"Unschooling" vs. "Radical Unschooling" - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-09-2007, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some help here...what are the differences between these two HSing styles?
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Old 02-09-2007, 11:15 PM
 
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I prefer the terms "unschooling" a "whole-life unschooling", though neither of those are perfect either. In a nutshell radical, or whole-life unschooling entails applying the non-coercive, child-led philosophy to the rest of family life, including housework, bedtime, hygeine, entertainment media, social graces, etc.. In other words, as a parent you model what you would like to see, voice your principles and concerns, answer questions and provide resources, but you don't require or insist or set out rules.

My family is fairly far down this continuum, but not all the way. I've found that having multiple children has made full-on non-coercive parenting a pretty tall order, since when I don't coerce Noah to come to homeschool gym time on Friday mornings it means no one else can go either.

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Old 02-10-2007, 05:53 AM
 
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In this context, I use the term "radical" to mean "very".

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Old 02-10-2007, 11:05 AM
 
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I simply don't like the word "unschooling" for any level of it , but to answer the question, we're more on the center tilted to the structured side of it. Where education is concerned we are very much child led, but we do allow our children any resource they desire (even if that includes texts and work books). We as a family are more structured than what I would consider a "radical unschooler", even though in most cases we are quite flexible and relaxed.

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Old 02-10-2007, 01:58 PM
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I understand the general usage of the terms to be what Miranda said... regular unschooling applies unschooling principles only to education, while radical unschooling applies the same prinicples to life in general.

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Old 02-10-2007, 03:48 PM
 
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In a nutshell radical, or whole-life unschooling entails applying the non-coercive, child-led philosophy to the rest of family life, including housework, bedtime, hygeine, entertainment media, social graces, etc.. In other words, as a parent you model what you would like to see, voice your principles and concerns, answer questions and provide resources, but you don't require or insist or set out rules.
I'm not really familiar with the term radical unschooler, but your definition sounds like how we have been raising dd. But it's also pretty much how my relationship with dh is.

We don't allow or forbid in general. Although when she was little looking before you cross the street and letting me know which friends house you are playing was requested.
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:55 AM
 
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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Old 02-17-2007, 04:37 AM
 
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... regular unschooling applies unschooling principles only to education, while radical unschooling applies the same prinicples to life in general.
dar
That's it really. Unschoolers impose no curriculum or coercion around "learning" while they still might enforce food choices, bed times etc etc.. Radical unschoolers would argue that there is no line between learning and living so "unregulate" everything. Thus giving the child control over bed time, food, tv and so on.

This is a relatively new movement and in my opinion differs from the often quoted "no boundaries" approach in the 60s. Although radical unschoolers vary radically most would use tools or approaches to communicate, negotiate and appreciate each others needs. So it should not be mistaken for "permissive" parenting... it is infact very hands on & proactive, with parents becoming a fellow traveller and guide rather than an (albeit loving) authority figure. Definitely not for everyone but still might have relevent or challenging ideas for people who are not even homeschooling.

There is more info (including definitions) at our site if you are curious

also my favourite book which ive mentioned on another thread around RU is Rue Kreams' Parenting A Free Child.

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Old 02-17-2007, 10:37 AM
 
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also my favourite book which ive mentioned on another thread around RU is Rue Kreams' Parenting A Free Child.
Excellent, excellent book. I enjoyed reading about a family with such positive, gentle, respectful parenting. It's also a great read for anyone new to the ideas as it's straightforward and a quick read. She covers all the questions that routinely come up on message boards. Dh and I both read it (and he's NEVER read a parenting or unschooling book in all these years) and it's been circulating amoungst our friends for months now.


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Old 02-17-2007, 12:25 PM
 
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Where I stumble with these labels/identity words is that I don't see what the word 'school' has to do with a philosophy of living that isn't about school?
Putting radical in front of unschooling seems almost counter-productive to getting the message out about respectful living.
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Old 02-17-2007, 12:43 PM
 
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Where I stumble with these labels/identity words is that I don't see what the word 'school' has to do with a philosophy of living that isn't about school?
Putting radical in front of unschooling seems almost counter-productive to getting the message out about respectful living.

I wish there was a word that didn't include "school" to describe what we do because even the term "homeschool" defines the activity in relationship to school. At the moment, these are the terms that exist. Things like "life learning" are nice, but most people can't get their minds around the ideas at all, and what we call it won't change that.

Since the "un" in "un-school" creates the meaning "not school" or "counter to school" it does make sense, literally. Where the term "radical unschooling" was first used, I don't know. I see it as the principles of unschooling used as the basis for the entire parent/child relationship. Unschooling encompassing all aspects of life. Make sense?

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Old 02-17-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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I wish there was a word that didn't include "school" to describe what we do because even the term "homeschool" defines the activity in relationship to school. At the moment, these are the terms that exist. Things like "life learning" are nice, but most people can't get their minds around the ideas at all, and what we call it won't change that.

Since the "un" in "un-school" creates the meaning "not school" or "counter to school" it does make sense, literally. Where the term "radical unschooling" was first used, I don't know. I see it as the principles of unschooling used as the basis for the entire parent/child relationship. Unschooling encompassing all aspects of life. Make sense?

I can see how it all evolved.

But I think that is proabably at the heart of why I have such difficulty with these words, and am obessed with clarity right now.

OK...I am actually a fun and thoughtful person...and I totally recognize this horse is quite dead. I do appreciate people's patience.
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Old 02-17-2007, 01:02 PM
 
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Since the "un" in "un-school" creates the meaning "not school" or "counter to school" it does make sense, literally.
Agreed. Also agree that many unschoolers would prefer not to be defined "against" school. The term was first used by John Holt and it was initially interchangeable with "homeschooling". It sort of stuck as a label for "natural learners" somehow???

I dont like the "radical unschooling" term even more because it has an air of exclustiveness or "being way out there" about it I use it because it means something to a whole bunch of people...

Ive noticed that in the UK the term "autonomous child" or "autonomous parenting" is used but i have not dug around to see if it the same thing in practice. And of course some people use "life learning" but that does not seem to capture the life approach of radical unschooling.

I guess like any label or jargon they can be restrictive or instructive. I like that quote about using such things like a lamp post – can be used to actively illuminate an area or just passively leant upon.

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Old 02-17-2007, 02:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
Where I stumble with these labels/identity words is that I don't see what the word 'school' has to do with a philosophy of living that isn't about school?
Putting radical in front of unschooling seems almost counter-productive to getting the message out about respectful living.

I understand where you are coming from. I have a personal aversion to the word "school" in what we do, so even though technically I know our general style and philosophy applies under the "unschool", but not "radical unschool" ideals, I can't bring myself to use that terminology.

I do understand where the term [unschooling] came from, but imo it is very deceiving and leaves a negative connotation of what it really is. This is why I rarely will use it [unschooling] in real life, since it tends to put one into a negative mindset. I prefer to use positive words for what our philosophies are and how we go to implement them as a family. Sure it’s wordy, but I’d rather be wordy than to use a simple word that doesn’t really resonate with our family.

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Old 02-17-2007, 04:35 PM
 
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I don't like the term "unschooling" simply because (to me) it implies school as the default, which isn't objectively true. It's true in our society, of course, which is why there is this extra element for me of feeling offended by the term (or rather, offended by having to cater to others' notions of "normal" in defining myself.) But I can't really fight with the fact that it's become convention to use the term.

As for the meaning of "unschooling" vs. "radical unschooling", what Dar said, "regular unschooling applies unschooling principles only to education, while radical unschooling applies the same prinicples to life in general." The way I justify it in my mind is to think of a more inclusive definition of "being schooled". For instance, my thesaurus says that when using "school" as a verb (and usually as slang,) it can mean, "advance, coach, control, cultivate, direct, discipline, drill, educate, guide, indoctrinate, inform, instruct, lead, manage, prepare, prime, show, train, tutor, verse," in other words it can be used outside of the context of academia to include any sort of coercive "teaching someone a lesson". So it is considered unschooling to allow my child to learn about what are generally considered academic subjects (like math) in a non-coercive and naturally individual-led, naturally logical way, but it is considered radical unschooling to allow him to learn about life in that way. For instance, while someone might identify as an unschooler because she allows her child to learn math in his own time and way, she might not identify as a radical unschooler, because she isn't comfortable allowing her child to learn to regulate his/her body rhythms organically and prefers to set a bedtime.
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Old 02-18-2007, 03:15 AM
 
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We call ourselves "homelearners" b/c the term "homeschool" conjures up images of recreating the classroom in our home, which is so not what we are about. Unfortunately it just confuses the general public (who always ask DD about school - where she's going, etc). OTOH sometimes I just feel like saying "we homeschool" and letting them go off with their preconceived notions.

Wasn't it Sandra Dodd who coined the term "radical unschooling"? And I too have understood it to mean "applied to the whole lifestyle" re: discipline, as opposed to just learning. While I would define my approach to learning as unschooling, I do not practice radical unschooling, though I suppose I approach that in my parenting.

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