unschooling and becoming unbalanced - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-09-2004, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am very interested in unschooling but I'm afraid that my son's education will become unbalanced. He is almost eight and reads at a sixth grade level but really hates to write. I'm afraid that if I left writing up to him, he would never write.

Unschooling feels right because I trust that it is an inate human characteristic to explore and learn. As long as a child is given freedom to explore and all the materials they need learning will take place. However, his education is my responsibility and I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize his future.

I myself have been an unschooler for the past ten years and have learned so much, but my education IS unbalanced. I have specialties but still lack in certain areas. For example: I'm a great writer but my spelling is terrible. I sing well, but can not play an instument.

Please offer your wisdom on this subject.
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Old 05-09-2004, 05:15 PM
 
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"He is almost eight and reads at a sixth grade level but really hates to write. I'm afraid that if I left writing up to him, he would never write."

We were just discussing this very subject at my local unschooling playgroup! One mother was talking about how her son is a voracious reader but finds it painful to write. She was worried about this until her husband (who is a writer) pointed out that he had been the same at that age, and that the problem was that he had nothing interesting to write about. So instead he spent all of his energy soaking up literature like a sponge, and learning about writing that way, and eventually he got the point where he had some of his own thoughts he wanted to record, and having that goal and desire made writing a compelling activity for him.

I'd never thought about it before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I remember in school hating to write, and avoided it completely unless I was forced to do it, and even then did as little as possible, putting as little thought into it as possible. My total output was pretty measly. Now I write all the time (not by hand, though, I find it way too tedious.) What's the difference? Well, when I was in school I was being told to write so much on a certain subject (which would then be evaluated) or to keep a journal. Guess what, I still hate to write under those conditions. Every once in a while I am asked to do so (which isn't even as bad as being *made* to do so) and I find it to be difficult enough that I try to avoid getting myself into those situations. I have found, however, that I *love* to write when I am passionate about the thing I am writing about, and when *I* choose to do it.

At this point, though, you are probably worried more about the mechanics of writing? Well, when it becomes valuable or interesting to him he will want to learn how. Until then, the more he's forced to do it, the more he'll learn to hate it.

"However, his education is my responsibility and I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize his future."

But coercive instruction *will* jeopardize his future.

"I myself have been an unschooler for the past ten years and have learned so much, but my education IS unbalanced. I have specialties but still lack in certain areas. For example: I'm a great writer but my spelling is terrible. I sing well, but can not play an instument."

But how can you possibly know what will constitue a "balanced" education for him? No one can learn everything; we are all "unbalanced" in what we know, in that sense. So what anyone ends up considering a good balance is necessarily dependant on what is relevant to his/her life. What is a good balance of learning for one person (what is relevant to his/her life) may be a complete waste of time for me. That's why it's pointless to try to devise a curriculum for someone else -- the only way that any real balance will be achieved for them, is if they choose it themselves.
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Old 05-09-2004, 06:03 PM
 
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We rae not yet home or unschooling as my girls are just 4 and 2.


But what makes you think kids that have set schooling come out balanced?

Kids from our local public school come out graduating and unable to read!

I was hs till 11 and 12 grades when I went to a private school, I can't spell for the life of me. It just isnt one of my strenghts.


We all have strenghts and weakness no matter how we end up being taught. I think the thing about being hs'ed is you learn to work with what you have and you dont get left behind if your not like the other kids. Like I never knew I had a form of dislexia (sp?) till I entered that private school.

Just my rambling thoughts
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Old 05-09-2004, 10:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueviolet
No one can learn everything; we are all "unbalanced" in what we know, in that sense. So what anyone ends up considering a good balance is necessarily dependant on what is relevant to his/her life. What is a good balance of learning for one person (what is relevant to his/her life) may be a complete waste of time for me. That's why it's pointless to try to devise a curriculum for someone else -- the only way that any real balance will be achieved for them, is if they choose it themselves.

Well said!

Single Mom to 3 (12, 17 & 21)  luxlove.gif and dog2.gif.

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Old 05-10-2004, 03:04 AM
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I think the whole idea of a "balanced education" is a result of our indoctrination by the school system. The system decided that certain ages were the correct times to learn certain things but not other things, and decided that we all should be generalists, with a bare minimum of specialization.

That's not how life works after school, mind you. I met someone today who knows all of the rivers in Califonia in intimate detail, from a conservation viewpoint. I know just about nothing about them, except how to catch a trout or two. On the other hand, he knows nothing about human lactation or theatre. If life was like school, we both would have learned a smidgen about rivers, theatre, and lacatation, but neither of us would know anywhere near what we know now.

The older Rain gets, the less her learning looks like the typical schooled kid. I woudn't even know how to compare, because they're not in the same world. I'm always surprised by how much the schooled kids we know *don't* know, and how out of context most of their learning is. I also notice that when Rain wants to learn something and is developmentally ready, it's almost effortless and always fun. She spells as well as most kids her age now, although she rarely wrote anything until a year or so ago, when she was 10 (and now it's almost all on the computer). No spellng tests, no drills, just "Mom, how do you spell____?" and spellcheck (and I always just tell her). She was asking about multiplication a few weeks ago and figured out how to multiply large numbers on her own, with a method that clearly showed she understood the reasoning, rather than just doing a process she was taught. So, she regularly jumps from "behind" to "ahead" on so-called basic skills, as they become interesting to her or pertinent to her life.

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Old 05-10-2004, 04:12 AM
 
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everyone has gaps, gaps in knowledge we would like to fill but for whatever reason do not or can not or just have not had the chance yet to do so


sounds like your dc will be a life long learner just like mama
so let him be in peace and do not fear that his freedom vs your responsiblity will cause him to develop a gap that can't be filled
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Old 05-10-2004, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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All of your posts were EXTREMLY helpful to me. Thank you all!
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Old 05-11-2004, 01:18 AM
 
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I was just talking to a homeschooling mama friend of mine about this very subject. I just met them last fall, so have known her 11 y.o. ds as an amazing reader and writer. Apparently, though he began reading well very early (he currently reads 300 pages a day!), he didn't write until he was almost 11. Since he reads the newspaper everyday, he became enthusiatic about writing because he wanted to write letters to the editor of the newspaper. He's now had letters published in the local paper.

My friend and I had this conversation because her younger boy and my son are good friends, and I had commented that my ds doesn't write, and has a negative feeling about it. She keeps encouraging me to not worry about it, and let him come to writing at his own pace. Good advice!

Laura
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