Misconceptions about unschooling - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by hsmamato2
...sorry, my kids are unschooled, they have an incrdible amount of freedom and choices, but they're still born with me, and Mom (and dad) has certain standards also, I think that's the best way to teach things, we all have desires, sometimes one persons take precedence over anothers..like bedtime when you're tired!
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#62 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 12:38 PM
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Starting new thread.
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#63 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 12:40 PM
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Thank you, Lillian for starting this thread. Dh was/is interested in unschooling (something that would have benefited him *IMMENSELY*), but I was the hold-up. Now I see how I can incorporate unschooling into the mix!
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#64 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 12:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 7kiddosmom
My ds 6 learned to count by 10s because of a 10 piece box of McNuggets the other day. I was amazed at how quickly he got it!
Hehe -- for my ds, it was tissues. I bought a pack of ten of those little pocket packs of tissues, which each had ten in them. He wandered around after me with the packs figuring out how to count by 10s and figuring how many tissues total were in the big pack. It's really amazing (and yet, not, once you think about it, if that makes sense) how many opportunities there are for kids to pick these things up and make sense of it for themselves.

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#65 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 01:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J
I think this is about attitude - there are a lot of ways to share things with children without being pushy or determining to "teach" them. I'm uncomfortable with the word "encourage" these days, because it has come to be a euphemism for "push," "nag," "require".....
I agree with you, but I don't think that's what Holt was saying. Another example he gave was of a mother talking to a pre-school age child while putting on his shoes, saying things like, "here are your legs! here are your feet! look, we're tying the laces now!" In an earlier edition, he had recommended doing this sort of thing, but in the revised edition, he said absolutely not: don't point things out to them unless they ask.
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#66 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by pookel
I agree with you, but I don't think that's what Holt was saying. Another example he gave was of a mother talking to a pre-school age child while putting on his shoes, saying things like, "here are your legs! here are your feet! look, we're tying the laces now!" In an earlier edition, he had recommended doing this sort of thing, but in the revised edition, he said absolutely not: don't point things out to them unless they ask.
Ooh, but I'm totally with him on that - couldn't agree more. And he changed his mind as he saw more. I would find the scene you described particularly unpleasant and disturbing. I don't think most of us had to be taught those things in that way - that seems as if the mom assumes the child can't figure anything out for herself in the course of living. To me, it feels disrespectful and condescending.

I might add that I never did any of that with my son, and he's never had to call me from college to ask what a foot is. Nor did he have any problems in pre-school - he knew the names of his body parts as he needed/wanted to know.

I think Holt was talking about people who feel the need to be "teaching" things all the time that aren't necessary to "teach" --> i.e., he was saying you can instead just get out of the way and let them learn in their own way. But "teaching" is a different thing from the analogy I used about showing people around Seattle and sharing my enthusiasms based on knowing theirs. I don't teach Seattle 101.

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#67 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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D@mn. I intended for this to be a whole new thread. Please let me know if this disrupts the flow of your unschooling conversation and I'll move it.
I think it might actually get more response in its own thread from people who aren't necessarily reading this one. Lillian
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#68 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 01:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pookel
Another example he gave was of a mother talking to a pre-school age child while putting on his shoes, saying things like, "here are your legs! here are your feet! look, we're tying the laces now!"
This makes me cringe, not for any reason related to unschooling, but because it's not the way I'd normally talk to ANYONE, yk? So it sounds really forced and phoney to me. Now, if my kid was telling me something like..."When I got out of the sandbox, I bumped my....um...ah..." and was indicating his ankle, I'd certainly say, "Your ankle?" Or if they asked me the name of a body part or piece of clothing, or said, "What's a shin?" I'd, of course, tell them. But basically, I think those things are just picked up by living life. To orchestrate a lesson in body parts, like in Holt's example, just isn't "me." Although, I know plenty of people who do it.

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#69 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:02 PM
 
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Here's my two cents

I agree with what you said Lillian about how it seems "encourage" has come to mean "push". I know that's not what the word means but it does seem an awful lot of people are using it that way.

On Holt - I'd be interested if anyone can remember what book that was that he said not to do stuff like that. I only read 2 (?) Holt books. I really liked them both but what I also remember is that he came across, ironically, as a lot *less* unschoolish than some of the radical unschoolers I've met online and IRL. I even remember him talking of unschooled kids doing Calvert and such (because of state regs).

As for the example that was given, well, let's just say I'm a chatterbox I definitely do the "ok, let's get those legs in your pants. Now, here's your left shoe, let's put it on your left foot" thing. I even do it with my 7 year old (who gets dressed on her own but can't tie her shoes yet) but I know enough to mutter it under my breath so as not to tick her off But then, when I'm with adults, I tend to tell the same story 3 or 4 times before I realize I told it already. I dunno, I just don't see a problem with it. Sure, if it was forced you'd be able to tell, but even though I do it naturally, I do like to tell myself that it helps my kids learn, helps expand their vocabularies, etc.

Oh, I'm also one of those people in the supermarket making random small talk about veggies with her 3 year old. I just love to talk! And yet, I'm a socially uncomfortable, shy person Maybe that's why when I *do* find someone I'm comfortable with (like my poor, helpless kids) I don't shut up When I lived alone I used to talk out loud to myself, my plants, my pets, inanimate objects. Ok, so I'm weird

Ooo, funny story. Last week I'm shopping with Owen. He's in the cart to the left of me. To the right of me is a woman who probably couldn't see him since I was in the middle. I start to put a pepper in the cart and then put it back, saying "We don't want that one, it's wrinkled.". The woman started laughing I just smiled at her

On the definition of unschooling - sigh. Can I admit I like labels : I'm a virgo I understand labels can be misused and can hurt, but at the same time when things are so broadly undefined that they can mean anything it's just very frustrating. I mean, for example, if the word refridgerator can mean any electronic device then it's not a very useful term when you specifically want something cold to keep food in. So yeah, I do wish sometimes we had a more set definition for unschooling. Not to constrict or exclude but maybe just so we all understood what others were talking about a bit more, that's all. (please, nobody throw tomatoes at me ).
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#70 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Joan
This makes me cringe, not for any reason related to unschooling, but because it's not the way I'd normally talk to ANYONE, yk? So it sounds really forced and phoney to me.
My reaction too - in fact, I think I was probably editing in more about my own reaction in my post while you were posting this. And you know, I think this is "related" to unschooling, even though it isn't about unschooling. Because I think unschooling is about treating children respectfully like thinking, functioning, capable beings who naturally learn an enormous amount without always being "taught." And they respond accordingly. I cringe when I read in other places online that someone is trying to decide what subject she's going to "assign" to her 15 year old daughter to study for science. That's an attitute that I think is related to the way people think about their little ones. If we recognize them as capable observers and learners right from the beginning, that carries through, I think, to the way they're treated the whole time. - Lillian
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#71 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Joan
This makes me cringe, not for any reason related to unschooling, but because it's not the way I'd normally talk to ANYONE, yk? So it sounds really forced and phoney to me.
I totally agree. I really dislike it when people use that *teacher* tone of voice with me, it makes it seem like they think I'm stupid. why wouldn't my kids feel the same way? There is also no need for it really, in the course of everyday life kids will learn what things are called.

This actually brought to mind a similar conversation went in our house this recently when DS was struggling with his new converse high tops:

DS-Mom, can you help me with my shoes?
ME-Sure (taking the shoe)
(DS sat in the chair and started swinging his legs)
ME-Hey peanut? I need your foot if you want me to put the shoe on, am I supposed to catch your leg?
DS-(giggling) This one?
ME-(looking at the huge smiley stickers DS put on his sneakers so he can tell them apart) nope, the other one.
DS-Here you go ma'am! (he's being sarcastic here there was a hand flourish and everything )
ME-(as I'm putting the shoe on and he's trying to shove the other foot in my lap) Hold on till I tie the laces hon.

You get the idea. In the course of a fairly routine conversation I managed to *label* legs, feet and laces. Of course DS knows what all those are already but it would work equally well with a 3yo.
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#72 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ShannonCC
Oh, I'm also one of those people in the supermarket making random small talk about veggies with her 3 year old.
Yeah, I saw a mom talking to her happy, clueless baby the other day about groceries, and I thought about how much I used to enjoy having my baby in the cart to gibber at while I shopped . But that's different from the example I think Holt must have been seeing as a body parts lesson.

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So yeah, I do wish sometimes we had a more set definition for unschooling. Not to constrict or exclude but maybe just so we all understood what others were talking about a bit more, that's all. (please, nobody throw tomatoes at me ).
But it would constrict and exclude - it's already doing that. It would mean that all the people who have been considering themselves unschoolers all these many years would have to come together and decide which of them was "right." Even Holt or the folks who inherited his book business. And then people - even those who don't consider themselves unschoolers - would be running around telling everyone else exactly what it's "supposed" to be. Yuk. Lillian
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#73 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:48 PM
 
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Forgive me Lillian.

Forgive me, for what I am about to say:

OH MY GAWD YOU LIVE HERE???????????

I HAD NO IDEA YOU LIVE NEAR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OMIGODOMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD.


ahem.


We may now continue with our previously scheduled, mature and rational discussion
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#74 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I often wonder when I see all the moms out and about with their kids here during school hours if it's one of you... - Lillian
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#75 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 03:14 PM
 
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You're probably one of the chicks over there grinning at us knowingly.
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#76 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 04:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J
But that's different from the example I think Holt must have been seeing as a body parts lesson.
Mmmmmmmm, I don't know. See, I *have* seen talking to your kid in the supermarket talked about as a "teachable moment". There are some commercials on right now (don't know what station - they're on the tv at the supermarket) that talk about teachable moments (I think they actually use that phrase). They show parents talking to their babies/toddlers and it's just normal stuff like this. Talking to them while shopping, while doing the laundry, etc. So maybe it's the intent that colors it, but I have no problem with a parent babbling to a baby about "ok, these are your feet!" while putting on shoes.

I don't know, I think I'm not getting the point because I just can't see a mom *not* talking to her little kids about random stuff like this. I mean, when I'm shopping with a baby, the conversation would turn to veggies because, let's face it, the kid isn't contributing much yet so it's all on me It's more me talking to myself with a kid who just happens to be there What do you talk about with a baby if not stuff like that? Now that my son is 3, the conversation is largely initiated by him so it's more natural. But yeah, we still talk about veggies when shopping and about his toesie wosies when putting his shoes on

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But it would constrict and exclude - it's already doing that. It would mean that all the people who have been considering themselves unschoolers all these many years would have to come together and decide which of them was "right." Even Holt or the folks who inherited his book business. And then people - even those who don't consider themselves unschoolers - would be running around telling everyone else exactly what it's "supposed" to be. Yuk. Lillian[/COLOR]
I totally get what you mean, I do! It's just . . . . . frustrating. It must be nice to be, say, a classical homeschooler and then when someone tells you they are too, you know what they mean. Sure, it won't be exact and there will be some differences you can discuss but you basically know what page they're on. It just surprises me when I meet someone who says they are an unschooler and then they follow many of the misperceptions talked about on this thread. Which, of course, leads them to give it up because unschooling "doesn't work"

And why is it only with unschooling that people get bent out of shape about the label? So let's say someone says they use Singapore math and then they are talking to another Singapore math user and show them their math book and it's Miquon. Well, wouldn't the Singapore math user nicely say "uh, that's not Singapore.". Nobody would get bent out of shape over that right? ("I can call it Singapore if I like! My kids are happy and that's all that matters! You Singapore math users are so militant!").

Yet if someone says they unschool except that they require 2 hours of work a day, and assign a book to be read every week and you say (as nicely as possible) "well, that's not exactly unschooling" you get jumped on.

But yeah, the time to define it has passed. It's too late now because too many people would be upset over whether they fit the new definition or not. I don't know. I wouldn't mind just some clarifications at least. Like, people like me could be academic unschoolers (or unschooler "lite" ) and the radical unschoolers could just be the unschoolers. And maybe we could acknowledge there could be part time unschoolers. I'm not really sure how it works but I can accept that you can unschool some subjects and not others. I don't think that's exactly unschooling but I do think it's possible (I know many people don't but then, I'm "lite" so maybe that's why I'm ok with it

Dagnabit, I just want to know what people are talking about when they use a term, that's all.

Disclaimer - I am not as anal as I sound. Really.
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#77 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 04:49 PM
 
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Shannon, I think the issue may be that unschooling really encompasses different sub-groups. I think, following your math book analogy, it's more like if you have a hsing parent who uses a textbook for math, who meets another hsing parent who uses a math textbook. They are both happy to meet another hs parent who has this in common with them. Once they start talking, they will find out that either they both use Saxon, or both use Miquin, or one uses Saxon and the other uses Miquon, or one uses Saxon for all grade levels and kids and the other decides each year which math text to use for which kid each year...

There already is another label -- radical unschoolers, though I don't know if it is used more by those who self-identify as such or those unschoolers who don't consider themselves radical and want a way to say they are not.

I think, though, that part of the resistance to more than one kind of unschooling is the idea that you can't do it part time or for a few subjects, because the whole philosophy is that you don't need to require certain things or keep on an artificial timetable. And unschooling isn't just a boxed curriculum that is tangible -- it is a philosophy.

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#78 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 05:08 PM
 
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There already is another label -- radical unschoolers, though I don't know if it is used more by those who self-identify as such or those unschoolers who don't consider themselves radical and want a way to say they are not.
Yeah, you're right. I think the term radical unschooler came in response to those of us who call ourselves unschoolers but aren't radical and were muddying the idea My friend calls it whole life unschooling, I think that fits nicely too (and I agree with her that it sounds more positive than the term radical). But I would be more than happy to have a qualifier for people like me, instead of making the more "pure" unschoolers take the new term. But then, I'm probably in the minority there

Actually, the more I use it, the more I like "academic unschooler". Did I make that up or did I hear it somehwere? I do try to be "unschoolish" in the rest of my life, but it's only as far as their education that I am a total unschooler.

I am SO over analyzing this aren't I?

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And unschooling isn't just a boxed curriculum that is tangible -- it is a philosophy.
Yeah, you're right (again ). It's one thing to label a curriculum, another to label a philosophy. Philosophys (phies?) get all messy. The silly things refuse to stop evolving and growing and be nicely labeled

You know, I love talking to more structured homeschoolers I like hearing what is out there, what this philosophy is about, how that math curriculum compares to the other one, etc. I get uncomfortable if people talk about making their kids do things they aren't interested in or about punishing their kids when they resist, but if it's just talking about curricula, I find that interesting. It's too bad we can't always do that (compare homeschooling styles) without someone feeling threatened.

Babble babble babble
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#79 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 06:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J
Ooh, but I'm totally with him on that - couldn't agree more. And he changed his mind as he saw more. I would find the scene you described particularly unpleasant and disturbing. I don't think most of us had to be taught those things in that way - that seems as if the mom assumes the child can't figure anything out for herself in the course of living. To me, it feels disrespectful and condescending.
I guess we just disagree on that, then. Talking like that to my son is the most natural thing in the world to me, and I can tell that he is enjoying being shown things, too. I can tell when he's bored, too - like he's busy chewing on the book and I'm bugging him by trying to point to the pictures! - and I never force the issue then. And I do think that most of us were taught things in this way, because nearly every parent I know does it almost instinctively.
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#80 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 06:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J
I cringe when I read in other places online that someone is trying to decide what subject she's going to "assign" to her 15 year old daughter to study for science. That's an attitute that I think is related to the way people think about their little ones. If we recognize them as capable observers and learners right from the beginning, that carries through, I think, to the way they're treated the whole time. - Lillian[/COLOR]
You know, I think the misconceptions can go both ways, and this is an example of that. Most unschoolers don't just sit back and let the kids do "whatever" with no involvement, and most more structured homeschoolers don't force the kids to do exactly what the parents decide with no input from the kids.

I was leaning toward unschooling - in theory, of course, since my little guy is too young for any of this yet - until I read Well-Trained Mind. And I was very resistant to WTM because it seemed to be the antithesis of unschooling (the authors consider it to be so, too). But I found many of the same ideas there that appealed to me, about sparking the kid's interest and leading him to love and enjoy learning. It's not about sitting him down and forcing him to learn the subjects you feel like - it's about introducing him to a world of interesting information and helping him learn it. And that is not entirely different from what unschoolers are doing.
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#81 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 06:31 PM
 
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Mmmmmmmm, Yet if someone says they unschool except that they require 2 hours of work a day, and assign a book to be read every week and you say (as nicely as possible) "well, that's not exactly unschooling" you get jumped on.
I'm one of those. I have required my oldest boy to do so much school in a day(not all at once most of the time) and have assigned him a book to read for the week.

I do this because if I don't my boys will watch cartoons and play games on the computer. Also, w/ the required work, it's usually what they pick and I help.
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#82 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 06:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pookel
I guess we just disagree on that, then. Talking like that to my son is the most natural thing in the world to me, and I can tell that he is enjoying being shown things, too. I can tell when he's bored, too - like he's busy chewing on the book and I'm bugging him by trying to point to the pictures! - and I never force the issue then. And I do think that most of us were taught things in this way, because nearly every parent I know does it almost instinctively.
Same here. I have do the same and it is natural to me as well. Also, my youngest loves it and so does my oldest. Heck that is how I teach when going for walks, or out somewhere like a movie, dinner, etc...
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#83 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know, I think I'm not getting the point because I just can't see a mom *not* talking to her little kids about random stuff like this. I mean, when I'm shopping with a baby, the conversation would turn to veggies because, let's face it, the kid isn't contributing much yet so it's all on me It's more me talking to myself with a kid who just happens to be there What do you talk about with a baby if not stuff like that? Now that my son is 3, the conversation is largely initiated by him so it's more natural. But yeah, we still talk about veggies when shopping and about his toesie wosies when putting his shoes on
I think the point is that you're not making things into little lessons. It's perfectly normal for you to talk about veggies and toesie wosies - but I'll bet you don't stand there and say, "Now, this is a vegetable," and "Those are your toesie wosies, and these are your fingie wingies" unless you're just doing it to play and have fun - that's just not the way you operate. I used to talk to my little one about any darned thing that entered my mind - but I didn't spend time methodically teaching him the names of everything. He learned like a sponge in the course of our interaction, not like an inert empty vase that I needed to fill.

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It must be nice to be, say, a classical homeschooler and then when someone tells you they are too, you know what they mean. Sure, it won't be exact and there will be some differences you can discuss but you basically know what page they're on.
I think it's the same, probably. I have an "attitude" about certain kinds of classical homeschooling - the oppressive kind where they're not allowed to complain, cry, or whine about what their schoolwork, for instance - but there's not just one kind, I assume.

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It just surprises me when I meet someone who says they are an unschooler and then they follow many of the misperceptions talked about on this thread. Which, of course, leads them to give it up because unschooling "doesn't work"
But the thing is that the definition many of them are taking to be "THE" definition is the one most prevalent in people's minds right now. So what are we gonna' do? Call a convention of unschoolers and make a resolution, after much heated discussion and many stormy boycotts, that from now on the definition will be: ____________ ?

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And why is it only with unschooling that people get bent out of shape about the label? So let's say someone says they use Singapore math and then they are talking to another Singapore math user and show them their math book and it's Miquon. Well, wouldn't the Singapore math user nicely say "uh, that's not Singapore.". Nobody would get bent out of shape over that right? ("I can call it Singapore if I like! My kids are happy and that's all that matters! You Singapore math users are so militant!").
Well, I almost spit out my sip of Coke on that one. I've never understood that either. HOWEVER, did you notice that you said it wasn't really a Singapore book??? That's different. What seems to be happening is more like: the book was just a different edition of Singapore and the other person was ranting that it wasn't really Singapore because it wasn't "the right" edition.

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Yet if someone says they unschool except that they require 2 hours of work a day, and assign a book to be read every week and you say (as nicely as possible) "well, that's not exactly unschooling" you get jumped on.
I don't know why people get so hot under the collar about it, but I can't understand why anyone would want to say they're unschooling if they operate like that anyway. I mean if you require two hours of "work" a day and assign a book a week, you're obviously not unschooling - you're doing a minimal school-at-home day. I would think that a lot of it depends on how someone says to the person "That's not exactly unschooling" - but why would that person care enough to correct them? It goes both ways.

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And maybe we could acknowledge there could be part time unschoolers.
I've never understood why some people feel the need to jump on people who say they're unschooling when they're actually doing school part time. However, I think they're probably looking at it from the perspective of just the meaning of words. To do school outside of school would seem to negate the meaning of the word unschooling - just as if you drop red dye into a glass or water. It's no longer clear, and it isn't partly clear either - it's dyed water. Nothing wrong with dyed water, but you could probably get into debate with someone sitting there looking at it if you want them to acknowledge and respect your belief that it's partly clear, especially if they have a passion for clear water.

The thing is that people who live an unschooling lifestyle don't think of it as that kind of verb - unschooling this and unschooling that - they just think of their lifestyle itself as unschooling. So maybe it would be easier to explain that you try to unschool but that you just can't seem to feel confident at this point that such-'n-such can be learned that way, and you feel it's important, so you revert to a school way of thinking when it comes to that one thing and bring in school-like elements. They might say, "Well, then you don't unschool," or they might just let you be. After all, it's none of their business.

Uh, that subject doesn't happen to be math, does it? - Lillian
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#84 of 220 Old 05-17-2006, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually, the more I use it, the more I like "academic unschooler". Did I make that up or did I hear it somehwere? I do try to be "unschoolish" in the rest of my life, but it's only as far as their education that I am a total unschooler.
Oh! That's what you're talking about! I get it. There are a lot of unschoolers who don't set bedtimes, for instance. Well, I never did either, for that matter...but it wasn't about unschooling, so much as just the way I was as a parent. As far as my own way of looking at it, unschooling only refers to the absence of the kind of things that imply school. In my mind, it has nothing to do with food or bedtimes or any of the other things that have nothing to do with school. - Lillian
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It's not about sitting him down and forcing him to learn the subjects you feel like - it's about introducing him to a world of interesting information and helping him learn it. And that is not entirely different from what unschoolers are doing.
Oh, I reeeeally disagree. From TWTM FAQ: Encouraging Your Child to Do Her Work

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...it's about introducing him to a world of interesting information and helping him learn it. And that is not entirely different from what unschoolers are doing.
But there's a step missing here. It's one thing to introduce something - that's where the analogy of touring Seattle came in. And it's one thing to help someone learn something he wants to learn about - if he needs help in learning it, which is something my son had very little need of. But to introduce something and then go about helping the other person to learn it whether he wants to or not is making a huge jump. I'm not sure which you mean. Lillian
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I'm one of those. I have required my oldest boy to do so much school in a day(not all at once most of the time) and have assigned him a book to read for the week.

I do this because if I don't my boys will watch cartoons and play games on the computer. Also, w/ the required work, it's usually what they pick and I help.
And that's not exactly what I'd refer to as unschooling at all, although it's apparently what works right now for you and yours, so who cares what it's called... Lillian
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Joan, are your kids still interested in the SCA? Because I think there are blacksmiths in Jersey in the SCA. I could track one down for you if you want.
oh - I was going to suggest that but you beat me to it.

Who knew there was a New Jersey Blacksmith Association?

http://njba.abana-chapter.com/

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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One thing about figuring out way ahead of time how you're going to be homeschooling - remember how much you knew about what it was going to be like to have a child before you had one? It's a lot like that. You can't really know what it's going to be like to homeschool until you're actively involved with your child in homeschooling. I thought I knew a whole lot about what we were going to be doing. I did a lot of research, read a lot, bought materials, and set about it... It didn't turn out to be the way I expected at all, but it turned out to be a whole lot better! Lillian
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I guess I will never be an unschooler enough to bother claiming the name, and I am one of those who says that I "can't unschool because of my child's need for structure" mentioned earlier. He needs structure, but he also needs to be directed. I do not enjoy this, but the fact is he (6.5yo) has the impulse control and the forethought of a toddler in many ways. He cannot make simple decisions. When I respond to that need, I am starting with his needs, but still I do not believe I am an unschooler.

We are now returning to homeschooling after trying a year of ps for all the children. Today, we put up birdfeeders and filled them, and ds accidentally whacked one with a badminton racket... I spoke to him briefly about it, he said it was an accident, and I said okay and we moved to play further away. Within one minute, he ambled over and decided to hit it on purpose just to see birdseed fall out. I told him to stop before he did it and he did it anyway, and in fact did not stop repeating until I took the racket from him. He says "I won't do it again" but the problem is this is a stock phrase for him, a little script he repeats over and over when he does something he shouldn't--but he always does it again and often immediately. He consistently acts agreeable without actually focusing on the idea of controlling his own behavior at all, and then he just goes back on autopilot and follows whatever impulse oftn repeating several times the same destructive behavior.

Well, when this familiar cycle started, I told him that he had to get a piece of paper and write about how to take care of a birdhouse, or rather I told him that he could tell me and I would write the words for him or he could write it himself--his choice which one. He likes writing himself, but he said he wanted to dictate, so we did. How do we take care of a birdfeeder? Ds says "Feed birds." Okay we write that down but he can't think of anything else. Okay so I prompt him a little here and there, and sometimes a lot through a short list, we put seed in it, we watch without touching it, we don't scare the birds... He tells me how to spell some of the words (his idea completely-he is into spelling) and after a nice little list he tells me we are finished. Okay. I ask him to read it out loud to his 11yo sister who just walked up to us, because "She wasn't here when we put the seed in and so she doesn't know about it yet" which he did.

Did he "want" to do this? I don't know. He was happy with the result. I was also--there is a chance that this made a positive impact--which is the ultimate challenge. We actually talked about it again later in quite a positive way. What would I have done if he refused? Well, ultimately I would not have forced him, but I would have quickly tried to think of other ways to get him engaged in the topic, because otherwise we will simply not be able to have the birdfeeder any more. He will likely slip away and hit it daily (this has happened with so many other things!) just to see the seed shower down with a shriek of glee at the fun every time. Over and over and over.

I am really too busy trying to find and implement ways to survive life with this child with Asperger's, his father with Asperger's, my own tendency to lean that way though not quite, dd1 with her preteen angst and severe moodiness, and the bickering sibling-picking instigated mostly by the 3yo while simply being as respectful and fair as I can to all to care whether I am an unschooler.

I surely can sympathize with a pp about not having much in common with a lot of the folks IRL who identify as unschoolers who I know. It can be really hard from my perspective to feel I have much in common with them because their idealistic comments just don't address much in my reality.

Probably "real" unschoolers could tell me how my ds would become competent and self-directed if allowed to try what he wants, make mistakes, and experience natural consequences, but unfortunately they are wrong. Simply wrong. He doesn't notice. He doesn't self-observe. He doesn't create possibilities or options for himself in his own head. Almost everything I do with him as a parent IRL would offend (and does I suspect) unschoolers I know, maybe even others who have special needs children and know something I don't I guess. I have to give him very direct orders "Stop that. This belong to so and so and you may not <insert clear statement of a rule here>"--this kind of language seems to shock a lot of gentle persons. Other people address him, and suggest "oh, that isn't such a good idea it causes this problem <explanation>..." and he pays no attention whatsoever and has no idea that they are trying to tell him what to do indirectly. I often have to repeat instruction, speak loudly, physically remove him from certain situations, etc. These behaviors just don't go over right--I am not 'in'. I am just not gentle and non-interfering enough.

Maybe I missed something a long time ago as far as the autism and how to have an autistic child be fairly self-directed safely and without invading other people's basic rights. I do my best but, what role does "unschooling" have--if I acted toward him like unschoolers I know I could not even consider homeschooling because we would, simply, fail. So unschooling is not my goal. A family life that works is my goal.

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