I am no longer a supporter of unschooling :( (BIG vent, dont read if ur going to be offended) - Page 11 - Mothering Forums

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#301 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:02 AM
 
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Ok, I'll bite.

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Originally Posted by aslyn View Post
I am a full supporter of homeschooling..it didnt work for my family but I still support it; but this thread has given me a few questions to ponder so I pose them to all of you. I'm not being snarky in any way I just really find this thread very interesting so please don't be offended!

1. Any kid who has ever seen a show on pbs or nick jr or any of the other kids stations out there, or had any exposure to the outside world is going to be curious about school for those of you who have never sent your kids to school did your children ask to go to school at any point? How did you handle that? Do you think that child led learning and freedom of choice should/should not include the choice to go to school? If your child walked up to you right now and said "I want to go to school" would you oblige that choice? If not and you believe they are to young to make that decision, then why do you think that they are old enough to decide what they should learn?
Have you watched those shows? Once you get out of the preschool shows, most of the kid characters dread school (Arthur especially). If anything, those shows have convinced my kids that they NEVER want to go to school. But if I had a child who had a sustained wish to go to school, I would let them try it. Our public schools are fine.

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2. As we have seen in this thread there are kids who can catch up and those that can't/don't/struggle. At what age do you start to suspect there is problem/LD as opposed to just a non-interest subject material. Using my own DD as an example, forgetting that she has learning disabilities (because I dont think its fair to use anyone else's experiences or children as examples). She will be 10 in jan and just now learning to read basic stories, and basic math skills. (proud mommy moment she just read me the cat in the hat last night *yay*) her handwriting is barely legible. She has never shown a ounce of interest in anything except the fine arts and stage magic tricks and I fully suspect that she will be involved in some sort of theatre work when she grows up. Do you think her skill set is acceptable for her age?
At the risk of offending you, kids in school have so many activities forced on them, that I don't think you can accurately gauge what they might be interested in if they weren't in school. I'm not in the business of assessing people's children, so I probably would never know what exactly your daughter's skills are. If you asked me about it, I'd suggest you get her assessed if you were concerned.

For my late reader, I kept a close eye on what seemed to be holding her back. In her case she seemed to be developmentally late in a way that many homeschoolers have experienced, and her symptoms did not point to dyslexia or problems requiring vision therapy. We tried some new approaches when she began to show signs of readiness and she started to read. She is now reading above grade level, and while she doesn't love to read like her bookworm big sister, she doesn't hate it or feel like her late reading means that she is stupid. I feel confident that if she were subjected to years of remedial reading instruction, she would hate reading and would believe that she was stupid.

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I focus on reading & math here, because those IMO are the 2 most important skills one can ever have. Without those a person will never be able to learn anything else. If you cant read a book on snakes (or even wikipedia articles) how will you learn about them? ykim? If you cant add or subtract how will you ever balance a checkbook, make a budget..even someone who works in fast food needs to know how to do these things.
I agree that adults need to know how to read and do math, but kids can learn lots before they read. My dd scored in the 98th percentile for science, history and general knowledge on our annual assessment despite being reading only cvc words at that point. Math comes naturally to my kids. I have no experience with delays in math.

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3. I have admitted that my 7 yr olds driving force for learning to read was to play world of warcraft..which we rarely let him actualy play anyway but from the age of about 2 and up he absolutely HATES to be read to. Even at school he hates reading groups (even though he is in the highest group where he reads whatever book he chooses from the bin) and he hates story time and library..hes bored out of his head. He hates reading books, he hates math. His only real interest is video games. If I was letting him go by his interest, do we all really believe that hes going to learn any real life skills from WoW? Sure maybe he will grow up to be a video game designer or something, but I asked him 1 day what he wanted to be when he grew up..his answer "I'm going to live with you and play video games on the computer" Not what I want to hear by far. However that leaves me to question if it's really in his best interest to let him follow his bliss?
Again, if he's in school, you have no way of knowing what he might be doing with his time if he weren't in school. Many people have found that once kids are no longer forced to read, they actually come to enjoy it, but there are exceptions to that too. Regarding WoW, not all unschoolers believe in unrestricted screen time. My kids have no idea what WoW is (and I only have a hazy idea). I wouldn't let a 7 year old play videogames constantly. I would seek out other interesting activities for him so hopefully he wouldn't want to play constantly, but just playing WoW wouldn't be an option in our house. And if it's a first-person shooter, it might not be an option at all. Those things creep me out.

If my son were fascinated by WoW, I would try to understand what it is about the game that he finds so interesting, and look for other ways for him to get that kind of stimulation. Maybe he'd enjoy watching some battle re-enactments (history!) or a local military fort turned museum. We could build a potato gun (science and math!), etc...

The point is that it's not about just letting your kids roll out of bed in the morning and do whatever occurs to them, without offering enrichment, help and suggestions.
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#302 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by aslyn View Post
1. Any kid who has ever seen a show on pbs or nick jr or any of the other kids stations out there, or had any exposure to the outside world is going to be curious about school for those of you who have never sent your kids to school did your children ask to go to school at any point? How did you handle that? Do you think that child led learning and freedom of choice should/should not include the choice to go to school? If your child walked up to you right now and said "I want to go to school" would you oblige that choice? If not and you believe they are to young to make that decision, then why do you think that they are old enough to decide what they should learn?
My kids have always had the choice to go to school except for the first year we homeschooled. We removed DS1 from school because the military base we lived on at the time did not have any DoD schools, and the public school we were expected to use was horrific. Like, bars-on-the-windows-and-security-guards horrific. It was an inner city school in Washington, DC, K-5. The teachers didn't allow kids to go the restroom without an adult escorting them, for safety reasons.

DS1 never asked to return to school. DS2 has never been to school, and was mildly interested a few years ago, but mostly for social reasons. They both have schooled friends and see enough about school on television and hear enough about school from the adults in their lives that it never became a real desire.

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2. As we have seen in this thread there are kids who can catch up and those that can't/don't/struggle. At what age do you start to suspect there is problem/LD as opposed to just a non-interest subject material. Using my own DD as an example, forgetting that she has learning disabilities (because I dont think its fair to use anyone else's experiences or children as examples). She will be 10 in jan and just now learning to read basic stories, and basic math skills. (proud mommy moment she just read me the cat in the hat last night *yay*) her handwriting is barely legible. She has never shown a ounce of interest in anything except the fine arts and stage magic tricks and I fully suspect that she will be involved in some sort of theatre work when she grows up. Do you think her skill set is acceptable for her age?
Maybe. Maybe not. Not too long ago in history, kids weren't even expected to begin learning those things until they were 10-12 years old. I guess the question is whether or not your daughter is developmentally ready to perform those tasks. I don't think anyone on a message board can determine that for you.

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3. I have admitted that my 7 yr olds driving force for learning to read was to play world of warcraft..which we rarely let him actualy play anyway but from the age of about 2 and up he absolutely HATES to be read to. Even at school he hates reading groups (even though he is in the highest group where he reads whatever book he chooses from the bin) and he hates story time and library..hes bored out of his head. He hates reading books, he hates math. His only real interest is video games. If I was letting him go by his interest, do we all really believe that hes going to learn any real life skills from WoW? Sure maybe he will grow up to be a video game designer or something, but I asked him 1 day what he wanted to be when he grew up..his answer "I'm going to live with you and play video games on the computer" Not what I want to hear by far. However that leaves me to question if it's really in his best interest to let him follow his bliss?
I don't know very many people who followed the dream they had when they were 7yo. A 7yo doesn't really have any concrete ideas about being "grown up." I'm not saying that playing video games all day, every day, is good. However, if the only alternative he sees to video games is reading books, that seems very limiting. Is he out in the world ever? Are there any activities he enjoys that aren't video games or reading books? Does he know that people work at designing and building video games? A kid can't aim to be something if they don't know that something exists.
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#303 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jessicaSAR View Post
I think this is the crucial point.

If you have a specific idea of what a well-rounded, rigorous education is, then unschooling is probably not such a good idea. US'd children may learn many of the things that fit my definition of an excellent education, but, then again, they may not. If you want to ensure that your child has a certain skill set that they can carry into their adult life, and that they can transition easily between homeschooling and schooling, then US is probably not the way to go.

On the other hand, if you are ok with the idea that a child may have some well developed skills, and not others; if you are ok with the idea that a child may know a whole lot about biology and not much at all about geography; if you are essentially ok with the idea that the child will be happy and content doing what they are interested in, and not worrying about things that are not as interesting to them; if you are ok with the idea that they will choose when and how they need to catch up on certain skills, and if that is not possible they will be happy finding other occupations or avocations, then US may be a great choice.

There is no question in my mind that some children are going to struggle with an US approach. But, as parents, we have to be conscious about what our educational goals are and how much of our child's education we are willing to leave up to chance; what skills we believe they absolutely must have, and what skills we are willing to leave to their discretion.

US'ers cannot guarantee that US'd children will have a rigorous, well-rounded education, as I define it. They cannot guarantee that US'd children will be smarter or better educated than schooled children. I think US'ers are just ok with a greater amount of uncertainty. And that's fine. But, parents new to homeschooling should be aware of this uncertainty when they make the choice to US.
This post rubs me the wrong way... I am reading this and am hearing you say that parents that choose Unschooling do not have a specific idea of what a well-rounded education is, are leaving the education of their children up to chance and that children won't pick up on skills that parents believe are important in adult life. AS an unschooler, I disagree.

You seem to be saying that because thing are not taught in a specific order at a specific time that if a child/teen decides that it is important they may never learn it even if they are interested and goal oriented. Again, based on experience of the people around me, unschooled, homeschooled and traditionally schooled, I disagree with you.

You also seem to be saying that rigorous homeschooler/private schooler/public schooler guarantees that a child will learn and retain everything that you believe to be valuable and are guaranteed to be smarter, well rounded and better educated and will 100% get the career that they want to get. I am sorry, but there are no guarantees in ANY path.

I think you have a very skewed perception of what unschooling is and it is a very widespread misconception. As my kids grow I am meeting many more unschooling family including teens and young adults that were unschooled, I have not met anyone that fits into your description of Unschooling.

 
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#304 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by littlest birds View Post
The lines get blurry and I suppose they are rather artificial. Often child-centered or otherwise individually-adapted approaches that have the parent making many decisions are actually used by unschoolers. This is not child-led though.
Correct. It's interest-led, which is my preferred term.
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#305 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
I kept a close eye on what seemed to be holding her back. ... We tried some new approaches...

Regarding WoW, not all unschoolers believe in unrestricted screen time. ... I wouldn't let a 7 year old play videogames constantly. I would seek out other interesting activities for him ... just playing WoW wouldn't be an option in our house.

...I would try to understand what it is about the game that he finds so interesting, and look for other ways for him to get that kind of stimulation.

The point is that it's not about just letting your kids roll out of bed in the morning and do whatever occurs to them, without offering enrichment, help and suggestions.
Aslyn,

This is what I was getting at. This mom is herself finding things for her children. They are not finding everything to do for themselves. She is taking what she can learn and observe about her children and responding by herself seeking appropriate activities based on what she sees. She has a respectful way to offer these things to her children. The adult perspective, participation, and leadership all matter.

The permissive unschooler stereotype is a stereotype, and like most stereotypes is based on half-truths, sometimes-truths, and misconceptions. And I am afraid that some unschoolers may follow that stereotype as an ideal, perhaps even against their parental instincts, while not realizing there can be more to it.

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#306 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by aslyn View Post
I am a full supporter of homeschooling..it didnt work for my family but I still support it; but this thread has given me a few questions to ponder so I pose them to all of you. I'm not being snarky in any way I just really find this thread very interesting so please don't be offended!

1. Any kid who has ever seen a show on pbs or nick jr or any of the other kids stations out there, or had any exposure to the outside world is going to be curious about school for those of you who have never sent your kids to school did your children ask to go to school at any point? How did you handle that? Do you think that child led learning and freedom of choice should/should not include the choice to go to school? If your child walked up to you right now and said "I want to go to school" would you oblige that choice? If not and you believe they are to young to make that decision, then why do you think that they are old enough to decide what they should learn?
I'll bite too...

My kids had no interest in school besides the school bus when they were younger, but you are right I wouldn't send them to school if they asked... but it is not for the reasons that you think it is, it is not because they are too young to make that decision per say, but because that decision would impact our whole family and the education of their siblings. When my kids are older and we can all talk about the impact that going to school may have on the family and on each other, then they could make the decision themselves. If I had one child, I might see this differently however, but I have four and live in a place that is unfriendly to homeschoolers. I would however figure out what my child is wanting/needing by wanting to go to school, and figure out something that would work for all of us to provide them with what they need.

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Originally Posted by aslyn View Post
2. As we have seen in this thread there are kids who can catch up and those that can't/don't/struggle. At what age do you start to suspect there is problem/LD as opposed to just a non-interest subject material. Using my own DD as an example, forgetting that she has learning disabilities (because I dont think its fair to use anyone else's experiences or children as examples). She will be 10 in jan and just now learning to read basic stories, and basic math skills. (proud mommy moment she just read me the cat in the hat last night *yay*) her handwriting is barely legible. She has never shown a ounce of interest in anything except the fine arts and stage magic tricks and I fully suspect that she will be involved in some sort of theatre work when she grows up. Do you think her skill set is acceptable for her age?
I don't think that anyone would answer this.. I could only answer for my children, because I know my children. There are so many factors involved.

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Originally Posted by aslyn View Post
I focus on reading & math here, because those IMO are the 2 most important skills one can ever have. Without those a person will never be able to learn anything else. If you cant read a book on snakes (or even wikipedia articles) how will you learn about them? ykim? If you cant add or subtract how will you ever balance a checkbook, make a budget..even someone who works in fast food needs to know how to do these things.
As you said, math and reading are part of life... there are so many ways to learn them without being taught...

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3. I have admitted that my 7 yr olds driving force for learning to read was to play world of warcraft..which we rarely let him actualy play anyway but from the age of about 2 and up he absolutely HATES to be read to. Even at school he hates reading groups (even though he is in the highest group where he reads whatever book he chooses from the bin) and he hates story time and library..hes bored out of his head. He hates reading books, he hates math. His only real interest is video games. If I was letting him go by his interest, do we all really believe that hes going to learn any real life skills from WoW? Sure maybe he will grow up to be a video game designer or something, but I asked him 1 day what he wanted to be when he grew up..his answer "I'm going to live with you and play video games on the computer" Not what I want to hear by far. However that leaves me to question if it's really in his best interest to let him follow his bliss?
My son hated to be read to even as a baby.. we also couldn't sing to him...
I don't believe that we are "permissive" but we have no limits on video games... so he did used to play all of the time and did teach himself to read through the video games he was playing (Mostly D&D type games, Star wars and Spore) it was one of his main interests for a LONG time... then his interests changed... Now he is almost never on the computer unless he is looking for something and instead is reading for hours a day...

Now he loves to read about medieval times... has a big interest in evolution and is getting excited about new things he read all of the time...

So yes, I let him follow his bliss....







.

 
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#307 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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This post rubs me the wrong way... I am reading this and am hearing you say that parents that choose Unschooling do not have a specific idea of what a well-rounded education is, are leaving the education of their children up to chance and that children won't pick up on skills that parents believe are important in adult life. AS an unschooler, I disagree.

You seem to be saying that because thing are not taught in a specific order at a specific time that if a child/teen decides that it is important they may never learn it even if they are interested and goal oriented. Again, based on experience of the people around me, unschooled, homeschooled and traditionally schooled, I disagree with you.

You also seem to be saying that rigorous homeschooler/private schooler/public schooler guarantees that a child will learn and retain everything that you believe to be valuable and are guaranteed to be smarter, well rounded and better educated and will 100% get the career that they want to get. I am sorry, but there are no guarantees in ANY path.

I think you have a very skewed perception of what unschooling is and it is a very widespread misconception. As my kids grow I am meeting many more unschooling family including teens and young adults that were unschooled, I have not met anyone that fits into your description of Unschooling.
I am sorry my post rubs you the wrong way, but I did not say the things you are offended by. USing parents may have an idea of what a well-rounded education is, they have just decided not to impose that idea on their children, but rather to let them lead. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems central to most of the unschooling posts I see here.

USers may pick up on vital skills, but they may not (that is sort of what this thread has been about). I do think Unschoolers are more willing to leave that to chance. They may believe that it is likely that the child will have all the skills they need, but there is no guarantee, and they are ok with that. Again, fine, just another philosophy.

I never said a homeschooled child is guaranteed to retain everything they learn, or that all careers will be open to them. I just never said that. All I said was that a homeschooling parent is trying to make a systematic effort to ensure skill development, while an USing parent is willing to let skills develop when and if the child wants to develop them. I agree, no guarantees.

I don't think I have a skewed perception of unschooling. The unschoolers I know range widely in skills and interestes and talents. I am not sure I understand your concern with my description. Unschoolers seem to take great pride in child-led learning, so much that they imply homeschooling or schooling are coercive and authoritarian because they require the child to learn certain things at certain times and places. Yet, when I say that an unschooler is ok with letting learning happen at the child's behest, then I don't understand unschooling??

I did not intend to offend you, but I do think Unschoolers often try to walk a tightrope by suggesting that there is no set set of skills or knowledge that define an educated person, but that of course all unschooled children will develop whatever skills and knowledge are necessary to be considered well-educated. I think you can find these very confusions and contradictions in this very long thread
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#308 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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Ok, I have issues with mulit-quote but just for a point of reference I was using my own kids as examples simply because I feel that using others as examples is not fair. My DD does have a documented/diagnosed disability, and I have many times come to these boards wondering if she was typical before they went to school; I don't recall anyone ever saying hey maybe you should have her evaluated. And I don't easily get offended, so no worries.

Really my questions are all hypothetical for conversation purposes.

But to answer the question about my son, his whole life he has spent around computer programmers, video game programmers/designers..That is what most people in our "circle" do (thats what my husband does as well). So he has probably had a lot more screen time than most kids his age because hes always been around it..They have also been around "the haunt" industry all of their lives (building,acting in and creation of haunted houses) but none of them have shown the slightest interest in that other than my 4 yr old who has an imagination that can only be matched by Stephen King..Oh and before anyone asks about that, NO we do not take them through the haunted houses with the public, they only walk through when there is nothing scarey to jump out at them. They also know that every "monster" in there is an actor and have seen them with and without makeup.

Just to be clear

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#309 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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Aslyn, lots of kids can't imagine going out and living on their own and say they'll just live with their parents forever. My younger sister told my mom that if she went to college then my mom would have to be her roommate. She happily went off to college at age 18, without her mommy. I hope you aren't worried about what your son said or taking it seriously.

Not long ago my son said he wanted to be a woodcutter or a miner since he likes "hard labor". Since then he's also said he'd like to be a researcher, a McDonald's worker (I remember saying that as a kid too), a sculptor, run an animal rescue center and go to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness monster. I don't think he's too keen on the McDonalds idea anymore since we discussed my fast food jobs that I had as a teenager.
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#310 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jessicaSAR View Post
I am sorry my post rubs you the wrong way, but I did not say the things you are offended by. USing parents may have an idea of what a well-rounded education is, they have just decided not to impose that idea on their children, but rather to let them lead. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems central to most of the unschooling posts I see here.

USers may pick up on vital skills, but they may not (that is sort of what this thread has been about). I do think Unschoolers are more willing to leave that to chance. They may believe that it is likely that the child will have all the skills they need, but there is not guarantee, and they are ok with that. Again, fine, just another philosophy.

I never said a homeschooled child is guaranteed to retain everything they learn, or that all career will be open to them. I just never said that. All I said was that a homeschooling parent is trying to make a systematic effort to ensure skill development, while an USing parent is willing to let skills develop when and if the child wants to develop them. I agree, no guarantees.

I don't think I have a skewed perception of unschooling. The unschoolers I know range widely in skills and interestes and talents. I am not sure I understand your concern with my description. Unschoolers seem to take great pride in child-led learning, so much that they imply homeschooling or schooling are coercive and authoritarian because they require the child to learn certain things at certain times and places. Yet, when I say that an unschooler is ok with letting learning happen at the child's behest, then I don't understand unschooling??

I did not intend to offend you, but I do think Unschoolers often try to walk a tightrope by suggesting that there is no set set of skills or knowledge that define an educated person, but that of course all unschooled children will develop whatever skills and knowledge are necessary to be considered well-educated. I think you can find these very confusions and contradictions in this very long thread
Oh, I am not offended at all... I was just stating that I was reading many implications in your post... maybe you meant them, maybe not, but it was just the way that I read what you were saying.

I do feel sensitive about the subject because the implications that I picked up on in your post (whether you meant to say them or not)often come up as misconceptions of unschooling that do not define most of the unschoolers I know. Implications and misconceptions that often come up in group discussions and that colour the view that people have on unschooling and also their view on our children, which of course makes it a sensitive topic.

I am not disillusioned that those misconceptions may occasionally be true, just as the misconceptions of public schooled kids may occasionally be true, but the way I was reading your post made it sound like the choice to unschool should be made based on those misconceptions.

 
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#311 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:30 PM
 
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Aslyn, lots of kids can't imagine going out and living on their own and say they'll just live with their parents forever. My younger sister told my mom that if she went to college then my mom would have to be her roommate. She happily went off to college at age 18. I hope you aren't worried about what your son said or taking it seriously.

Not long ago my son said he wanted to be a woodcutter or a miner since he likes "hard labor". Since then he's also said he'd like to be a researcher, a McDonald's worker (I remember saying that as a kid too), a sculptor, run an animal rescue center and go to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness monster. I don't think he's too keen on the McDonalds idea anymore since we discussed my fast food jobs that I had as a teenager.
No, I know my son will be running for the door at 18..He has to much of me and dh in him. He decided recently he wants to be a teacher but I am sure that will change.

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#312 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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Why are you equating delaying or skipping college to being unhappy with their education? Believe it or not, some of us don't buy into the idea that you need to go to college right out of high school. So, yeah....I would "say differently."

I can see that you measure success in life according to career and degree. I do not. I know far too many people with both who are miserable. That's not "success," to me.
Not totally sure why I'm even debating this with you, but you're still misunderstanding what I'm saying. My marker isn't career and degree, it's happiness and satisfaction and ability to do what you'd like in life.

I don't happen to know, in real life, unschooling teens other than two who are on career and college paths. I know from talking to them that they're happy with their education. If your child is on a different path and is happy with his education, then sure, it worked for him and you as well. I'm not attacking unschooling. I support it as a potential educational choice, although I wouldn't personally choose it.

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#313 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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Oh, I am not offended at all... I was just stating that I was reading many implications in your post... maybe you meant them, maybe not, but it was just the way that I read what you were saying.

I do feel sensitive about the subject because the implications that I picked up on in your post (whether you meant to say them or not)often come up as misconceptions of unschooling that do not define most of the unschoolers I know. Implications and misconceptions that often come up in group discussions and that colour the view that people have on unschooling and also their view on our children, which of course makes it a sensitive topic.

I am not disillusioned that those misconceptions may occasionally be true, just as the misconceptions of public schooled kids may occasionally be true, but the way I was reading your post made it sound like the choice to unschool should be made based on those misconceptions.
I hear you. We are all trying to do what we think is best. I agree that the choice to unschool should not be made based on misconceptions about unschooling, and potential unschooling parents should learn as much as they can from real unschoolers and former unschoolers. Mostly I was just trying to say that if you are a parent (like me, I admit) who is just not ok with your kid not learning certain things by a certain age, then you should probably think long and hard about whether unschooling is right for you. What one's goals are really does determine what is deemed successful.
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#314 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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Mostly I was just trying to say that if you are a parent (like me, I admit) who is just not ok with your kid not learning certain things by a certain age, then you should probably think long and hard about whether unschooling is right for you. What one's goals are really does determine what is deemed successful.
That is a very valid point... I do think that in the long term many of us have the same goals for our children. Where we differ is in our short-terms goals and our views of learning and education as a whole. We choose the path that we believe is the best way to attain those long term goals.

 
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#315 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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At the risk of offending you, kids in school have so many activities forced on them, that I don't think you can accurately gauge what they might be interested in if they weren't in school.
Not to derail anything, but I find this statement very puzzling. It seems to invest the six hours per day children spend in school not only with the power of disconnecting them from anything not "forced on them" there, but also to rob parents of the capacity of knowing what their own kids are interested in, as though we never spend any time with them or haven't raised them since birth.

Please allow me to reassure you. I can gauge quite accurately what my publicly-schooled children are interested in. Here's how I do it: I observe them every weekend on the porch, carving sticks into bows and affixing feathers into the dowels they've bought at the hardware store to use as arrows. Interest: archery! Or I watch them repeatedly taking apart the broken DVD player and other such devices they find in various "free boxes" in the neighborhood. Interest: exploring the innards of electronic devices! It can be as simple as listening when my kid says, "Can we get a book from the library about mummies?" Aha, my child is fascinated by ancient Egypt! See how simple that is?

Determining the interests of a child - now matter what kind of education he or she gets - is very easy, really it is. All that is necessary is to be a reasonably attentive parent.
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#316 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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Yes, but clearly it didn't work for the OP. Clearly it did for Dar's DD. Friends with teens unschooled and en route to chosen careers, I'd say it works.
I've seen other unhappy posts where I'd say it didn't work. There do seem to be situations where the child and parents are happy with the outcome, and ones where they're not.
I was just mentioning to some friends the other day whose three sons, from 17 to 26, have all gone to school how nice it is that they're all taking their time choosing their career paths. None are rushing into choosing a career (including the college grad who currently has what some might consider a good career) but taking their time feeling out various possibilities. I have another friend whose two kids are in their late twenties and have both graduated from a prestigious university. Both have had prestigious jobs that many their age consider as good as it could get - but each of them has quit that one to figure out what else they want to do with their lives, and are feeling out other jobs. The four boys from the well known Colfax family (parents authored Homeschooling for Excellence after the first one was admitted to Harvard in the 80s) have moved through a number of different careers - not in a negative way, but just a matter of moving along to what appeals to them. My son has changed his mind about his path - he'd decided on law school at one point, but has been thinking in a very different direction for a while. The job he's working at now wouldn't sound to some like a route to a chosen career, but it's exactly that - he has his reasons why he's doing what he'd doing, and he knows it's going to work out.

What I'm getting at, is that success in life cannot be determined by what a teen or young adult is doing - it can take a long, long time, regardless of educational background, for a person to decide what they really want to do. I have a friend who's a college professor, researcher, and associate dean who works hard full time and into the wee hours of the night, and loves it - she advises students to just keep following their hearts, because when you find something you love to do, it won't even feel like work. She changed her major five times before she got it right, and she doesn't regret a bit of it. - Lillian

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#317 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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That is a very valid point... I do think that in the long term many of us have the same goals for our children. Where we differ is in our short-terms goals and our views of learning and education as a whole. We choose the path that we believe is the best way to attain those long term goals.
And at some point, as has happened with most or all of the parents of grown kids I know, you find that they've taken control of their own lives and made their own decisions about the whole thing. And that can be pretty amazing and impressive.
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#318 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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And at some point, as has happened with most or all of the parents of grown kids I know, you find that they've taken control of their own lives and made their own decisions about the whole thing. And that can be pretty amazing and impressive.
That is my main goal

 
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#319 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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Not to derail anything, but I find this statement very puzzling. It seems to invest the six hours per day children spend in school not only with the power of disconnecting them from anything not "forced on them" there, but also to rob parents of the capacity of knowing what their own kids are interested in, as though we never spend any time with them or haven't raised them since birth.

Please allow me to reassure you. I can gauge quite accurately what my publicly-schooled children are interested in. Here's how I do it: I observe them every weekend on the porch, carving sticks into bows and affixing feathers into the dowels they've bought at the hardware store to use as arrows. Interest: archery! Or I watch them repeatedly taking apart the broken DVD player and other such devices they find in various "free boxes" in the neighborhood. Interest: exploring the innards of electronic devices! It can be as simple as listening when my kid says, "Can we get a book from the library about mummies?" Aha, my child is fascinated by ancient Egypt! See how simple that is?

Determining the interests of a child - now matter what kind of education he or she gets - is very easy, really it is. All that is necessary is to be a reasonably attentive parent.
You've completely misunderstood me. I believe that the parents of public schooled children are perfectly capable of assessing their children's interests. However, I believe that public school kids and unschooled kids lead very different lives, and that is going to affect their attitude about the world, and the things in which they are interested.

For example, I'm fairly certain my 8 y.o. wouldn't do her math workbook for fun if she were in school, because there's so much peer pressure there for kids to dislike math, and she is the kind of kid who would be affected by that.
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#320 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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1. Any kid who has ever seen a show on pbs or nick jr or any of the other kids stations out there, or had any exposure to the outside world is going to be curious about school for those of you who have never sent your kids to school did your children ask to go to school at any point? How did you handle that? Do you think that child led learning and freedom of choice should/should not include the choice to go to school? If your child walked up to you right now and said "I want to go to school" would you oblige that choice? If not and you believe they are to young to make that decision, then why do you think that they are old enough to decide what they should learn?
The shows on PBS and Nick Jr give a completely inaccurate representation of what a real school day is like. So no, if my children wanted to try school because of something like that, I would not entertain the idea.

My almost-10 year old has never asked to go to school. My 7 year old asked to go when she thought that she would be allowed to be in our 5 year old neighbor's class, but doesn't want to go since they would be in different grades. 5yo and 3yo haven't been interested in going.

(I am answering from a homeschooling, not an unschooling perspective, though. We do give our kids a lot of freedom in terms of things they want to study and how they structure their time, but there is also a good bit that we require them to do.)

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#321 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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You've completely misunderstood me. I believe that the parents of public schooled children are perfectly capable of assessing their children's interests. However, I believe that public school kids and unschooled kids lead very different lives, and that is going to affect their attitude about the world, and the things in which they are interested.

For example, I'm fairly certain my 8 y.o. wouldn't do her math workbook for fun if she were in school, because there's so much peer pressure there for kids to dislike math, and she is the kind of kid who would be affected by that.
Again, myth. My dd LOVES math. It is FuN for her at school. Lots of manipulatives, even now at 4th grade. Lots of kids in her class also love math. I can't say that there is any 'peer pressure' to hate math.

So, what you are essentially saying it that unschooled kids are free to be who they are and public schooled kids are pressured into a mold? I don't see it that way.at.all.
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#322 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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For example, I'm fairly certain my 8 y.o. wouldn't do her math workbook for fun if she were in school, because there's so much peer pressure there for kids to dislike math, and she is the kind of kid who would be affected by that.
And if she was at a homeschooling group and another unschooling or homeschooling kid said that they disliked math, that wouldn't have an effect?

I've actually always been impressed by the motivation and assistance my kids have received from other students in their classes at school. They've been inspired to try so many interesting things and have learned so much from their classmates. Including math.

Peer influence (a more appropriate term, I think), good and bad, happens anywhere there are peers. Unless homeschoolers and unschoolers are living in isolation (and I know most are not - they socialize plenty), they will be influenced by other's attitudes.
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#323 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:00 PM
 
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I am a full supporter of homeschooling..it didnt work for my family but I still support it; but this thread has given me a few questions to ponder so I pose them to all of you. I'm not being snarky in any way I just really find this thread very interesting so please don't be offended!
As you mentioned homeschooling, not unschooling, I'll go ahead and answer. Keep in mind that I'm not really an unschooler, though. (I'm not sure what I am, but I'm not totally unschooling, at any rate.)

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1. Any kid who has ever seen a show on pbs or nick jr or any of the other kids stations out there, or had any exposure to the outside world is going to be curious about school for those of you who have never sent your kids to school did your children ask to go to school at any point? How did you handle that? Do you think that child led learning and freedom of choice should/should not include the choice to go to school? If your child walked up to you right now and said "I want to go to school" would you oblige that choice? If not and you believe they are to young to make that decision, then why do you think that they are old enough to decide what they should learn?
My kids haven't shown much, if any, interest in going to school. DD1 hears her older brother talk about school and has picked up a really negative view of the whole thing. DS2 hasn't got the same negative view, but he's not really into the whole thing, either. If one of them asks to go to school, I'll explain that public school doesn't fit into our plans and routine as a family right now, so it's not an option. If they continue to express an interest over the long term, I'll probably give it a try.

I also think that a desire to go to school, because they've seen it on tv, or heard about it from their friends is a different kind of issue than expressing an interest in learning about bugs, rather cats, or wanting to choose their own art projects.

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2. As we have seen in this thread there are kids who can catch up and those that can't/don't/struggle. At what age do you start to suspect there is problem/LD as opposed to just a non-interest subject material. Using my own DD as an example, forgetting that she has learning disabilities (because I dont think its fair to use anyone else's experiences or children as examples). She will be 10 in jan and just now learning to read basic stories, and basic math skills. (proud mommy moment she just read me the cat in the hat last night *yay*) her handwriting is barely legible. She has never shown a ounce of interest in anything except the fine arts and stage magic tricks and I fully suspect that she will be involved in some sort of theatre work when she grows up. Do you think her skill set is acceptable for her age?
To me, it's not about age. It's about the particular child. As with other aspects of parenting, I monitor the totality of what I'm seeing. With some kids, I wouldn't be concerned if they weren't reading, or were reading way "below grade level" at 9 or 10 or even 11. With other kids, I'd be very concerned. It depends on the whole picture. DD1 is "behind" on her reading, but the dynamics that play out when she works on it mesh with her whole personality and temperament. I'm not worried about it.

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I focus on reading & math here, because those IMO are the 2 most important skills one can ever have. Without those a person will never be able to learn anything else. If you cant read a book on snakes (or even wikipedia articles) how will you learn about them? ykim? If you cant add or subtract how will you ever balance a checkbook, make a budget..even someone who works in fast food needs to know how to do these things.
I agree that reading and math are important. However, many, many adults manage - somehow - without being able to budget or balance a chequebook. And, people learn all kinds of things without reading. To use your snake example, how many of the people who write books about snakes learned everything they know about snakes from books? I'm sure there are a few, but I'm equally sure that many of them learned about snakes by observing snakes. The idea that we can't learn anything without reading kind of creeps me out...and I'm a total bookworm.

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3. I have admitted that my 7 yr olds driving force for learning to read was to play world of warcraft..which we rarely let him actualy play anyway but from the age of about 2 and up he absolutely HATES to be read to. Even at school he hates reading groups (even though he is in the highest group where he reads whatever book he chooses from the bin) and he hates story time and library..hes bored out of his head. He hates reading books, he hates math. His only real interest is video games. If I was letting him go by his interest, do we all really believe that hes going to learn any real life skills from WoW? Sure maybe he will grow up to be a video game designer or something, but I asked him 1 day what he wanted to be when he grew up..his answer "I'm going to live with you and play video games on the computer" Not what I want to hear by far. However that leaves me to question if it's really in his best interest to let him follow his bliss?
Welll, I wouldn't worry about his answer to the question. IME, that's pretty common for the age. DS1 was convinced at that age that he'd live with me "forever", and he now thinks it's adorably cute when one of his younger siblings says the same thing.

I'm not sure how I'd handle the "follow his bliss" part of it. I've never met a child who is that resistant to being read to, so it's hard to know what I'd do, yk? However, I don't think that forgetting about his bliss would be helpful, either. How much is he getting out of storytime or being read to if he hates it hat much? I pulled a lot of really good grades in classes I didn't like that much (better grades in the classes that interested me, though). But, I didn't remember any of the content by a year after graduation. For me, it's not a matter of thinking that children should be able to just choose what they want to learn. It's about recognizing that children do, to some extent, choose what they want to learn, no matter what they're being taught. A child who was that resistant to reading, learning, etc. would be difficult to handle.

That said, the fact that the one thing he wants to do is play a video game would concern me. I do believe they're actually psychologically addictive, and I don't think that a preference for playing videogames is the same as a preference for doing art, riding a bike, making "potions" (as ds1 and my nephew used to do on my kitchen table on a regular basis), etc. etc. Personally, I'd intervene and limit screen time if my child were spending huge amounts of time playing videogames, because I, personally, think they can be damaging.

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#324 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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And if she was at a homeschooling group and another unschooling or homeschooling kid said that they disliked math, that wouldn't have an effect?
Probably, but not as much as in a setting where that's a normal attitude to have. And my experience has been that the homeschooled kids we've hung out with haven't had that sort of feeling about learning as out friends who are in school.

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#325 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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You've completely misunderstood me. I believe that the parents of public schooled children are perfectly capable of assessing their children's interests.
Now you are saying something completely different. What you stated earlier was that I am incapable of accurately gauging the interests of my child because he is in school. You said:

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kids in school have so many activities forced on them, that I don't think you can accurately gauge what they might be interested in if they weren't in school.
I don't see any other way to interpret it.

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However, I believe that public school kids and unschooled kids lead very different lives, and that is going to affect their attitude about the world, and the things in which they are interested.
I disagree, for the most part. All children lead a different lives and naturally those differences are going to affect their attitudes and interests. Kids are affected by religion, health, parents' political affiliation, arts and nature exposure (or lack), media exposure, peers, parenting style and their immediate neighborhoods. (To name just a few). I believe these things have far greater effect on a kid's outlook than what sort of educational setting he learns in. And I believe that parental encouragement and support of those interests is often the greatest factor of all - which has nothing to do with whether a child is in traditional school or unschooled.
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#326 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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And if she was at a homeschooling group and another unschooling or homeschooling kid said that they disliked math, that wouldn't have an effect?

I've actually always been impressed by the motivation and assistance my kids have received from other students in their classes at school. They've been inspired to try so many interesting things and have learned so much from their classmates. Including math.

Peer influence (a more appropriate term, I think), good and bad, happens anywhere there are peers. Unless homeschoolers and unschoolers are living in isolation (and I know most are not - they socialize plenty), they will be influenced by other's attitudes.
I'm straddling both worlds right now, and the peer influence in the homeschool community is very, very different from the peer influence in the public schools. Honestly, now that I've experienced the homeschool community, I truly hope my kids don't ever really want to go to school, because I really don't want to deal with it all again. (DS1 is, fortunately, a very quirky kid, and found his own ways to navigate all that stuff a long time ago. DD1's personality is very different, and I think public school would be brutal for her. I think she'd be herself, but it would cost her a lot. DS2...hard to say. He could go either way, I think.)

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#327 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:18 PM
 
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I'm straddling both worlds right now, and the peer influence in the homeschool community is very, very different from the peer influence in the public schools. Honestly, now that I've experienced the homeschool community, I truly hope my kids don't ever really want to go to school, because I really don't want to deal with it all again. (DS1 is, fortunately, a very quirky kid, and found his own ways to navigate all that stuff a long time ago. DD1's personality is very different, and I think public school would be brutal for her. I think she'd be herself, but it would cost her a lot. DS2...hard to say. He could go either way, I think.)
Well, I've straddled both worlds too, and I've had a different experience. An unschooler who is following his passion and is telling his mates that he isn't interested in math and doesn't want to work on it is can have just as much negative influence as a schooled kid saying the same thing.
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#328 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:23 PM
 
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Well, I've straddled both worlds too, and I've had a different experience. An unschooler who is following his passion and is telling his mates that he isn't interested in math and doesn't want to work on it is can have just as much negative influence as a schooled kid saying the same thing.
If I'd ever heard a schooled kid say the same thing, I might agree with you. That's not the kind of comment I've heard from them. What I've heard schooled kids say is more like, "math sucks, and if you like it, you're a freak/nerd/geek/loser/etc.". DS1 doesn't particularly like math, so he hasn't run into this very much, but I sure did, and two of my nephews are getting it now, too.

I actually can't imagine a comment such as you describe having a negative effect on any of my kids. They'd probably respond with "good for you", and sk what said child's passion actually is. If they wanted to stop working on their math over such a comment, I'd have to assume they already disliked math, and that's a whole other issue.

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#329 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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Now you are saying something completely different. What you stated earlier was that I am incapable of accurately gauging the interests of my child because he is in school. You said:
No, I said that it's impossible to gauge what the interests of your child might be if they weren't in school. The same way it is impossible for me to gauge what the interests of my child might be if we lived in Germany. We don't live in Germany, I don't know how growing up in Germany might affect them because it didn't happen.

edited to add:

I reread what I wrote, and I'm wondering if the confusion lies in what I mean by a child being "in school". I meant "enrolled in school", and I wonder if you interpreted it as being physically in school (and of course kids who are enrolled in school aren't always physically in school, but they are still enrolled.)
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#330 of 455 Old 09-16-2010, 02:30 PM
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Now you are saying something completely different. What you stated earlier was that I am incapable of accurately gauging the interests of my child because he is in school. You said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma
kids in school have so many activities forced on them, that I don't think you can accurately gauge what they might be interested in if they weren't in school.
I don't see any other way to interpret it.
Huh. I guess I don't see how it's being misunderstood, because I read it the way zeldamomma intended. I think this is the same basic theory behind the Punished by Rewards idea - if a child is in school he is forced to learn about certain things, and the because this is something he doesn't control it may influence his feelings about these topics and other related topics. Thus, a child who might have loved math worksheets as an unschooler develops negative associations to them when in school, because he is forced to do them when he'd rather be doing something else, or because he does them more slowly than other kids and feels embarrassed, or because his friends hate them and he feels social pressure to hate them too.... whatever.

An unschooled child is free to develop an interest in math worksheets (or Greek mythology, or Chaucer) without that "baggage". Therefore, you can't know what a schooled child might be interested in if he weren't being schooled.

 
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