Date: Monday, September 23, 2002 11:23:39 PM
Subject: UNSCHOOLING.COM ONLINE NEWS Mid September 2002
UNSCHOOLING.COM ONLINE NEWS
In this Issue:
Life is a Journey
What About Socialization?
Islands of Expertise
Do you like to learn?
Forms of Curiosity
Photography on the Web
NHEN - Homeschoolers Helping Homeschoolers
Unschool Friendly Conferences
Life is a journey. Our unschooling life is just the path we've taken, it's not the destination. Our kids will continue on this path their whole lives. There's no reason for them to know everything in the whole wide world right now. It's not even possible. Knowing what it is to really be alive, to ask questions and
question the answers...that's the path we're on.
Mary (zenmomma) writing on the Unschooling-dotcom email list
To join the conversation send a blank email to:Unschoolingfirstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit the group web site at:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Unschooling-dotcom/
What About Socialization?
"Despite its growing acceptance, there are nagging shortcomings to home schooling. If you spend time with home schoolers, you get a sense that some of them have missed out on whole swaths of childhood; the admirable efforts by their parents to ensure their education and safety sometimes seem to have gone too far. In 1992 psychotherapist Larry Shyers did a study while at
the University of Florida in which he closely examined the behavior of 35 home schoolers and 35 public schoolers. He found that home schoolers were generally more patient and less competitive. They tended to introduce themselves to one another more; they didn't fight as much. And the home schoolers were much more prone to exchange addresses and phone numbers.
In short, they behaved like miniature adults. "
From Time Magazine cover article, August 2001 - Seceding from school http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101010827/index.html
"Kids today are missing some essential social skills for relating to each other. They don't know how to introduce themselves to other kids. They don't know how to negotiate or sustain a conversation. They relate to each other via put-downs."
Teacher describing school children in "The Shelter of Each Other" by Mary Pipher (Ballantine 1996)
Islands of Expertise
by Eric D. Gyllenhaal
"Islands of expertise" is a term coined by Kevin Crowley, Ph.D., an educational researcher at University of Pittsburgh who studies the ways that children and parents learn together in museums ( http://www.kevincrowley.com
). It refers to the areas of relatively deep and rich knowledge children develop when they are passionately interested in something like dinosaurs, Pokémon, rocks, turtles and other things. These islands emerge over weeks or months as children talk, read and learn about their passions.
On their islands of expertise, children remember, reason and explain in more advanced ways than they usually do when submerged in the wider sea of knowledge. Even preschoolers can think more like an expert does, which is very different from a beginner's approach to the subject. I guess you could also
say they think more like an adult, growing up faster on their island than in the rest of their lives. (Just the opposite of Peter Pan.)
Crowley emphasizes that children aren't alone on their islands. They build and inhabit them with their parents through the things they do together every day. Preschoolers especially need their parents' help...
Read the rest of this wonderful article athttp://saltthesandbox.org/ChicagoParentArticle2.htm
Eric Gyllenhaal has a PhD in paleontology from the University of Chicago. He's currently a stay-at-home dad and a part-time museum consultant. I'm becoming quite a fan of his writings about children and learning.
This article appeared in the September, 2002 issue of Chicago Parent
Do you like to learn?
Four years ago, two riding pals asked me to write an article about learning. I did not consider them students, although one would ask for a little help occasionally and the other set up a lesson a couple of times a year, if that often, for which she insisted on paying. When she finally explained that paying
for the information meant that she would learn, I stopped protesting. It was my first exposure to this sort of thinking. I did not understand it, but I wanted to. They were both good riders who'd learned "the old way" and they wanted to improve. They pressed me to share with them anything I knew about learning
how-to-relearn to ride. I told them I also had questions--more questions than I had answers. This struck me as a good opportunity to ferret out some answers, so I started researching this article right then. It began with a short interview and a few days later I interviewed three more people we knew. It was
a simple interview: one question. "Do you like learning?" Their five unanimous answers stunned me.
They all answered with the question: "What do you mean?"
Leslie Diamond writing for The Trail Less Traveled
Read the rest of this fascinating article at:http://www.lesliedesmond.com/articles/us/horse13-4.asp
"I can no longer stand group outings with other families. I tried for a few years to get used to them, to accept them, to think that I was just being an uncooperative pain, but then I realized no, I would rather be with JUST my kids and not have to worry about whether six or ten other moms thought it was okay for them to balance on the curb or the parking bumpers, whether the other moms thought their T-shirts were acceptable, or whether they could get a gumball or a soda, or whether they should sit lined up with the other kids with their hands folded."
From a recent conversation on the Unschooling.com message boards about group classes for small children, field trips, and other "contrived learning". To join (or just read) the conversation, go to: http://www.unschooling.com/discus/me...html?Wednesday
To find the rest of the messages click on Contrived Learning in the header of the page. Check out all the engrossing topics on our message boards at:http://www.unschooling.com/discus/me...rd-topics.html
Looking for plants or animals native to your area? Find wildflowers, birds, reptiles, and more at www.enature.com
-- home of online field guides you can search by zip code. We found this site useful to identify the spider that recently set up housekeeping in our window well.
Find plans to make your own flower press at:
Forms of Curiosity
Children are tremendously curious about a wide variety of subjects. If you took a class of twenty-five first-graders and researched what really turned them on, you'd find that each boy and girl has a burning desire to learn more about something. One child may be curious about birds, another might have all sorts
of questions about the planets, and a third might be fascinated by cars. On a more general level, we know the areas that children are eager to explore and learn about
: why people treat them the way they do, their own bodies, sports, how to make things, drawing, music, and so on. Very few children, however,
are naturally curious about the subjects school forces them to learn. Most kids don't have an intense curiosity about Dickens, state capitals, or algorithms.
....This is the problem with school and curiosity. Most kids only ask questions about the subjects they're being taught out of a sense of "duty" or because they're worried they'll be criticized or downgraded, not because they're really curious about the answers. In fact, school tends to answer questions kids don't have rather than the ones they want answered. When you don't have questions about a subject, you don't learn. You simply memorize, take the test, and forget.
Heartfelt questions, then, are a manifestation of inquisitiveness. When your child starts asking you a million question about a specific topic, this identifies a real area of interest. The fact that he's curious about something weird or trivial -- why cats land on their feet when dropped off the balcony, or the smell, texture, and taste of coffee beans -- is neither here nor there. No matter where curiosity originates, it's a valid starting point, which as
we'll see can lead to other, more "useful" areas of inquiry.
Questions, however, aren't the only form curiosity takes. People express their curiosity through different behaviors. A teenager, for instance, might drive fast because he's curious about how fast his car can go. A younger kid is curious about what will happen if he invites the new student to his house for lunch. A chemist is curious about what might happen if he mixes the liquids in
test tubes X and Y. A kid is curious about what might happen if he fixes his best friend up with the girl who sits next to him in math class. Picasso was one of the most curious of modern artists, constantly experimenting with his painting techniques. In a very real sense, inquisitiveness involves experimentation. Like scientists, curious people are fascinated to see "what would happen if..." An avant-garde musician experiments with different
tonalities and instruments in the same way a small child experiments with different types of balls to see how they bounce.
Curiosity is a curious thing, especially when we probe beneath the surface of our questions and behaviors and see how it helps us learn.
Roger Schank - from Coloring Outside the Lines - Raising a Smarter Kid By Breaking All the Rules (Harper Collins 2000)
Mr. Schank considers school mostly inescapable, thus the book is a treatise on how to minimize the damage school does to a child's intelligence. Unschoolers will still find it a fascinating look at how learning happens, and full of cautionary tales -- what not to do to your children in the name of "education".
I think one of the best uses of the internet is as limitless exhibition space -the infinite museum. Here are some of my favorite browsing spots for photographic collections.
Transcontinental Railroad Exhibitshttp://CPRR.org/Museum/Exhibits.html
Photos, stereographs, engravings, postcards, maps about the Central Pacific
Railroad, includes a section of 1868 and 1997 photo comparatives
Home Page: American Memory from the Library of Congresshttp://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amhome.html
American Memory: Historical collections for the National Digital Library
American Museum of Photographyhttp://www.photographymuseum.com/
The History Placehttp://www.historyplace.com/
Photo galleries include the work of Dorothea Lange, who photographed migrant
farm families and Lewis Hine, whose photos of child laborers 1908 - 1912
helped fuel the child protection movement
Exploratorium: Ten Cool Sites: Photographyhttp://www.exploratorium.edu/learnin...otography.html
From San Francisco's Exploratorium - a collection of ten great photography
web site links. Warning - not for when you've only got a few minutes to
One group that fascinated me was the unschoolers. It is nearly impossible to accurately define unschooling, but foundationally it rests upon the idea that if you provide a rich learning environment and plenty of opportunity, a child will learn what he needs to know when he needs to know it. Intellectually, my head
was nodding over this one; I knew it worked for me, personally, and could see where it would work for children too, especially considering the progress Thomas had made during a year of NO SCHOOL. Not, mind you, that I would dare try unschooling my own sons…especially since I was surrounded by people
(mostly relatives) who questioned the legitimacy of our homeschooling anyway. I only saw it as being a really good thing for those who possessed the… whatever it took… to actually do it.
Tammy Cardwell - Eclectic Homeschool Online columnist
Homeschoolers Helping Homeschoolers
by Pam Sorooshian and Sue Patterson, NHEN
This year, record numbers of families are choosing home education. They are often confused, scared and apprehensive. Support from experienced homeschoolers can sometimes provide just what they need to help them gain confidence in themselves. Homeschooling moms are happy to help all the new families choosing home education. Read what they have to say -- it may be *just* what you needed to hear today!
Read the entire article at: http://www.nhen.org/newhser/default.asp?id=408
Look at the special webpages for New Homeschoolers:http://www.nhen.org/newhser/default.asp?id=227
Subscribe to the N-H-E-N (New Homeschoolers' Encouragement Newsletter)http://www.nhen.org/newhser/default.asp?id=402
Unschool Friendly Conferences
Feeling like a fish out of water after attending a large curriculum oriented homeschool convention? The following conferences have unschooling presenters and participants, including many regular posters at the unschooling.com website and email discussion list.
Texas Family Learning Conference
Keynote Speakers - David Albert, Sandra Dodd
October 4 & 5, 2002
Sheraton Brookhollow in Houston, Texashttp://www.angelfire.com/tx/wlr/conference.html
Live and Learn Unschool Conference
October 11 - 13, 2002
If you have information on other unschooling friendly conferences please email the editor at email@example.com
"Children will happily dig and fill holes all through the gardens of their
is only through repeatedly hammering our particular posts into those holes
that we set up fences around their learning."
Sue Truscott - "Are There Holes in Their Education"
Life Learning Magazine July/August 2002http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/
Thanks for reading the Unschooling.com newsletter! Feel free to forward this
newsletter to all your friends, your local support group, and your
To subscribe, visit our web site at http://www.unschooling.com
or send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org
with the words subscribe
unschooling-newsletter followed by your name@your address.com in the body of
the email. (e.g. subscribe unschooling-newsletter youremailaddress).
See you in October!
Deborah A Cunefare, Newsletter Editornewsletter@unschooling.com
Unschooling.com is a service of Home Education Magazine