Does anyone think there are any legit & intelligent arguments against Unschooling? - Page 14 - Mothering Forums

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#391 of 408 Old 01-15-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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I don't think the argument that unschoolers won't be able to go to good colleges if they want to is a "legitimate and intelligent" one. I currently know two unschoolers attending Reed and UC Berkeley as freshmen this year, and one who just graduated from UCDavis (I know that the first two were also accepted other places, but those were their first choices).
I worked in the admissions office at Reed when I was a senior there. We would have been *all over* an unschooled applicant - it would definitely have gotten the admissions officers excited.

Reed is a school with *very* traditional academics - for example, every freshman is required to take Greek & Roman Humanities and every senior is required to write an original thesis. But over the years, they've found that the applicants who will make the best students are the ones who have an inner drive to learn things - not necessarily the ones with the best high school grades. When I reviewed application folders, I was specifically told to look for kids who might not have been all that successful in a traditional high school environment, but showed signs of personal qualities like intelligence, drive, love of learning, and self-directedness.

Alexandra 4.11.05 and Colin 2.9.09. Click on my name to visit my homeschooling blog.
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#392 of 408 Old 01-15-2008, 06:03 PM
 
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I don't doubt that the subject "comes up" in an unschooling home, but I don't think it's desirable to learn history in random bits and pieces. That's very similar to how the schools teach it and it just doesn't work. Seeing history as nothing but random trivia is the end result of such a system.
I actually think that people are much more likely to retain only random trivia if they've been marched through history as a mandated sequence, rather than learning in an interest-driven way. My daughter's only 2.5, so instead of giving an example about her, I'll give an example about myself.

A few months ago, I bought a stack of Cherry Ames books on eBay. They're an old-fashioned (1940s-1950s) girls' series about a young nurse. I had read one or two of them as a kid and loved them, so I jumped at the chance to buy a whole pile.

The books carried me through Cherry's history as a student nurse during World War II, who then signs up for the Army Nurse Corps after she graduates and serves overseas. Reading them made me curious to learn more about the series, and I discovered online that the books were funded in part by the U.S. government to encourage girls to go into nursing. That made me wonder whether they gave anything like an accurate portrayal of wartime nursing, so I checked a couple of nonfiction books about WWII nurses out of the library - _G.I. Nightingales_ and _We Band of Angels._ (I recommend the second but not the first.)

All of this immersion in the experience of WWII nurses made me interested in getting more general context about the war. Fortunately, at the time our local PBS station was airing Ken Burns' massive multipart documentary, _The War._ My husband and I watched it together. It turns out that he has an enormous amount of knowledge about WWII military history, and so we'd pause the TiVO and he'd fill in extra background or complain about certain things being left out, or I'd ask him questions. In turn, I shared information with him that I'd gotten from my recent nonfiction reading. I dredged up memories from grad school about how PTSD/combat fatigue/shellshock was viewed and treated across the course of 20th century military history and shared it with him, and we discussed how it fit in with what we were watching.

The war-at-home segments of the documentary also brought to mind things I've read in the past about both the Civil Rights movement and the modern feminist movement having roots in WWII, and we had some interesting discussions about that.

Now, when I was in high school I took honors-level American History courses. I can guarantee that we studied WWII for more than a month, and went in detail into all the root causes, military campaigns, after-effects, etc. I learned all that stuff and got A's. But I retained only the most general of ideas, and my knowledge was pretty superficial and shallow.

In contrast, the things I've learned recently, just because "the subject came up" in our house, are vivid and deeply rooted in other things that I know about the time period. Everything fits together, not because it was presented in a sequential and orderly fashion under the direction of someone who knew better than I did about what I should know, but because I care about it and because it connected up to other historical puzzle-pieces which I also care about.

Wow, that was long. But I think it's a useful example.

Alexandra 4.11.05 and Colin 2.9.09. Click on my name to visit my homeschooling blog.
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#393 of 408 Old 01-15-2008, 09:07 PM
 
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But it doens't necessarily work in an unschooling lifestyle. The person has to want to care about history, have a reason to care, an interest in learning about history etc.......................

So presentation, no matter how dynamic or earnest, without interest on the other side is meaningless and futile, and disrecpectful as unschoolers would say.
I just saw this and wanted to agree. Very well said.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
peace.gif  Embrace the learning that is happening within the things that are actually happening!    
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#394 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 10:29 AM
 
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In contrast, the things I've learned recently, just because "the subject came up" in our house, are vivid and deeply rooted in other things that I know about the time period. Everything fits together, not because it was presented in a sequential and orderly fashion under the direction of someone who knew better than I did about what I should know, but because I care about it and because it connected up to other historical puzzle-pieces which I also care about.

Wow, that was long. But I think it's a useful example.
Yes, great example!
Could you imagine if you told yourself, "yes I'm interested in WW2 nursing but I'd better start with researching the origin of nursing and how it was done in the first documented wars and then research nursing in every other war until I get to WW2"?!
Our brains can sort information, even history learned "out of order". I totally agree with you that it's the interest (and the freedom) that makes it really stick. Even things I learned in some of my college classes that I found really interesting are vague to me because I had no time to delve further into the subject. It was hard enough just to finish the reading and memorize what I needed to know (or stay up until 3 am writing a paper) before the deadline.
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#395 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 10:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mz_libbie22 View Post
I don't doubt that the subject "comes up" in an unschooling home, but I don't think it's desirable to learn history in random bits and pieces. That's very similar to how the schools teach it and it just doesn't work. Seeing history as nothing but random trivia is the end result of such a system.
How history comes up in an unschooling home is nothing like the way schools teach it (meaning your average school here, and not, for example, UUMom's DS' school, which probably teaches history differently).

You just can't compare watching documentaries, reading books, researching topics of interest and discussing history with one's parents or other people as a similar way of learning to being made to read a history textbook, listen to a history lecture (when you are so tired from having had to get up at 6 am and care more about just about anything than what the teacher is droning on about) and copy notes from a blackboard.

I'm not saying following a history curriculum is a bad idea if that's what works for your family, or requiring certain topics to be covered. I wouldn't compare that to the way schools (again, your average ordinary public school history class) teach the subject either.

OT but I found it interesting one time to read a thread (not at MDC) where some people were upset that Sonlight calls its curric "core knowledge" when it's mostly literature and history. I guess there are people out there who don't consider that to be core knowledge at all. :
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#396 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 11:03 AM
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I agree that learning things is more strongly correlated with internal motivation, and that everything does not need to be pushed down a young child's throat. However, leaving many skills until a child has become an older teenager may leave such a huge mountain to climb that even the most motivated child becomes discouraged and gives up.

I have really enjoyed this thread and it has given me a lot to think about!

That said, I think it is a misunderstanding that there is such a huge mountain to climb for unschoolers if and when they want to attend college/university.

The whole point with unschooling imo is that if you´d want to go to say university, it would be because you have discovered that it is "on your path" of what you want to do with your life. ( that wasn´t very eloquent...)
Your journey as an unschooler has taken you there. And in the process you have accumulated a lot of knowledge...so I am guessing that by the time you decide to go to university, you are maybe halfway up the mountain. If not, at least at base camp.

And accumulating knowledge from base camp and up is compounding - it builds on previous knowledge. So it´s not like the mountain stands there as a separate isolated entity to be climbed. The mountain is part of your everyday environment.

Learning isn´t really a straight path up the mountain (to use that analogy). It´s also kind of 3 dimensional.
And our wonderful brain works in such a way that the more things we learn, the more space it has for more knowledge. It´s like every time we learn something new, our brain creates new "pegs" for us to hang even newer knowledge on.

Now, the mountain analogy is getting a little funny in my head....
Because if getting to the summit is the equivalent to going to university....then there is only one way to go from there - down.
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#397 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How history comes up in an unschooling home is nothing like the way schools teach it (meaning your average school here, and not, for example, UUMom's DS' school, which probably teaches history differently).
:

Er, um. LOL Not sure how to take that, but I agree with you. My oldest ds went to the same school, and he's a history/government major in college now. When he chose his major, he wrote to his 7th and 8yh grade history teacher (same one my youngest ds has now) and thanked her for inspiring in him a love of history. So yeah, they do a really good job as far as my ds' learning styles and needs are concerned. My youngest ds told me in the car yesterday that he was thinking about becoming a teacher of literature *and* history. hehehehehehe As much as I love hsing, my boys were/are a perfect fior for this particular school/history teacher. My oldest said that it was his Latin classes that fired him up about literature. I think that is also a source of excitement for my youngest son. : My youngest ds (14) also said yesterday that he thinks a good assignemnt for an English class would be to write an essay on Why? Nothing else...just Why, and let the students determine what that means.

ETA-- With my hsers, I reley heavily on The Story of the World *bibiliogrpahy* and other sources. But even when I was in school a million years ago (in MA), we watched tons of films and movies, and went to see The Diary of Anne Frank preformed by a local high school group. In high school, we also watched the TV mini series The Holocaust, The Diary of Miss Jane Pittman, and Roots. I also remember an amazingly fantastic middle school history class where we viewed, of all movies, Gone With The Wind , and then To Kill a Mickingbird. Talk about eye opening talks on culture and racism... it was profoundly moving to me as a young girl. I am not saying most people don't hate history because of how it was presented to them in schools, but some of us do get lucky.
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#398 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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Fabulous thread! It's taken me days to read with nak and all...but, thanks to all who so thoughtfully contributed.
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#399 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 02:08 PM
 
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Er, um. LOL Not sure how to take that, but I agree with you.
haha, I meant it in a nice way! I know that there are some schools out there to which the generalizations don't apply and as I was typing your DS' school popped into my head because from all you've written about it it seems pretty cool and I know your DS goes because he wants to, not because he has to.
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#400 of 408 Old 01-16-2008, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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haha, I meant it in a nice way! I know that there are some schools out there to which the generalizations don't apply and as I was typing your DS' school popped into my head because from all you've written about it it seems pretty cool and I know your DS goes because he wants to, not because he has to.
I figured. Thanks. And you have a very nice memory.
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#401 of 408 Old 01-17-2008, 04:50 PM
 
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What an interesting thread. I've actually had this same conversation going on in my head for the past 6 years that we've been homeschooling . I'm neither completely comfortable with unschooling, nor completely comfortable with school at home - I worry about both!

What we've ended up doing is going along with what my kids want to do with respect to their schooling, and that has involved some formal academics, and lots and lots of time that looks like unschooling. We just call it homeschooling and leave it at that.

Now that my son is 13, he's decided he's going to go to a small, charter high school next year, and he's focused on acquiring certain skills that he does not have that he will need to have in school. Two skills he has not acquired through largely unschooling (or never having been forced to learn these skills...) are 1) formal writing - constructing paragraphs, essays, book reports, etc., and 2) rote memorization of information that he will have to reproduce on tests/aka "study skills." It's very interesting to see him, now, working to acquire these skills.

When my son first decided last fall that he would go to high school next school year, I told a friend of mine who has radically unschooled her two girls (ages 12 and 16) from birth. I expressed my concern (anxiety?) about my son's lack of writing experience. Her 16 year old is now taking a couple of classes at the community college, and my friend said that she had never really written anything formal prior to her first assignment there, but when asked to write a couple of paragraphs about X, she just wrote a couple of paragraphs, and it was fine.

Well, that's great for that girl, and for every other unschooler who's been able to suddenly just write a couple of paragraphs. For my son, it's just not happening like that - even though he is highly motivated to go to school next year - highly motivated. In fact, in many discussions about his various options for homeschooling high school, he won't even consider any others. If he had been in school, he would have been diagnosed with dyslexia/dysgraphia. He is a very good reader now, but the writing just isn't coming very well. His dysgraphia also bleeds over into typing skills, and these have also been difficult for him to acquire, though I think they're getting better now that he's staying up until 2:00 in the morning messaging friends on MySpace! .

Now, to be fair, my son has a friend who was schooled until he was 13 years old, and just started homeschooling this school year. He also is dysgraphic, and is unable to write a paragraph spontaneously, and he is very bright. Would my son have had the same outcome if I'd done school at home with him all along? I don't know, but I do know that in his rare moment of frustration, he gets upset that I didn't "make him" learn this stuff like other kids have to. In other moments, we just get to work. He's going through a formal writing program, learning step by step how to write a good, solid paragraph. We're not even close to thinking about essay writing at this time.

As for memorizing information and factoids, and regurgitating them on tests, I just don't know how that's all going to work out yet. So, here's a real life situation in which a child who has been largely unschooled (I guess?), and is very motivated to go to school is struggling mightily to acquire the academic skills he doesn't yet have, and is struggling internally with some regret about how he has been educated up to now. He is a very confident, happy, intelligent guy otherwise. To put this in perspective, this particular frustration is a tiny part of whole life, but it's there nonetheless. I guess we really won't know how it all has worked out for him until he actually gets to the school, and attempts the work required.

I like threads like these that really make me think. Thanks everyone!
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#402 of 408 Old 01-18-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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Openskyheart (love that concept, by the way!) -- I hope you'll come back and update us (right here on this thread), after your son has gotten started in his new school.

One thing I noticed was that your friend's dd hadn't done formal writing, but did it right away once it was assigned to her in her new school -- the one she'd chosen herself, just as your son has chosen his school. Then you say your son hasn't done it yet -- but then, he's not at the school yet, either, is he? He hasn't had the assignment yet!

I have a feeling that someone who reads books (which your son is now doing) will have an unconscious sense of what a paragraph is, and once he gets to thinking about whatever topic he's writing about, it'll come together for him!

Please let us know how it goes!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#403 of 408 Old 01-19-2008, 03:05 AM
 
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You know, you're right, Mammal Mama. Fake assignments from mom - even though he wants to be prepared for school, probably don't have the same sense of urgency, or of reality that school assignments will.

I was talking to another friend of mine today who is sending her son to this same school next week (!) as a sophomore starting midyear. He had been unschooled up until last year. Well, I guess he's still been unschooled since he took some homeschool workshops at a public school home study program that gave him high school credits for work he completed. He did choose to do those classes. Anyway, my friend and I have similar feelings of both anxiety regarding "can they succeed in this kind of environment?" and excitement that they're both charting their own courses, making their own decisions about how they want to learn, and how they want to participate in the world now that they're teenagers. Her point to me was that she thinks that we have set the bar too high in our minds regarding what kids in high school are actually accomplishing, and that our kids may surprise us and do just fine. She's going to keep me posted on how her son does - he has very similar learning styles as my son, though, of course, some differences as well.

I will keep everyone posted on my son's high school adventure.
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#404 of 408 Old 01-19-2008, 12:47 PM
 
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I will keep everyone posted on my son's high school adventure.
Please do.

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#405 of 408 Old 07-23-2008, 11:01 PM
 
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[B]


Unschooling is actively enriching the child's world to facilitate their passions!


Pat
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#406 of 408 Old 07-24-2008, 02:24 AM
 
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Just realized that I bumped an old thread

Darn search features

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#407 of 408 Old 07-24-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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But this reminds me, Openskyheart -- Update us! How is it going?

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#408 of 408 Old 07-24-2008, 01:14 PM
 
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But this reminds me, Openskyheart -- Update us! How is it going?
I am wondering too :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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