Misconceptions about unschooling - Page 8 - Mothering Forums
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#211 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 04:21 PM
 
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My point was meant to be more about goals. Unschoolers aim for their children to direct their own education and be independent learners (with help from the parents as needed), whereas my overall aim is for my children to receive a thorough education under my guidance.
You mean you have a set idea of what a person should learn, right? Because we can disagree all day on what a thorough education is Maybe that's a key point here. I *don't* think there is one, single body of knowledge that every person should know. It sounds like you do think there is one so I could completely understand why you'd not want to unschool. Unless I've completely missed what you're getting at


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There are some things they just don't figure out on their own.
That's sort of my point. Sure, some jobs are more creative than others, but there's still a body of knowledge you want your employees to learn well and quickly before they can go getting all creative on you I just don't see it as being the same as a nice, long, meandering childhood where you can take your time to try different things and discover, for yourself, where your interests and talents lie. Like the quote that childhood is a journey, not a race? Well, often in the workplace, it's just a race

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When my brother and I were little, my parents sat us down and taught us to read with flashcards. They certainly didn't force it on us - they stopped if we got bored - but it was their idea, their plan, their teaching. We hadn't come to them and said "we want to learn to read." They just got the flashcards out and taught us. As a result, I've been a voracious reader since I was 3. I read the Little House on the Prairie series at least five times the year I was 5, and the Wizard of Oz so often I almost had it memorized.
I think I could type all day on this example I'll try to not ramble too much

I wouldn't do this with my kids. I would if they asked but no, I wouldn't offer. I don't know if it's unschooling or not, but to me, it's making the world too "schooly". Now, I will *do* schooly if my kids ask for it (and have done from time to time with my dd) but I really don't want them to get into the mindset that learning only happens when someone else initiates, or when you have certain tools (workbooks, flashcards, etc) or in a certain place (school). I want their learning to be more natural, more creative and more self directed. If they choose those tools that's one thing, but I wouldn't want to introduce them at an early, impressionable age and give them the idea that they are important (I already wish I had been more unschooly when my dd was littler). Is that unschooling or just me? Or maybe me having these ideas of learning is me being not unschoolish! I definitely want my kids to get a good education and a love of learning and IMO, unschooling and self directed learning are the best ways to go for those goals so yeah, it's an agenda of mine (it's not the only reason I unschool but it's there). I don't know. Maybe someone else should answer this one

And I do have to say, my dd didn't learn to read from flashcards and didn't read til she was 6 and she sits up in bed reading for hours every night (I don't even know how long since I go to sleep before her). I don't think a love of reading come from flashcards for most people. It's far more likely to come from being in a house full of books, having parents who enjoy reading for pleasure, and being read to
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#212 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 06:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pookel
Unschoolers aim for their children to direct their own education and be independent learners (with help from the parents as needed), whereas my overall aim is for my children to receive a thorough education under my guidance. If they have independent ideas about how to do that, that's cool, I'll respect it; but going in, the initial plan for their education is mine, not theirs.
I'd agree with this distinction. As an unschooler, I wouldn't plan my child's education. It's important to us that they follow their own plan. I agree with Shannon here:
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I *don't* think there is one, single body of knowledge that every person should know. It sounds like you do think there is one so I could completely understand why you'd not want to unschool.
Not having an agenda about what/when they learn is why I wouldn't do the flashcard thing you mentioned. My kids have seen flashcards and people have given them cards, but they've never had an interest in them (fortunately for ME, because *I* find them boring! ) If they really wanted to use them, I would, but I wouldn't introduce them. I think there are more interesting ways to learn to read and that doesn't strike me as a natural way of learning. (By "natural" I mean that we don't read single words with no context, yk?) I also don't see a need to have a 3y/o reading. If they are then good for them, but it isn't a goal I have.

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#213 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 06:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ShannonCC
You mean you have a set idea of what a person should learn, right? Because we can disagree all day on what a thorough education is Maybe that's a key point here. I *don't* think there is one, single body of knowledge that every person should know. It sounds like you do think there is one so I could completely understand why you'd not want to unschool. Unless I've completely missed what you're getting at
Yes, I think you've put into words what I was trying to. I do think there's a body of knowledge that everyone should learn. It's not a strictly defined thing; there are lots of variations on the basic elements. But I do believe there is a basic framework of knowledge everyone should have before (or in addition to) branching out into more specialized fields of knowledge. Things like reading, grammar, math, an overview of world history and geography, basics of physical and biological sciences.

I agree that, left to their own devices, most people will pick up all this basic knowledge along the way. I think where we differ is that I believe it is more efficient and more effective to just teach those things to start with, instead of waiting for kids to wander into them. If they're going to learn to read anyway, why *not* teach them at 3?


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I wouldn't do this with my kids. I would if they asked but no, I wouldn't offer. I don't know if it's unschooling or not, but to me, it's making the world too "schooly". Now, I will *do* schooly if my kids ask for it (and have done from time to time with my dd) but I really don't want them to get into the mindset that learning only happens when someone else initiates, or when you have certain tools (workbooks, flashcards, etc) or in a certain place (school). I want their learning to be more natural, more creative and more self directed.
I can see that as a benefit, but from my POV, it's a benefit in just one area, and it comes at the expense of a whole lot of knowledge. I guess I also don't see what's wrong with making the world "schooly." To me, schooliness isn't inherently a bad thing - only when it's made conformist and boring and stifles creativity and independence.

The way I see it, schooling is a natural part of human history, from tribal elders passing on rote histories to the next generation, to Plato teaching philosophy to the young men of Greece, to the medieval universities, to master craftsmen with their apprentices, to Buddhist monks teaching novices. From Africa to Japan, from the Stone Age to today, it's natural for older and wiser people to lead, guide, and teach the next generation. It can be done wrong, and in our culture it is too often made boring and pointless by bureaucracy, but that doesn't mean that schooling isn't natural or good when it is done right.

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And I do have to say, my dd didn't learn to read from flashcards and didn't read til she was 6 and she sits up in bed reading for hours every night (I don't even know how long since I go to sleep before her). I don't think a love of reading come from flashcards for most people. It's far more likely to come from being in a house full of books, having parents who enjoy reading for pleasure, and being read to
I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with doing it that way (although, actually, my parents don't read nearly as much as I do, and never have), I just don't see a good reason for the delay. Why not teach them as soon as they can learn it? Young kids have a greater capacity for learning than older kids (especially when it comes to language), and I can't see any real down side to teaching them to read, along with foreign languages, as soon as they can handle it.
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#214 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 07:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pookel

I agree that, left to their own devices, most people will pick up all this basic knowledge along the way. I think where we differ is that I believe it is more efficient and more effective to just teach those things to start with, instead of waiting for kids to wander into them. If they're going to learn to read anyway, why *not* teach them at 3?

.
Here is my reason not to teach my kids to read at 3:

Learning to read too early has been associated with reading related learning disabilities later in life (read Better Late than Early by the Moores). Since there is SO MUCH a 3 year old could be learning and experiencing, why insist they read instead of doing things that are more developmentally appropriate?

I love to read, and I'm anxious for my kids to read too, so that the world of written knowledge is open to them, but right now they are learning lots. My kids experience lots of things that I believe will give them "hooks" to hang the knowledge they get from books later on. Written knowledge is much more valuable when the reader can put it in context.

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#215 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 08:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ShannonCC
...I really don't want them to get into the mindset that learning only happens when someone else initiates, or when you have certain tools (workbooks, flashcards, etc) or in a certain place (school). I want their learning to be more natural, more creative and more self directed. If they choose those tools that's one thing, but I wouldn't want to introduce them at an early, impressionable age and give them the idea that they are important (I already wish I had been more unschooly when my dd was littler). Is that unschooling or just me? Or maybe me having these ideas of learning is me being not unschoolish! I definitely want my kids to get a good education and a love of learning and IMO, unschooling and self directed learning are the best ways to go for those goals so yeah, it's an agenda of mine (it's not the only reason I unschool but it's there)...
I don't think a love of reading come from flashcards for most people. It's far more likely to come from being in a house full of books, having parents who enjoy reading for pleasure, and being read to
ShannonCC I totally agree with your points made in this post!

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#216 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 08:46 PM
 
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I agree with what zeldamomma said wrt teaching reading earlier. In addition, as soon as I set out to teach reading, there is an expectation there -- if I'm teaching my kids something, they assume they are expected to learn it. If they aren't developmentally ready to learn at three, and so don't take to it well, they'll get frustrated and could be turned off of learning. That danger is far more threatening to them learning over their lifetime than not reading until age 6 or 8 or later.

My 6 yo started reading about a year ago, but really took off with his independent reading within the last few months. (He's in his room reading the third Harry Potter book, fresh from the library this afternoon, as I type.) I probably could have started to teach him to read at three, but I really doubt it would have benefitted him. I don't really see what he could have learned from books in the last three years that would make a big difference in his life. It would have taken time away from him playing with friends, working with me, exercising and learning to use his body, making observations about the trees or birds or cars or people etc. around him, asking dh and I questions, learning to share with his siblings... He loves reading now, but I definately don't think it was a mistake to let him pick it up on his own timetable.

Also, nearsightedness runs in both my family and dh's, and I'm trying to let the kids' eyes have lots of time without strain while they're little. This is part of my reason for limiting screen time, as well. (Totally anecdotal, but my bro and I are both big readers/tv watchers, and were as kids -- especially tv -- and we both have glasses. Our sis didn't watch as much tv and read much less, and she has 20/20 vision.)

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#217 of 220 Old 05-24-2006, 10:22 PM
 
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If they're going to learn to read anyway, why *not* teach them at 3?
Well, because, from what I've read, what I've heard from others and what I've seen with my own daughter, they learn to read when they are *ready*. Not before. A three year old who learns to read doesn't do so because their mom hit on the one right way to teach three year olds. She learns to read because her brain was ready. Trying to teach a child who *isn't* ready will most likely lead to frustration and having them decide that reading is "hard" and "not fun". I'd rather wait til the child asks and shows an interest so it's more likely they'll enjoy it.

And yes, some kids *are* ready to read at 3 or earlier. I'm not saying hold them back if they are ready and asking, I don't believe in that either. I just think it's a lot easier, a lot more fun and a lot less stress for everyone involved if the parents wait til the kids want to read and are ready to do so, whatever age that may be for that particular child.

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I can see that as a benefit, but from my POV, it's a benefit in just one area, and it comes at the expense of a whole lot of knowledge.
See, here we disagree again. You can't, you literally can't, learn *everything* in life. So someone has to decide what to learn and what to pass by. Yes, my kids will not learn a whole bunch of things but so will yours, so will the schooled kid down the block, so will the Classical education kid. It's just a fact of life. I'd rather my kids be the ones to make the choice for themselves what to learn and what not to.

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But I do believe there is a basic framework of knowledge everyone should have before (or in addition to) branching out into more specialized fields of knowledge. Things like reading, grammar, math, an overview of world history and geography, basics of physical and biological sciences
Shockingly, I agree with you I just disagree that these things need to be handed to the kids or they'll never learn them. I'm betting we also disagree on what constitutes "basics" of some of these. Not to get too involved but yes, I do think there's a basic core of knowledge and skills that someone needs but in my opinion, it's *so* basic, I can't see how someone could *not* learn them providing they have a decent home environment and no special issues. Sadly, many kids do *not* have a decent home environment. That hasn't been an issue for the homeschoolers I know (and I don't mean money - I mean caring adults who take an interest in their kids).

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It can be done wrong, and in our culture it is too often made boring and pointless by bureaucracy, but that doesn't mean that schooling isn't natural or good when it is done right.
I sort of get what you are talking about except that many of the examples you gave are people seeking out teachers, not teachers forcing themselves on students. If you wait for them to come to you, I think it's more meaningful to them and it makes much more of an impression on them. And yes, there are always stories of people who were made to learn something and then discovered they loved it but for each of those, there are hundreds of stories of people made to learn something who then spewed it out on the test and promptly forgot it

Brisen, my mom's paternal side all has pretty strong prescriptions (mine is only 20/400 in one eye and 20/200 in the other, I got off easy, ) I read something once (maybe here?) that people who are very near sighted are often early readers because of the nearsightedness, not the other way around. That because they can see so close so much sooner than other kids, they read earlier. I don't know whether it's true or not but I found it very interesting and something to think on. According to my mom I read pretty early. My dd didn't (6 which is pretty average), and so far, her eyesight seems to be taking after her dad (lucky kid!).
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#218 of 220 Old 05-25-2006, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by pookel

The way I see it, schooling is a natural part of human history, from tribal elders passing on rote histories to the next generation, to Plato teaching philosophy to the young men of Greece, to the medieval universities, to master craftsmen with their apprentices, to Buddhist monks teaching novices.
Except that most of these things didn't happen in schools, so calling them "schooling" is a misnomer. Learning, yes. Teaching, sometimes. I'm not against teaching, but I think it needs to be secondary to learning - one way to learn is to be taught, but there are plenty of other ways. In most of the examples above, there was information availbale, and learners decided what they wanted to do with it. They're all very different from K-12 education today.

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Why not teach them as soon as they can learn it? Young kids have a greater capacity for learning than older kids (especially when it comes to language),
Actually, younger children have a greater capacity for learning to speak with a near-native accent, but older people learn faster. It often seems that younger children are, but a 3 year old is really only learning a 3-year-old lexicon in the second langauge, which adults are learning the language on an adult level. I can speak Spanish well enough to communicate with the average 3 year old, but I'm nowhere near fluent.

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and I can't see any real down side to teaching them to read, along with foreign languages, as soon as they can handle it.
Because I think it's wrong to tamper with the natural impetus children have to *learn* by teaching something the learner hasn't freely chosen to learn. I wouldn't want some to teach me things to fulfill their own agenda, especially someone who had a lot of power over me anyway.

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#219 of 220 Old 05-25-2006, 10:16 PM
 
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I agree, if there's an expectation that it will be done. If not -- if it's just the parent offering up suggestions that the child is free to accept or decline -- that's not antithetical to unschooling, any more than for my child to offer to show me how to play a video game.
I think that presenting the difference between school and unschool as this kind of clear dichotomy between "parent-enforced learning" and "parent makes helpful suggestions just as anyone else might" isn't accurate.
I agree (and I didn't mean to imply otherwise, perhaps the analogy was not so great.)

On the other hand, for a child to be more influenced by a parent than others isn't antithetical to unschooling either.

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For a parent to really radically unschool, they have to make a conscious effort NOT to teach and to pressure, because the default interaction has this subtle pressure of parental influence going on in the background.
Well, first I disagree that a radically unschooling parent has to make an effort to not teach. Unschooling is not dependant on the absence of instruction.

Second, there's a difference between influence and pressure. I might influence my children's degree of interest in math, for instance, by expressing enthusiasm for it. It would be pressure if my impetus for expressing that enthusiasm was specifically to try to get him to learn his time tables, and he sensed that.

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My personal philosophy - open, of course, to change with circumstances - is that this parental influence can be a positive force in a child's education, if it is used to guide and nurture a child's natural interests and not to force a child to learn something they have no interest in.
Absolutely. The way in which the adults offer that experience and what expectations they have for what the children do with it, will affect what the children get out of it, how they will approach future learning, and how they perceive their own abilities.

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And even the most independent of them couldn't have learned as much as she did without getting guidance from someone who had worked here longer and was more experience. Not just asked-for guidance - she didn't always know what questions to ask. She liked to just plow ahead and try everything out for herself, which was fine up to a point, but there were certain areas she didn't even know to ask about, and I had to tell her directly what she needed to learn.
Well, again, people don't learn in a vacuum. If I think of something that I think my child would appreciate knowing, I tell him about it, and let him decide to pursue it or not. The difference between myself and someone who "does school" is instead of saying, "you must learn this, this, and that, in this way and according to this timetable," I say, "have you ever heard about this?" Or, "what do you think of that?" and trust that if he has a need for it and is ready for it, he will choose to pursue it.

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But I also got the book that analyzed what happened to students after Sudbury. (I can't recall the name just now.) And I saw a strong pattern in their careers. Overwhelmingly, they became crafters, artisans, chefs, musicians, people who work with their hands and with the arts. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with those jobs - but I do want to know why the Sudbury School has produced virtually no PhDs, professors, scientists, or other people in academic fields.
Maybe it's because the Sudbury parents were drawn to it because they were counterculture in some way to begin with and passed that on to their kids. Maybe it's because the Sudbury school didn't provide good resources and opportunities to learn about those things. Maybe it's because most people aren't naturally inclined towards those things, so that a free environment would reflect that statistically.
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#220 of 220 Old 05-26-2006, 05:23 AM
 
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And I do have to say, my dd didn't learn to read from flashcards and didn't read til she was 6 and she sits up in bed reading for hours every night (I don't even know how long since I go to sleep before her). I don't think a love of reading come from flashcards for most people. It's far more likely to come from being in a house full of books, having parents who enjoy reading for pleasure, and being read to


I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with doing it that way (although, actually, my parents don't read nearly as much as I do, and never have), I just don't see a good reason for the delay. Why not teach them as soon as they can learn it? Young kids have a greater capacity for learning than older kids (especially when it comes to language), and I can't see any real down side to teaching them to read, along with foreign languages, as soon as they can handle it.
My dd1 is 2 months shy of 6. She is not reading on her own yet...because she's NOT able to handle it yet, as you put it.

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Why not teach them as soon as they can learn it?
Well, we're working on that. She will be reading as soon as she can. Not every child is capable of reading at age 3. I personally was reading Before I entered kindergarten, at the age of 5. As was my younger brother. But my dd1...is not. I think that I could FORCE the issue, make her try harder, make her feel stupid, make her stressed out and crying over how hard it is, as is the case for many children in schools, so that she might learn thatmuch earlier. Or, I could go with her at HER pace, to maintain that love of learning.

She would like to read on her own. She would rather not have to depend on mommy or daddy to read her all her stories; she would rather read fully on her schedule, and not have to wait on someone else to finish what they're doing. And that time will come. But for now, we read to her very often, and she becomes more ready to do so on her own, all the time.
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