someone please define "unschooling" for me - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 09-27-2003, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know there are a lot of unschoolers around here. I'm sure that the very nature of unschooling means that there is much variety in what you learn and how you learn it. What I want to know is when do you get to consider yourself an unschooler? Is it when you stop trying to do "school" at home? Or is it when you get rid of all of your curriculum and let the days take their natural course?

Isn't it possible to work through a math book in an "unschool" manner?

Sorry if I sound clueless, I'm just trying to put all of this together.

TIA

Keri, wife to Tony, mom to five DDs: M ('96), S('01), E('04), A('07) and J('10);
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#2 of 7 Old 09-27-2003, 08:10 PM
 
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to me unschooling is child directed. When my son expresses an interest in volcanoes we do everything with volcanoes, when he's into legos, we spend lots of time building legos.

I think the heart of unschooling is that it is non-coercive. (sp?)

For example, my son will ask to do a "preschool lesson" so i then present something that I think is good for him to learn or study, but if his interest is mild we drop it quickly or if it sparks his imagination we run with it. He is a very hands on learner so I try to present arts and crafts and experiements but he's free to say he doesn't want to do that particular thing.

So yes - you can do workbooks in an unschooling way -- if the child is interested in doing workbooks and some kids are.
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#3 of 7 Old 09-27-2003, 11:41 PM
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I think unschooling is about integrating learning into life, and not separating the two at all. Everything Rain does is learning. Unschooling is about not valuing certain kinds of learning over other kids - schools and society tell us that solving algebraic equations is important and knowing how to harmonize isn't, that writing an essay matters and creating an imaginary Fairy World doesn't... it's not true. It all matters.

Our unschooling days look very structured, at least during rehearsal periods, and even without rehearsals Rain now takes 3 weekly dance classes and is part of a choir that meets weekly. That's what she wants to do. She doesn't have much of a concept of school or lessons. OTOH, she wants to start taking community college classes in a few years, and wants to test into a math class she can take for credit, so we have a set of Key to workbooks she occasionally picks up and works in. For her, it's no different than working on some new choreography she wants to master - it's all learning or all life, however you look at it. And if she'd rather learn math another way, we could do that, or she could decide to forget about the college stuff and not do it at all... I don't know what will happen. And it's all her, and it's all okay.

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#4 of 7 Old 09-30-2003, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, these replies are helpful.

I'm asking the question because I've been re-working my approach in my head and I'm looking for inspiration. DH and I just read "Teach Your Own" and I'm looking for practical ways to apply his ideas to our homeschooling. I don't believe we're ready to give up our curriculum and I think that's ok, since DD really enjoys it. I'm partly looking for encouragement since we've had lots of upheaval in our lives lately and we haven't been doing as much work on the books. DD spends more time lately playing make-believe with her little sister and writing stories and stuff like that and I know that these things are valuable, I just need to reassure myself that we're not wasting time. I guess I'm rambling now.

Thanks again.

Keri, wife to Tony, mom to five DDs: M ('96), S('01), E('04), A('07) and J('10);
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#5 of 7 Old 10-02-2003, 03:17 AM
 
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Don't worry about labels. It doesn't matter what you call yourselves. I prefer the term home education, as I think it encompasses a lot of different styles and philosophies.

Like Dar said "unschooling is about integrating learning into life, and not separating the two at all." It may take you some time to feel comfortable putting away the planned curriculum, and that is ok. Try to look at life as a learning adventure and see the value in all things. You will eventually lean less and less on someone else's idea of what learning should take place each day, and begin to simply follow your (your child's) own interests.

For most of us, unschooling is a work in progress.
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#6 of 7 Old 10-02-2003, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't worry about labels. It doesn't matter what you call yourselves.
Thank you, barbara. This is good advice. I worry sometimes about not getting it "right" the first time. As long as I have a long-term goal that makes sense, it's easier for me not to get lost in all the little daily struggles. I'm trying to re-focus on that goal I guess.

Thanks again.

Keri, wife to Tony, mom to five DDs: M ('96), S('01), E('04), A('07) and J('10);
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#7 of 7 Old 10-04-2003, 01:26 PM
 
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I am learning so much from this thread. My ds is very reisitant to structured learning that I am trying to go to a more unschooling approach.

The messy house syndrome, for some of it when I see them done with a certain game and want to, for example, go out side, they are not allowed to go out side until the last game is cleaned up.

It doesn't always work because I don't follow them around to see them change activites but works part of the time.
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