Is unschooling really a good idea? - Page 20 - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#571 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:13 AM
 
joesmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Wherever Joe is!
Posts: 3,157
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
Hi, I'm new to this thread...I've read I think about 20 pages of it so far? - but I wanted to jump in because I thought of a question.

How do unschoolers approach music lessons? From my own experience, learning to play the piano was my own idea, but I'm very glad that my mother "made" me hang in there with it and practice every day, even when my interest waned. She wasn't hard-core about it and I missed MANY days of practice, and even took as much as a year off from lessons when I got burned out, but I know for sure that if I had been left to my own devices I would not have progressed nearly as far as I did. The study of a musical instrument requires tremendous dedication and lots of consistent practice. I taught piano for years and the kids whose parents did not make practice part of their daily obligations (like homework and chores) inevitably dropped out, even if they were talented or had been very enthusiastic about piano at one time. Whereas those who practiced every day tended to continue and progress, and the progression itself tends to renew students' interest after a while. Whereas if they "drop out" it can be hard to come back, after all, it's so much work...

I am intensely grateful for having had the discipline of studying the piano, and even though I didn't get as far with it as I would have liked I went farther than I did with most things. I have always attributed this to the fact that I was encouraged by my mother and reminded constantly about why I was studying and how important it was to practice. I get the idea from what I have read of Unschooling that this kind of encouragement would be considered inappropriate. But I'm not sure. What do those of you who Unschool do with music lessons and practice?
I don't play an instrument, but Joe's dad is brilliant on the guitar & the bass guitar... he can play other things as well but those are his best... he did not have any formal training to play, he just loved it & was obsessed by it & taught himself to play by ear. He watched MTV & learned songs by watching great guitarists. Actually, his school stifled him, because he could pick up any song by ear but he had trouble reading music. He played violin in school & was by far the best violinist but he was second chair because he could not read the music- he could PLAY it perfectly but he did not LEARN it the RIGHT way... I could go on...

Joe seems to like fooling around on the guitar. If that continues, his dad will teach him, in a real low key way, whatever he wants to learn. I would not force him to take music lessons. My parents did not make me & I am grateful because I know I would have hated it.

I think no matter what situation we talk about, someone will have a pro unschooling spin to it, where someone else will have a story to convince us that formal education is the only way to go. We could sit here for weeks debating the what ifs, but I am just going to live my life & watch my son grow up into the man he is destined to be.
joesmom is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#572 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:19 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks for the responses! I really don't know what is the "best" way to approach music lessons...I mean, I really do think that if my mom had not strongly encouraged me to practice daily and to continue lessons at times when I was a bit burnt out, I would SERIOUSLY regret it. As I seriously regret so many pursuits that I have dropped when the interest waned. But I totally understand that some people feel differently.

To me, it seems like some people have the personalities for Unschooling and some do not. I have no clue about my DD. On the one hand, if I did homeschool her (which I don't know if I will, but we're considering it as an option) I doubt I would strictly follow one curriculum. And I would certainly follow her interests to a large degree. Whether that would be unstructured and child-led enough to qualify as Unschooling, though, I don't know. Probably not. I am kind of in the Charles Baudelaire camp in that I think that subjects should ideally be introduced in a logical order and that some are better introduced at different ages. I also think that having the Spanish language station on the TV is unlikely to result in learning to speak fluent Spanish, and that foreign languages are MUCH more easily learned in young childhood, so I don't think I could take a radically Unschooling approach to foreign language study.

There are so many good things about Unschooling, though. I really appreciate its potential.
Nora'sMama is offline  
#573 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:21 AM
 
slightly crunchy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,361
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J
I've seen it debated on and on and on over the years among people of all different backgrounds. Some blame their parents that they didn't practice; some thank their parents that they were made to; and others really resent having been forced. - Lillian
Yes, and then there are those, like in my own family of origin, where my sibling and I decided what instruments we wanted to play, BEGGED our parents to pay for lessons and buy instruments, and were requested many a time to please STOP practicing and do something else. LOL Neither of us became professional musicians, but we progressed well and still enjoy playing. I can honestly say that I was never told to practice a certain amount, by anyone except my teacher, and she was not there to enforce it. She didn't need to because I wanted to play.

While I am not an unschooler (my kids are preschool aged anyway), I just don't see any point to forcing music lessons or practice, and I won't do that with my own children. I think I disagree that one can't set piano lessons, for example, aside for a while and still go back to it a year or two later when interest returns. I still do this as an adult.
If you are headed toward music as a profession then that is a different thing and you will do what it takes (hopefully you will have a teacher who can tell you what is needed) if the goal is for a music major, etc.
slightly crunchy is offline  
#574 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:33 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,808
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 95 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
How do unschoolers approach music lessons? From my own experience, learning to play the piano was my own idea, but I'm very glad that my mother "made" me hang in there with it and practice every day, even when my interest waned.
We consider ourselves unschoolers and my kids study violin, viola and piano in various combinations at pretty high levels for their ages. Here's how it works for us:

My kids wish to study their instruments. I agree to support them by providing weekly lessons and whatever day-to-day support they request I give. They need to make committments to lessons term by term (three terms per year) and to re-consider decisions about the sort of support they want from me no more often than weekly.

I believe that making a reasonable effort to do work assigned by one's chosen teacher/mentor is a matter of respect. As I tell my kids, "it's okay not to be hungry, but in that case, don't keep asking to be fed." In other words, if you don't want to internalize the learning guidance of your teacher, that's fine, but in that case it's disrespectful to go to lessons week after week asking for more of the guidance that you know you're going to disregard. Therefore when my kids decide to commit to a term of lessons, barring some sort of extenuating circumstances I expect that they will practice diligently throughout the term.

When it comes to daily practicing, my kids have mostly asked me to enforce their practicing with structure and rules. I am willing to play the enforcer if they have specifically and willingly given me that role. Right now the rule that I'm asked to reiterate and enforce as needed is "practice before 8 pm or no computer time and no beach the next day." I am to give them a reminder after supper if they haven't done their practicing yet, and then another last-minute warning at 7:15 pm (they practice for 30-45 minutes per instrument on average). Today I had one kid who was off the computer and home from the beach but that's the first time all summer. At our Family Meeting tomorrow we'll discuss whether the kids still want this arrangement for the upcoming week. If they don't, no biggie.

My eldest doesn't get any "enforcement support" from me because she doesn't want it and knows she no longer needs it. She's been independently self-motivated since about her 11th birthday. My 9yo likes to know that I'm willing to act as an enforcer if push comes to shove but almost always practices long before I even get around to a reminder.

So I think there's a "third way" between parental coercion and you're-on-your-own. With some regular touching base as a family on the values and principles of formal study with a teacher, my children have made good decisions about delegating some of their autonomy to me, subject to re-evaluation at regular, agreed-upon-in-advance intervals.

This model has worked well for my kids in other areas as well, where they've wanted to pursue some specific type of learning in a semi-structured or goal-directed way, but have felt the need for support through the rough patches that made them want to throw in the towel.

It's unschooling, not unparenting, as they say.

Miranda

Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
moominmamma is online now  
#575 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:40 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Miranda, I love your approach.

LOVE it! That's what I hope things will look like with DD's musical education. I really love your "third way".
Nora'sMama is offline  
#576 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:42 AM
 
joesmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Wherever Joe is!
Posts: 3,157
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
That is definitely cool!
joesmom is offline  
#577 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:44 AM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,638
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
As I seriously regret so many pursuits that I have dropped when the interest waned.
Why don't you take one of them up now? It's never too late to explore something that we dropped when we were younger or never had a chance to start.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#578 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:51 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I find it even harder to focus now...in fact way harder...I'm very undisciplined these days; I always go for the instant gratification (MDC ) rather than putting in the hard work for something that may or may not come to fruition.

I think I'm the type of person who needs to give up some of my autonomy in order to have structure imposed from outside myself. I do not do well with self-directed learning.
Nora'sMama is offline  
#579 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 01:58 AM
 
cottonwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
No. I don't need to [require them to learn or do schoolwork]. Their natural desire to learn and search is intact.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
This is what I find so offensive about rabid unschoolers-- the notion that unschooling is the only way to end up with a child who has a natural desire to learn. I realize that I couldn't possibly know anything about this because my children are young, but I don't think that it's a fair or logical implication.
You're adding things to my words. My point was that there is no need to force a person to learn whose natural desire to learn is intact. Nothing I said implied (and I don't believe) that only unschoolers can end up with a natural desire to learn.

Speaking of implications, though, are you implying that I'm rabid?
cottonwood is offline  
#580 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 02:13 AM
 
flyingspaghettimama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 4,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Speaking of implications, are you implying that I'm rabid?
Well, I got my shots. Can never be too careful around the rabid unschoolers. The kind of company I've been keeping lately...

flyingspaghettimama is offline  
#581 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 02:41 AM
 
Lillian J's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8,976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by slightly crunchy
Yes, and then there are those, like in my own family of origin, where my sibling and I decided what instruments we wanted to play, BEGGED our parents to pay for lessons and buy instruments, and were requested many a time to please STOP practicing and do something else. LOL
Ah, yes... But I think I can one up you . I was always dying to study an instrument, and when I was around eight or nine, my school sent out a notice that they were going to be able to provide free violin lessons if we would just pay for rent of the violin. I loved the violin! But my parents said we couldn't afford the (really low) rental fee, which I knew perfectly well was just a way to brush it off because they didn't think it was necessary or particularly desirable. Later, our next door neighbor, like a grandmother to me, tried to give me - I said GIVE me! - her fabulous upright grand piano. My mother said we didn't have anywhere to put it - also not true . I finally got to take lessons in 7th grade, but, without a piano, that meant practicing in one of the classrooms while all my friends were on the playground. So my son, of course, was always offered (okay, nudged toward) opportunities to study one instrument after another - and, of course, he really wasn't particularly interested . But I was just thinking earlier today that I might just take up violin lessons again - I started them some years back and was too distracted with other things. - Lillian
Lillian J is offline  
#582 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 03:14 AM
 
cottonwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
I know for sure that if I had been left to my own devices I would not have progressed nearly as far as I did. [...] I am intensely grateful for having had the discipline of studying the piano, and even though I didn't get as far with it as I would have liked I went farther than I did with most things. I have always attributed this to the fact that I was encouraged by my mother and reminded constantly about why I was studying and how important it was to practice.
This is a really foreign mindset for unschoolers. They simply don't think this way. I'm interested in a lot of things that it would be great to be proficient at, but I wouldn't want someone to push me in them. First of all, I see a real danger in beginning to feel that you're dependant on that, like you *need* to be pushed in order to accomplish anything. I know I am capable of making my life and want to remain so, and if I start believing I need to be pushed, I have to also believe I'm not capable of making my own life. It's inaccurate, and for me, to believe it would be (has been) disempowering and limiting.

Second, for me there's a lack of authenticity in having a skill in something that wasn't internally motivated. I think it would be nice to be able to play the cello, but I never had that internal motivation, and for someone to have pushed me to spend time on that for the sake of having the skill in itself, to me would feel wrong and lacking somehow. Every moment is important, and I want every moment to be authentic, coming from a place of real need and desire. When I compare skills I have that were externally motivated (coerced) and skills that I have that were internally motivated, the latter are far more valuable to me because all along there was that love and compellingness driving the thing. For me the journey is at least as important as the goal, colors the goal, makes it what it is. Superficially two people with the same skill might look the same, but internally it might not be the same thing at all. And to me, it matters greatly what it looks like internally. I want my kids to know that authenticity, to have it, to not waste life on anything less.
cottonwood is offline  
#583 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 03:15 AM
Dar
 
Dar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 11,249
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama
Well, I got my shots. Can never be too careful around the rabid unschoolers. The kind of company I've been keeping lately...

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Lillian, I always wanted to study an instrument, too, and my parents just weren't willing to provide that. I did get pinao lessons briefly at 16, when I was in foster care, and I learned enough to be able to pick out some vocal warmups for Rain. Someday I'll do more...

Rain has taken voice and guitar, and would like to take piano... but she'd also like to play soccer, take 10 hours of dance a week, take some college classes, take painting and ceramics classes, audition for and be in plays, and a zillion more things. If her heart was set on piano I'd find a way, but it doesn't appear to actually be in the top ten right now...

dar

 
fambedsingle1.gifSingle mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler earth.gif


  

Dar is offline  
#584 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 03:20 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
fourlittlebirds, I totally respect where you are coming from and I understand what you're saying. However, I only have my feelings about playing the piano to go by, and I most emphatically do not believe that I am missing some layer of experience because every practice session was not internally motivated.

I feel, OTOH, so grateful to my mother - I feel she gave me an incredible gift, or allowed me to find it within myself to give that gift to myself. It sounds cheesy, but when I sit down and breathlessly play through a Scarlatti sonata, or pound out that Rachmaninoff prelude that sounds like a guy clawing his way out of a grave, when I feel angry...or when I sit down and play some Ragtime and my mood instantly lifts...I feel like I'm on another plane, and I think about how lucky I am to have this skill that brings me such joy. I do really feel that if my mom hadn't been a partner in my musical education, if she hadn't constantly reminded me to practice and why that was important, that I wouldn't have this skill and my life would be impoverished for the lack.

However, I always loved piano, and I was the one who originally clamored for lessons. I can see that if someone had been forced to practice day after day at something they hated, they would not get the same kind of joy out of exercising the skill that resulted from their forced study.
Nora'sMama is offline  
#585 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 03:41 AM
 
flyingspaghettimama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 4,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My daughter is currently taking fiddle. Not violin, mind you - she only wanted to learn fiddle, so she can play like Alison Krauss (OF COURSE). So we had to look for a month or so to find a fiddle teacher who works with kids. She goes once a week, and the teacher asks her to practice for 20 minutes every day. Sometimes she forgets, and sometimes she practices for a very short time and asks if she's done yet. I remind her that fiddling isn't for me, it's for her - and anytime she wants to stop, we can - but I'm not going to nag her to practice. She does ask us to help her "remember" to practice before bedtime, and her favorite thing is to play for us, however. traumatic. that. is. for. baby brother...

So it's a balancing act at our house - but I remind her that the ultimate choice is up to her whether or not to practice daily (sometimes she does skip, and decides to practice twice as long the next day). I'm not going to make her take lessons, or practice; but I also don't want to pay rental fees for an instrument sitting in the corner. And most importantly, I let her know that I won't be disappointed in a choice to quit (she worries about this). It's truly her gig. But I'll happily pay fees and lessons, as long as it's something she's interested in. Although I sorta wish she could find a less expensive undertaking.
flyingspaghettimama is offline  
#586 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 03:48 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Flyingspaghettimama: fiddling is exceedingly cool. I commend your daughter's choice of instrument.

I love the piano, but I also studied violin. However, I couldn't get past the squeaky stage and quit.

I should emphasize that no one *forced* me to practice or stay with lessons, but I was *strongly* encouraged. I never felt like I was learning piano for anyone but me. Maybe that is why I don't have negative feelings about it. When I didn't like my teacher, my mom looked for a new one for me who would be less intense. She let me take a year off in 8th grade when I just was *really* burnt out and also wanted to have more time to do theater.

She did have me set a timer every day to practice, but I could always negotiate if I really really didn't feel like it. And often I did 15 minutes a day of what she considered 'real' practicing and played for an hour or two just for my pleasure.

LillianJ, you should totally take up the violin again. Perhaps it will inspire your ds.
Nora'sMama is offline  
#587 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 04:06 AM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,638
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
I find it even harder to focus now...in fact way harder...I'm very undisciplined these days; I always go for the instant gratification (MDC ) rather than putting in the hard work for something that may or may not come to fruition.

I think I'm the type of person who needs to give up some of my autonomy in order to have structure imposed from outside myself. I do not do well with self-directed learning.
I'm not buying any of this because you have a life partner, a baby, and I assume a home to run. You have worked very hard and most likely spent lots of time learning new things over the last couple of years. Since you hang out on MDC, I would venture that you've spent a lot of time researching parenting options, weighing them, and drawing conclusions. And I'm guessing that you've done all this hard work and learning because you thought it was important, not because some one made you.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#588 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 04:18 AM
 
Nora'sMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: a state of flux
Posts: 2,321
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move
I'm not buying any of this because you have a life partner, a baby, and I assume a home to run. You have worked very hard and most likely spent lots of time learning new things over the last couple of years. Since you hang out on MDC, I would venture that you've spent a lot of time researching parenting options, weighing them, and drawing conclusions. And I'm guessing that you've done all this hard work and learning because you thought it was important, not because some one made you.
Hmmm...in a way, that's true! I should have qualified my statement. For some things I am able to focus and stay motivated for long periods of time. This includes reading and posting on message boards. However, for other types of activities which are just as valuable if not more so, and which I judge to be important, I have a really hard time staying focused if there is not a structure to work within. I had a hard time in college. It wasn't the reading, or the interest - I was very interested in all of the subjects I studied - but the time management eluded me, the organization, the focus. Writing was very hard for me to do for more than a few minutes at a time.

For me, thinking something is important is just the first step. I often don't go past that step to actually accomplish it, unless I "have" to. I know that not everyone is like this, and maybe I'm like this because of environmental factors when I was a child...but I think it's also my temperament.
Nora'sMama is offline  
#589 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 06:23 PM
 
Chanley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Between here and there
Posts: 3,098
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have not read the entire gazillion pages of this thread.

You cannot compare a child who is in ps to an unschooled child (or a deschooled then unschooled child). I believe that we are innately curious about our world and what happens in our lives. I think that when this is encouraged and the seeds of curiosity are given the room to grow and blossom, it is impossible not to pick up life skills and learn the basics.

My dd taught herself to read at 3. I was busy researching reading curriculums and methods while she taught herself with a leap pad writing desk and a bunch of Clifford books. My son will probably be later as he does not learn the same way, but he is still curious.

I simply cannot imagine a child growing up in a house where the parents read and the child grows up to be illiterate.

Conventionally schooled children often lose that love of learning because they have been MADE to learn when they were not ready.
Chanley is offline  
#590 of 591 Old 07-30-2006, 06:44 PM
 
Lillian J's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8,976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chanley
I simply cannot imagine a child growing up in a house where the parents read and the child grows up to be illiterate.
Well put. I almost spit out a cold drink when I read that from bursting into laughter - just because of being suddenly struck by the simple truth and obviousness that somehow escapes so many. A family is an organic living, moving, growing unit - there's constant interaction, sharing, reaction, influence, give and take, ebb and flow... An unschooling family respectfully utilizes what's there more than imposing the structure of a system that's been developed for educating the masses in sets of 20-35 captive children at a time.

- Lillian
Lillian J is offline  
#591 of 591 Old 07-31-2006, 03:00 AM
 
Lillian J's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8,976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Here's a refreshing article - it's Mary Griffith's explanation as to why it's so hard to come up with a definition of unschooling, but she does cite some things she found in common among the respondents to her questionnaires when she was compiling The Unschooling Handbook. Very interesting: On Unschooling

Lillian
Lillian J is offline  
Reply

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off