If you're NOT unschooling... - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-05-2005, 03:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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why not? It seems to me that there are a lot of unschoolers here at MDC, but I know that I am not alone in making a different decision for my family. I'm not an unschooler, and I've got lots and lots of reasons for that (which I'll go into later, when I'm awake) but I'm curious-- why aren't *you* unschooling?

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:35 AM
 
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See this thread.
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...=private+tutor

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 11-05-2005, 05:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That answers a different question, though; people who are not unschooling aren't necessarily doing school-at-home or even a curriculum. They might be doing unit studies or homeschooling ecclectically or they might be very relaxed but not consider themselves unschoolers.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 11-05-2005, 06:24 AM
 
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I consider us super relaxed eclectic homeschoolers. I think we will mostly take a child led approach, but in the dead of winter at the height of cabin fever, I'll have no problem exploring with my kids something "schooly" like math or handwriting (or whatever).
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Old 11-05-2005, 07:14 AM
 
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Between your question and the thread that USAmma posted, I could get myself into a spot of....I don't want to say trouble, so I'll say "challenge".

We don't unschool because I don't buy into the philosophy. I've read Holt, I've read Gatto, I've read all the other things that are supposed to turn on the unschooling lightbulb inside my head and I've found them at best unreadable and at worst deeply flawed.

That said, I don't think that unschooling has as its other "school-at-home". We're following a classical model but there's nothing that resembles school at our house.
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Old 11-05-2005, 07:21 AM
 
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We are structured homeschoolers because it is my opinion that it is the most time and energy efficient way to cover subjects, topics and learning areas and enable ds to develop to his potential.

He has his own interests, of course, and has plenty of free time during the day where he can do as he likes. He sometimes chooses 'educational or learning' activities during this time but I wouldn't rely on these times to meet his learning needs, it is simply too haphazard to enable efficient learning to take place.

We do school for about 3.5 hours, 5 days a week.
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Old 11-05-2005, 10:09 AM
 
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We are semi-structured homeschoolers... with five children I just felt a need to have some order to our days -a rhythm, etc...

We do some waldorf using Christopherus Homeschool and believe it or not, combine some Well Trained Mind as well.

I think, although, I know it is not neccesary, I want our children to have a solid base in case they choose to go to college.


We also just moved to Vermont and their requirements are much more demanding than in Massachusetts, so we are going to feel it through and see how much we do have to report at the end of the year.

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Old 11-05-2005, 10:43 AM
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We are structured homeschoolers because it is my opinion that it is the most time and energy efficient way to cover subjects, topics and learning areas and enable ds to develop to his potential.

:
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Old 11-05-2005, 10:51 AM
 
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We're not unschoolers, as I have said in my previous posts in unschooling forums. But we probably are not 'structured' in the way many hsers are.

There are things I want my children to know that they might not come to on their own, and I feel perfectly comfortable introducing ideas and topics.

I don't feel comfortable imposng my will on them, however.

So whatever we are...here we are.
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Old 11-05-2005, 10:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
That answers a different question, though; people who are not unschooling aren't necessarily doing school-at-home or even a curriculum. They might be doing unit studies or homeschooling ecclectically or they might be very relaxed but not consider themselves unschoolers.

There ya go.
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Old 11-05-2005, 12:21 PM
 
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Because I am bored! And having some kind of curriculum on hand is also easy for when they are bored.

Even though most of what we do is reading books, it is more interesting for me to have some kind of plan of what books I am going to get from the library this week, and much more interesting for me to actually read them. Reading picture books drives me crazy most of the time- I love to read and usually read 5+ novels and nonfiction most weeks, and sitting through picture books just gets on my nerves, especially since so many of them are just poor quality. So I started out the past couple years using list of books that are good quality, we read through lots of the FIAR and before FIAR books, lots of the books from The Read Aloud Handbook, and Honey for a Child's Heart. This way we found lots of good authors and less of the reading time was irritating for me.

This fall, we started SOTW and R.E.A.L. Science. Getting books based on those two curriculms and having some easy to set up projects and activities available is good. For the most part they really want to do the things I bring up, my oldest decided he was done with phonics about 6 months ago. I'll admit I probably asked a few to many times about it after I could tell he was done, but in the past couple months he has really started reading. I put the 4 yo to sleep and then he and I lay down and each read our own books for about an hour before going to sleep.

Of course there are other things that I am learning mostly for my self, that they sit in on sometimes- I have no muscical talent, I can't even clap to a beat, but I have started learning the recorder. I also am interested in Latin, so while I usually wait until they are in the room to turn on the CD's it is mostly something I am doing for me.
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Old 11-05-2005, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom
I don't feel comfortable imposng my will on them, however.
See, I think that this is important. A lot of people will assume that if you're not unschooling, you are automatically imposing your own will on your children. I really don't see it that way-- I don't think that child-led learning must automatically lead to unschooling. Many children will be most comfortable when left to their own devices, but others (even others who have never been to school) will be bored or frustrated without a schedule. When I started homeschooling my niece last year, I used a very relaxed system. It didn't work at all-- she was too tense, she needed to know in advance what was expected of her so that she could get it done and relax. I set up a weekly calendar and marked pages in workboooks with the date I wanted to see them completed, and she was so much happier. Granted, she had been in school before, but I've heard similar stories from people who have never sent their children to school, or who have unschooled for their children's entire lives.

I've read the unschooling books too, and I think that there's balance to be struck here as with anything. While the program that I'm using describes itself as being "antithetical to unschooling," (TWTM) I don't think that the two are necessarily incompatible; rather, I think that there is a fair amount of leading for the child to do. Left to my own devices, I probably would have fallen into one of the first traps that homeschooling families fall into-- I would have started when my child reached "school age," instead of when he was ready. My son has been dragging on me to start a formal education program for over a year now, but it was only this summer that I finally realized that there's no need for us to wait. If he's ready and willing and asking to work on these things now, who am I to make him wait until he's the "right" age? That would be just as unfair as expecting him to start doing schoolwork before he was ready! Since we've started working, he's been much happier. He likes the structure that it lends to his day, and he likes telling the family about the new things that he's learned this week. He's having the time of his life with it.

The biggest reason that I'm not an unschooler is this: If I wanted my children to be fully responsible for their own educations, I'd send them to public school. I don't want them going to school because I feel like their educations are my responsibility.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 11-05-2005, 02:09 PM
 
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It a bit to much of a leap of faith for me

I do *kinda* unschool DS in that I let him follow his interests but we also use workbooks (mostly at his request, although I may suggest now and again) and I do introduce topics in a unit study kind of way. I don't think we are wholly unschooling though as I do expect him to do something I ask some of the time. We also do a lot of reading and about 1/2 of it his choice, 1/2 mine.

DD is not unschooled. She has lessons each day I expect her to finish. She is older though (just turned 12) and I think some structure is important as she enters the middle school years. However, we only do school 1-2 hours a day and she still has plenty of time to follow her interests, which at this point revolve entirely around Harry Potter We have switched to a more literary approach this year which seems to be working well.
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Old 11-05-2005, 02:22 PM
 
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I tried unschooling and it didn't work. My oldest loves to have structure to his day. He likes the since of accomplishment of getting something done. It is/was easier to see improvements. If he has a bad experience with something he won't do it again on his own, he is a horrible perfectionist.

Now that I have three children to teach a routine helps keep our day less confusing.

I am not a schedule/routine person. I like to do things when I like. Unfortunately when I take a lackadaisical way I can see it negatively effecting my children.

One thing you read over and over again in unschooling propaganda is about respecting your child’s needs. They frown on structure and even schedules. This totally ignores the fact I defiantly have 2 children that have never read those books! That for me to respect my child’s needs I need to give them structures, routines, and goals.

I use WTM as my guide. This doesn’t mean I am an ogre. My son wanted to learn more about American History. We did American history heavy and world history lite. When it came to learning another language it was put up to a vote. If a child wants more time on a subject we stop and focus on it more.

With some structure I can introduce things to my children they wouldn't have tried on their own.

With out structure I might have missed issues my children were having. My son's fine motor skill issue was discovered through structure. The reason other things weren't happing for him was because of this. My daughter's learning issues because of hearing loss might not be as obvious or easy to work on without structure.
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Old 11-05-2005, 02:42 PM
 
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I think this is where I am..
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
A lot of people will assume that if you're not unschooling, you are automatically imposing your own will on your children. I really don't see it that way-- I don't think that child-led learning must automatically lead to unschooling. I've read the unschooling books too, and I think that there's balance to be struck here as with anything.
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Old 11-05-2005, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom
One thing you read over and over again in unschooling propaganda is about respecting your child’s needs. They frown on structure and even schedules.
I'm curious about where you're reading this... it's not something I've read here, or on any of the lists I'm on, and it's not something I believe about unschooling. I think you're attacking a straw man here.

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Old 11-05-2005, 03:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Marsupialmom
One thing you read over and over again in unschooling propaganda is about respecting your child’s needs. They frown on structure and even schedules.
Yeah, I'm mystified by this too. We unschool and we have a fair bit of structure. It's coming from my kids. As I type this my 9yo is writing a schedule for his day on the whiteboard. Because he's discovered that he feels better, learns better, and is happier when he runs his life this way.

Miranda

(who must point out that ds's schedule on November 1st included a six-hour block of time that read "hang out and eat candy" )

Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:34 PM
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I don't think it is a strawman, I think it is more or less those who consider themselves radical unschoolers. I've read post (here I do believe) where parents, who identify themselves as radical unschoolers,say they don't feel they should tell their children what to eat, what to watch on tv or when to go to bed muchless what they should learn.

I consider our family as relaxed homeschoolers that use a classical approach. Unschooling just isn't something that would fit our needs, and IMHO with unschooling it would be very hard to cover material that I feel is important for my children to learn.
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:39 PM
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forgot to add that DS was in PS for k-7 and for him he was use to the structure so "School at home" really works best for him. However over the years we have been able to be a bit more relaxed about it. Still if he didn't have a set curriculum and some accountability, he would get nothing done. since he is almost 17 and has plans to attend college, I feel he needs school at home now.

My previous post was more referring to my 8 DD. We are very relaxed and work at her pace and to her temperment.
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:47 PM
 
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I would actually gather that unschoolers are not the majority here. I'm not sure why there needs to be a whole thread devoted to discussing why people aren't unschooling.

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Old 11-05-2005, 03:57 PM
 
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Interesting thread.

What strikes me is that there are many different perceptions of what it means to 'unschool'. Does it include structure? Does it include schedules? Are there some things that even unschooling parents should necessarily cover in order to ensure a 'good' education?

I wanted to address one of the concerns that stand out to me:

Quote:
Unschooling just isn't something that would fit our needs, and IMHO with unschooling it would be very hard to cover material that I feel is important for my children to learn.
which most likely mirrors another reply:

Quote:
It a bit to much of a leap of faith for me
Unschooling is so radically different from how we all have been brought up to view 'learning' and 'schooling'.

There is a book by an unschooling family (the Colfaxes) called 'Homeschooling for Excellence' which describes how they unschooled 3 out of their 4 boys into Harvard. They lived on a remote ranch and did very little structured teaching/ learning. 2 out of their 4 boys were adopted and from minority ethnicities, btw, so their educational success can't be put down to just genetics.
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:57 PM
 
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As an unschooler I am enjoying this thread. Thanks. It is interesting to see how folks interpret unschooling. I've never been able to put my finger on a solid philosophy as to what exactly unschooling is and to tell you the truth I really don't like any labels at all but I call myself one to show what I'm closest to.

Yet when I hear UUmom say things like •••••There are things I want my children to know that they might not come to on their own, and I feel perfectly comfortable introducing ideas and topics.
••••• I think, wow. I do that. Am I fooling myself by saying I unschool? Then I shake my head and tell myself not to get too technical about the whole thing. Anyway, it is interesting to hear people and interpretations.

I was just wondering if chalupamom wouldn't mind elaborating on this. Thanks.

chalupamom ••••••We're following a classical model but there's nothing that resembles school at our house.••••••
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:02 PM
 
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chalupamom ••••••We're following a classical model but there's nothing that resembles school at our house.••••••
Yes, I am interested in this also. I had a classical education myself (private school) and enjoyed the content and critical approach to learning [but nothing else about school].
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom
One thing you read over and over again in unschooling propaganda is about respecting your child’s needs. They frown on structure and even schedules.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
I'm curious about where you're reading this... it's not something I've read here, or on any of the lists I'm on, and it's not something I believe about unschooling. I think you're attacking a straw man here.
Dar
I have to agree with Dar.
We are unschoolers and we have a schedule and the structure that is necessary to complete the things we like to do. What we don't have is arbitrary timeline of academic goals that are required to be completed within a set schedule and/or by a certain age.

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Old 11-05-2005, 04:04 PM
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see to me that would be child led if you are following your childs pace and have structure and a schedule

I think for many of us we think of the "radical" unschoolers when we hear the phrase.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:43 PM
 
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I don't care what I call myself as long as it's not late for dinner.

Ok, that almost worked.

I really just try to keep our home as interesting and as peaceful as possible.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:47 PM
 
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I kind of go back and forth about what we are. I mean, most people would consider us unschoolers...except the unschoolers. They probably wouldn't. I do let my children guide most of their learning but if I didn't do some of the guiding they'd do nothing but watch TV all day long. I do have them do math out of a book and occasionally some writing "lessons".
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:56 PM
 
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We tried it and it didn't work. My kids crave structure and we flow better as a family if I lead.

That doesn't mean I force my child to sit and do handwriting practice. It means I say "you need to work on handwriting practice. How do you want to do it ?" Sometimes its pen and paper , other times it's chalk outside , still others it was learning dexterity thru playing with playdough.

I have no problem introducing topics , themes and lesson plans...but HOW that plays out is kinda up to the individual child.

I consider us relaxed , eclectic homeschoolers.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternal_grace

There is a book by an unschooling family (the Colfaxes) called 'Homeschooling for Excellence' which describes how they unschooled 3 out of their 4 boys into Harvard. They lived on a remote ranch and did very little structured teaching/ learning. 2 out of their 4 boys were adopted and from minority ethnicities, btw, so their educational success can't be put down to just genetics.
Homeschooling for Excellence is often brought up in unschooling discussions, but it's really not an unschooling book. I'd call it more eclectic homeschooling. It's a great read, but they definitely don't unschool (and I'm not talking radical unschooling - just plain ol' unschooling).

They required each boy to keep a journal entry every day ("Because the notebooks were useful to all of us, their writing was regularly reviewed and frequently the target of good-natured criticism") and required long thank-you notes to relatives ("And as with the notebooks, the notes and letters were routinely subjected to review and comment: 'That's not much of a letter to Aunt Grace,' Micki might admonish one of the boys. 'Do it again and this time tell her what we've been doing.' Sometimes this would be resisted, of course, but in the process, the give-and-take, standards of performance, of content and form, evolved in a meaningful fashion"). (pp. 73-4)

They required their kids to work through math texts and workbooks (pp. 77-8), taught them to read with "Sullivan Readers" and "McGraw-Hill" workbooks (pp. 70-1), had them write "essays" (pp. 13), etc.

They were very selective about what materials they used, and they drew from many sources, which is why I'd call them eclectic. From page 44: [Parents] can continually seek out, sample, test, and discard or retain methods and materials of all kinds without having to worry about professional orthodoxies, fads, or fashions. The art of teaching requires nothing less." Really, the kids were rather autonomous in their learning, at least to a point, but there were definitely requirements.

I think that, because this book came out when there just weren't a lot of unschooling books out there (1987), unschoolers latched onto it. There simply weren't a lot of other choices. And, really, there wasn't the emphasis on distinctions we have today - unschooling vs. relaxed homeschooling vs. eclectic vs. classical vs. Waldorf-inspired, etc. This was a homeschooling book showing a family that didn't approximate school, wasn't basing their studies on a religious text, and ended up with multiple kids at Harvard. No wonder unschoolers adopted it as their own!

For those curious about the quotes, I'm using the 1988 Warner Books (a Time Warner company!!) edition.
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Old 11-05-2005, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sha_lyn
see to me that would be child led if you are following your childs pace and have structure and a schedule

I think for many of us we think of the "radical" unschoolers when we hear the phrase.
But I am a radical unschooler, by pretty much any definition I've ever seen. I've never known *any* unschooler, radical or not, who would refuse to have any schedule or structure. Can you give any examples of unschoolers who claim this?

I will happily create any sort of structure or schedule my child wants, or assist her in creating it. What I won't do is enforce it, and I won't create it without her agreement. But we're way too busy to live a totally spontaneous life. There wmay be some unschoolers who do live this way, but the majority of the ones I've known are similarly busy with full calendars.

And yup, the Colfxes weren't unschoolers, IMO.

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