projects are not about parental expectations; the entire basis of PBH is self-directed learning. projects are self-chosen, self-managed work done by children with the help of attentive adults who mentor, facilitate, and support. the book is actually about helping parents steadfastly support their children and *not* take over or put expectations on what they do.


moominmamma 04-18-2013 11:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by loripickert View Post

 

actually, projects are not about parental expectations; the entire basis of PBH is self-directed learning. projects are self-chosen, self-managed work done by children with the help of attentive adults who mentor, facilitate, and support. the book is actually about helping parents steadfastly support their children and *not* take over or put expectations on what they do.

 

Oh, I get that. But as I said in my post above, it sounds like there's one basic expectation: that some sort of project be created. That's the sort of expectation my kids would have bristled at. "I know all about this. Why do I have to show what I know? I know I know it."

 

I spent last weekend immersing myself in 20th century Chinese history. Read a ton. Watched a bunch of documentaries and films. Downloaded books. Browsed through news articles. Pulled out a textbook. Got rather obsessed with Kowloon Walled City as well. Probably put ten hours of natural, self-directed learning into it. I'm way better educated about it than I was before. What do I have to show for it? Nothing. I didn't make a zine, keep notes, write a book, create a powerpoint, build a scrapbook. I just learned. That's how my kids tend to learn too.

 

Miranda


villagemamma 04-18-2013 11:14 AM

I haven't read the book but I'm very interested. I'll check out the blog too. In the meantime, I have a few basic questions. 

 

What is a "project"? What scale? Are they all independent and child-led or can projects involve a lot of people? My impression from posts in this thread is that "projects" lean toward academic studies but is that a false impression? 

 

Would baking muffins be a "project"? What if a child wanted to study science and tried different baking methods and ingredients, like quick breads and yeast breads and unleavened breads etc.?  

 

Is it a "project" if we explore different cultures and countries with food festivals and games and stories? 

 

Is creating a garden, either at home or as a community initiative, a "project" involving plant and insect biology, soil science, math, engineering, and so on? 

 

If we track weather predictions and patterns and make graphs and study them does that count as a "project"? 

 

Is it a "project" to observe and record a puppy's growth and development and training?  

 

If so, then I think our family has already been doing a lot of "project-based" studies, lol. At the outset, some of them are entirely their idea and some are mine, but they are all child-led in the sense that it is up to them whether they want to do them and how they get done. Well, except the puppy training. That was pretty non-negotiable for all of our sakes. 


pek64 04-18-2013 01:24 PM

I think it's clear that not all the learning is project based. It's impossible to restrict learning like that, anyway.

I never tried to get my son to do projects, but I had mine, so he came up with his own. Sometimes there was something to show for it, and sometimes not. It doesn't really matter who here likes the idea of projects, if the child likes the idea, great! And since she has to turn in a portfolio, having something concrete at the end of the project will help at portfolio time!!

ATH, best of luck!!

Fillyjonk 04-18-2013 01:47 PM

I've read the book. I really liked it a lot, it gave me an awful lot of food for thought and I could see how it could be adapted for unschooling to some extent. What I appreciated was the heads up as to what makes a project happen, things like creating time, space etc and I've tried to put a few of those into practice. I also think it has some really helpful techniques for mentoring independent learners.

 

I think it can be an unschooling tool with a certain kind of kid, the kind who is actually interested in producing projects. I have one kid a little like this. But for my other two...no it wouldn't work. They really would have no desire to show another person that they knew something. But these are kids who have had a lot of control of their own education since birth. I think if you are coming to homeschooling, it could be an amazing stepping stone and while we didn't adopt the ideas wholesale it was worth reading and pondering on.


moominmamma 04-18-2013 02:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

I think it can be an unschooling tool with a certain kind of kid, the kind who is actually interested in producing projects. I have one kid a little like this.

 

Having just got back from the local school where my unschooled 10-year-old was joining in on their science fair, proudly and enthusiastically standing in front of a display table explaining all about "agitation and its effects on crystal formation," I too can say have one kid like this. I completely agree that as a stepping-stone away from structured schooling, or for a certain type of unschooler, it can be a great approach. It's not necessarily going to work for all kids, though -- and I think there are more likely to be poorness of fit issues if they're out-and-out unschoolers who aren't used to producing output. 

 

I have a feeling that all those crafty scrapbookers out there were kids who genuinely enjoyed doing projects. They liked the tangibility of a finished product to commemorate their learning and their experiences. I have a bit of that streak it me. My kids on the other hand ... well, I sent my eldest to SE Asia for almost three months when she was 14 with a brand-new digital camera. She came home with 13 photos. Thirteen. Gads! She has this very zen-like attitude to life: it's about living it fully, and not getting attached to stuff. She may change as she gets older but she's 19 now and has been like this since the beginning.

 

Miranda


loripickert 04-18-2013 03:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

Oh, I get that. But as I said in my post above, it sounds like there's one basic expectation: that some sort of project be created. That's the sort of expectation my kids would have bristled at. "I know all about this. Why do I have to show what I know? I know I know it."

 

Miranda

 

that is why i piped up — because although it may “sound like” there is an expectation that some sort of physical thing will be produced, that is not what the word “project” refers to in project-based homeschooling — the “project” is simply the long-term, self-directed learning experience. the child is in charge of how he or she learns and what, if anything, he or she makes/does. i wouldn’t want people to steer away from it based on an incorrect assumption.


moominmamma 04-18-2013 03:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by loripickert View Post

the “project” is simply the long-term, self-directed learning experience

 

Oh, okay, then I misunderstood. That's not the impression I got from the original post, reviews of the book or the author's website. The author writes of it encompassing "lots of authentic art and creating original works of all kinds." She also defines project work as "authentic work done by someone who wants to know and understand and communicate with other people" (emphasis mine). She talks a lot about ways to communicate learning changing and growing as children grow, and how important authentic modes of expression and communication to the process of learning, and she offers a whole menu of possibilities. It's very inspiring stuff -- and not dogmatic in the least. But it certainly gives the impression that the process of creating something tangible or at least intentionally communicating one's learning to someone else is central to the approach. Thanks for the clarification.

 

Miranda


Fillyjonk 04-18-2013 04:01 PM

I think the issues I had with it were really not the fault of the book. Like I say, if you are in the book's target market I think its one of the best books I've come across of its kind, really, and I love that its supported by the website.

 

I guess there are two reasons why its not for us. First, two of my kids are just not really suited to it. TBH my oldest and youngest need zero help on finding stuff they are interested in and doing it to the exclusion of all else. The issue is actually more how to get them to stop, or do boring things like eating. My middle child, yes, might enjoy it but I think the experience of fully self directing her learning is, I think, more important. There are elements I'm adopting now, like having times when I will be available, however. 

 

Second, and this is kind of complex. It still feels pretty top down to me. I'm saying that having read the book, and its not a criticism, just something that isn't right for my family at this stage. I struggle with labelling my kids learning experiences as discrete from other parts of life. When my kid plays in the bath for hour after hour. I could call that a project. Or I could call it life. I'm not certain what she is learning. I'm sure there is some learning, even if its just learning that she really likes the water. But seeing it as a project seems somehow artificial to me at this stage in the life we have here. It feels too cut and dried for us, there's too much of an expectation of some kind of progression. There's this goal of the "long-term, self-directed learning experience".

 

When my kids have a project or idea that is too big for them to handle, literally, metaphorically, emotionally, whatever, and they choose to seek my help (and they don't always-they might ask someone else, each other, give up or figure through it), we sit down together (we might go for coffee) and talk about it, As much as possible they talk and I listen.I prompt and do the active listening thing but I make very, very clear its their thing. Well , they know that. Sometimes that's the whole project, they literally talk it out of themselves and that's it (this can be enormously fun, by the way, its not a cop out). Sometimes there are specifics they need me to get for them, or help to get them. Occasionally they might want a reminder to do work or encouragement to keep going with a book, or what have you. But its theirs. I'm helping. The way I've taught them, as far as I have been able, to plan and execute a project is by getting right out of the way and letting them plan and execute projects.

 

Just putting that out there to kind of try to explain why it might not work so well if you are starting off with an unschoolingish, and mainly unschooled but very consensually parented kids. It is a different way of doing stuff really.


pek64 04-18-2013 05:14 PM

This is sounding nitpicky, to me. Going on about how other children learn, fussing about what constitutes a "project", discussing if it's really "unschooling" . All in all, guys, it doesn't seem supportive of someone taking steps into unschooling, or even homeschooling, in general. Maybe I'm in a bad mood tonight. If that's the problem, I apologize. If it's not,....

Emaye 04-18-2013 06:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post

 

She owns everything about her project, and it's exciting for her.  There is nothing she has to answer to us about.  I am not looking for an end result, and if she decides to abandon it I am fine with that.  She's the one that wants to do so many things - build a volcano, make a zine/write a book and maybe make a movie.  If she decides not to do projects at all then it will just be another thing we tried and moved on from.  

 

It sounds like she is excited and inspired.  That is wonderful.  I am glad you found something that will work both for you and your daughter :)  That is key.  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post
I know others feel differently, but I am uncomfortable with her spending a lot of time on video games and watching TV and that seems to be her "go to" activity.  

 

I would be uncomfortable if my kids spent a lot of time watching TV and video games as well.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

This is sounding nitpicky, to me. Going on about how other children learn, fussing about what constitutes a "project", discussing if it's really "unschooling" . All in all, guys, it doesn't seem supportive of someone taking steps into unschooling, or even homeschooling, in general. Maybe I'm in a bad mood tonight. If that's the problem, I apologize. If it's not,....
 
I hope the OP doesn't feel that way.  I think people in this forum in general like to play around with ideas and to examine them from different perspectives.  All this has been, for me at least, is a great discussion.  It is also fascinating to see how each kid (and parent) respond to different approaches.  The diversity of our experiences in parenting, opinions and our kids' learning process is very interesting and inspiring.  There is always something to take away. 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I notice that Wendy Preisnitz of "Life Learning Magazine" has recently begun work on an on-line project devoted to un-unschooling smile.gif .... for people fed up with trying to decide whether they're unschooling or not. 

 

LOL. I love the double negative there! 


moominmamma 04-18-2013 06:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

This is sounding nitpicky, to me. Going on about how other children learn, fussing about what constitutes a "project", discussing if it's really "unschooling" . All in all, guys, it doesn't seem supportive of someone taking steps into unschooling, or even homeschooling, in general. Maybe I'm in a bad mood tonight. If that's the problem, I apologize. If it's not,....

 

I'm really sorry if the discussion has felt that way to ATH -- or to you. Like Emaye, I felt like it was thought-provoking to look at the issues raised from differing perspectives. I think both of us who said we didn't think it would work for our kids did say enthusiastic things about the approach in the context of Attila the Honey's situation, and for many children and for many families. And I don't think anyone ever raised the issue of whether it met our definition of unschooling. I think saying "Interesting, though I don't think it's what I want for my particular situation, and here's why" isn't being nitpicky. But I apologize if it came across that way to some of you.

 

Miranda


Fillyjonk 04-19-2013 05:22 AM

I dunno, I'm sorry if it comes across as nitpicky. I would point out that the discussion is in unschooling, Lori suggested that the approach was compatible with unschooling and I think that several posters were simply responding and debating  that assertation. Part of what happens here is to look at our differing interpretations of unschooling, which is something I find interesting. It also sets this board apart from others which often tend to have a single, qualifying definition of unschooling.

 

I don't think that unschooling is a holy grail, personally, and if project based homeschooling was something that worked for my family I'd just use it, it wouldn't occur to me to care whether that meant I qualified as an unschooler or not. What I think has more been debated is whether the principles behind this approach are actually compatible or not with the techniques and philosophy of unschooling, at least as some of us understand it within our family. 

 

I find this interesting, and I'm not a diehard unschooler in the slightest. I'm highly familiar with the literature and that is my background but these days I 'm really just a pragmatist.I don't think to suggest anything is not unschooling is in any way an insult or a criticism. What matters to me, and I think most parent, is to find something that works, the labels are quite irrelevant. Unschooling, to me, is a technique, a philosophy, really. Its not a religion. 

 

What I think is that the process of discussing this can be very helpful to some of us in clarifying whether project based learning is helpful, and, crucially, if not, why not. I guess to some that might look nitpicky but I think that might just depend on how relevant the discussion feels to you. To me, having just read the book and still processing the ideas, it has been enormously helpful to work through this. 

 

I think we've all been nothing but positive that ATH has found something that works. As I say, the response that PBH is not unschooling has been, I'd say, a respectful disagreement in response to the author saying that it is. 

 

I don't use the unschooling label although in practice we are close to it. But I appreciate its existence and what it brings to the table as a philosophy and I like to discuss its parameters. Not to exclude others in the slightest but because that helps me to work out how I want to parent my own kids. And because this whole movement is exceedingly interesting. Where I think the problem arises is when, as I believe does happen, people are thrown off boards or flamed or not allowed to join groups because they don't meet others standards. I really don't think that debating whether an educational techniques can work for us within our personal unschooling framework comes close to that at all. Absolutely no one is suggesting that ATM or Lori should not post here, on the unschooling boards, absolutely not. I'd have a real problem with that. 


Fillyjonk 04-19-2013 05:32 AM

Oh and I wanted to say this in my original post but it doesn't seem to be there somehow.

 

Just that this really does sound truly awesome:

 

From Moominmamma

 

"My kids on the other hand ... well, I sent my eldest to SE Asia for almost three months when she was 14 with a brand-new digital camera. She came home with 13 photos. Thirteen. Gads! She has this very zen-like attitude to life: it's about living it fully, and not getting attached to stuff. She may change as she gets older but she's 19 now and has been like this since the beginning."

 

That is an amazing approach to life. 


Attila the Honey 04-19-2013 07:26 AM

No worries, I've found this discussion very interesting!  I do agree that it helps to not get hung up on labels, and I do need that reminder sometimes.  It's how I operate - when I take on something new (anything) I tend to immerse myself into the "rules" of that thing (even something as without rules as unschooling)!  Then, as time goes by I loosen up and adapt it to suit me better.  Or at least that is the hope, sometimes I fail at that.  Seeing as this is a big change for us, if not altogether new, I can see that I am getting a bit hung up on doing it "right".  That's where this board will help me a lot.

 

I've read, with interest, why some of you feel it wouldn't work for you.  And it's interesting, just yesterday my daughter declared she doesn't want to learn about volcanoes after all and it brought up all kinds of feelings for me!  (Shouldn't she follow through on what she planned?  What if she just keeps hopping from topic to topic?  IS THIS OK??)  Referring back to the book helped enormously!  So, even if the method as it is described isn't what would work for your family it is a tremendously reassuring book when it comes to unschooling and child led learning, imo.

 

I do encourage you all to read the book if you get a chance.  I think I've not done a good job at describing it well.  More than anything, as I see it, it's a great pep talk for child led learning.  It's not so much about producing an end result, although I personally got hung up on that myself and I am learning to re-think it.

 

I do feel supported here, thank you!


loripickert 04-19-2013 01:51 PM

i am actually the author — sorry if that wasn’t clear! :)


loripickert 04-19-2013 02:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by villagemamma View Post

I haven't read the book but I'm very interested. I'll check out the blog too. In the meantime, I have a few basic questions. 

 

What is a "project"? What scale? Are they all independent and child-led or can projects involve a lot of people? My impression from posts in this thread is that "projects" lean toward academic studies but is that a false impression? 

 

Would baking muffins be a "project"? What if a child wanted to study science and tried different baking methods and ingredients, like quick breads and yeast breads and unleavened breads etc.?  

 

Is it a "project" if we explore different cultures and countries with food festivals and games and stories? 

 

Is creating a garden, either at home or as a community initiative, a "project" involving plant and insect biology, soil science, math, engineering, and so on? 

 

If we track weather predictions and patterns and make graphs and study them does that count as a "project"? 

 

Is it a "project" to observe and record a puppy's growth and development and training?  

 

If so, then I think our family has already been doing a lot of "project-based" studies, lol. At the outset, some of them are entirely their idea and some are mine, but they are all child-led in the sense that it is up to them whether they want to do them and how they get done. Well, except the puppy training. That was pretty non-negotiable for all of our sakes. 

 

projects are self-chosen, self-directed work done by children — not one-time activities, but a deeper exploration over time.

 

projects can be done by a group of children, but they are still child-managed and child-led.

 

projects don’t lean toward academic studies — there is a famous project done in Reggio Emilia by a group of three- to five-year-olds called “an amusement park for birds.” projects can be about anything.

 

would baking muffins be a project? it *could* be a project — if it went beyond a one-time activity. pretty much anything can be a starting point for a project. your example of a child who wanted to experiment with a lot of different methods of baking muffins would definitely be considered a project.

 

Is it a "project" if we explore different cultures and countries with food festivals and games and stories?” — the key to project-based homeschooling as described in this book (and on my blog) is that it is directed and managed by the learners themselves, the children. so if the activities are planned by an adult, it’s not a project. it would need to grow from a child’s authentic interest and the child would determine what he or she needed/wanted to know and do. any of the things you describe could be projects — but any of them could be adult-controlled learning experiences as well. it depends on who’s in control of the learning!

 

while you can have a great learning experience that is negotiated between adult and children, PBH is really about giving your child the chance to be completely in control of his own learning — at least *some* of the time (if you’re not an unschooler).


loripickert 04-19-2013 02:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

I dunno, I'm sorry if it comes across as nitpicky. I would point out that the discussion is in unschooling, Lori suggested that the approach was compatible with unschooling and I think that several posters were simply responding and debating  that assertation. Part of what happens here is to look at our differing interpretations of unschooling, which is something I find interesting. It also sets this board apart from others which often tend to have a single, qualifying definition of unschooling.

 

the book is a collection of strategies for supporting children to direct and manage their own learning. most people would say that if you don’t supplement it with any adult-required work, PBH = unschooling. i am comfortable with saying that PBH would be one way to unschool. labels make me uncomfortable.


starling&diesel 04-19-2013 03:32 PM

I LOVE Lori's book ... And I strongly recommend that folks actually read it before debating its merits.
It has been so inspirational for how we approach budding interests and passions, for everyone in our life-learning family.
Are we unschoolers? Sure, in that my kids don't and won't go to school any time soon (they are 1.5 and 4) and we don't plan on using any curriculum, per se.
Does that make us unschoolers? Guess it depends on who you ask.
Are we radical unschoolers.? No.
Can PBH be used by unschoolers, and if so, can they still be unschoolers? Heck yes!
What I love about Lori's book is that it's written in such a way that you can integrate whatever works for you and your kids, no matter if they go to a brick and mortar school every day, or if they've never set foot in any class whatsoever.
PBH is an awesome way for kids to apply their own focus on subjects that catch their interest.
I love that she encourages families to set up good quality arts & craft supplies, building supplies and various tools so that kids can access them independently, and that she advocates for space and time for kids to work on their self-directed projects.
My impression of the adult's role is that we document and record, which is a great way to demonstrate respect for our kids' work. I take note of my dd's questions, and we take the list with us to the library. She mentions wanting to do something specific to her project, and I'll make a note of that too, to refer back to later, when she's doing project work.
Love the book.
As for the semantics around "unschooling" as a word/concept/claim/movement ... My kids aren't even school-aged yet and I've read/heard/observed so much pettiness around it that it's left a bad taste in my mouth.

Fillyjonk 04-19-2013 05:46 PM

"As for the semantics around "unschooling" as a word/concept/claim/movement ... My kids aren't even school-aged yet and I've read/heard/observed so much pettiness around it that it's left a bad taste in my mouth."

 

But-and with the greatest respect, honestly-this is an unschooling board. Its not general homeschooling. And one really important part of this board is for people who are generally signed up to the philosophy of unschooling to debate ideas and how and whether they can be incorporated into unscItshooling for them. I think that the fact that this debate is taking place on the unschooling board is the absolute key for me. If this had been posted in general homeschooling I would have responded very differently. But since its been posted here,and bearing in mind that the OP didn't ask for support or similar but was sharing her experience and asking for debate/ opinions- I think respectful debate about whether it actually is compatible with unschooling is utterly reasonable-and more than that, to be expected.

 

I've said, as have other posters, that I don't feel its something that I can personally square with unschooling in my own home. I've read the book and enjoyed it. It just doesn't really work for me. No book will work for everyone and in no way does that reflect on its worth.

 

And my understanding is that the OP didn't have a problem with that at all-I understood her to be after a discussion, which is great. 

 

I really think that this discussion is so incredibly far off those exclusionary ones I've seen on some boards. No one here is judging ATH or trying to decide whether she should be allowed to post here. This board is unusually open to unschoolers or all types or even just the unschooler-curious ;-) No one is being excluded, they are simply saying that PBH doesn't integrate into unschooling for them. No one has criticised anyone else for using it or suggested that they are not proper unschoolers. I feel strongly that we do actually need to be able to have this level of respectful debate around ideas, certainly in the unschooling sub-forum. I learn a lot from talking to others about this stuff.

 

@ATH glad you have enjoyed the debate-I've found it interesting too! And glad its working out for you. Keep us posted with how it goes!

 

@ lori re "most people would say that if you don’t supplement it with any adult-required work, PBH = unschooling". With the greatest respect, and having lived and studied this now for a decade, truly, I think for a lot of us unschooling is much more complex. It would be interesting to hear an explaination of that from them, especially from long term unschoolers who understand the philosophy and have experience and so on. I'm saying this having read the book. Of course there are many definitions of unschooling. As I said above, I think the reason the unschooling label has become important here is simply that the debate is happening in the unschooling forum, and so people are looking at the questions raised with that in mind. Its not a case of people trying to judge others for being unschoolers or not-but if something is posted in the unschooling forum, the question of whether it is actually unschooling will , naturally, probably be raised.


moominmamma 04-19-2013 06:15 PM

First, Lori, I'm so sorry I didn't twig that you were the author! Too funny!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

I'd love to hear from an experienced long term unschooler (kids secondary age, say) who can see how PBH could work, for example, with unschooling-but no one has come forward, I don't think. 

 

As I wrote above my youngest, who is 10, does seem to enjoy projects that involve creating and communicating, and I am intrigued enough by Lori's book to want to read it and put some of it into practice with her. Check back with me in a year. She won't be secondary age for a while but has a really teenagerish approach to planning and learning and life. She'll be starting 9th grade math by next fall and has a similar level of understanding and skill with her entirely non-curricular learning so like your ds she's pretty at a secondary level academically. Unlike your ds she likes her learning to have some external-to-her kind of context and commemoration.

 

Miranda 


Fillyjonk 04-19-2013 07:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

As I wrote above my youngest, who is 10, does seem to enjoy projects that involve creating and communicating, and I am intrigued enough by Lori's book to want to read it and put some of it into practice with her. Check back with me in a year. 

 

Miranda 

 

I would be really very interested to see what you think. I really do think its an interesting and important book and I'd really hate for anyone to think otherwise. I've recommended it to plenty of people by now. Its certainly worth a read! 

 

ETA sorry to clarify I wasn't saying secondary age for any reason of my own kids academic ability. Honestly, I really don't know what level my kids are working at, and they mainly just go for what interests them anyway, and use the resources we have, which in some cases are adult level physics texts and others, like say language texts, are aimed at younger kids. And being in the UK we have absolutely zero requirement (or incentive) to report anything, or look at anything in terms of what they'd be doing in school, so I literally never even consider things in those terms anyway. Apologies if I was unclear-I really don't want to sounds like I'm boasting, probably groundlessly, or anything! What I was after was just someone, like yourself Miranda, with those years of experience of seeing how unschooling works on kids who have largely always had a lot of autonomy. Basically I guess what I'm saying is that my kids already have projects really, for me to start, I dunno, making question lists or clearing time for them to work, when they already do this pretty  successfully and have since birth, would seem a little patronising and they would probably tell me to stop it. Its funny, they don't mind being told what to do to some extent in certain areas but they woudln't want even the slightest hint that I was taking over their personal projects. Maybe my kids are weird.

 

OTOH the other thing I am interested in: I've heard some people say that kids often go into a bit of a introvert fug around age 10-11 or so-I'm certainly seeing the start of this in my previously extroverted ds- and I'm wondering if these techniques might be a helpful way through it. Or maybe they need this fug. 


loripickert 04-20-2013 12:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

@ lori re "most people would say that if you don’t supplement it with any adult-required work, PBH = unschooling". With the greatest respect, and having lived and studied this now for a decade, truly, I think for a lot of us unschooling is much more complex. It would be interesting to hear an explaination of that from them, especially from long term unschoolers who understand the philosophy and have experience and so on. I'm saying this having read the book. Of course there are many definitions of unschooling. As I said above, I think the reason the unschooling label has become important here is simply that the debate is happening in the unschooling forum, and so people are looking at the questions raised with that in mind. Its not a case of people trying to judge others for being unschoolers or not-but if something is posted in the unschooling forum, the question of whether it is actually unschooling will , naturally, probably be raised.

 

With the greatest respect, and having lived and studied this now for a decade, truly, I think for a lot of us unschooling is much more complex.”

 

okey dokey. :) i think at its most basic, unschooling is allowing children to learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it and how they want to learn it, so it equates. it may be more complex than that for some, but then we’re into debating who is and who is not a “real” unschooler and i back away swiftly making little flapping motions. ;o)



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.