I am no longer a supporter of unschooling :( (BIG vent, dont read if ur going to be offended) - Page 16 - Mothering Forums

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#451 of 459 Old 09-18-2010, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
Right. And no one has cause for complaint about a thread discussing the downsides or negative personal experiences with USing here because it is appropriate for non-unschoolers and former USers to post here as well.
Agreed. If they stick to personal experiences.

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#452 of 459 Old 09-18-2010, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
With all due respect, I was a high school teacher in a relatively affluent school district in NJ in 2007. One of my sophomore boys could not read. He had been in-district his whole life with educated parents who were engaged with their kids lives (more than the norm in this district) and an older sister who was successful in school. I was a business and computers teacher--not a core subject. The student was pretty quiet--by no means a trouble maker who might have been blown off to just being capable but disengaged or disinterested.

Why was I the first person to find this??
I had a teacher in, I think 6th grade, who told us at the start of the year that she was going to make sure we all read out loud to her at some point during the first month or so of classes because of people who needed help slipping through the cracks. And we should talk to her ASAP if we couldn't read and needed help. I have no idea if any classmate did go to her in those first weeks, but by the time they were reading out loud everyone could even if it was slow and stilted.

It's really too bad the kid you helped didn't have a teacher who made sure everyone could read in 6th grade. He would've been old enough to have developed enough to learn to read if he hadn't been previously, and would've had that much more time to develop proficiency.
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#453 of 459 Old 09-18-2010, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
Unschoolers often give the same advice over and over, and part of that advice is to not evaluate, but just wait and trust. For many people (maybe even most people) that advice works out just fine.

But for some people, it doesn't. For some kids unschooling really isn't going to work out for a variety of reasons, including learning disabilities or changes in family circumstances that force them into formal schooling.

My point, and I'm saying this as nicely as I know how, is that unschoolers could really learn from the experiences of former unschoolers and temper their comments to those seeking support. Some times what you are saying isn't going to be true for the person you are talking to.

I'm not angry. I don't want my money back, but I feel strongly that by shooting down the voices of those of us for whom unschooling didn't work out, you are being less that totally honest with others.

I don't hang out on unschooling boards, and very seldom visit the homeschool board. I spend most of my time on the special needs board. But if you value learning from a variety of sources, why not let former unschoolers be one of those sources?

Please tell moms that their child *might* have an undiagnosed LD and giving it more time could just make it harder for the child.

If you are giving advice and support, don't you want to be accurate? And if we never come back and say how things turned out for our kids, how can you be?
I love everything about this post.

I believe in unschooling too. But only when it's presented as a spectrum, and as an option rather than the only choice for parents who trust and respect their kids.

I talked to my 10yo son about the topic of this thread yesterday. He said he loves unschooling, but that he's glad I got him the help he needed to learn to read because reading is now his favorite thing to do.

He didn't want to learn how to read because it was too hard. Testing showed visual processing issues and eye muscle problems. We did vision therapy and worked with sight words. Two years after learning to read, he tests 5 grade levels ahead in reading and he is proud of that. It makes up for his continuing difficulties with writing, spelling, and math. Most importantly, reading has opened up his world and brought him joy.

Although he resisted reading initially, he says he's glad that I insisted. And this outcome helps him to trust me more about other skills that I encourage him to work on.

Book-lovin', relaxed homeschoolin', dog snugglin' mom of the best kid EVER!  AND...waiting for baby #2, due 5/9/14!  stork-boy.gif

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#454 of 459 Old 09-18-2010, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
He didn't want to learn how to read because it was too hard. Testing showed visual processing issues and eye muscle problems. We did vision therapy and worked with sight words. Two years after learning to read, he tests 5 grade levels ahead in reading and he is proud of that. It makes up for his continuing difficulties with writing, spelling, and math. Most importantly, reading has opened up his world and brought him joy.

Although he resisted reading initially, he says he's glad that I insisted. And this outcome helps him to trust me more about other skills that I encourage him to work on.
Thank you for this post. It is very encouraging. This is almost exactly DS1's situation. He's in vision therapy now. I feel it is necessary to insist that he do these things now that are hard for him and that he would rather not do, so that he will even have the option to do them by choice later; instead of not being able to do them at all because of problems that were not addressed. The work he is doing is really hard, but I am trusting my parental instincts that it is worthwhile and necessary even if he doesn't really want to do it. I do feel it is my responsibility to provide the external motivation that he needs to get it done.

When people feel that unschooling works well for their child, I would never argue with that, because they know their kid best. I know without a doubt that for basic 3Rs skills, our DS1 would not have acquired them without parental insistence and professional help.

I was intrigued by unschooling early on but after a brief exploration decided it wasn't a fit for me. That was before we knew about his vision and processing problems. When I first began more structured and parent-led work with him, I admit I felt a little guilty and wondered if I was making a mistake and if I was going to "ruin the fun of learning" for him. But now I am glad we were on a more traditional path because my internal pressure to "get him reading" is part of what led to his diagnosis. Someday he will have the option of reading for fun, or some other motivation of his own, because he will be able to do it. Right now it is still too hard to be fun for him, but I have faith that this will eventually change.

I came back to add - I'm not saying that he would not have been diagnosed if we were unschooling - but I know it would have been quite a bit later. When I first started noticing reading problems, I was told more than once (not necessarily by people at MDC) "Maybe he is just not ready. Wait a while." I think that if I had been in an unschooling frame of mind, I might have just backed off reading and writing until he showed more desire to do it. I am not sure how long I might have waited before I decided that in his case, readiness wasn't what was missing.

IMO the greatest thing about homeschooling is that we can always adapt our approach to what works for our children, even for each individual child. The OP of this thread can switch to a more structured approach. Someone who has been very structured and wants to loosen up a little can choose to do it in a more relaxed way for a while or permanently. What homeschooling looks like for a family can change as often as it needs to change. And that's wonderful.

DS1 March 2003DS2 Sept 2005,
and 3 , in our happy secular
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#455 of 459 Old 09-18-2010, 07:31 PM
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I'm closing this thread, because it has run its course.

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
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#456 of 459 Old 05-16-2015, 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by zjande View Post
But then, when should we expect our children to "catch up" to their peers? Should we expect them to attempt to learn all they never did while younger, in college? Should we expect them to do all the work of digging up information & schooling themselves when they are in their 20s? Shall our kids be using elementary level geography workbooks while their peers have gone far beyond that & are now studying the political history of those countries my unschooled DD can't find on a globe? Might our children be quite frustrated at us parents for not teaching them ourselves, but leaving it up to them to spend years "catching up"?
I understand your frustrations but this is not exclusive to unschooling or homeschooling. Ask just about any 20 year old who attended average or even "good" public schools, or for that matter any school at all, and they will have difficulty identifying Iraq, for instance, even though the US has had multiple dealings with that country. School does not equal education, and kids play catch up in some way regardless of how they are educated. Most of us do not expect adults to be truly well-rounded and know something about everything, but we expect a 9 year old to know world geography, her times tables, and how to read and spell flawlessly. I could ask my husband, a software engineer who spent 5 years in higher ed, to tell me who came first Plato or Aristotle, or to locate Sudan, or to explain meiosis, and I don't expect him to know. But he can tell me the difference between an algorithm and a logarithm. Adults specialize; we are deeply knowledgeable about few things.
That's part of the premise of alternative education systems like unschooling.
It doesn't teach you how to keep up with others, because it's not a major concern of said system. Therefore it does not work well for comparison to traditional school by grade level, but at the end of the process.
I hardly remember much of what I learned in school aside from what interested me anyway, which as an adult I further study on my own time.
I do believe in structure for kids who need it or crave it, but the beauty of unschooling is that for kids who are intrinsically motivated, like I was, it's a wonderful tool for learning at your own, usually accelerated pace.
I hope that my child enjoys learning independently like myself and her father, but if she turns out to be a child who requires extrinsic motivation, then school will definitely be a better bet for her.
Either way, I don't think, OP, that you did any wrong by your child. You attempted something different, and that's brave. And now you changed gears to give her what she needs, and that's also very brave! I think fretting now is premature; if my mother had to measure herself by what I was like as a kid, instead of who I am now, she might feel remorseful too!
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#457 of 459 Old 05-16-2015, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by savithny View Post
Originally Posted by zjande

As much as its popular to say that you can fit years of curriculum into a few weeks, or that you can cram multiple grades of information into a summer, research has shown again and again that expertise and mastery comes from practice. Gladwell's "Outliers" is just one of the most recent books on this, but the one that's been in the news the most, with the factoid that it takes 10,000 hours to become an "expert" in something. Truly adding something to your skill set -- making it 2nd nature to do -- takes time and practice.


Even if you're not aiming to become an "expert" a la these articles, there's still more to becoming competent in a topic than a quick go-over.
Yes and no. If this were really true, college classes would be a farce, as they span at most 16 weeks and sometimes much less. Yet not many would debate the validity of learning college material within this time frame.

Some subjects require years of practice to master, and some do not because they transfer knowledge without teaching a new skill.
Reading, writing, and computing are skills. Listening and research are skills. Once you have those basics down, it really does not take much more to learn. So that means that subjects like math and language arts deserve more structure and the practice you advocate, but a review of world history or biology is easily accomplished within a few months. That's because those latter subjects build on prior knowledge, or the skills you need in order to "gain" the information.
I can see the benefit of teaching in a more structured or regimented way when it comes to the first few years of a child's life, but to continue to do so once they have mastered the basics can, imo, only impede them from becoming responsible for their own education.
Maybe it's my working class roots, but my mother was not a slave to my education. She was not accountable for what I learned, and I did not learn for her sake. I wanted to learn because I was curious. I was very independent in my academics in part because I always knew it was my responsibility, not Mom's. I would have been embarrassed to bring home a bad grade because it reflected poorly on me, not her.
I don't know how it will be in the future with my own daughter, but I don't know that I agree that I am in charge of her education past a certain point, namely once she has the basic skills necessary to direct her own learning.

Something for me to chew on as she gets older.
I really appreciate all the thoughtful discussion on this topic; education is a hobby of mine.
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#458 of 459 Old 05-16-2015, 08:14 AM
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Juliete, you quoted me from a 5 year old post! (in fact the post above yours states that this thread was closed 5 years ago).

I do see some of your points, but I don't agree with others. All these years later, I feel even stronger on the matter. I am simply not a supporter of unschooling. I feel it does a disservice to our children.

Have a blessed day.
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#459 of 459 Old 05-17-2015, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
Originally Posted by zeldamomma

I'm obviously not an unschooler I do think there are basic things one should know - not for being at grade level, but to be an educated human being. Reading writing arithmetic, enough to carry on and self-learn whatever one needs. How government works, history, something about human nature, and the nature of the world, and what our purpose in life is. I even think a good grasp of literature and art is important, because those are the ways culture speaks about its beliefs and insights. I don't really think it is important how one acquires these things. But by the time a person votes, I think he should have the information and context to make a reasonable choice.
I might agree with you that there are certain things a reasonable person should know, but you'd have to define reasonable.
Further, IMO, to ask teenagers to know these things is asking a lot. I might have had knowledge when I was 18, and maybe some good ethics, but I was not wise.
I was not politically savvy. Many, many adults are not able to vote fully informed so it's a lot to ask of young people on the cusp of adulthood.
Most people in the US know how to read, write, and compute basic math/arithmetic. IMO, without the ability to think critically, meaning the ability to listen to, understand, and debate an argument with reasoned logic, life will be very difficult. Anyone with any charisma could easily dupe you and anyone using logical fallacy could pull a fast one on you.
I sincerely think that lack of critical thinking skills is the #1 American problem. It's what is blatantly missing in our schools, the news media, and in any talks in the political sphere.
To form a "reasonable" person I don't think it's necessary that they be interested or knowledgeable in any specific subject, because so long as they can use logic adeptly they can 1. ask questions, 2. analyze the answers, and 3. use their deductive reasoning, maybe tempered by their personality or morals or whatever you call it, to form independent conclusions and take action from there.
If schools taught that skill set, I don't think anyone would leave school feeling inferior or betrayed by their education, as I and so many others have.
It's the reason I fear my daughter attending school; school's stated goal is to do what you said, teach the basics most people should know, but it doesn't. What school actually does is make kids sit still and listen. It makes them be quiet and learn procedures, bureaucracy. That's not thinking. If schools truly encouraged kids to think critically, then they would be in trouble, because who among your adult friends would let someone else dictate to them when to use the restroom? Or that pizza is a vegetable serving? Or that the native americans happily gave up their land to foreigners or were so stupid as to sell land for trinkets, and they're all cool with that now? What reasonable adult wouldn't question that?
I think that's why people are having these discussions, which are so interesting!, because too many people feel their education system has failed them or their kids.
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