Spinoff Quizilla: Is that really unschooling? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-01-2004, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest is 3 and we will probably do a watered-down version of unschooling. This is based on my child's learning style and personality; I, personally, like the idea of classical. From what I know of my child, however, he needs a child-led non-sequential approach.

Anyway, I'm going to guess that the "unschooling answers" in the quiz were the ones that had nothing to do with books, rather living the lesson. That wasn't my impression of unschooling at all. I was under the impression that unschooling, in essence, was letting the child direct his own learning, in whatever way he sees fit. So, for some kids, unschooling would involve reading all day. Not all children are kinsthetic learners who would desire to live a day like a Native American or play with mud. I think that the quiz-writer is making the assumption that all children, given the choice, would rather wallow in mud than curl up with a stack of books. I know that there are stereotypes and myths regarding unschooling, i.e. that it's devoid of books. To me, the quiz seems to feed that stereotype.

If I were given the chance to be unschooled as a child, I would have chosen to read biographies of Native Americans way over sitting in a circle and living it with other people. That's because I'm an introvert. There are some educational approaches in which introverted children are made to do circle time and group activities, like very hands-on stuff. That doesn't make it unschooling. Isn't unschooling simply child-led learning?

What are your thoughts regarding this? I thought this would be interesting to discuss.
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Old 07-01-2004, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that the best way to determine the homeschooling style via a quiz would be answers along the lines of, "b. You give your child a list and ask him to choose., c. You wait for your child to indicate what he wants to do.", something like that. The quiz didn't seem to bring in the child's role in homeschooling.

I know it's just a fun little quiz, so please excuse my over-analyzing.
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Old 07-01-2004, 02:51 PM
 
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An outsider isn't going to recognize the major differences between homeschooing , eclectic schooling , child led learning and unschooling. I think that's why the quiz was phrased the way it was. To them anyone who doesn't use a strict curriculum would fall into the unschooler category. Which I know offends unschooling purists. I was labeled an unschooler on their test and I don't unschool my kids. It was a fun test with cute questions. I didn't expect it to be accurate.

On child led learning , imo you can do that no matter what style of learning you choose. I consider our style somewhat child led. I may say "today we're doing math. how do you want to do it ?". Then they choose card games , board games , dice , manipulatives , flash cards , physical games , etc... I don't really give them a choice in WHAT we are going to learn , but rather HOW we learn it. For us we consider that child-led. Another example: We are going to learn about life on the farm. HOW would you like to do that ? Then I'd lay out different options. There's the clinical approach , the hands on approach , the workbook approach , encyclopedias , Little House on the Prarie , fiction stories to read, pbs programs to watch , etc....
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Old 07-01-2004, 04:08 PM
 
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For my family unschooling means that we do not have any "subjects" to cover, any lessons to get done, and no curriculum to follow. It is the children learning what they choose to learn, in the way they choose to learn it, for however long they choose to learn it. It is also learning from life. We, the parents, do not dictate what is going to happen (or be learned about) in any way. That being said, unschooling can look different to different kids. Some unschoolers love to read (my son for one) and can do alot of it. Some unschoolers want to be outside playing with friends, or looking at bugs. Some want to watch movies, listen to the radio, play a video game, or play in the mud lol.

To me it's unschooling when it is the child's decision, and not the adults. If the child has the choice to say, "Nope, I don't feel like reading today. I think I will go ride my bike.", without the parent trying to get the child to read more... If the child can decide on what materials to use and when... etc. For my family, mud is just as good as reading. We trust that we get what we need from the world around us, and by learning from interest.

I think most of those kinds of quizzes, though alot of fun for sure, are inherently flawed. They have to encompass such a large group of people with wide definitions on any subject, that it can't help but go the "stereotype" route I think. It's like if they swing for the most extreme definition they can fit us all in there somewhere LOL. To further the definition confusion, we've been called "Radical unschoolers"... interesting.
Kristi

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Old 07-01-2004, 04:28 PM
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I clearly didn't analyze the quiz enough...

I do want to add that unschoolers don't necessarily ask their children about everything - a lot of it is just living my life and bringing her along and respecting her when she says no or enough. So, I tend to read interesting newspaper blurbs to whoever is in the roo - my dad did the same thing when I was a kid - and we end up talking about all sorts of stuff... but I don't say, "Would you like to discuss the latest news from Iraq?" or whatever. OTOH, if she just grunts in response and seems pretty focused on comics, I try to stop...

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Old 07-01-2004, 04:28 PM
 
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I noticed the quiz's bias against books for unschoolers as well. It bugged me too, because we are unschoolers who *love* books!

This is one example of how it works in our family: Two days ago we went to the beach. My kids collected a large pile of seaweed which they wanted to bring home. We didn't have a cooler or anything like that with us, because I hadn't even planned on staying at the beach. I was going to drop my son off for a playdate there, but we (dd and I) decided to stay for awhile once we got there. The only thing I had for carrying seaweed was a frisbee! So we piled the seaweed on the frisbee, and brought it home.

Once home, I gave my dd (7) a large metal bowl and the kids put the seaweed in it, filled it with water, and added some salt. They also threw in some seashells they had sitting around, and some sand.

The next day (yesterday) we went to the library and asked the children's librarian for books on seaweed. She lead us right to the seaweed section of the library , and we found several great books to check out. After the library, we decided to go grab a taco at the nearest taco bar, so we set out for the restaurant, each kid with a library book under an arm. We sat in the taco bar eating tacos, and reading about marine biology and seaweed. As we drove home, the kids continued reading to themselves - calling out interesting facts as they came upon them.

Once we got home, they examined their seaweed "terrarium" and realized that they hadn't kept it cold enough, and that the water was stagnant, so the water had become murky. In one of our library books, a project is described in which we can learn to build our own salt water aquarium. We're going to look around the house today to see what materials we already have, and then we'll decide how to get the rest of the materials. We'll probably start building the aquarium tomorrow.

LeftField, like you, I am not a particularly "hands-on" type of person. I am very much a "learn from a book" type of person. My husband is a very "hands-on" type of learner, and only uses books to help him learn how to improve his projects. My kids are becoming both book learners and hands-on learners in a very balanced way. And because they want to do the "hands-on" projects, I am growing and learning in ways I wouldn't have thought of before. I'm growing into my "hands-on" self. It's all good.

Laura


Edited to add: We also read other books to each other daily. Right now we're reading Treasure Island, and Ella Enchanted.
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Old 07-01-2004, 06:28 PM
 
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I am so crabby LOL but in my heart there is homeschooling ***period***

Under the umbrella of homeschooling THEN falls the labels unschooling, eclectic, distance learner, child led, school in box, charter, charlotte mason, montessori, waldorf, moore etc and so on.....

to divide up methods then say these are homeschoolers and then these are unschoolers and then these are the charters or isps etc IMHO does the homeschooling community a disservice
( I didn't always feel this way but over the last several years have come to this)

if you are homeschooling then you are homeschooling by jimminy and it really does not matter exactly how your family chooses to go about this and it limits us more then helps to label your style/method

i am SO tired right now I should not be posting --- but I hated that quiz and thought it was truly totally stupid
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Old 07-01-2004, 06:38 PM
 
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I think maybe skewed because I don't do charlotte mason LOL
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Old 07-02-2004, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanna's Mom
to divide up methods then say these are homeschoolers and then these are unschoolers and then these are the charters or isps etc IMHO does the homeschooling community a disservice
( I didn't always feel this way but over the last several years have come to this)

if you are homeschooling then you are homeschooling by jimminy and it really does not matter exactly how your family chooses to go about this and it limits us more then helps to label your style/method
I am coming to feel this way as well. In some situations, since the homeschooling methods/philosophies vary so greatly, it is helpful to be able to say that we're unschoolers so that people don't have visions of us sitting at the kitchen table with our textbooks open for four hours a day. At the same time, I have also felt boxed in by the label, and trying to live up to it. From here on out, we're just "homeschoolers" and people can take that for what it's worth
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Old 07-02-2004, 06:40 PM
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On the other hand... I don't feel like I'm philosophically similar to people who school-at-home, especially those who do so for religious reasons. We're all about more freedom, and they're all about more control - we're really opposites, even though we both fall under the heading of "homeschooler". I feel a much stronger kinship with those who send their children to a democratic school, or another similar alternative school.

It's sort of like - I take a fairly strong barbituate for my migraines. Other people take similar drugs for fun and recreation. Technically we're all barbituate-users, but we're really not at all similar.

Clearly there is a gray area, but still...

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Old 07-02-2004, 07:16 PM
 
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IME it could very well be the child thrives on doing more of a school at home routine and **needs** it the us vs them mentality does not do anything positive for homeschooling as a whole

I want to stick up for the school at homers here, more power to you school in a boxers that is not a second choice style but a very valid way to provide an education for a child think about how many of those school at home kids tested high and made the national statistics in the 80s-90s we **all** use to support & defend our homeschooling today


the wonderful freedom to homeschool comes with great responsibilty hand in hand
it is not a control issue as a parent to decide the family style to go about this

I will defend anyone's right to homeschool as they wish, but they better not go judging me as controling for buying boxed curriculum if that is what i decide is best for my child
(cause I have not had enough coffee and chocolate today to not get really pissy)
Mary
mom to ds15 1/2, ds10, ds7, an dd 4 1/2
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Old 07-02-2004, 07:53 PM
 
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I agree with Dar's comment about there being similarities but also a gray area there. Homeschooling does encompass alot of different approaches to learning. I do not care what approach a family decides to use, but I feel strongly about the one that *my* family uses Educationally, I do not have anything (or much) in common with school-at-homers.. even though we both have kids at home and not in school. We are unschoolers, and that term or label.. means and describes something. I don't use the term as a weapon or to be divisive, but to explain what we do and how we do it Kristi

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Old 07-02-2004, 07:56 PM
 
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that even hsers were so divided ...
I don't give a d*** whether you unschool, mix styles, use school in a box
to me it is ALL homeschooling.
I know that is not a popular opinion but its mine
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Old 07-02-2004, 08:00 PM
 
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Oh yes, divided they are.. which is unfortunate. I hope to really keep the group that Ive started in my town free of that kind of stuff. I dont care either what style you use.. have fun and learn and all that jazz! Kristi

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Old 07-02-2004, 10:45 PM
 
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CL I am with you on this
and I am sick to death of the prejudices that some homeschoolers are expressing these days I am hearing a lot of 'my way is the best way' train of thought

with my four children I am doing four dif things and even those four methods/styles are dif then the method/style we did with them 3 yrs ago and also dif from what we did 6 yrs ago

my ds that is unschooled has a LOT in common educationaly with his brother that is using curriculum and thriving on it
some hsers do not want to accept that or can not fathom that cause they have not seen it happen under one roof

I have heard the worst stuff coming from unschoolers I know who do not realize our family is not totally unschooling which has really really soften my heart & opened my eyes to the school in a box folks and how much pure gossipy junk they hear about how their method is not the greatest for kids

to answer the OP original ? of

Isn't unschooling simply child-led learning?
I would say no it is more then that.
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Old 07-02-2004, 10:57 PM
 
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my youngest two keep changing too

In my town the mentality is the boxed is the only way perhaps that is where some of it comes from?-thankfully my hs group in the next city over is a VERY eclectic mix
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Old 07-02-2004, 10:59 PM
 
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yep I have been on the receiving end of the mentality that my one ds doesn't 'do anything' cause he has no textbooks or workbooks etc.. def works both ways
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Old 07-02-2004, 11:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanna's Mom
IME it could very well be the child thrives on doing more of a school at home routine and **needs** it
If a child wants to have a routine he can have a routine, and still unschool. When Rain is in rehearsal for one show and another is still running, her days are really quite structured and we have to have a pretty tight routine. There's nothing about unschooling that says someone can't have that kind of routine with reading, or spelling, and algebra.

However, I also think people tend to give up on unschooling and say it "doesn't work" for a child very quickly sometimes. I also think some parents have expectations about what unschooling life will look like, and when they're children aren't doing those sorts of things they decide that unschooling doesn't work for that child. It is okay, and natural, for kids to spend large amounts of time doing "nothing", and to feel frustrated and unhappy sometimes as they figure out what they want and need to do. They may even ask for more formal schooling, because it's uncomfortable to have that much freedom when you're not used to it. And the parent who secretly wanted unschooling to look at least somewhat academic will be secretly relieved to have a reason to deide that unschooling isn't right for that child.

A paent who is commited to unschooling will tend to look at the underlying issues, and try to create the academic structures the child says he wants in a way that still leaves the child in charge of his own education.

Quote:
the us vs them mentality does not do anything positive for homeschooling as a whole
Frankly, I believe that some forms of homeschooling are more damaging to children than most forms of school. I'm not really interested in doing anything positive for people who homeschool as a control tool. I mean, clearly it's their right, but I don't work to support them any more than I work to support the local Christian schools - I have friends who send their kids there, but until they ask my advice or opinion I stay uninvolved - just as I do with people who school at home.

Quote:
think about how many of those school at home kids tested high and made the national statistics in the 80s-90s we **all** use to support & defend our homeschooling today
You may use test scores to support or defend homeschooling, but please don't try to speak for **all**. To defend homeschooling by pointing to high test scores would be completely against my beliefs.

Quote:
the wonderful freedom to homeschool comes with great responsibilty hand in hand
it is not a control issue as a parent to decide the family style to go about this
What is it, then? You want to control your child's education, no? You want to decide how and when and what he learns, and who will teach him?

Quote:
I will defend anyone's right to homeschool as they wish, but they better not go judging me as controling for buying boxed curriculum if that is what i decide is best for my child
It is your right to educate your child any way to see fit. It is my right to distance my educational style from traditional school-at-home homeschooling, because I think the differences are far more important than the similarities.

Dar

 
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:15 AM
 
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since I have one that seems to be pretty much unschool style
I have the unschooling handbook I just try to give ways to find answers when he asks, let him paint when the mood strikes, etc....
but I still have some of that hang up in the back of my mind and sometimes dh does too.....
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:43 PM
 
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OP here is one of my fave bookmarks re unschooling, describes what our family is doing better then I can on this page
http://www.tumon.com/porchswing/unschooling.html

this is a Christian site
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for dragging this thread up again, but I wanted to say "thanks" for your reaponses. It was very thought-provoking. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around unschooling. I have Mary Griffith's, "Unschooling Handbook" right here in front of me. My child is only 3 and we are unschooling right now. He has no work. I just follow his lead, pick up books that I think would interest him (we got two train ones at the library yesterday), answer his questions, etc. He has, somehow, managed to learn a lot of things even though I don't directly teach him.

I guess the philosophical problem I have with unschooling right now is that I lack trust that he would learn math and stuff like that. Of course, this is the kid who largely taught himself how to use our computer at 2.5 yrs. I should trust him more, but as this is directly at odds with what we've been taught in our society about education, it just feels scary, YK?

I want to provide the perfect environment for him to play and learn in, "strew his path" with loads of interesting things that will help him learn, but I'm a bit nervous about that. Still, we've managed for three years. I bought him pattern blocks and some manipulatives, because he's really into spatial stuff, puzzles and shapes. Maybe I'm not doing too badly?

I don't feel entirely comfortable with unschooling for us right now, but I can't imagine saying, "We're learning math today." It doesn't feel right to me, personally, either. I figure I'll be winging it and at a minimum, following a largely child-led style. I can't imagine telling him what to learn, but I feel the need to keep mental tabs on what he's learning and casually introducing topics to fill gaps. Who knows what we'll do down the road? This thread has provided good food for thought. Thanks!
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:52 PM
 
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Don't apologize, I think this is a great thread It sounds like the approach you have going is working well for you and your son. Trains are cool.. lol

I think alot of people panic about math (and sometimes science too) when it comes to unschooling. I know that I cannot ease your fears entirely, because I am not coming from your perspective and your place in life right now.. but I can say some stuff about math in our unschooling lives.

First of all, I grew up hearing things like, "She just doesn't get math. She is better at reading and writing." So after hearing that a few times over the years I grew to think math was hard, and worse .. that I couldn't be good at it. So I feared numbers, and I avoided them as much as possible. I didn't want that for my kids. They see math as a language, a tool, and just a regular part of living life... without a curriculum. Math is all around you if you think about it. Shopping, cooking, art, games (keeping score etc), building something, it can even be art..

Anyway, just wanted to share. For us, it's all about life and how you see something. Also, math is a constant.. meaning that any skill he didn't learn at age 8 is a skill that he could learn at age 14 if he needed it. The information isn't going away and he can go immerse himself in that information when it becomes important or relevant to him in some way. Wishing you well Kristi

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Old 07-07-2004, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You know, I always feared numbers too. And while I managed to get a SAT score to get into college and I even managed to pass the math section of the GRE, I have retained very little of the "math" I was taught in school. I imagine that if I knew I had a standardized test to take in the next year, that I could study on my own to get a satisfactory grade.

My husband works in computers and seems brilliant to me. He loves all things math and also science. I asked him if he could figure the square root. He said something about commonly known square roots and I said, "No, I mean, could you take a random number and figure out its square root on paper, manually?" He admitted that he could not, that he did not remember how, because it's not a skill he needs.

I guess the same could be said for a child wrt math. If the child goes to school and is anything like me, the child would only remember math to pass a test and then dump the info. I would rather my child learn it in natural setting like you describe. Instead of approaching it in chapters, they would see the same math concepts in life and get a lot of reinforcement. DS1 cooks with me sometimes. Dh really likes building things and uses a lot of math with that. There are plenty of opportunities to learn useful math in a non-intimidating setting, I guess.

I guess if my child wanted to go to university, at some point, they might need to sit down and review a bit of math. But then, because they had set that goal, I would assume that it would come quickly, having set a firm foundation in practical math skills.

Anyway, thank you for reassuring me wrt math!
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:31 PM
 
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re: math.
My dh and I disagree on this. He wants the kids to memorize times tables and he does a formal curriculum with them. I am intimidated by math and stand back unless the kids are frustrated. (rarely happens. they love math). I have found thru homeschooling no scratch that , I've learned thru LIFE that I know more about math than my teachers and parents told me I did. My children enjoy a freedom in learning math that I never did.

Did you know that in second grade in public schools children begin learning calculator math ? And what's the point in learning things longhand again ?

I follow these principles:
I carry a calculator with me if I'm going to go shopping.

If I forget the calculator I let the clerk tally my order for me. I can always put something back if I go over budget.

I live a happy full life without knowing how to figure a square root. I'm barely able to multiply two digits. Such as 20x32. No one needs to know that stuff. Even if they work "in the math field" they have a fancy expensive calculator at their disposal.

NOWHERE in my life do I have to "show my work" regarding math. Nowhere.

I cannot divide unless it is with manipulatives. I am an intelligent person despite this fact. No one calls me 'stupid' because I use my toes to get to a base of twenty. It's simplier easier to have a visual. Actually just the opposite I get many comments like "that's really clever" or "I wish I'd thought of that."
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Old 07-08-2004, 06:27 AM
 
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What is really cool is that I find myself playing with numbers now, seeking out games and taking on a math/number problem just because I can... and because there is no Mrs.Roberts glaring at me to "hurry up" or sighing at me because I still "just don't get it". My son loves division, and I sorta think it's fun now too. Don't have any visions of me being a long division doer all day (lol when pigs fly through a frozen hell..) but I don't run away screaming from it anymore either.

There is this freedom to immerse yourself into something, especially something that is maybe intimidating to you, when the pressure is off or at least relaxed. When you know you can say "what the hell does that mean?" or "I totally screwed that up.. let me try it again" a hundred times... or you can ditch it altogether and go watch tv- well, there is a peace involved there that unschooling has given us. I really dig it...

Oh calculators are so cool.. my daughter likes them. She liked to do her "times" on them lol. I love mental math. Trying to figure problems out in my head is neat sometimes.. and sometimes I just want the dang calculator Smiles, Kristi

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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UnschoolnMa is offline  
Old 07-08-2004, 08:43 AM
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I've never understood this unschooling-means-he-won't-learn-math thing. If he wants to learn math he'll learn it. If he doesn't, then what? What's going to happen? I'm sorry. I don't get it.

I failed math class throughout MS and HS. When I went to college my advisor wanted me in advanced English. So she gave me two or three points on my math placement test so I wouldn't have to waste time in Math 100. (I did get a decent score on the SAT, without studying - somewhere around 575).

When I took a position as Import/Export Manager for a leathergoods company, I needed to be able to figure cubic meters. If I screwed up we lost thousands. For the first time in my life I could add in my head.

I remember using Algebra for the first time, though I thought of it as using a formula. I used it for a purchase or for figuring out a foreign currency - can't remember exactly. But now I use Algebra pretty often. I got an F in pre-Algebra and never even tried the real class.

Also, I would venture to say, LeftField, that you're not quite in the unschooling frame of mind yet, a fact you obviously realize. Unschooling is also a lifestyle, a mentality. It's your child's life and he will figure out what he wants and doesn't want. You'll have to learn to trust him, not unschooling. Plus...he's only 3!

Vanna's Mom - Why are you so angry?
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