Let's talk about unschooling really - or ramblings of a very overtired mama *LONG* - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
clothcrazymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,547
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I've been thinking about this off and on for some time now. We are an unschooling family...even though I don't like that title...that's what we are. I used to say Homeschooling family 10+ years ago but I think that the labels triggered different images at different times.

Most would call us "radical unschoolers". But then I'm sure there are some out there that would say we aren't unschoolers at all.

I find it interesting that in different areas there seems to be so many specifics around what someone thinks unschooling or homeschooling to be. At one point we were in a Charter situation and I remember meeting a family that my husband worked with, the husband was interested in the Charter and no one warned me that his wife was NOT and felt that anyone who was involved in the Charter programs was about the same as Satan. The husband introduced me to the wife because he wanted me to let her know about the charter, she told me how we were not "REALLY HOMESCHOOLERS" and on and on she went. I found that rather interesting since we had been homeschooling for some years at that point and I just didn't get how we could not be "real homeschoolers" I laughed and walked on my way.

We've always been unschoolers even though I never have been thrilled with that title. We aren't school at homers. Even though we've bought different curricula over the years or participated in different programs...it's always been with the children fully involved in the choices. It's been a dance. There were times when it was a bit parent led and then child led and then jointly and so on. 10 years into it, it's nice to be seeing that all the ground work and the trust and the allowing of struggle has come together.

Which then brings me to now and seeing how there are those unschoolers that feel that unschooling means no restrictions or limitations. However, I really have a feeling that this is not the case for most. I have a hard time believing that all these people have a total free for all going on in their homes. Obviously different things work for different families. I've just been rather surprised by the idea that if you are an unschooler then it means that there is this laundry list of things that you do or don't do. I would agree that unschooling is a lifestyle and I also believe that we all have our boundaries and unschooling is not about having absolutely no boundaries in life.

I guess I sortof see it as unschooling being sortof a general term or umbrella and under which there are many different "types". (I hate to use religion in the conversation but that is what comes to mind) Sortof like the term Pagan and under which there are many different groups, or Christian and under which there are many different groups.

I've also noticed that there are those that have the misconception that unschooling is all wine and roses and everything is always blissful. Hm ok - not my experience. Unschooling is a journey that takes many roads. For me one of the first and hardest lessons was that if I was feeling like it was "work" or difficult then that was up to me. It was really the first time in life that I realized that it was ALL up to me. I couldn't say it was my husband, the boss, the teacher, or whoever. If I wasn't having fun and we were at odds it was all up to me if I wanted to continue having things be a struggle or if I wanted to shift things. Early on I realized that if I wasn't having fun I didn't want to be doing it - so we started having fun.

In the beginning, and honestly at different times I too have been concerned about if my children would be "ok". Would they really learn to read or write or whatever it was at the given time. We've had our concerns. It's been a HUGE lesson in trust. My almost 16 year old read very well very early on. But he was very resistant to anything involving any sort of "math" and would write very little and spell horribly until just a few months ago (gasp! I know many would freak over that) and suddenly he's writing lengthy stories online with people from all over the world and very concerned that he spells things correctly. A year or so ago he got into strategic gaming and it requires all sorts of math and he quickly learned what was needed. My 12 year old daughter reads very little (I know this will be another GASP for some) and is would be considered to be severly dyslexic. There has always been something along the way. Whether it be severe illness, chronic illness, major injuries from a car accident, house being torn apart, animal crisis, etc. LIFE

Ok so what's my point? Well I think it would be good to have a dialogue about what unschooling is to us. I'm a bit saddened that there are those that seem to be defining unschooling as a little tiny box of things that make one an unschooler or not. Maybe I'm way off base here but I just think it would be a good thing to do since there are so many with such young children on here. I think it would be good for us all to talk about how different things are for each of us.

For us unschooling isn't anything other than life. There is no distinction between living and schooling in our home. I think that's probably the best way to describe it. There are boundaries or "rules". We have a family of 5 with lots of animals and there are certain things that need to be done if the children want to continue to have animals. There is also a matter of balancing the needs of all the individuals in the family. It's not a free for all here I really think that beyond a lifestyle, it's a mindset. It's not about that we would never use a textbook or this or that "school item"...because we might. We aren't always on watch for "teachable moments" or any of that. We also aren't "strewing" things out daily to try to guide the kids in a certain direction. It's like breathing. I guess we do have quite a rich environment...but it really has nothing to do with it being about being for the purpose of unschooling.

Ok I'll stop now. Thanks if you're still with me I'd love to hear from the rest of the unschoolers out there.
clothcrazymom is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 03:37 PM
 
Milkymommi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Wherever the Wind Blows
Posts: 1,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Oh I'm totally with you on this...but I'm walking out the door so I'll reply with a more lengthly note later tonight

And we've been "unschooling" right from the start so my kids have never been to ANY form of traditional school (4 yrs)

Ima to Mizz.Jonas- 14, Isman- 12,Javsar- 9, Nani Gweesa- 4 and Baby Micah born into the Universe sleeping at full term Oct. 19th 2008 and Partner to Abba ~ belly.gif8/2011  Grateful to be Dead  broc1.gif
Milkymommi is offline  
#3 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 03:56 PM
 
Openskyheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I get what you're saying, clothcrazymom. Your main point - that there are all these "rules" (though I doubt radical unschoolers would call them rules) about unschooling which if followed define your family as truly unschooling - is what kept me away from it for a long time. I didn't feel we could live up to those standards, or be comfortable with those standards, actually.

We have been homeschooling for 2 years now (My son has - my daughter just started officially 5 months ago). For about 12 months of that 2 years, I imposed curriculum for about 4 hours a week on my son. All curriculum was in the "basics" only: phonics, reading, handwriting, math. We have dropped all that - and have done no imposed academics for 5 months now - and all learning/education is learner-led. Still, I have decided to not call what we are doing "unschooling" because I have found it to be such a controversial term. It really makes no difference whatsoever to my kids if they are called homeschoolers, or unschoolers. To people who have their kids in school, the distinction between homeschooling and unschooling is meaningless to them anyway. So - homeschoolers we are. When people ask what we do I explain that the kids are self-directed learners. If they want more specific information, I might explain using real life examples how my children learn something by following an interest of theirs.

We do use an ISP (and this fall each child will be enrolled in a different ISP). The one and only reason we are involved with public school ISPs is because my children both want to be. Their choice. It makes no difference to me. They enjoy the workshops, they have friends who go there, and ISPs are where the vast majority of homeschoolers are found in our county. To some, not only does this mean we are not unschoolers - as you know from your own experience - to some, we are not even homeschoolers.

To all of that I say - whatever. No one is making any educational decisions for our family besides the members of our family. That is the essence of homeschooling, and that is what we do.

John Holt defined unschooling as self-directed learning. He never included T.V. watching, bedtimes, food choices, chores, or any other parenting decision "rules" in his definition of unschooling.

On message boards, etc. I've decided for now to call what we do "self-directed learning." It feels right, and describes our lifestyle accurately.

Laura
Openskyheart is offline  
#4 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 05:48 PM
Dar
 
Dar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 11,249
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by clothcrazymom
Which then brings me to now and seeing how there are those unschoolers that feel that unschooling means no restrictions or limitations. However, I really have a feeling that this is not the case for most. I have a hard time believing that all these people have a total free for all going on in their homes. Obviously different things work for different families. I've just been rather surprised by the idea that if you are an unschooler then it means that there is this laundry list of things that you do or don't do. I would agree that unschooling is a lifestyle and I also believe that we all have our boundaries and unschooling is not about having absolutely no boundaries in life.
I'd be curious to hear more about this - what exactly is on the laundry list?

I do think unschooling tends to go hand-in-hands with a harmonious parenting style most of the time, but I don't think there are any absolutes. It's a balance, though - if someone was a very authoritarian parent and had lots of rules about activities and limited items were allowed in the house, I think it would be very hard to unschool successfully - even with no rules specifically around schooling. It's like the recent thread on unschooling vs. Montessori - in a Montessori environemnt, the child is free to do the activities he wants, when he wants them... but there are limited activities that must be done in a certain way.

I know a mother who considers herself to be unschooling, who allots 3 hours every morning for her children to learn whatever they want... as long as it's "educational" and they stay at or above grade level in math. I don't consider that unschooling... but it works for them and that's fine.

Stuff like textbooks and charter schools and community college classes can be part of unschooling, or not. I've noticed quite a few older unschoolers choosing those sorts of structured options, and as long as it's their choice...

I don't think any one resource divides unschoolers from non-unschoolers - I wouldn't say you can't unschool without TV, or internet, or a car, or books. I think these things make it harder, though. Any time you limit sources of knowledge, you limit the freedom to learn. Practically speaking, everyone hs these kinds of limits - Rain would love to travel around Europe, and then got to New York and see a bunch of shows, but for now that's not happening. I wish it could... maybe someday.

I have boundaries. It's normal and healthy to have boundaries. The difference, I guess, is that my boundaries are about me, not about my child's learning. There's a big difference in my turning off the Hair video because I think she needs to be learning about a different era in US history now, or using a different modality... and turning it off because I'm hearing Aquarius is my sleep and want some quiet for a change. And actually, I wouldn't just turn it off but I'd discuss it with her, and generally we agree on something.

But yeah, we're just living life, and learning happens...

Actually, we're watching Hair for the umpteenth time right now (Rain is looking for a new audition song) and she asked me if it was safe for a pregnant woman to ride a horse... which started a long conversation and some googling here.

Dar

 
fambedsingle1.gifSingle mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler earth.gif


  

Dar is offline  
#5 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 06:21 PM
 
LavenderMae's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: where I write my own posts!
Posts: 12,213
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I do think there are things such as testing that fundamentally are contrary to unschooling. It's only my opinion though.
I also think structured learning is unnecessary in early childhood but of course if a child seeks it then it's right for that child.
I think at the core of unschooling is letting your child/ren learn on their own terms and at their own pace. Learning is living.
We definitely don't have a free for all house. Boundaries aren't a bad thing.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
LavenderMae is offline  
#6 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 07:02 PM
 
littlest birds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: a dream-filled fixer-upper
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I called myself a "borderline unschooler" on another thread. We improvise so much and I would never tell myself that something was the wrong thing because it wasn't part of unschooling. I generally make no claim on the term itself.

We tend to hunger for structure around here. We make goals based on dd's interests together, and I push pretty hard for follow-through on some things we have planned. Sometimes it's better to decide that the interest has waned and we don't have to see everything thru because of that shift. If I say that we need the order and convenience of some preplanned curriculum and that I need to insist on certain kinds of follow through I am responding fully to her needs.

So I end up more formal due to the responsive approach of unschooling-- because I am willing to give us the extra freedom open that door that may in fact seem to led us away from "real" unschooling. If I don't claim the label, I can open that door sometimes and use any tools we need from the world of "school at home". If I don't claim the label, I don't have to contradict myself or feel like I'm reversing my philosophy. We're just living.

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)
 
 

littlest birds is offline  
#7 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 07:24 PM
 
Brenoi's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, CT
Posts: 210
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Clothcrazymom - Thank you for bringing up this point. I think it is an interesting conversation. As I have said before on a different thread - it is a shame that we have the need to label at all, because this is what is precisely what happens - as humans we try to sort and label, but to label you need to have criteria (otherwise known as "rules"). It is just a matter of time with each new catch phrase that someone else will apply a definition to that term and suddenly you find out you are not child-led either, because you do this or that or the other thing. AGGGGGH!

I just enjoy hearing how everyone is exploring homeschooling no matter how they accomplish it or what they call it. This board is proof that we can all learn from each other.
Brenoi is offline  
#8 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 07:46 PM
 
cottonwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
In agreement with Sheacoby.

I don't much care for the term unschooling either -- because in my mind to refer to schooling at all to define what we do implies schooling is the standard. Of course it is in our culture, but it's galling to me that it is and I hate to be reminded of it. It's also a term that is not well understood by most of society. So the only time I refer to ourselves in that way is if I'm talking to others who label themselves unschoolers, then I'll say, yeah, we do that too. But if someone asks if we homeschool, I don't say, "no, we unschool," I say, "we don't do school, but we do learn." If they ask what the difference is, I give some examples of my life without school -- for instance, reading a book on special relativity or having my husband the carpenter show me how to use his tools. In both cases I am learning, but neither is technically "school". Just because learning happens at home doesn't make it "homeschool" anymore than learning that happens at the libary is "libraryschool".
cottonwood is offline  
#9 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 10:36 PM
 
SagMom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 4,939
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brenoi
it is a shame that we have the need to label at all, because this is what is precisely what happens - as humans we try to sort and label, but to label you need to have criteria (otherwise known as "rules"). It is just a matter of time with each new catch phrase that someone else will apply a definition to that term ...

Exactly. But it would also be impossible to live without labels because we're all trying to identify ourselves to each other. I do find though, that because unschooling is just life, I tend to mix up *my* definition of unschooling with our lifestyle, kwim? It's hard sometimes to separate what part of our life is unschooling and what part is just us--because unschooling itself is just us. (I sometimes confuse myself.)

For instance, we don't have assigned chores at our house, we all just pitch in as needed--this certainly is not a definition of unschooling, and most people would say that chores have nothing at all to do with unschooling, but it's what we do and *to me* it goes with unschooling. Our kids aren't assigned work to be done--be it textbook work or sweeping the floor. (Does this make sense?)

I think there's an interesting parrallel between this conversation and one that I had about AP. I'd never even heard of AP until my second child was a toddler. When I stumbled upon a description of it, I thought to myself, "Well, that's what *I* do! There are others out there like me?!" So, I started identifying myself as an AP parent--in the hopes of finding like-minded people. A while back, someone on-line asked if she could still be an AP mother if she didn't co-sleep.

That question really blew me away because, to me, AP is not about a laundry list--it's about listening to your child's needs, taking them seriously and responding in a loving a respectful way. I see unschooling in a similar way--to me, it's about not imposing education on a child--it's about letting your child lead his/her own learning in whatever way fits that child at that time.

So, there's my .02 worth.

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

SagMom is offline  
#10 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 11:02 PM
 
MarineWife's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: on the edge
Posts: 11,391
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Interesting thread. I am still learning what all of this stuff is so will not comment but I will lurk.

knit.gifSAHM to 3 boys and 1 man; 22 jammin.gif, 9REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif, 5 FIREdevil.gifand now 1 year oldtoddler.gif!

MarineWife is offline  
#11 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 11:36 PM
 
hsmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 21
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ok- this thread is exactly what some other Moms and myself have been discussing lately! She had been so frustrated with some other boards and conversations ,with the "laundry list"(I like that term) of details that make you (or not) an unschooler. After getting somewhat involved with these other boards- I concluded that ,no way,we are NOT unschoolers!
(BTW,that's why we love these boards,way more room for interesting talk)
Like first mama said(sorry,forgot name),I loved giving my kids their freedom and joy to learn things at their own pace- but I needed a certain amount of order,and I felt,respect from other family members that precluded me from being"one of them." (unschooler)
I really felt like some who hold that "laundry list" felt impelled to make sure the rest of us followed it, in such detail,or we were doing it "wrong!" Which I had thought was what thinking for yourself WASN'T about.
And then I started talking to others who also loved the joy and freedom of homeschooling at our own pace,and came to the startling conclusion that, sometimes these folks ,who consider it"wrong" to give their kids ,for example,a set chore list,or responsibilty in the family, had no problem giving me and others who disagreed, a long list of "to-dos",to make sure we fit the "unschooler" standards.
Well,we all learn in our own ways,one of my ds' -loves workbooks,demands stuff like that,the other despises those things,can't get near him with 'em! I've learned over the years,labels are silly,they divide us- I refuse to have anyone label my kids,so why label us,the grownups? I like being a self directed learner!
hsmama is offline  
#12 of 52 Old 07-23-2004, 11:46 PM
 
littlest birds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: a dream-filled fixer-upper
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
gee, we sound like a tribe

but what to call ourselves

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)
 
 

littlest birds is offline  
#13 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 12:07 AM
 
Milkymommi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Wherever the Wind Blows
Posts: 1,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Wow!! So who came up with "the rules" of Freethinking reguarding education anyway? :LOL That is so backwards don't ya think?

To me unschooling isn't a list of rules that we decided to subscribe to in order to have the honor of carrying the said label.It is just a fancy way of saying ...I do things the way I want and not the way everyone else thinks I should.Which in essence is how I believe the term unschooling came about. Child directed learning is the most accurate description if one needs an explaination,the Unschooling is a way of connecting with others of likemind IMO

I don't personally use that term when responding to the question " Do you HS?" I just tell people that I HS but I am not a mainstream HSer.If they show more interest I explain. I definately want people to be attracted to what I do and show it in a positive light whenever possible.

So as far as myself... I consider myself to be an Unschooler because I let my children lead by their interest and I am a facilitator. We don't have a set time for "school" as life is our classroom. We do however have lots of books and workbooks and I tailor events and projects according to what they are into at the time to further their experience.My kids loooove that stuff.They totally dig doing papers and working on stuff. I never force it , they always ask me and I'm thrilled because they're happy and learning and I enjoy doing it with them.They'll let weeks go by without book work occasionally and then they get mad at *me* So we bust it out!

So bottom line IMHO unschooling is what your family makes it

Ima to Mizz.Jonas- 14, Isman- 12,Javsar- 9, Nani Gweesa- 4 and Baby Micah born into the Universe sleeping at full term Oct. 19th 2008 and Partner to Abba ~ belly.gif8/2011  Grateful to be Dead  broc1.gif
Milkymommi is offline  
#14 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 12:18 AM
 
ErikaDP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Ct-but my heart is in Seattle!
Posts: 1,746
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by clothcrazymom
For us unschooling isn't anything other than life. There is no distinction between living and schooling in our home. I think that's probably the best way to describe it. There are boundaries or "rules". There is also a matter of balancing the needs of all the individuals in the family. It's not a free for all here I really think that beyond a lifestyle, it's a mindset. It's not about that we would never use a textbook or this or that "school item"...because we might. We aren't always on watch for "teachable moments" or any of that. We also aren't "strewing" things out daily to try to guide the kids in a certain direction. It's like breathing. I guess we do have quite a rich environment...but it really has nothing to do with it being about being for the purpose of unschooling.
Clothcrazymom,
Your above quote describes our unschooling household perfectly. I too feel that many unschooling sites have too many qualifiers that you have to go through so that you can call yourself an unschooler. And like someone else mentioned earlier, I only call myself an unschooler when I am around other homeschoolers.
Thanks for starting a great thread!

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail..."
"I am learning all the time, the tombstone will be my diploma"- Eartha Kitt
ErikaDP is offline  
#15 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 04:35 AM
Dar
 
Dar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 11,249
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milkymommi

To me unschooling isn't a list of rules that we decided to subscribe to in order to have the honor of carrying the said label.It is just a fancy way of saying ...I do things the way I want and not the way everyone else thinks I should.
See, this is totally not within my definition of unschooling. "Doing things the way I want" - unschooling isn't about what the parent wants, IMO. It's about giving a child freedom to choose his own learning, without inflicting your agenda, and if it's not about that it's not unschooling, whether it's what everyone else thinks you should do or not.

Truly, I've had more difficulty with the opposite edge of the issue - the people who call themselves unschoolers because they plan educational projects that are based on their children's interests, or skip parts of the textbook if the kid already knows them, or even give their children lots of options on how to learn about a subject - with the unstated message that thw world is divided into subjects and learning about that one is a current requirement, one way or another. Let me be really clear - I don't give a fig whether people do this or not, their life, their family, their choice - but why do they need to call it unschooling? Why does everyone want that label? Why can't they just call themselves eclectic and leave unschooling to mean "no coerced learning, complete academic freedom", so that when people say they unschool, it's clear what they're talking about?

dar

 
fambedsingle1.gifSingle mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler earth.gif


  

Dar is offline  
#16 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 06:22 AM
 
Openskyheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
unschooling isn't about what the parent wants, IMO. It's about giving a child freedom to choose his own learning, without inflicting your agenda, and if it's not about that it's not unschooling, whether it's what everyone else thinks you should do or not.

ITA with you here, Dar. And I would say that this is what we do in our family. Our children have complete freedom to choose their own learning, and even though in my mind, I am aware that I still carry an agenda (truth be told - I have not yet completely deschooled my own mind); however, I am careful to not impose that agenda on my children. If I offer an idea, they are competely free to refuse it, change it, make it their own, etc. The vast majority of what we do, and this has been true since the beginning of our homeschooling journey, is initiated by the kids themselves. Most of what we do, I probably would never have even thought of!

So, if this is what we are now doing, why am I not choosing the label "Unschooling?" Hmmm...I think it's because I was initially influenced by one of those "other" radical sites which had a very strong laundry list, and a harsh way of imposing said laundry list on naive posters. The laundry list included things like: True unschoolers never give their children chores, true unschoolers never limit T.V., true unschoolers never limit food choices, true unschoolers never give their children a bedtime, etc.

We, in our family, do not have assigned chores, do not limit T.V., do not have set bedtimes, etc. We've always been this way - even when the kids were in school. Wow - it's sounding more and more like we are "true" unschoolers. However, there are rare times, with my specific children, when I go "against" these guidelines, and I make a decision in one of these areas when I can see that a different decision than the child has made would be the more beneficial one. I am almost always glad I did. On the occasions when I was misunderstanding what was happening, or my making the decision turned out to not be necessary, I apologize, we work it out. The kids and I have great communication, and talk out every decision. Still, in certain unschooling circles ever making a decision that your overwrought child really should go to bed now would be wrong. Ever turning off the T.V. because another family member simply can't stand to hear that Rugrats song one. more. time. would be wrong. etc. Again, I say - whatever.

Also, I have a friend who has two daughters, 8 years apart. The first daughter (16 y.o.) is easy-going, cheerful, super academic, has never had a conflict with a friend, or even with her parents with whom she has a great relationship. She's a very easy child to raise, and a very easy child to live with, and she really didn't have any household rules for her to speak of. My friend said that before she had dd#2 (8 y.o.), she felt like dd#1 must be so easy going because of her own great parenting. Now - with dd#2, whom she raised the same way - she realizes that dd#1's way of being in the world has very little to do with her great parenting - it's just how she is. Dd#2 is much different. Conflict, and challenges are a daily way of life for her. Is this because of my friend's parenting decisions? If so, how come dd#1 does not have all kinds of conflicts with family members and friends? My friend is finding that she has started parenting dd#2 much differently - more rules, more structure, etc. And now, dd#2 is thriving. Could it be that some children really do thrive with rules and structure? Suppose this same parent imposed rules and structure for their family life (bedtime, chores, limited T.V.), but did not impose any learning agenda on dd#2 - would that be considered unschooling by most unschoolers?

Interesting conversation. As far as claiming the label: I let go of that, because I really don't care about the label. The label "unschooling" has nothing to do with my kids, who learn in their own way unaware of the whole labeling controversy. Self directed learning is the truth, no matter who outside of our family wants to define us, or tell us if we're truly homeschooling/unschooling or whatever.

Laura
Openskyheart is offline  
#17 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 11:08 AM
 
Brenoi's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, CT
Posts: 210
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Laura - that is what I like about this board
Quote:
As far as claiming the label: I let go of that, because I really don't care about the label. The label "unschooling" has nothing to do with my kids, who learn in their own way unaware of the whole labeling controversy. Self directed learning is the truth, no matter who outside of our family wants to define us, or tell us if we're truly homeschooling/unschooling or whatever.
that we each have our way of hs and don't prevent other people from hanging on the line because they don't use the same "laundry list"
Brenoi is offline  
#18 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 11:28 AM
 
hsmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 21
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think that's what I couldn't grasp from some other site,this notion that there's a "clear" definition of unschoolers. I don't think that anyone can fairly say that a person is or is not an unschooler. I honestly think that as someone else said, some kids thrive in different situations. My 1st ds is such an unschooler in his heart, it's the way he thrives, I try my best to honor that. My 2nd ds,he pretty much dictates his preferences as to experiences,and I try to honor his style also,which,when he's left with too much "decide for yourself "time,he becomes very unhappy.
I'm not saying ignoring,you know,he just enjoys more interaction, writing practice,and even workbooks(which I consider dull).I am still an unschooler,(self directed )because the only real definition of this is trying to honor the childs interests and abilities. I think ,as with anything else,there is a spectrum of "types" who choose this way.
I also wholeheartedly agree with previous post,John Holt didn't use set bedtimes,chores or not,etc, in any definitions of unschooling.
There is a large group of people out there,who firmly believe in some or all of these things,yet they are still unschooling,their kids are afforded the dignity and freedom to learn in their own way. I'm trying to teach my kids that chores are a family responsibilty,that cooking and cleaning are honorable and worthy things to accomplish,as are learning and becoming educated. There can be joy in all of life, LOL,and picking up toys time has as much importance as swimming,reading,playing piano,etc.
hsmama is offline  
#19 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 11:33 AM
 
hsmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 21
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Oooh- I forgot to say- I love this conversation- I like the viewpoints differences coming through;-)
hsmama is offline  
#20 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 12:21 PM
 
Milkymommi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Wherever the Wind Blows
Posts: 1,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think that I've been misunderstood...so let me be a bit more clear.

I don't mean that *I* chosse what goes on in any way or that HS is centered around my needs or desires. I just meant that in reguard to how the rest of the world does things I have the freedom to choose unstructered educational freedom.

Also, those that disagree with doing projects and things of that nature tailored around your kids interests, what do you do when they WANT that? My kids get very upset with me if I don't do fun projects and take trips with them on a pretty regular basis. They are very hands on learners. I don't coerse them in any way I just respond to what they happen to be interested in. If they don't feel like it ...we don't but that rarely happens.Usually it's more like "mommy we're bored why can't we do something?" So I always have some back up ya know?

If that's not complete educational freedom than what is?

I also don't really feel the *need* to use a label, I used to think it was a nice way to connect with those of like mind within the HSing community.Unfortunately I'm learning the more I get involved that this is quite a point of contention. I'm wondering why people are so defensive about a silly label? I guess I've been mistaken all this time in that I thought the term Unschooling was a refernce to people who were choosing to not take a traditoinal approach to homeschooling and let their children lead the way.

Guess I have lots to learn still about the rules of fitting in? Which is what I thought Unschooling was not about

Ima to Mizz.Jonas- 14, Isman- 12,Javsar- 9, Nani Gweesa- 4 and Baby Micah born into the Universe sleeping at full term Oct. 19th 2008 and Partner to Abba ~ belly.gif8/2011  Grateful to be Dead  broc1.gif
Milkymommi is offline  
#21 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
clothcrazymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,547
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I get what you are saying Dar....I've seen that myself. We used to go to an "unschooling" group for park days and there were some parents there that were really anti packaged curricula but then would go on about how they stuck their kids on the computer with learning programs. It was pretty clear it was the parent's agenda and not what the child was wanting. It wasn't an issue for me about what materials were being used, the mentality of it all was an issue for me.

In recent years we were invited to some park things up here and the parents were saying they were "unschoolers" but then the parents mostly seemed to want to have some sort of structured activity at the park. They thought it was all fun and maybe it was but I just noticed that it was about the parents wanting their children to play baseball or whatever else they had going on. This summer some of Nickolas' friends have been doing various get togethers and coming up with activities that they want to do (no parent involvement other than driving the kids to the activities) and while it may look very similar on the outside it's a very different thing.

And then there is the case of my daughter's friend who's mom says they are "more unschoolers" and then I find out that when my daughter was over there the mom thought it would be a good idea for her daughter to try to help my daughter to read by getting out her workbooks. That's a whole different issue there but what I realized in this particular case is that they are very new to the whole idea of unschooling and they think it's just a matter of not having set schooling times and waking up and going to sleep whenever they wish. But it's still pretty much about using certain types of materials and such for them and it's very much about the mom controlling things. (I see this as very similar to the family that Dar mentioned with the 3 hour time thing)

Then of course I've seen the other side where it sortof gets into a who really is an unschooler or not...as several have described on here. And it may be based upon a family limiting tv or having bed times or if they EVER use a workbook or textbook (even if it's the child that searches it out) or if a child uses particular books. And of course one would definitely not be an unschooler if they go to any structured class or are in any program. I think this is a bunch of hooey.

Honestly, where I've found the biggest deal about any of this is in homeschooling groups that are restricted to only homeschoolers (or unschoolers). I see it on the net quite a bit too. My children have friends that are homeschoolers, unschoolers, in private schools, in public schools, in college, etc Usually if they do something as a group it's pretty mixed.

But again I think there is a huge spectrum of what could be considered unschooling in terms of what people are actually doing. For me it really is about the mindset and how the family is relating to learning rather than the specifics of whether they do x, y, or z. I know when we first came to unschooling I read about all sorts of different families that did things all sorts of different ways. What seemed so cool to me is that it wasn't at all about being only this or that. The only thing it was about was following the child's lead and having them determine what it was that they were wanting to "learn". It was a natural extension of Attachment Parenting.

Maybe it's because unschooling has become a thing (sortof like how AP has become) that I'm not liking the label. I don't really think it's something that someone can define for another family.

And yah I totally agree with: "So who came up with "the rules" of Freethinking reguarding education anyway? That is so backwards don't ya think?"
clothcrazymom is offline  
#22 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 04:27 PM
 
Openskyheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Laura - that is what I like about this board


that we each have our way of hs and don't prevent other people from hanging on the line because they don't use the same "laundry list"

Me too, Brenoi.

Laura
Openskyheart is offline  
#23 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 06:49 PM
 
littlest birds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: a dream-filled fixer-upper
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think this thread is really good food for thought.

You know, my daughter was frustrated with lack of direction. We have talked about how hard it is for me to pull together fun projects to help her do things she likes. And she thought trying a curriculum would be a great solution. It gives us a little space from each other, allows her to be independent and have something separate from all the little kid things we do all day, and gives her something organized to connect to. She can read and read and draw and draw and plug away on handiwork, but she craves a certain kind of additional outside input so that she doesn't always have to make her own beginnings or get them from me. But how we approach it is our own.

I read a lot about unschooling for a while and I think I learned a lot. If school-at-home makes my dd feel good about her daily routine and her independence that's cool with me. If it doesn't work well, am I stuck on it? No way. It's not the foundation of learning--it's just another tool. I think that's the attitude that puts me in this discussion even if I don't bother to claim the label.

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)
 
 

littlest birds is offline  
#24 of 52 Old 07-24-2004, 07:41 PM
 
ShannonCC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 4,539
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Openskyheart
The laundry list included things like: True unschoolers never give their children chores, true unschoolers never limit T.V., true unschoolers never limit food choices, true unschoolers never give their children a bedtime, etc.
I have seen that same laundry list and I've seen it here too. However, this site is much more respectful and kind, unlike Unschooling.com (which I'm assuming is the "other" site everyone is talking about). That's why I like MDC and no longer go to Unschooling.com. But it's partly this laundry list that has recently made me think about the unschooling label and whether I fit it.

Do I *need* to fit it? No, my life won't end if I'm not an unschooler. More to the point, no matter what I call myself, our life and my kids education will not change. I do find it a useful label for finding like minded homeschoolers though, just as I find the AP label good for finding parents I have something in common with.

As for the laundry list, if it's true then no, I'm not an unschooler. I do everything on that list except assign chores (and though I don't assign anything, I do *expect* my children to help clean up after themselves so I bet that falls in the same category).

But what does this stuff have to do with education? Like someone else said, I don't think Holt addressed bedtimes, tv, dinner, etc. I haven't read all his stuff though, so for all I know he could have. I think it's probably like AP though. Sears invents the term (no, not the practice, but the term) and gives a definition and then people start adding their own things like cloth diapering, organic food, all natural toys, etc. and making it a blend of AP and natural living. I think a lot of people are adding bedtimes, tv and other stuff to unschooling and turning it into a combination of that and TCS.

At the same time, I do understand the frustration of having a label misused. It does annoy me to hear from people who think bf is gross, co-sleeping is incest and children need to CIO and then happily declare themselves AP because they fit *their* definition. And yes, definitions and movements evolve (especially after the creator has passed on) but who gets to make the decision of what it means? If I decide that the word vegetarian means someone who only eats meat on thursdays, does that make it true?

Totally on a tangent now, sorry, :LOL
ShannonCC is offline  
#25 of 52 Old 07-25-2004, 03:25 AM
 
Tigeresse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Space Mountain
Posts: 790
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Also, when Holt defined unschooling and described how children naturally learn, it was before the proliferation of computers, internet, Nintendo, and TV's with 27,000 channels, not to mention way more "options" (overstimulation) for kids outside the home. I really think this has changed the face of "natural" learning. I really have a hard time believing that unlimited access to this type of stuff is what Holt had in mind. I guess this feeling of mine would knock me out of the unschooling camp, although so much of what my kids have learned has come about by their own desires and have nothing to do with anything I've imposed.
Tigeresse is offline  
#26 of 52 Old 07-25-2004, 07:17 AM
 
MarineWife's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: on the edge
Posts: 11,391
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Although Holt may not have had unlimited access to technology in mind, I don't think that's a reason to dismiss the technology. Especially when so much of life is automated, I think it's beneficial to have as much technology as possible available to my children. My mom's office is going through a change right now where they are automating everything. One of the effects of this is that the older employees (and they have some old ones) who did not grow up with computers are being forced to retire because they just can't keep up with the computer systems. It's very sad because they are perfectly capable of doing their jobs except that they never learned how to do word processing, much less internet searching.

I don't see how anyone can live in a house full of kids and not have some limits or rules or whatever you want to call them. I, personally, do not want to spend all of my time cleaning up my ds' room and messes. However, I don't think it's necessarily fair to expect him to feed and walk an animal that I chose to get. I do ask him to do at least one household chore a day, such as vacuuming or dusting or washing the dishes, since these include the entire family.

knit.gifSAHM to 3 boys and 1 man; 22 jammin.gif, 9REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif, 5 FIREdevil.gifand now 1 year oldtoddler.gif!

MarineWife is offline  
#27 of 52 Old 07-25-2004, 05:33 PM
 
littlest birds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: a dream-filled fixer-upper
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife
Especially when so much of life is automated, I think it's beneficial to have as much technology as possible available to my children. .
I don't have an extreme position on technology. But I disagree with this comment. So much of life is automated? "Life" isn't automated. I'd like my kids to be comfortable with life more so than machines. We need to be much more concious of whether any given technology is good for our quality of life. Automation confuses us all a bit about the meaning of life. When and how much of such confusion is appropriate at a given age is a serious concern.

I am guessing that you didn't mean this comment as absolutely as it sounds? I don't think we should take for granted that life is automated and that's the way it is and so we should adapt. There are so many harmful, wasteful technologies out there and their use should be questioned every step of the way. It sounds like assuming the automated world is the "new nature" to survive in and I'm not in agreement with that. In fact, many areas of sustainable technology are reducing automation in favor of designed biological systems, and I think this is the direction for our future. "Biophilia" is one of the giuding themes for our homeschool. The ability to live in cooperation with nature seems to be a lost knowledge likely to become much more important as humanity progresses. Real progress is not about machines.

Having "as much technology available as possible" to our children is not necessary for their future success. This does sound pretty extreme. And computers seems so simple to use--what benefit exists in high-quantity exposure? If our kids are on a computer lots of the time, what aren't they doing? Something else loses out.

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)
 
 

littlest birds is offline  
#28 of 52 Old 07-25-2004, 05:52 PM
Dar
 
Dar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 11,249
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
But a lot of the desgning of bioogical systems is done using technology...

I use the internet many times a day - I work 3 diferent jobs now, and using the internet has been a part of all of them. If I want to go somewhere new, mapquest is usually faster and more clear than following a map (and the info is more recent). I do my banking and bill-paying online. I reserve plane tickets online. I google the answers to all sorts of questions. The more time I spend on the internet, the more things I find that I can do.

And besides the internet, there's technology in everyday life. My 62 year old dad still has not learned to use those POS machines, where you slide your card to pay. He uses cash or checks, or hands someone a credit card. It's a good thing he mastered the ATM... but it limits him. He did master powerpoint, which is a good thing - he teaches med school and uses it for his lectures now. It probably helps that the university has wonderful computer guys who were willing to walk the aging doctors through all of this, and bail them out a few times.

Progress is about people, and technology is tools, made by and for people. It's no more unnatural then a digging stick, or a hammer.

I don't think it needs to be an either/or thing, technology vs. nature. If you plant a garden, you may google plant info, or mapquest directions to the nursery. And having technology available doesn't mean using it all the time. I think unschooling is about having as many resources available as you can, so your child has the freedom to chose.

Unschooling is about believing that if our children are on the computer lots of the time, then being on the computer lots of the time is the right place for them right then. As long as we're there, offering and modeling and interacting, they will learn and grow as they need to.

Dar

 
fambedsingle1.gifSingle mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler earth.gif


  

Dar is offline  
#29 of 52 Old 07-25-2004, 06:39 PM
 
littlest birds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: a dream-filled fixer-upper
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Dar, I have no disagreement with you as far as technolgy being part of human progress and that that is "natural". I don't think humans are parasites on earth or anything like that. As my post said I do not have an extreme view about technology. I do not have a problem with machines. I have a problem with the fact that our society is out of balance on this and doesn't question the appropriateness of technology very well. We have gotten a little lost with much of it being useless junk. Therefore, the language and emphasis of the pp that bothered me. "As much technology as possible" That is what I disagree with.

I don't think selectively limiting the role of technology in one's family life is "against" unschooling. I don't think selectively restricting what my children eat is "against" unschooling. I mean, would you restrict pornography? Would you restrict it for a five year old if a relative had some that was accessible? Would you restriict it for a twelve year old? Isn't this a tool--one of the ways some people explore and learn about their sexuality? We control lots of things about our family life because of what we judge to be healthy for our children. I have known parents who are absolutely terrified of their own authority and must talk their children into everything and simply give up when that doesn't work. It is a very sad thing to see.

As soon as unschooling becomes dogmatic, it is not for me. It makes it seem as though all of the answers are too simple. Follow these ideas and you will be truly respecting your child. ???? I am not a follower, no matter how much I love the ideas of a "school" of thinking.

Computer and television technology can be directly harmful and this can be a tricky area to navigate with children in our lives. Worries about future computer literacy shouldn't make us go to an extreme with a technology.

BTW I do allow my children quite a bit of access to the computer and to other media and this includes some amount of content that I don't "like". I don't let my children watch junky TV. The commercials on TV can be as bad as pornography. Through content this machine can alter our relationship with ourselves, nature, and society.

Marinewife I do not mean to be too argumentative. I really don't understand where you're coming from on this detail... It doesn't fit with my own perspective and I'm a natural loudmouth. I don't want to offend you and hope you will go on using youur own judgement in your life to determine what is best for your family. Each life is unique and you know yourself and your family and what technology means to you together better than me or anyone else here. I do like to debate, but I only want such debates to inspire us to think for ourselves and become even more clear about our own positions. Life is complex.

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)
 
 

littlest birds is offline  
#30 of 52 Old 07-26-2004, 12:18 AM
 
MarineWife's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: on the edge
Posts: 11,391
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I've been jumping back and forth between here and unschooling.com so I can get both sides of this debate. Here's what I've gotten so far.

On the one hand, under the idea that unschooling is absolute child led learning, in order to truly let your child be the person they want or were meant to be, we cannot impose our will on them in any way. Limiting access to TV or video games or anything else, setting bedtimes, assigning chores, etc. would be imposing your will on your child. This would stifle the natural development of the child.

On the other hand, it's not fair to the rest of the family to have a child that does nothing to help in the day to day operations of the household. I certainly don't think it's fair for me to spend my entire day cooking, cleaning and doing laundry for everyone while my children and my dh sit on the couch and watch TV or go outside to play. To me it makes more sense to tell my children that as long as they live here and use the space, they have to help keep it clean and orderly. I'm much more lax about my ds' room being clean than I am about him leaving dirty dishes in the living room or towels on the bathroom floor. This is learning about how to live with and respect other people.

knit.gifSAHM to 3 boys and 1 man; 22 jammin.gif, 9REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif, 5 FIREdevil.gifand now 1 year oldtoddler.gif!

MarineWife is offline  
Reply

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off