Can some one explain "Unschooling" to me? - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-13-2005, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know any homeschoolers IRL however I spent some time with the ones who shopped at the now defunct Nature Company where I worked. Plus there is often write ups in the my local papers education section about the benefits of home schooling so I feel like I have a layman’s idea of what makes up a home school education. However I often see posts referring to "unschooling" and up until now I have been too embarrassed to ask. Maybe its because my son is approaching school age but I have been thinking a lot about his education and would love to learn more.

What I really want to know is exactly what it is, how it works and what makes it successful for you plus any recc’s for good reading material would be perfect.

TIA!!

Plus if any Home schooling moms want to pipe in with good recc’s on reading material I would appreciate that too.

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Old 04-13-2005, 06:49 PM
 
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Hi there. My family unschools If you search unschooling here at MDC you will likely get a ton of threads, but I can ramble on about it right now for you too lol.

Unschooling tends to be a hotly debated term lately, so if you ask 10 people that do it what it means you might get 17 answers Here is what unschooling means to my family:

It means that we believe learning is a natural thing that comes about just by us living day to day life, and that it doesn't need an artificial structure put upon it. We feel that grades, tests, assignments, and schedules for learning are totally useless because each person has different ways of learning and doesn't need another person telling them that they aren't learning "good enough" or learning the "right things".

We feel that learning by need, interest, and just from the business of living our lives is enough. When we need some information or a new skill we go about finding it/doing it. When we are interested in or wonder about something we follow that to satisfy it. We do not follow a curriculum, and we have no "school time" because we feel that everything is learning. It doesn't need to be seperate from anything else.

It means that the learner is in charge of their education. It isn't parent/adult directed. We also believe that we all (children and adults) are teachers and students. Does that help a little? You may want to read "The Unschooling Handbook" by Mary Griffiths or the Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. Also John Holt has good stuff as well.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa
Hi there. My family unschools If you search unschooling here at MDC you will likely get a ton of threads, but I can ramble on about it right now for you too lol.

Unschooling tends to be a hotly debated term lately, so if you ask 10 people that do it what it means you might get 17 answers Here is what unschooling means to my family:

It means that we believe learning is a natural thing that comes about just by us living day to day life, and that it doesn't need an artificial structure put upon it. We feel that grades, tests, assignments, and schedules for learning are totally useless because each person has different ways of learning and doesn't need another person telling them that they aren't learning "good enough" or learning the "right things".

We feel that learning by need, interest, and just from the business of living our lives is enough. When we need some information or a new skill we go about finding it/doing it. When we are interested in or wonder about something we follow that to satisfy it. We do not follow a curriculum, and we have no "school time" because we feel that everything is learning. It doesn't need to be seperate from anything else.

It means that the learner is in charge of their education. It isn't parent/adult directed. We also believe that we all (children and adults) are teachers and students. Does that help a little? You may want to read "The Unschooling Handbook" by Mary Griffiths or the Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. Also John Holt has good stuff as well.
What do families who unschool do if they live in a state that requires standardized testing?
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:19 PM
 
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On the tails of the prior ? about standardized testing, I would be interested in how unschooling affects one's college application process, or do unschooling families typically not encourage their children to go to college, as it is a structured learning situation?
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:22 PM
 
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Great for nature studies! http://www.pleinairkids.com
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickadee79
What do families who unschool do if they live in a state that requires standardized testing?
Well, here in Oregon we are supposed to test at the end of grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. (My family managed to get out of it via an unexpected loop hole for the next few years though.. we are super happy ... anyway) In this state the kids have to reach the 15th percentile to be considered passing. In my opinion that is very easy to do. The first (and only time thus far) my Dd tested at the end of grade 3 she got like a 56 or something similiar. Here if they do not hit the percentile of 15 they must retest the next year. If they show improvement from the prior years test all is well. If they show a decline from the prior years test they have to test yet again the next year. If they continue to decline in score then the state gets involved with options of being under a teacher/tutor supervision I think and a few other things.

When the time came we just told Dd that the state law wants her to test, and that the score was a so whatter as far as we were concerned. We told her she could study for it or not, it was up to her. In the end she wanted to see a sample test to see what it was going to be like, and she chose to learn division before the test. I think preparing for the test is a fine option if the child wants to, and it will help them feel ready. When the test results came back we glanced at it and put them away.

Different states have different homeschool testing laws of course, and they can be found on www.nhen.org.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmilingChick
On the tails of the prior ? about standardized testing, I would be interested in how unschooling affects one's college application process, or do unschooling families typically not encourage their children to go to college, as it is a structured learning situation?

As homeschooling (and unschooling) have become more common many colleges have opened themselves to non-traditionally educated students. Often times colleges will have someone on staff to be a liason between homeschoolers and college... helping them with admissions and such. I think there is a list somewhere of colleges who accept HS/US'ers without issue. Often I think home/unschoolers go to a community college and then can later transfer to a university or whatever they desire. In any case, unschoolers go about the process much like anyone else might. They just check out colleges and application processes and go about meeting them however best they can.

I think unschoolers (and others too prob) feel that college is a fine option, but not absolutely necessary. There are many ways to gain experience in a career field. Interestingly enough I feel (and I have known many unschoolers who do as well) that college has much in common with unschooling because it is something we choose. We choose what programs to take, what to major in, and just in what general direction we want to go when we attend college. We also choose to be there in the first place.

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Old 04-13-2005, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks UnSchoolinMama!! I was hoping you would answer. I almost PM'd you 'cause of your name but then I figured if I was wondering maybe there where others wondering too.

I am fascinated by this concept as I am with TCS. I like a lot of TCS ideas but I do struggle with the whole thought process. I think I would be the same with unschooling now that you explain it. Maybe because I feel I need stucture and control in my life that I can't let go in my childs. I like going from a to b to c and feel lost when I don't have a schedule or structure, KWIM?

My son is 3 1/2 and I hope to be a SAHM by the time he is 6 so I have some time to figure out the whole education thing. Of course my husband is all for private school and to him homeschooling is the Calvert Program so I know I have my work cut out for regardless.

Thanks again!!

Off to Amazon to check out he books....

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Old 04-14-2005, 02:30 AM
 
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Hi HollyBearsMom,

Another unschooler here!
My definition of unschooling closely matches UnschoolnMa's.
I too am a big believer in child-led learning.
And what that means to me is that we provide a very rich environment that is full of opportunities for exploring various interests at our children's own pace.
Unschooling for me, is reinforcing and providing resources for my children's natural interests. No matter what the age.
And in most instances, I am have not been the teacher for my children. I'm more like a facilitator/resource person.
How I encourage the learning of basic skills is by doing many tasks with my children. Learning by doing is one of the best teachers in my opinion. I also encouraged my children to teach me and or someone else a skill that they themselves have learned and would feel comfortable sharing with others(I got to know a lot about my children's skill level in a particular task by watching them teach).
We use books, the internet, field trips and real life situations to learn. We also take classes and learn things in classrooms, but that is not the focus of our learning. Practice and repetition, if necessary for acquiring a skill is encouraged but not if it is proven unnecessary. We feel the same way about college, if it is necessary for the career choice they have made for themselves, then we are supportive of their attendance and will help in any way we can for them to go. If they decide it is not for them, we are supportive of that choice too.
We do not use a curriculums, workbooks or tests to determine how, why and/or what we learn, but we can and do use textbooks, tests & workbooks if the information in them is useful for explaining a particular learning objective.
I believe that learning can happen at any age and that "You can not be Ahead or Behind Yourself" (this is one of my favorite unschooling quotes).
Unschooling for me is having faith in my children to let them take the lead in their learning quest. And to provide for them the opportunity to experience life in real settings with real goals, and have those goals be what ever they decide they are going to be.
I myself take many classes and I am always trying to acquire new skills so my children see me as a good example of a life long learner. And all of my children, when they were younger and now, have taught me many new things/skills. So in my home, daily learning happens for us all.

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Old 04-16-2005, 02:32 AM
 
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I am also figuring out what all of this is, as we are planning on HS our 4YO DD. Not yet sure what form that will take, but I have been doing some reading on unschooling. When I first heard about it, I thought it was very negligent! But now I know better! LOL I did have an Ah-ha! moment a few days ago. I recalled my own school days, and remembered how painful public school was for me. But during the same time period, I had picked up my sisters old, discarded guitar. And then I found a chord book. And then I obtained Peter, Paul, and Mary's Songbook. And then another song book. And then another guitar instruction book that taught me how to 'pick' the guitar, instead of simply strum it. And I would spend hours in my room, all by myself, pouring over my books and teaching myself how to play. OK, I am not now a professional musician or anything, but I was darn good on that guitar! And that, to me, is unschooling.
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Old 04-16-2005, 02:51 AM
 
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There is also an Unschooling College movement going on. Look up "Distance Education" ... there is specifically a book I'm thinking of, written by a homeschooled student who got his college degree in like 6 months for less than $5000 by using something he calls Accelerated Distance Education... sorry can't think of the name... let me google... aha, found it.... http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...07038?v=glance
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Old 04-16-2005, 04:15 AM
 
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i agree with the other poster's definitions of unschooling and would just like to add that for me it also means letting my child be who they are without having to meet someone else's expectations. they just get to be themselves.

as to college/university, it is changing and seems to be doing so very quickly. i know when i started 6 years ago at least here in alberta you didn't hear much about homeschooled kids getting into university and now all the major universities in this province accept homeschoolers. some only require a "homeschool" diploma. each school varies i think.

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Old 04-16-2005, 07:36 AM
 
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I am also very interested in unschooling. I don't actually know if its legal in NZ, due to the schooling laws here, but I'd really like to learn more about it.
Is it too much to ask for someone to give me an over veiw of the average unschoolers day/week.
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Old 04-16-2005, 09:40 AM
 
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To answer the college question, there's this thread http://www.mothering.com/discussions...hlight=college for starters. If you do a search for "college" within this forum, you'll find more.

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Old 04-17-2005, 01:35 AM
 
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It looks as though you have gotten some good answers- and I for the most part agree with ErikaDP and Unschoolinma's definitions-- but I have done some directed learning as well because I did not want children to go to the bathroom on my livingroom floor or be rude to my parents,
or like when they were older and there might have been some things that they missed and may want to know about now- I would by some general ed computer progams or the what your child should know series and recommended they look through it . Our older kids have been in college and they have been welcomed there- most of the time they get excellent grades and other people in their classes drive them crazy because there are quite a few hecklers in a college classroom- or people who talk the whole time and don't pay attention. Anyway because the kids were not "schooled" they are able to be self directed and also seem to have an attention span in a classroom-- and our younger daughter was saying even in her art classes she was one of the only people answering questions on her opinion.
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! Thanks for all the insight. I really appreciate everyone chiming in. I ordered a few books and am loking forward to reading them.

Again thanks!

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