I am no longer a supporter of unschooling :( (BIG vent, dont read if ur going to be offended) - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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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.
Gladwell is talking about "expert" in a whole different realm, though. He's talking about being an elite expert in an international field ... a Bill Gates, or a Michael Jordan or a Warren Buffet kind of expert. Pushing the limits of human achievement. Not scoring an A on an Algebra I final exam .

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#62 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 02:37 PM
 
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There are many things ds doesn't know, as well. I don't think he can write his name (I suspect perfectionism issues at play, plus it isn't a priority yet. He'll sign cards if I say the letters but he doesn't want to make a mistake so won't do it on his own).



That is not typical for a 9yo. When I was first reading your post I thought you were maybe talking about a 5 or possibly 6yo. My 'unschooled' (hasn't been to school yet, we don't do school at home either) 4yo is able to write her name independently. She has been able to do so for about a year now. My 9yo is able to write just about anything. In fact, last school year she researched and wrote a report on Mexico, mostly on her own.

I would be seriously concerned if my 9yo couldn't independently write their own name. I understand it's not all about what a typical school child would learn/when, but that is typical for most 3-5yos to learn- mostly outside of school I would assume.
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#63 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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I think that unschooling can work. . .

But for me? I regret it. I was unschooled from 7th grade on. Seriously, a nightmare. I liked it at the time but when I enrolled in college, I really noticed how much common knowledge I was lacking. Most of my public schooled peers knew SO much more than me. I'm talking basic knowledge, like geography, history, etc. I ended up graduating with a high GPA but I struggled the whole time and felt inferior. I had to over compensate and study all the time. I studied all the time because I had to look up things I never learned; I didn't understand what the text was referencing to. For example, when taking Art appreciation, I had NO concept of the "historical periods" the text was talking about. So while most of my peers focused on studying the actual art, I had to try to figure out what I was suppose to already know.

I'm not bashing unschooling in general. I really think that it CAN work but I hope parents realize that children/teens don't always have the ability foresee what they will need to know in the future. I realize people will learn what they need to know when they need to know it, but in my case, it was real set back and not the best thing for myself esteem.
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#64 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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Thanks, OP, for your post. No doubt you've ruffled some feathers but I think examining questions like these are really important. I think other posters have made some good points, namely that the goals of Unschooling and Public School are quite different, so it may not be fair to label an unschooled child a "failure" simply because the yardstick changed. A public schooler might also find themselves a failure at unschooling, if they had to make the switch.

All the same, that doesn't mean that the transition isn't really difficult, and I can feel for that.

I don't believe that unschooling as a philosophy is terribly organized, and that can be difficult. Many people (myself included) are unable to really say if they are unschoolers or not. The topic of unlimited screen time is an example - Radical Unschooling apparently embraces this, yet many people restrict screen time.

I think unschooling might be a misnomer, too. Or maybe not, it depends on what unschooling really as (as above, I don't think it's clear). I think some people really do nothing. Others approach learning as a whole-life endeavor, with little or no instruction that resembles "workbook" style activities. I agree with a PP who pointed out that doing this requires a rich life.

I'm interested in this discussion because my DD is 5 years old and we're just wading into this. Reading What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know effectively convinced me of the value of a plan, though I believe that plan can be open. So instead of approaching everything haphazardly, I can write a (hopefully short) list of things that I want DD to learn over the next year. And then when I spend time with her, I can have these goals in mind. If I have a goal, I'm more likely to get there.

If I sent my DD to kindergarten I think she would be behind by their standards. But they won't ever ask her to identify plants (asking her to identify even broccoli and carrots is just "too easy" for her) or demonstrate a deep understanding of a plant's life cycle. (They'll ask for the latter in a later grade, I'm sure). She is capable of understanding directions, but she would really rather do what she wants - not in a disrespectful way. But like, let's say an activity asks her to color all the pictures whose word starts with the letter C, she can do that but she really wants to color the motorcycle as well as the cat. (I suggest she do something like draw a circle around it to differentiate it from the others, to demonstrate her understanding of the task at hand, and while she goes along with that she doesn't see the point).

Well, anyway, I do appreciate the input because in this area, at least, I'm not invested in defending this choice like my life depended on it. And I do want DD to have a classical education as well - but I guess I want to start slowly.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#65 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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In other words, while practice is important, it cannot replace understanding and does not necessarily result in understanding.
This certainly rings true for me. I'm the one who brought up math in this thread, and I wasn't thinking of elementary school math when I did. I was thinking more of college-level math, where the vast majority of students find that they may understand the professor's lecture perfectly well, but if they don't do the problem sets, they will never be able to pass the exams or apply the material later on.

Practicing rote procedures without understanding seems foolish to me.

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#66 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:11 PM
 
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Unschoolers have the opportunity to hear about something in context, and then pursue greater understanding. Using a language leads to better fluency than simply studying a language in a classroom, and learning about and applying knowledge in the real world can similarly lead to better and more complete understanding.

This isn't just theoretical for me, I've had my 9 year old explain how momentum and buoyancy are responsible for the way a toy was behaving in her brother's bath.
I don't unschool, but I'm not sure why you would think that schools don't teach things "in context." I've never seen an elementary school classroom that DIDN'T have hands-on exploration of buoyancy when they discussed the concept. It's not like things are theoretical and lecture-based for elementary school kids. When they learn a language, they use the language. When they learn a science concept, it's hands-on. Just because it takes place in a classroom and at a prescribed time doesn't mean it's not "in context." It may not happen "naturally" (meaning whenever) but it happens, and most kids learn great that way.
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#67 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by waiflywaif View Post
It's not like things are theoretical and lecture-based for elementary school kids. When they learn a language, they use the language.
They don't use the language - they practice the language. I took languages from sixth grade on (French 6-12, and German 9-12). I pulled marks of at least 95% in both languages until 12th grade (long story, but all my grades tanked that year, even in the few classes - math and languages - that I liked). We never used French and German. We said the words we were learning. We counted. We rehearsed practice dialogues. We had to - very occasionally stumble through a brief, 3-4 sentence, "conversation". That's not using a language. There's no context for languages in a classroom, especially an elementary school classroom, because it is a classroom. I have no objection to any of that, and it certainly can/does teach the basics, but it's not even remotely the same thing as learning a language by being surrounded by people who speak it fluently.

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When they learn a science concept, it's hands-on. Just because it takes place in a classroom and at a prescribed time doesn't mean it's not "in context."
Most classroom science definitely lacks context, simply from being in a classroom. I also have to say that, despite best efforts of my very good elementary school science teacher (he had actually been a high school teacher before coming to our school), most of our elementary school science didn't involve much hands-on. It involved a lot of lectures and notes, and an occasional experiment. He tried (I still remember that one of the critera for life is reactivity, because he demonstrated by suddenly bringing a yardstick down on a counter and causing us all to jump!), but a classroom is a classroom. A study of plants, animals and paramecium, in an environment where there are no animals, paramecium or plants (well, maybe a few plants!) does not provide context.

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It may not happen "naturally" (meaning whenever) but it happens, and most kids learn great that way.
Do you have any evidence for this? I'm not slamming school, and ds1 has actually done very well in public school, but I've never seen anything, as a student, or as a parent, to suggest that "most" kids learn "great" in a classroom. IME, a few learn "great", a few learn very little, and most...muddle through.

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#68 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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Do you have any "evidence" other than your own experience that elementary science teaching is NOT hands-on? Because it is in my DD's classroom. Completely. Often the kids aren't even aware what they're "supposed" to be learning from an experiment and then it all comes full circle and there's the aha moment. There are also tons of animals, plants (including a garden outside), and equipment.

I agree that practicing a language is not really using a language. But not very many unschoolers, unless they are bilingual at home, are using a foreign language either.

I don't have evidence for most children learning well in school except for seeing most of the children around me attend school and be happy, vibrant learners. And one could argue that "muddling through" might end up being a better overall educational experience than what some unschoolers have experienced (evidenced by this thread's very existence).
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#69 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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thanks, op, for your post. No doubt you've ruffled some feathers but i think examining questions like these are really important. I think other posters have made some good points, namely that the goals of unschooling and public school are quite different, so it may not be fair to label an unschooled child a "failure" simply because the yardstick changed. A public schooler might also find themselves a failure at unschooling, if they had to make the switch.

All the same, that doesn't mean that the transition isn't really difficult, and i can feel for that.

I don't believe that unschooling as a philosophy is terribly organized, and that can be difficult. Many people (myself included) are unable to really say if they are unschoolers or not. The topic of unlimited screen time is an example - radical unschooling apparently embraces this, yet many people restrict screen time.

i think unschooling might be a misnomer, too. Or maybe not, it depends on what unschooling really as (as above, i don't think it's clear). I think some people really do nothing. Others approach learning as a whole-life endeavor, with little or no instruction that resembles "workbook" style activities. I agree with a pp who pointed out that doing this requires a rich life.

i'm interested in this discussion because my dd is 5 years old and we're just wading into this. Reading what your kindergartner needs to know effectively convinced me of the value of a plan, though i believe that plan can be open. So instead of approaching everything haphazardly, i can write a (hopefully short) list of things that i want dd to learn over the next year. And then when i spend time with her, i can have these goals in mind. If i have a goal, i'm more likely to get there.

If i sent my dd to kindergarten i think she would be behind by their standards. But they won't ever ask her to identify plants (asking her to identify even broccoli and carrots is just "too easy" for her) or demonstrate a deep understanding of a plant's life cycle. (they'll ask for the latter in a later grade, i'm sure). She is capable of understanding directions, but she would really rather do what she wants - not in a disrespectful way. But like, let's say an activity asks her to color all the pictures whose word starts with the letter c, she can do that but she really wants to color the motorcycle as well as the cat. (i suggest she do something like draw a circle around it to differentiate it from the others, to demonstrate her understanding of the task at hand, and while she goes along with that she doesn't see the point).

Well, anyway, i do appreciate the input because in this area, at least, i'm not invested in defending this choice like my life depended on it. And i do want dd to have a classical education as well - but i guess i want to start slowly.
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#70 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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This has been a very interesting thread for me to read.

I fell in love with the idea of unschooling recently when I was reading John Holt books. It makes a lot of sense to me to let children guide their learning, rather than fit them into a schedule with a group of same aged peers.

However, I am acutely aware that the success of this approach lies in the family having an active lifestyle with a broad variety of opportunities for participation and learning.

My son will be 3 in Feb next year, and I am quite sure he will not be figuring out the square root of anything (I remember reading about an unschooled child who was doing that at age three). I am expecting a child who will be rather average in his academic achievements, probably better at things he loves and not so strong on things that he find boring/difficult. But yeah, I am not expecting him to just absorb learning from being at home with his mother and sibling most of the time. I know that if I will try homeschooling as he gets older and his needs become more complex - the success will be largely reliant on how rich and varied his daily life is, and to what extend I include him in my daily life. I know I will have to make an honest assessment on whether I have what it takes to provide these opportunities for my child.

I love the theory of unschooling, but I can see it not working for some families.

OP, thanks for starting this discussion.

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#71 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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I don't unschool, but I'm not sure why you would think that schools don't teach things "in context."
Well, there's context and there's context. There's raising tadpoles from a biological supply company in a tank in the classroom, until they turn into toadlets and disappear from the class when they get too big. And then there's finding tadpoles one day at your favourite lake and taking some home and putting them in a pond and comparing their metamorphosis to those in the lake (much slower in the pond!), and watching them hop out of your pond at home as they become terrestrial, and stumbling upon them, sometimes literally, for years around your house as they grow bigger and bigger. And wonder of wonders, finding tadpoles in your pond again a few years later! The first is the context 1st and 2nd graders get at the local public school. The latter is what my kids have got.

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#72 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Well, there's context and there's context. There's raising tadpoles from a biological supply company in a tank in the classroom, until they turn into toadlets and disappear from the class when they get too big. And then there's finding tadpoles one day at your favourite lake and taking some home and putting them in a pond and comparing their metamorphosis to those in the lake (much slower in the pond!), and watching them hop out of your pond at home as they become terrestrial, and stumbling upon them, sometimes literally, for years around your house as they grow bigger and bigger. And wonder of wonders, finding tadpoles in your pond again a few years later! The first is the context 1st and 2nd graders get at the local public school. The latter is what my kids have got.

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Of course, those contexts are not mutually exclusive. I'm sure that many kids experience context 2 before context 1, or vice versa.
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#73 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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True. There's no reason that both styles can't happen simultaneously though. Unschoolers aren't the only ones who go hiking! I guess what I'm opposed to is the either/or, black-and-white thinking. Many kids who attend school ALSO attend museums, do science projects with their parents, and have plenty of time to play and jump and run and learn. It seems a bit of a double-edged sword to hear, "if we did school, we wouldn't have time to X"---and then read threads like this, where one learns that apparently many people DON'T do school and STILL don't seem to do X.

Your particular "tadpole unit" sounds great. I'm not convinced that staying indoors and playing a tadpole video game all day, for instance, is preferable to even a somewhat-stilted classroom tadpole unit.
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#74 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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Does it maybe depend on the school you go to for context? I'm assuming an upper class or private school would have more hands on than an underfunded public school. Around here there were massive teacher layoffs and a budget crisis. But even before that, when I went to public school and when I volunteered at these for a couple classes, there was almost no "hands on" context. In high school, my Environmental Science class was almost entirely hands on. We were outside almost every day. But French we used on rare field trips to Operas or for fundraising events where we were supposed to speak only French or visiting one historic French colony in Junior year. We never did anything else you can imagine would be "hands on". We almost never went outside and we got one annual field trip in 3rd and 5th grade each, there may have been others, but they were always to the city park for a picnic.

Those two field trips were to Lincoln's tomb and a local living history place. So in 13 years, I had 3 hands on historical context situations and even those were pretty contrived. Science experiments were almost entirely unheard of and consisted of reading science texts or those Weekly Reader type things. In Junior high I think we did look at formaldehyde preserved squids but that's as close as we got before my Enviro. class. I saw even less of stuff like this in the K and 3rd grade classes I volunteered in here. But again, it may be geographical/budget/income related as we are in a poor area.

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#75 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Do you have any "evidence" other than your own experience that elementary science teaching is NOT hands-on? Because it is in my DD's classroom. Completely. Often the kids aren't even aware what they're "supposed" to be learning from an experiment and then it all comes full circle and there's the aha moment. There are also tons of animals, plants (including a garden outside), and equipment.
I never said that it's not hands-on. I said it wasn't hands-on in my classroom. You appeared to be saying that it was hands-on, and that's simply not always the case. It can be hands-on. If there are "tons of animals, plants", etc. in your child's classroom, then it sounds like an exceptional school. I've never come across that in my life.

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I agree that practicing a language is not really using a language. But not very many unschoolers, unless they are bilingual at home, are using a foreign language either.
No, but if they're not, they're not likely talking about "context" with respect to languages, either. I believe the comment about context, with respect to languages, was discussing a child's visit/stay in another country. I certainly won't be teaching my kids a foreign language in context, because, despite years of language study, and excellent marks, I can't remember much more than "hello", "good-bye" and how to count.

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I don't have evidence for most children learning well in school except for seeing most of the children around me attend school and be happy, vibrant learners. And one could argue that "muddling through" might end up being a better overall educational experience than what some unschoolers have experienced (evidenced by this thread's very existence).
Maybe "muddling through" could be a reasonably good overall educational experience, but it's not "learning great", which is what I was responding to. I'm glad you see a lot of happy, vibrant learners. By the time my oldest was in fourth grade, he was more-or-less a teacher's pet, precisely because he was still a happy, vibrant learner, and the vast majority of his classmates weren't. I haven't known very many school children past the age of about eight who were happy or vibrant...except at recess. There are exceptions, of course, but I really think it's stretching things to say that "most" kids learn great in school.

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#76 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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True. There's no reason that both styles can't happen simultaneously though. Unschoolers aren't the only ones who go hiking! I guess what I'm opposed to is the either/or, black-and-white thinking. Many kids who attend school ALSO attend museums, do science projects with their parents, and have plenty of time to play and jump and run and learn. It seems a bit of a double-edged sword to hear, "if we did school, we wouldn't have time to X"---and then read threads like this, where one learns that apparently many people DON'T do school and STILL don't seem to do X.

Your particular "tadpole unit" sounds great. I'm not convinced that staying indoors and playing a tadpole video game all day, for instance, is preferable to even a somewhat-stilted classroom tadpole unit.
But that is not reality for a lot of kids. A ton of public (and private) schooled kids are soooooo overscheduled they don't have time for these things. Sure there is some real life stuff most kids get, especially if their parents don't shuffle them about every day. But as far as kids in our neighborhood I have talked to, their parents have never done a science experiment with them, and they go on an annual vacation where they may view a little bit of nature, but they certainly don't spend the few hours between 4pm and 7:30 school the next day experimenting, learning and exploring. They're doing chores, eating (sometimes even as a family), going to scouts or sports meetings, and doing massive, massive amounts of homework. When my oldest was in Kindy I got maybe 2 hours a night with her that included bath and meal times and homework (for a kindergartener!) before she had to go to sleep to wake up early enough for school the next day. And that was just kindy. I can't imagine kids in older grades having much time for even those simple things.

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#77 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:04 PM
 
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It seems a bit of a double-edged sword to hear, "if we did school, we wouldn't have time to X"---and then read threads like this, where one learns that apparently many people DON'T do school and STILL don't seem to do X.
Why is it a double-edged sword? The people doing X, and the people not doing X, are self-evidently different groups of people.

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Your particular "tadpole unit" sounds great. I'm not convinced that staying indoors and playing a tadpole video game all day, for instance, is preferable to even a somewhat-stilted classroom tadpole unit.
You all have some cool schools. We certainly never had tadpoles in our class, even temporarily. That said...I don't really do the video game thing with my younger kids, but if they were bored (can't imagine it, but I guess it could happen) with the school tadpoles, and intrigued by the video tadpoles, then I think they'd probably learn more from the video tadpoles.

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#78 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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I never said that it's not hands-on. I said it wasn't hands-on in my classroom. You appeared to be saying that it was hands-on, and that's simply not always the case. It can be hands-on.
Granted I haven't seen every school in the country, but I visited over 20 public schools a few years ago when I was searching for a school (we have a magnet system and a lot of choice). Of course these schools were among those considered "good," but it was a fairly large sample. All of the ones I visited had children engaged in hands-on learning, not just sitting and filling out worksheets. One math class was baking muffins and talking about fractions. Language arts classes were playing games or making up limericks. Stuff like that.

This is all stuff that I *would* do at home if I chose home-based learning. But again, it's not either/or. Many of the best schools are not at all dissimilar to the best home-based systems, at least when it comes to educational concepts (of course they're very different when it comes to socialization, peer groups, and structure...if you don't want that, I agree that you don't want school).
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#79 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by waiflywaif View Post
Granted I haven't seen every school in the country, but I visited over 20 public schools a few years ago when I was searching for a school (we have a magnet system and a lot of choice). Of course these schools were among those considered "good," but it was a fairly large sample. All of the ones I visited had children engaged in hands-on learning, not just sitting and filling out worksheets. One math class was baking muffins and talking about fractions. Language arts classes were playing games or making up limericks. Stuff like that.
I've never seen an elementary school that had the equipment to bake muffins, except in the staff room, where the kids wouldn't be using it. My son's grade 3 class did once make butter from cream, but that was a special activity for an open house - certainly not the kind of thing they were doing every day.

I can remember playing games and making up limericks years ago. I hated it, but they did do it.

These do sound like really good schools, but not everybody has the option of choosing particular schools. (I'm not sure what a "magnet" school is. I don't think the term is in use in Canada, or at least BC. If it is, I've missed it.) I can't even imagine visiting 20 different schools, and for most of my parenting life, I wouldn't have been able to get my son to that many (WOH and had to bus, and all but two schools were outside my possible before work range). I can't even imagine having that many options.

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This is all stuff that I *would* do at home if I chose home-based learning. But again, it's not either/or. Many of the best schools are not at all dissimilar to the best home-based systems, at least when it comes to educational concepts (of course they're very different when it comes to socialization, peer groups, and structure...if you don't want that, I agree that you don't want school).
Well, I definitely don't want school. I didn't want it when I was there, either. School and home are just different. Even with similar underlying concepts, they're just different. For some people, school definitely works. For some, it even works well. For others, it's a complete failure, just by its very nature.

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#80 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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These do sound like really good schools, but not everybody has the option of choosing particular schools. (I'm not sure what a "magnet" school is. I don't think the term is in use in Canada, or at least BC. If it is, I've missed it.) I can't even imagine visiting 20 different schools, and for most of my parenting life, I wouldn't have been able to get my son to that many (WOH and had to bus, and all but two schools were outside my possible before work range). I can't even imagine having that many options.
No, of course they don't. One reason why I work hard, both with my volunteer time and with my donation dollars and with my vote, to make sure all public schools are improved.

I WOH as well. During the Great School Search I often used personal time, work-from-home days, or flex time to make in-person visits. You can't learn everything you need to know about a school from test scores and graphs, so I felt I needed to visit. My kid's education is very important to me, as I know it is for everyone in this thread.
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#81 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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True. There's no reason that both styles can't happen simultaneously though. Unschoolers aren't the only ones who go hiking! I guess what I'm opposed to is the either/or, black-and-white thinking. Many kids who attend school ALSO attend museums, do science projects with their parents, and have plenty of time to play and jump and run and learn. It seems a bit of a double-edged sword to hear, "if we did school, we wouldn't have time to X"---and then read threads like this, where one learns that apparently many people DON'T do school and STILL don't seem to do X.

i agree with you actually. although we have always homeschooled, i can honestly say IRL all of our family & friends with public school experience also have lives that involve playtime, exploration, outings, fun, family time & lots of learning through everyday experiences.

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#82 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by waiflywaif View Post
I WOH as well. During the Great School Search I often used personal time, work-from-home days, or flex time to make in-person visits.
My point wasn't that I couldn't make the visits (although I couldn't have, because I didn't have flex time or work-from-home days). My point was that I couldn't have gotten him to school, even if I'd found a better one.

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You can't learn everything you need to know about a school from test scores and graphs, so I felt I needed to visit. My kid's education is very important to me, as I know it is for everyone in this thread.
I don't think you can learn everything you need to know about a school at all. A visit gives you more info, but it's still a parent's eye view, not a student's eye view.

I do think it's great that there are schools like that out there. To me, though, school is school, honestly. Some of us just aren't cut out for the school experience. I'm not. DS1 is. DD1 isn't. DS2...not sure yet. DH? He did okay...got a good education, at least.

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#83 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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I'm really sorry that OP is feeling disappointed with the results of her choices. I'm often regarded as an unschooler by folks observing my family's ways of learning. What DP says about our style is, "We have curriculum and sometimes we use it."

My kids are unique and require individual responses. Very individual responses.

My personal belief is that if a system of education is working well for your child, you know it in the low level of tension generally, the sparkle in his or her eyes, the flush of excitement in his or her cheeks. Not every minute of every day, but overall.

Watching for the dulled eyes, the slumped shoulders, the retreat away..... and tweaking and turning the ways of learning until things are right again seems like it gives you the greatest likelihood of looking back on these days with a sense that you made the best choices you could for your individual children.

WTG to the OP for pulling her child out of school when it wasn't working. It sounds like the real question is:

Where to go with the educational journey now.
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#84 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 04:53 PM
 
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OP, my friends moved their kids from one public school to another. They were shocked and overwhelmed when they discovered their children were far behind at the new school. They spent months getting their kids caught up.
Sometimes you can being doing everything the same as you always have and still find yourself in an overwhelming situation.

I hope your DD is feeling better about her schooling! I'm sorry unschooling didn't work out.

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#85 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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#86 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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what I think is missing from this discussion is that unschooling our children takes alot of work on the parents part. US parents need to expose their children to a wide variety of the real world. Visit museums multiple times a year, travel, watch documentaries together, have a vast home library on a variety of subjects. I have never understood quality US to be that you stay home all day and let your child play video games while mom reads and cleans the house. I have seen it written here on MDC over and over again how US can be more work than school at home. And even with a US parent who provides all of these experiences and opportunities for their dc, if their dc aren't absorbing all the info or showing motivation to explore knowledge further, than it is the US parents JOB to say "US is not the right choice for my dc". I feel that if a child is truly exposed to a quality US lifestyle, they should naturally learn the basics of an elementary education, basic math skills, reading, writing, history ect.
Well said. I wish I had time to participate in this duscussion, but houseguests are on their way. Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote for Home Education Magazine some years back - just my own take, since there's no one formal viewpoint we can all agree on. Obviously, it isn't or everyone, but at least we can sort of agree on what it is:
One common myth is that unschoolers "do nothing" toward educating their children, but this fallacy is based on widespread misunderstandings about the way unschoolers think about the nature of learning and how it works. They actually tend to be fascinated with learning, and quite dedicated to actively instilling the joy of learning in their children - they simply don't feel that imitating school methods will accomplish this best. The unschooling philosophy leaves the "school" concept out of "homeschooling" and gets on with learning and living. Some of us even feel that the word "homeschooling" is unfortunate - "home learning" might be much more descriptive.

We've all grown up with the school model of learning; we went to school - and we learned. Consequently, we assumed that learning and school are interdependent. Realistically, though, school is just an institutionalized format for providing education to the masses. An individual family can provide far superior ways for a child to learn.

Basically, the unschooler looks at a child as a natural learner who doesn't need to be processed through the school model to thrive intellectually or otherwise. This doesn't mean the parent stands back and leaves the children to flounder and discover the wonders of the world all on their own. To the contrary, unschooling parents tend to be quite actively involved in introducing their children to the world, often learning enthusiastically right alongside them. However their experience is that children can and will learn what they need to know without being orchestrated, coerced, or controlled. Learning comes quite naturally in countless ways through daily living - in the normal course of reading to children, playing games of all kinds, shopping, baking, conversation, videos, audio tapes, hobbies, clubs, classes, meeting new people, and seeing new places. Learning can also come in pure, unadulterated play, or in serious and focused interest in a study or project. An unschooling parent might very well teach a child certain things, but also recognizes that a child can learn much of what she needs to know without being "taught."

Modeling the joy of learning is obviously essential to the process. The intention is not to fill a container with facts but to provide the spark and tools the child will need for lifelong discovery and mastery - a love of learning that will be a part of the child's character for life.

Unschoolers recognize that life presents a number of things that are fun to learn, useful to learn, important or vital to learn, but they find that children can naturally cover all that as they pursue their interests, learning their own way and at their own pace. The child might be the one who initiates seeking out more information about a subject, but the parents quite naturally bring things to the children's attention and share their own knowledge and delight about all manner of subjects. The parent and child might decide together to use a text for one subject or another, but they use it only as a tool like any other tool rather than as a mold.

It's often said that there are as many kinds of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers, and this is probably a good way to look at unschoolers too. You might observe highly structured homeschoolers who stick to traditional methods arguing with unschoolers over how children should be educated; but you can also find unschoolers arguing with other unschoolers about what unschooling is or who's "a real unschooler." That's because no one holds title to the term; many individuals have used it in slightly different ways since it was first coined by former teacher and education reformer, John Holt, (author of many books popular with homeschoolers). It was a radical idea in Holt's time to not send your kids to school, and he referred to that lifestyle as "unschooling," although he eventually came to promote the more specific set of educational beliefs that now associated with the term.

One thing we can all agree on is that unschooling means learning outside the traditional school model; but realistically, this means slightly different things to different people. Many unschooling parents introduce lots of ideas and activities; while some find that to be disrespectful or unnecessary. Some children want to be very independent; while others might really enjoy being actively involved with the whole family's interests. Some children or teens might occasionally express a preference for a more traditionally structured program, or might even want to take some outside classes - and facilitating those preferences is all part of unschooling.

Regardless of variables, the guiding principles of the educational style we call unschooling are always to be sensitive to what works well for the individual child and to be conscious of the fact that the learner is the person who ultimately best knows his needs and his own way of learning. The unschooling life is tailored to the learner rather than the learner tailored to the program.
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#87 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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OT: my 9 year old is JUST reading and actually he is doing great. when it was introduced before he would get very confused and frustrated, by being able to wait until HE was ready (not just some age that they are suppose to read) he is actually enjoying it and doing really well. i don't think there is an age that any child should be doing anything. each child is different and learn at a different pace. i think we get this idea that they need to be doing A. B, and C by this age and if they are not then they are failing, when instead they may not be ready to do it yet. i have 6 year old how is also ready to read and is doing well. so honestly it really depends on the child not the age. you can force stuff on kids and they pull away and shut down, or you can let them lead the way and you will be surprised at what they learn and how well it goes.

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#88 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Dear OP,

I'm sorry to hear the transition has been so rough! I wanted to share my thoughts with you in regards to your post.

We are not unschoolers, however, as Lillian mentioned, our alternative method of education would no way prepare my ds to enter public school tomorrow.

Now, personally, I feel perfectly ok about this, even somewhat happy about it because our whole reason for homeschooling in the first place was to avoid the endless worksheets, textbooks, and standardized tests.

For what it's worth, many children here in CA attend alternative schools (including those who do not/have not ever homeschooled) and are also likely not prepared to integrate into a standard public school at any given time. Waldorf ed, montessori, Reggio-emelia, child-led, thematic, democratic, faith-based, literature based, and dual language immerson programs are all vastly different from our local traditional public schools.

In fact, we have a dual-immersion charter school in town and they will only allow children to start in K and they prepare the parents by telling them it is at least a 5 year commitment because if they were to pull our their child in a few years they would likely not integrate well into a traditional public school because they will have gaps in their learning (but they will have much exposure to reading/writing/speaking another language).

I'm sharing all of this with you because as homeschoolers, we do not have to utilize the standard method of ps ed. We are free to choose whatever method works for our dc, which may or may not be unschooling. Public schools see students from all different backgrounds and children transitioning into standard-based ed often need extra help and time to integrate successfully.

IMO, it doesn't reflect you or your ed choices for your dc, it is just that ps is a very different (and some might say, very artificial) way of learning that takes a lot of getting used to in order to navigate successfully.

Best wishes!
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#89 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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For example, when taking Art appreciation, I had NO concept of the "historical periods" the text was talking about. So while most of my peers focused on studying the actual art, I had to try to figure out what I was suppose to already know.
This kind of makes me wonder if you would have had such a high GPA if you hadn't been unschooled. I'm not an unschooler myself, and not trying to disregard your feelings, but I do wonder if your experience couldn't be reframed in a more positive manner.

Yes, most college students with a typical US high school education are going to have a basic grasp of world history and so forth, and will, at the very least, recognize terms like "The Middle Ages", "The Renaissance", and so forth and have a vague idea of when and what took place during those periods. However, unless they had a particular personal interest in the subject or an unusually enthusiastic teacher, chances are they're not going to know much beyond that baseline. And, because they know the bare basics, they're unlikely to even think of researching it further (or have the motivation to do so if they do think of it) and possibly discovering nuances or further historical background of relevance - something your background apparently left you willing and able to do.

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#90 of 455 Old 09-13-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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This kind of makes me wonder if you would have had such a high GPA if you hadn't been unschooled. I'm not an unschooler myself, and not trying to disregard your feelings, but I do wonder if your experience couldn't be reframed in a more positive manner.

Yes, most college students with a typical US high school education are going to have a basic grasp of world history and so forth, and will, at the very least, recognize terms like "The Middle Ages", "The Renaissance", and so forth and have a vague idea of when and what took place during those periods. However, unless they had a particular personal interest in the subject or an unusually enthusiastic teacher, chances are they're not going to know much beyond that baseline. And, because they know the bare basics, they're unlikely to even think of researching it further (or have the motivation to do so if they do think of it) and possibly discovering nuances or further historical background of relevance - something your background apparently left you willing and able to do.
This is a good point. One thing that frequently comes up in homeschool/unschool/public school/private school/alternative school dicussions is the "I did X, and had such-and-such deficiency when I switched to Y". The implication always seems to be that, had the person been doing Y all along, they wouldn't have had that deficiency, but would have still had all their strengths. There's also the "well, I discovered/became passionate about X in [fill in system/lack of system here]", with the implication that said passion would have never been discovered had they been doing Y. (I have seen this go both ways - "wouldn't have thought about this topic without such-and-such teacher" and "would never have had the opportunity to explore such-and-such if I'd been in school". There are other variants, too.) But, this is a false argument.

I believe that, if I'd been homeschooled or unschooled, I'd have kept the love of learning that the entire school process beat out of me. I truly believe that. But, I can't say it as a fact. Maybe I would have switched off for some other reason. I also believe my social anxieties and such would be better than they are, without my public school experiences, but I could be wrong about that, too. Maybe, even without the bullying and other stuff, I'd have become just as social phobic as I have. We know what did happen in our lives, but we don't know what would have happened if things had been different. (I see this with birth, too. There's "such-and-such happened, and if I'd been at home, my baby would have died", but maybe such-and-such wouldn't have happened at all. There's "I had my baby at home, and thank goodness, because if I'd been at the hospital, such-and-such would have happened", but such-and-such may not have happened - maybe you'd get the OB that every other OB there thinks is nuts, because he has a low section or induction rate.)

DD1 is later in learning to read than I expected (dh and I were both self-taught readers, and were both reading before kindergarten). It turns out she has severe astigmatisms. I knew she needed an eye exam for nearsightedness, but had no idea there were other visual issues. Part of me thinks, "if she'd been in school, they'd have caught this"...but that's not necessarily true. (I was nearsighted and couldn't see the blackboard from the back of the room and none of my teachers ever picked up on it.) Even if a teacher had told me that they thought dd1 was nearsighted, I may not have made the eye appointment any sooner than I did (lots going on with the new baby last year). Things may have been no different at all. DD1 also has perfectionism and frustration issues. Maybe a teacher could handle them better than me...and maybe a class with kids picking up reading faster than her would have made it worse. I can only deal with what is, not with what might have been if I'd been homeschooled, or ds1 had been, or if dd1 was in public school, or Waldorf, or whatever. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of various methods isn't the same things as thinking we know what would have been, yk?

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