Is unschooling really a good idea? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Dar
But maybe you would have found something else that you loved... or maybe, if you'd been unschooled, you would have come across proofs somewhere and, having no bias against them, you would have explored them and found your passion.
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But I strongly doubt that I would have sat there and figured it out unless I had to. I'm very sure of this.
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#122 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by FrederickMama
Ok- I rarely visit MDC lately and just happened here tonight for some reason....I'm not going to waste my time reading all of the responses but will give you my answers.

First though .... you question makes me angry...but I was once clueless and scared about unschooling so i'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
I'm sorry, but I genuinely attempted to ask the questions I did as politely and as deferentially as possible. Your reply is condescending in tone ("I'll give you my answers...I'll give you the benefit of the doubt"), personally insulting in your implication that I am "clueless" and "scared," and frankly quite offputting. It makes me quite reluctant to read what you have to say, and I am genuinely glad that the vast majority of other posters on this thread have shared the benefit of their insights and experiences in a friendly and courteous manner and I am very glad that your reply is by no means representative of the people on this board or unschoolers in general.
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#123 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:29 PM
 
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Just today, we've discussed:

unschoolers unable to go on to college

unschoolers who never learn to read

unschoolers who never learn to "do math"

unschoolers who must enter school "behind" their peers

unschoolers unable to pursue "hard" sciences

unschoolers unable to communicate with others

unschoolers who do nothing but play video games

unschoolers left to their own devices/without parental involvement

My question is, does anyone know any unschooler, irl, who fits any of these descriptions?

My feeling is that we're just discussing hypothetical people and that all of these things are misconceptions/fears that people hold about unschooling. I could be wrong. Maybe I just know all the "good" unschoolers.

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#124 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
But do you really have to be pushed to do those things? You do them, I assume, because you recognize the benefit and choose to do them, not because someone is telling you you have to.
First, I wasn't socialized as an unschooler. I developed discipline early in life and the recognition that sometimes I wasn't going to be doing things I enjoy. As far as being pushed to do those things - yes many of them I do because someone tells me I have to. You can ask State Farm Insurance just today they made a not so gentle request for $350.

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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Label it what you like, for a parent to push a child according to the parent's expectations and for a parent to allow a child to come to something in their own time and way are two very different things.
I think it is a lot more complex than an either or choice presented in that manner. We have a lot to offer kids besides saying "you'll come to it in your own time".

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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Thanks, but I know about anxiety and this type of treatment first hand. The way I dealt with the anxiety was to remove the stressors that had been causing it for over two decades of my life.
I'm glad you found something that works for you. I agree some removal of stressors can be a good thing. It depends on how many things a person is stressed about and what kinds of things they are. If the stress comes for example from one's children, driving in a car, etc. it may not be workable to simply eliminate all things that cause stress. I hear you get in trouble if you bump off the kids.

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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
The treatment was a massive failure when imposed from without, making things far worse. It has been a tremendous success when coming from within, by my choice, of my making, and when I felt I was ready.
You and I probably think and mean different things when using the word imposed so that may be impossible to discuss.

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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Perhaps I wasn't clear. Our children have exposure to these things too, which is why we talk to them about it.
As did the family of the girl I mentioned. My point remains that her parents don't get to choose that she feel a particular way about her experience (nor I'm guessing does she really get to choose).
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#125 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Joan

My question is, does anyone know any unschooler, irl, who fits any of these descriptions?
Yes.
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#126 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy
About a year ago (maybe longer?) I read a post here by someone who knew two unschooled sisters who said this very thing. They went to college and were very unhappy with all of the remedial work that they had to do, and all of the things that they didn't know because they had never had any structure imposed on their learning. They were irritated that they had to waste money doing it in college, when they could have learned it just as quickly and easily years earlier, if only their parents had introduced the work.
This sounds to me like one of two things: parents who failed to provide the guidance and information that would have enabled these girls, as teens, to take responsibility for preparing themselves for college, or children who are passing the buck to their parents for their own unwillingness to assume that responsibility. If, as a 17- or 18-year-old you choose not to prepare yourself for your future college plans that's your fault. If, as a 17- or 18-year-old you are unaware that you have the choice to prepare yourself for future college plans -- or not, that's your parents' fault. In either case, I don't see how unschooling is at fault.

Heck, my 12yo knows that if she wants to go to college she'll need to be able write a proper essay, that she'll need to get to at least a pre-calc level to pursue maths and sciences, that she'd do well to have a solid background in the sciences, history and geography and a second language. She knows I'll help facilitate those types of learning if she wants to pursue them. That's unschooling for me.

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#127 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:40 PM
 
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Joan - i do not know you and i'm sure we don't know the same unschoolers ..... as i said in my post I've never seen this.

And my question would be do any of you know any schooled kids that fit any of these?

The first one alone - I know lots



Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
Just today, we've discussed:

unschoolers unable to go on to college

unschoolers who never learn to read

unschoolers who never learn to "do math"

unschoolers who must enter school "behind" their peers

unschoolers unable to pursue "hard" sciences

unschoolers unable to communicate with others

unschoolers who do nothing but play video games

unschoolers left to their own devices/without parental involvement

My question is, does anyone know any unschooler, irl, who fits any of these descriptions?

My feeling is that we're just discussing hypothetical people and that all of these things are misconceptions/fears that people hold about unschooling. I could be wrong. Maybe I just know all the "good" unschoolers.
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#128 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Roar
Yes.
How many?

I'm not trying to be a pita--I'm trying to get a (informal, to be sure) handle on how often these kinds of things happen. Not too long ago, there was a local story about a "homeschooling" family who starved their children. This led to public outcry and proposed legislation restricting homeschooling. Of course, this one, bizarre, abusive family was in no way representative of homeschoolers.

I'm thinking that the rare neglectful "unschooling" family is also in no way representative of unschoolers. It would be a shame to write off unschooling altogether based on something like that.

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#129 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:42 PM
 
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And in response to the comment about remedial classes ...... most kids in the remedial classes are high school graduates and that is the case in every college around the country.
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#130 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:43 PM
 
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Off the board I was trying to say something to a friend about this thread. I'm not sure if I can say it right but I'll try.

Whenever a discussion on unschooling happens on MDC it's seems it's all theoretical. All “what if”. What if a kid never learns to read, what if a kid never learns math, what if they never learn to write, etc. The problem for me, the reason I have so much trouble answering these concerns, is that what I see IRL just blows this all away. Not counting the babies and toddlers, all the unschoolers I know are reading and writing and doing basic math (we hang out with the younger crowd so no one’s doing calculus yet ). They're doing this in addition to watching tv, playing video games for hours at a time (though I don't know if any of them play Doom specifically ), going to playgrounds and acting like nuts. They’re doing it all because they want to, not because anyone made them.

As Joan said in a previous post, some of you seem to know a different breed of unschoolers than we know. I'm not sure what to make of it. Do you guys actually know, personally, IRL, any unschoolers or is it all friend of a friend anecdotes, or stories you read online? The majority of our friends are unschoolers and so far, they are not the illiterate, ignorant, brain dead video junkies that others seem to fear

But then I was thinking of something else. We have one school-at-home friend who is stressed out all the time. The mom is always saying she’s behind, the kid isn’t as happy and laid back as the rest of us. I guess if they were the only school-at-home family we knew IRL then I might think that all school-at-home families were like that. But they aren’t and we don’t

But, like Joan said while I was composing this in my email editor (lost too many a post in the past ) maybe it's a case of not personally knowing many (or any?) unschoolers.
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#131 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Roar
Yes.
Yes...who exactly...not full names and addresses ...but ...who?
And to the same poster or anyone else....do you know non-unschooled kids that fit those descriptions?
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#132 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Yooper
First off, I do not teach lessons for the paycheck. That would be extremely unfulfilling and dumb since I make WAY more tending bar. I teach to share something I love to do.
Is it possible for you to acknowledge that some people enjoy teaching students who put in time because they are more fun to teach?

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Originally Posted by Yooper
I would not be at all comfortable with a teacher that felt they had any say over what my child did during thier free time. Any good music teacher will be having a constant discussion with the student about what that student's goal is. If the student has no other goal than to spend
one half hour a week working on their music with a teacher, that should be OK.
So, let me understand the teacher has no right to decide what the child does in terms of practice but you get to decide what the teacher does or how she should feel about teaching or what she should want?

I don't teach music, but I can say from other teaching experiences I enjoy working with students who think differently, who challenge me, who study hard, more than I enjoy working with apathetic, lazy, uncreative, students. If my purpose in teaching is personal enjoyment why shouldn't I get to decide? If someone is working independently as a teacher or tutor should they be able to choose to do what pleases them instead of what pleases you?

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Originally Posted by Yooper
Sorry, but the type of teacher you are talking about is the type that stamps out the joy of music for many many kids. Sure, there are a very small handful of students that are driven to be concert musicians that might WANT to have that kind of commitment.
It seems odd to me that you find practicing a few times a week to be some kind of insanely compromising kind of commitment. I see it simply as no big deal. And, in our son's situation has been no big deal. The commitment was initially discussed and three years later and has never once presented itself as a challenge as he's figured out he feels better when he practices daily.
Further as the party paying for the lessons and the instrument I think it is quite reasonable for me to say I'd like it to be worth more than half an hour a week. Is it your idea that unschooling parents should be responsible to pay any amount of money for anything?

As far as the teacher I think it indicates how much you really have no idea about our situation. Our son has disabilities and we selected this teacher due to her flexibility. She's taught disabled students before and loved it. She's not about creating professional musicians, but is about everyone involved getting something from the experience.
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#133 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Joan
How many?
I'd have to scroll back to see the whole list.

Kids who primarily play video games and are academically really lacking - about half of the unschooling families I know.

Kids who aren't prepared for college - we are a bit early to say, but unless kids somehow totally turn around from video games on to anything else it will be several.

Parents are checked out and not involved in nurturing interests - four or five families. It is sad.
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#134 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 10:48 PM
 
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And how many real unschoolers have you met exactly ?

Through the years i've met about 60 confirmed unschooled kids in real life. But they are hiding everywhere ...... so that's just an estimate.
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#135 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan
Just today, we've discussed:

unschoolers unable to go on to college

unschoolers who never learn to read

unschoolers who never learn to "do math"

unschoolers who must enter school "behind" their peers

unschoolers unable to pursue "hard" sciences

unschoolers unable to communicate with others

unschoolers who do nothing but play video games

unschoolers left to their own devices/without parental involvement

My question is, does anyone know any unschooler, irl, who fits any of these descriptions?

My feeling is that we're just discussing hypothetical people and that all of these things are misconceptions/fears that people hold about unschooling. I could be wrong. Maybe I just know all the "good" unschoolers.
I live in Portland, OR. We have a very large homeschooling community here. I am often suprised when I find that someone is unschooling because they just don't fit my "vision" of who an unschooler is for whatever reason. There are so many unschoolers in my area that I'm suprised at myself for being suprised, truthfully. I have never, ever met anyone who fits those descriptions above. However, I know plenty of public schooled children who do.

You know, when I told my ex husband that I was planning to homeschool he gave me the whole "homeschooled kids are weird and homeschooled kids don't fit in" schpiel. You know why? Because the ONE guy that he knew who was homeschooled was weird. He failed to mention all the traditionally schooled kids that he knew that were weird. What I'm saying is that, sure, there will be unschooled kids who fit the above descriptions but there will also be plenty of kids who were not unschooled or homeschooled who fit them as well.
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#136 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
But I strongly doubt that I would have sat there and figured it out unless I had to. I'm very sure of this.
And that's very typical of people who have not been unschooled...

I can't think of any unschoolers who meet any of Joan's criteria, either, and I've known dozens, if not hundreds. I suppose part of it depends on how you define "do nothing but play video games", though. I've met kids who played a lot of video games for periods of weeks or months, and Bestbirths mentioned her older son's game playing... but I can't think of any kids who honestly did "nothing but".

As for the rest of it, nope...

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#137 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:17 PM
 
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I haven't finished the thread, but I was semi-unschooled in 2nd through 8th grades - went to an "open education" mixed age (K-8) school. In 8th grade, my parents (with my eager agreement!) enrolled me in the local middle school's algebra class. The algebra teacher protested, because I hadn't gone through pre-A, and she didn't think kids in 8th grade could really learn algebra anyway (then why the hell was she teaching it?).

Anyway, in the first week of class, she mentioned the Pythagorean Theorum, which everyone else seemed to recognize. I raised my hand, asked what it was, was told, said "Oh, ok", and went on to get a better grade in the class than anyone else. In Geometry through Pre-Calc I was a peer tutor, the person everyone else in class came to to explain the concepts they hadn't gotten when the teacher explained it. This wasn't because I was a prodigy or anything, but because I had never been taught that math was hard - rather that it was easy and fun - and because I was ready to learn it. I didn't need a year to learn the Pythagorean Theorum or be prepped to learn it, I just needed to be told what it was when I needed to know it, and that was that.

Why wouldn't I trust my kids to learn?
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#138 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Roar
Parents are checked out and not involved in nurturing interests - four or five families. It is sad.
Doesn't sound like unschooling to me.
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#139 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn

Anyway, in the first week of class, she mentioned the quadratic equation, which everyone else seemed to recognize. I raised my hand, asked what it was, was told (A2 + B2 = C2 - it's the relationship between the sides of a right-angle triangle, with C being the hypotenuse aka longer side), said "Oh, ok",
Couldn't the take away lesson be that it was a positive thing that you were exposed to this because you were in school? I remember the joy when our son learned about graphing equations. He didn't know what it was and never asked to learn it and it may well have come about when I said "let's sit down for 10 minutes and do math". But, oh the joy. If he was playing Nintendo all day it may not have come up at all.
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#140 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by monkey's mom
Doesn't sound like unschooling to me.
I'm not interested in what is unschooling and what isn't as a debate topic. To me this always ends the same way with people saying "well that isn't unschooling". Okay, the parents identify themselves as unschoolers, associate with unschoolers, etc.
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#141 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Arwyn
Why wouldn't I trust my kids to learn?
Why wouldn't you trust yourself to teach?
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#142 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Roar
I'm not interested in what is unschooling and what isn't as a debate topic. To me this always ends the same way with people saying "well that isn't unschooling". Okay, the parents identify themselves as unschoolers, associate with unschoolers, etc.
But, if you're basing your impression of unschooling on unschoolers who behave in a very different way from other unschoolers, then maybe the impression isn't accurate, you know?

Parental involvement is a HUGE part of unschooling. So if ppl are saying they're unschoolers, but really neglect their kids, it doesn't help to say, "Yes, I know lots of unschoolers who are a mess." The mess is the neglect, not the unschooling. Likely.
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#143 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:30 PM
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I just asked my daughter half an hour ago if she wanted to do some Algebra stuff with me. There's no unschooling rule against offering to do something with your child because you think it's cool, or you think your kid will have fun with it, or because he's asked you to spend some time working on it with you. Unschoolers offer to do stuff to our kids all the time, because that's what people who life with each other and care for each other do.

Of course, as you said on a previous thread, you don't want to talk about what unschooling really is... you just want to keep knocking down the straw man you've created.

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#144 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
Why wouldn't you trust yourself to teach?
Another straw man. Teaching is fine, with the consent of the learner. Being taught is certainly not the only way to learn, though....

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#145 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:38 PM
 
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Well, I am not sure if this is getting OT or not but I am willing to keep going round")

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Originally Posted by Roar
Is it possible for you to acknowledge that some people enjoy teaching students who put in time because they are more fun to teach?
I guess that really depends on the person. I find that it is most fun to teach someone who is excited about the topic. Their rate of progress has little to do with excitement in most cases. I do not find that time spent practicing = fun to teach.



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Originally Posted by Roar
So, let me understand the teacher has no right to decide what the child does in terms of practice but you get to decide what the teacher does or how she should feel about teaching or what she should want?
Well, techinically when you hire a private lesson teacher you are paying for a service. The teacher, of course, has the right to terminate the agreement. But no, they do not have the "right" to decide how a child will use their time outside of lesson time. I am not really sure what is so upsetting about this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
I don't teach music, but I can say from other teaching experiences I enjoy working with students who think differently, who challenge me, who study hard, more than I enjoy working with apathetic, lazy, uncreative, students. If my purpose in teaching is personal enjoyment why shouldn't I get to decide? If someone is working independently as a teacher or tutor should they be able to choose to do what pleases them instead of what pleases you?
I am not sure why someone seeking lessons with little time or desire to practice are considered lazy or apathetic and uncreative. There are all sorts of reasons a student may not practice. My end is to teach what I can. It is up to the student to decide thier end. Maybe they seriously just want to learn a little bit about the instrument. If they are enjoying their time, learning something, and being excited about that time, why begrudge them that? Of course you can decide to ditch students that you do not find up to our standards. But I choose to teach students that want to be taught no matter what their outside commitment is. I find some of them very rewarding to work with. Others not so much. But it rarely translates into practice time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
It seems odd to me that you find practicing a few times a week to be some kind of insanely compromising kind of commitment. I see it simply as no big deal. And, in our son's situation has been no big deal. The commitment was initially discussed and three years later and has never once presented itself as a challenge as he's figured out he feels better when he practices daily.
Further as the party paying for the lessons and the instrument I think it is quite reasonable for me to say I'd like it to be worth more than half an hour a week. Is it your idea that unschooling parents should be responsible to pay any amount of money for anything?
I do not find it insanely compromising. I do practice. At times it is several hours a day. At other times it is once a week. I have even gone months without picking up my instrument. But I do think it is expecting too much of children that DO NOT WANT to. Money is not unlimited in my house. When dd gets to the age of asking for lessons and/or instruments, we will have to discuss finances and make choices wit that in mind. But I do think money for lessons is well spent even if that is the only time she plays and long as she enjoys it, is learning something, and wants to continue in that fashion. Instruments can be rented, borrowed, resold, etc..... I bought dh a guitar several years ago because he expressed an interest. He took lessons for a short time and then decided he did not want to continue. Should I take the guitar away? Should I complain that he did not give it his "all"? Should I make him feel guilty? I do not think so. He got something out of it. If only to realize a greater appreciation for the skill needed to be a great guitar player. He enjoyed it for a time and that is more than most kids get out of lessons so I am happy.

I really have no problem with kids practicing. But I think it needs to be something they want to do. Otherwise it is just forcing an "optional" skill on a child which I never want to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar
As far as the teacher I think it indicates how much you really have no idea about our situation. Our son has disabilities and we selected this teacher due to her flexibility. She's taught disabled students before and loved it. She's not about creating professional musicians, but is about everyone involved getting something from the experience.
I do not believe that "getting something from the experience" is only dictated by certain practice parameters. I think it is quite possible to get something from the experience in many ways. The rigidity of the "getting something" seems very off putting to me. Who decides what that means? IMO, only the person trying to "get something" can determine that,
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#146 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I honestly think that if she'd never built up her...what shall I call it? Frustration muscles? Frustration calluses? Frustration tolerance? over time, that the first time she really encountered it as a hypothetically always-unschooled adult, she might not have the emotional wherewithal to deal with the consequences.
CB, I respect what you have to say, I really do, because it's quite apparent that you have put a lot of thought into this things you discuss here at MDC, but sometimes I am when I read your posts because you speak of your daughter as if she were so much older than five. She's five. Does she really NEED to be exercising her frustration muscles this young? (I'm honestly not trying to be snarky!)

: (Ramona wanted me to put this on.)

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#147 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:43 PM
 
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'm not interested in what is unschooling and what isn't as a debate topic. To me this always ends the same way with people saying "well that isn't unschooling". Okay, the parents identify themselves as unschoolers, associate with unschoolers, etc
You haven't responded to any of my posts to you but, again, I'm saying yes this happens, I have seen it, both online and in real life.

I agree it's a problem, insofar as the unschooling phenomenon has been hijacked to include families who make no distinction between nurturing and neglect...

Doesn't this happen within every group though? It's just a part of life. Political parties are good example of this in action...

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#148 of 591 Old 07-13-2006, 11:58 PM
 
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Wow, this has not been the blood bath that I expected.

It seems to me that many of the issues floating around here concern parenting in general, rather than educational philosophy in particular. Obviously there is no homeschooling style box you can check off and be guaranteed a child who grows up perfectly well adjusted and satisfied with her childhood. It is possible to unschool and still nudge your kid toward asparagus. It is possible to unschool and still perceive that your kid is having issues with quitting at the slightest difficulty, and respond to that as a parent. It is curious to suppose that the only way to address life issues with your child is to instate a curriculum plan.

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#149 of 591 Old 07-14-2006, 12:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Roar
I'm not interested in what is unschooling and what isn't as a debate topic. To me this always ends the same way with people saying "well that isn't unschooling". Okay, the parents identify themselves as unschoolers, associate with unschoolers, etc.
But aren't we discussing whether unschooling is a good idea? Can we agree that the variety of unschooling to which you refer is NOT a good idea, and then move on to considering whether there might be ANY variety of unschooling that WOULD be a good idea?

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#150 of 591 Old 07-14-2006, 12:05 AM
 
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I do trust myself to teach, when someone comes to me wanting to learn. I can't do a damn thing with someone who isn't ready or willing or, gasp!, eager - been there, tried that, it sucked, not doing it again. I can't teach unless the other person is eager to learn, and has chosen to be there. And I can't teach in a particular order - I can only help someone try to understand the concept they are wrestling with at that time. That's self-directed learning, and that's the basis of unschooling, in my understanding.

And I think classes can be great, although they have their downsides. School, however, in my experience, is not the same as taking classes one is interested in. It was not particularly enjoyable being in that algebra class because it was soooooooo slooooooooooooooow, and the teacher was such a stickler for having to do the busywork, whether or not one had already gotten the concept(s) and whether or not the busywork actually was helping the students learn the concept(s).

I've found in my college experience that the classes I enjoy and have done well in are classes where everyone, including the teacher, is wanting to be there and has chosen to be there to learn and discuss and explore a particular topic or area. That doesn't describe most American pre-college (or most college!) schools or classes that I've encountered or heard of.

Even in high school, where basically no one wanted to be there, the classes I took that everyone had to take were basically useless, and I remember almost nothing from them. The classes that were "optional", the language and advanced math and science classes, were bearable (barely), and I learned a little, though not nearly as much as I would have if I had just been put in a room with a bunch of other people interested in the subject(s), and we had gone about exploring and learning and teaching with each other.
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