Classical, Unschool, combination of the two?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Background: I wanted to homeschool dd1 for 1st grade but couldn't make it work due to my work schedule but I am feeling even more committed to it for this coming fall and am truly planning to make it happen for her 2nd grade year and beyond.  My dd1 is very bright, ahead of grade level in school and loves to make little books and explore new things.  IMHO she is a perfect hs kid (this of course without ever actually hsing yet :)

 

I've read John Holt and John Gatto and really like the unschooly approach but then I picked up The Well Trained Mind and am really finding myself intrigued with it.  I know I couldn't follow TWTM completely as I won't have 3-4 hours every day to devote entirely to hsing as I still have to work and also want to do a lot of real life learning. 

 

That said, I think I've settled on using a basic math curriculum just to make sure dd is getting everything in a logical way.  I'm a little less set on using a grammar book like suggested in WTM vs just reading a lot and having my dd keep a journal to reflect on experiences and reading and also to practice some grammar and spelling.  

 

I just ordered a book on Charlotte Mason from the library so looking forward to that but I"m hoping some more experienced moms might share how to combine unschooling with Classical education.  Also, I am NOT religious and nervous that too many WTM resources are Christian biased.  

 

These two styles seem to be at complete odds - can they even be combined?    What worked for you getting started? 

 

Sorry for being a bit all over the place.  That's how I'm feeling right now researching hs materials and actually selecting curriculum and planning for a schedule.  Hs seemed much easier as a theoretical concept than an actual practical matter.  I had felt very confident in my ability to teach my child everything just by doing lots of things and reading a lot with a bit of writing but I'm suddenly feeling like I need more structure to make sure we cover everything.    

 

Just comparing math curriculum has me stressed out about using the "best" one and how to make that decision.  

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#2 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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I am also intrigued by both classical and un-schooling. I'm interested to hear what others have to say. 


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#3 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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I jokingly refer to the Well Trained Mind as a sort of dangerous drug for me. If I dare to pick it up, I start getting crazy. I want my kid to sit at a desk like someone from Waltons Mountain [see 1970's TV, "The Waltons"], eagerly and dutifully soaking up the classics. I start to get worried and inflict learning on him. Workbooks, assignments, schedules.

 

Here's the problem. He's not having ANY of it. We are unschoolers by his choice. On the one hand, when he was between 4 and 6 years old, he was learning and soaking up everything he could learn about science: biology, animal life cycles, astronomy, chemistry. Making charts, creating clay models, watching videos and acting things out--a Renaissance man of sorts. It was a thrilling time for me, needless to say. Now he is 9 and we've had a few years of misery as I try to deal with his different style, different interests. Why can't I "make him" do just enough "lessons" so he will have a solid foundation, I ask myself. Battles ensue.

 

It is only now that I am discovering the concept of a "right brained learner." That is to say, opposite from me. I am pretty evenly split between left and right brain traits, which sort of explains my ambidextrousness. But I must learn as a left-brainer. I love the worksheets, the quizzes and tests, I thrive with the drilling because it neatly tucks things into my head where I can have them forever. But my son, no. Not at all.

 

When I try and drill him on anything, it is like World War III; he moans and cries if I read him anything "boring." When I read the description of a right-brained learner on this site [ http://www.therightsideofnormal.com/ ], I realize that is what he is. And this sentence is the key: "The right-brained early subject strengths are areas of study that promotes creative and imaginative thinking that include history, mythology, cultures and geography, animals, nature, and science. Does school promote these subjects between 5 and 7 years old? No, they promote the subjects that left-brained children succeed in as a foundation."

 

Why do I tell you all this? Because Well Trained Mind or any other curriculum WE want for our kids is not going to work if it doesn't match our kids' learning style. I might get all weak in the knees around TWTM, but I'm going to have to study it myself....because my son won't do it. It's not how he learns, and it would soon be all about the coercion if I tried.

 

So I guess what I'm saying is identify your child's preferences and abilities, and stay with that. If she goes through that insane burst of learning like my son did a few years ago, don't necessarily take that to mean she wants or will thrive with a curriculum.

 

Oh, and you mentioned "getting math in a logical way." That one was HUGE for me. Actually it IS huge for me. I have been obsessed by presenting math in what I felt was a logical progression. Practice. Drill. ....etc.... But, as I have to yell at myself periodically, right brained children don't LEARN MATH THAT WAY. As usual, he is teaching ME.  (sigh)

 

Take a look at what psychologist Peter Gray says about math:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201003/when-less-is-more-the-case-teaching-less-math-in-schools

 

Hope my rambling has helped a bit.

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#4 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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I don't see unschooling and classical homeschooling as compatible, personally.  Even in its broadest sense, unschooling means you don't go into the process with a core set of objectives, or with a parent-created curriculum.   What you are describing--pulling together the best ideas from a variety of philosophies--is usually described as an eclectic approach.

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#5 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 10:01 AM
 
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I think you should consider what your goals are for homeschooling, and then choose the method that aligns with those goals.  Unschooling generally means letting your child choose what he studies, and so combining unschooling and classical education would be hard to do unless you had a kid who was into the stuff included in a classical education.  

 

We are somewhere in the gray between eclectic and unschooling (moving toward eclectic lately), and we do have The Story of The World and some other classical materials, but we haven't used them the way Susan Wise Bauer had in mind.  

 

Most people change curriculum after or during the first year of homeschooling. It's hard to know ahead of time what's going to work for you in practice, so don't make yourself crazy feeling like you need to choose everything perfectly now.  You can pick something that looks ok (and isn't so expensive you feel married to it), and then as you gain experience you'll better know what you really want, and you can switch over to that.  

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#6 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 10:24 AM
 
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I think there are parts of classical education that can be a part of unschooling.  To some degree WTM is about really rich materials that have inspired for decades or centuries: classical literature, music, etc., and not dumbed down versions of these things,.and that can be very compatible with exposing your kids to a wide variety of things and letting them pursue those interests at the level that works for them, not necessarily limited by what is considered age appropriate. There's a lot of interest-led education within WTM and a focus on learning through conversation, and that has worked really well for us as unschoolers.  We read parts of the Odyssey and several Shakespearean plays aloud, watched videos and read books and articles on ancient civilizations, all of which is very much in sync with classical ed.  But you don't ever know what your kid will be into. Playing Greek Warriors and watching the Tempest in the park might be insanely boring to your kid.  The great thing about unschooling is that you can draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere and you and your kids turn it into exactly the education they need. The idea that children need to learn certain, specific things in a specific order and a specific way to have a good education is kind of  a common thread in any curriculum, and that is the part that flies in the face of unschooling philosophy. But certainly you can incorporate classical resources into an unschooling lifestyle or more free learning into a WTM based curriculum if that's your thing.  Whether or not you'd be considered an unschooler if you posted on a forum that you sometimes use WTM methods or resources is another matter entirely, but I recommend not becoming too attached to a particular label because, odds are, somebody will eventually tell you you are doing it wrong anyway.

 

As far as "the best math curriculum," or more structure so that you are "covering everything," you are really getting away from the child-led ideals that I find to be the best part of unschooling.  I would focus on having books and movies and games around on topics that interest her and let go of the idea that there is one best way to learn.  If that were true, everyone would use it. Tune in and spend time learning about what works best for your child. Keeping a journal, for example, doesn't work for us, because ds has a hard time writing for extended periods.

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#7 of 58 Old 05-08-2012, 02:59 PM
 
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FWIW, I found Cathy Duffy's 100 top homeschooling picks book to be helpful in sorting out what philosophies most appeal to me...  I come up something like 90% Charlotte Mason, 76% Classical and 70% Unschooling.  I'm only one year in, but I am finding a groove that seems to reflect those preferences.

 

I don't think that, philosophically, you can combine those approaches.  Unschooling is based on being totally child led, whereas Classical is pretty much the exact opposite.  In practice, I think you can take a lot from each and make it your own style. 

 

For me, a Charlotte Mason framework to start from makes a happy medium - short lessons that make it so a child is free to play (especially in nature).  Some structure, a lot of free play.  Our approach is "eclectic" (like most people, I'd venture to guess), and I'm flexible about trying to approach things in new ways as we age.

 

HTH

 

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#8 of 58 Old 05-09-2012, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you onatightrope for reminding me that I have homeschooling goals.  I really considered again why I want to homeschool and reminded myself that giving my kids freedom to explore their own interests is a major part of it.   I also just started reading Free Range Learning and it really reminded me of all the reasons that I want to homeschool and providing a classical education really isn't one of them.  I'm not sure I'll ever be 100% unschool.  I realized that I do want my children to learn advanced math by age 18 - at least Pre-calc and have a good grasp of written and oral communication but other than that, they don't need to study the classics in a regimented way.

 

NellieKatz - I can definetely relate to TWTM being like a sort of drug.  It really had me thinking of how well read my children could be but honestly they are certainly not going to want to have such a rigid and timeconsuming curriculum.  I do like the lists of suggested readings for each grade as a guide though.  I might keep those lists handy when I'm choosing books at the library but not going to shove them down my kdis throats.   

 

I also just took the Kathy Duffy quiz and came up 94% unschool and unit study with a lower score for Charlotte Mason and an even lower one for Classical.  

 

Also, I've returned TWTM to the library so its hold on me can loosen.  I'm really loving Free Range Learning and will be reading more in the coming months as I prepare for my kids' departure from public school.

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#9 of 58 Old 05-09-2012, 05:18 PM
 
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Can you take the Duffy quiz online, or is it just in the book?


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#10 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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has anybody tried using different 'methods'  for the different subjects?  for example, i am intrigued by waldorf, classical, charlotte mason, and unschooling...but in different subject areas.  I like the classical homeschooling approach to history, the charlotte mason approach to nature study and literature, the waldorf approach to drawing, painting (& general screen free issues, and quality of materials)...and unschooling approach to well, life, general interests of the child, and art and music and math.....I am just beginning this homeschool journey, but think I may try to approach each subject in the way that feels right for us, and that resonates with us as a family.  My children are 5 and 3, and I really see these 'pre-school years' as such a wonderful time to watch and gauge how each child learns different things in a completely different way, and then find a teaching 'style' or way to approach each subject that the child will resonate with, and be interested and engaged in.  i jokingly refer to us as 'un-classi-dorfers'....anybody else approach the subjects this way?

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#11 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 08:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by katmanduzen View Post

has anybody tried using different 'methods'  for the different subjects?  for example, i am intrigued by waldorf, classical, charlotte mason, and unschooling...but in different subject areas. 

 

I don't think that makes much sense as a description. Partly because what you describe aren't so much "methods" as they are philosophies ... views on how children learn. To me it would be a bit like saying "I believe that meat is unhealthy for humans, for breakfast, but for supper I subscribe to a paleo approach where one eats large amounts of animal protein and minimal grains." You can't really say you have beliefs and values but only in particular parts of your life and discard them in others. But also because several of these methods/philosophies/whatevers have at their heart the belief that you shouldn't draw boundaries between subjects, that learning flows in an integrated manner in which writing and reading can't and shouldn't be separated from history and science and art and math. Math is art and music is math and reading is science and all the rest. 

 

I think again what you are describing is an eclectic approach, taking bits of inspiration from different approaches and melding them into something that isn't any of them, but which suits you and your children.

 

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#12 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 10:24 AM
 
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interesting.  no I am not saying 'I am a vegetarian, but only for breakfast'...i suppose I am saying that one might be drawn to learn different 'things' in different ways, one might call it eclectic, or just a blend of all the styles they take inspiration from!  I find quite often perusing these forums that the 'one size fits all' boxed curriculum just does not work for many people, there are so many people that say 'i just love this so and so curriculum, but the math portion just bores my child to tears!'  or ' i just love this curriculum...except for the whole bible part, which we leave out'  And I am just saying that this is normal, i personally think that this is OK.... that one of the wonderful things about homeschooling is the freedom to tailor the 'learning' to the child, and to the family. I am not at all saying that we draw boundaries, because naturally, subjects flow together.....one should not be limited by their curriculum choice, but empowered to perhaps look outside the box...even if you set up for yourself something of a framework to work from.  It is OK to appreciate different styles (though I would not go so far as to call them 'beliefs/values/philosopies'...i dont personally think of waldorf or charlotte mason as a religion, or a philosophy, but as one of the many ways to introduce ideas and concepts to your child, and there are so many different ways to do that!)  just my opinion....

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#13 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 12:12 PM
 
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I guess for me it's mostly an issue of semantics. You are taking some words that describe philosophies (unschooling, Waldorf, eg.) and using them in a manner that describes practices. For instance, at the root of Waldorf education is a belief in the inappropriateness of certain types of academic learning in children under age 7. If you don't understand that Waldorf is a philosophy, I would suggest doing a bit more reading. The practices of Waldorf education spring from that philosophy, but the practices aren't what define it. So you can't really plan in KG to "do Waldorf for art, and use 100EL for reading," because "doing Waldorf" means to ascribe to a philosophy and pretty much precludes doing 100EL. Similarly, you can't unschool for everything except math, science and history, because unschooling means not prescribing a course of study for your child but instead trusting that his curiosity concerning, say, motorcycles and martial arts, will lead him to ultimately learn what he needs about math and science and history. 

 

Again, there's nothing wrong with taking inspiration from unschooling, Waldorf and any other model. You can create an eclectic approach that gleans from all sorts of approaches. Most homeschoolers actually do this. I just don't think you can say "We unschool for reading and do Waldorf for art, and do classical education for history." I still maintain this is like saying "We are vegetarians for breakfast, and omnivores for dinner." 

 

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#14 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 01:57 PM
 
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 I just don't think you can say "We unschool for reading and do Waldorf for art, and do classical education for history."

 

well, my belief is...that i can say whatever i want!  its a free country (i think)  I am talking about use of CURRICULUM....not my philosophical ideals.  I LIKE using waldorf CURRICULUM, but do not subscribe to every single one of their ideas, or their philosophy of holding  a child back from say, reading, if they are ready to at age 2.  I like the charlotte mason LITERATURE used, but i do not subscribe to all of her ideas either.  I dont have one personal philosophy on the best methods of educating a child, I have MANY....and they are varied, and depend on the situation and the child.  So i suppose what i am saying is, I do not allow others to label me...or put me or my 'methods' or anything else about myself and my children, into a box...because people, strangely...do not fit in boxes.  We are different.  I LIKE different curriculum, different styles.....are you saying that the only ones qualified to use the term 'Waldorf' are the ones who use it %100, to a T, and nothing else?  Should homeschooled children who take a music class at school still be called 'homeschoolers'?  I mean, they set foot in a school!  Not %100 homeschooled.  Seriously.

 

(honestly, every homeschool family I know leans towards a style, and tends to identify with it, but no one i know ONLY uses that style, or follows it %100, in every subject area. Should they not be 'allowed' to identify themselves in a certain way, because they are not 'purists' about it?)

 

If you want to continue the food comparisions, for me, it is like eating hamburgers for breakfast.....just doesn't suit us, we tend to have them for dinner, or lunch.  And something else for breakfast, it is our PREFERECE....not our personal belief system.  but if someone else would like to eat hamburgers for breakfast, I would not say 'ack...that is seriously screwing with my idea of the way things should be done'  

 

I do understand that when some people talk about different methods of homeschooling, they may be referring to a philosophy, but I am not....I am talking about ways of doing things, ways of introducing ideas and concepts. Many of these have labels, and I prefer to be able to choose my own, thank you very much.  And for me, ways of doing things sometimes differs depending on the subject. Or the day.  Or the mood we are in. Or the weather.  Sometimes the best way to approach one subject, may not work for your child in another subject.

 

So for the person who began this post, I say just go for it!  Give it a try! And don't be afraid to try it out in a way that you think might work for you.  And if it doesn't, that is OK....it is a learning process right?  And don't let anyone try to put you in a box.

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#15 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 02:00 PM
 
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And yet there are Waldorf-inspired, Reggio-inspired, Montessori-inspired, or classically-inspired unschoolers. They exist!  Unschooled children are exposed to their parents interests, and are thus, in part, guided by them.  We're not talking about combining matter and anti-matter here. No one will explode if we combine two different educational styles. I find the need to tell people who deviate from their core path or borrow from others that they are really eclectic to be sort of alienating and exclusionary. Eclectic means, "Oh you [unschool/do Waldorf/are Montessori] except for [subject]? We don't have a term for that but you're not really one of us. Not that there's anything wrong with that." 

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#16 of 58 Old 05-11-2012, 02:29 PM
 
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I'm actually encouraging people to combine what works for them from one approach with what works for them from another. I just think that to say "We unschool for music and gardening but do Sonlight for the rest" is using the term unschooling rather differently from how it is normally understood. Of course you're free to call what you do anything you like, but you may find yourself misunderstood by others if you terms in unconventional ways. 

 

I like the descriptive "Montessori-inspired unschooling" or whatever. That suggests a melding of influences and flavours into a personal philosophy, which is as it should be.

 

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#17 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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Sorry, don't have time to read all the posts right now but just wanted to recommend a set of math books that we just started using called Life of Fred. My son, who is 6.5 and never wants to "practice" writing or anything else, loves it so far. It's the most unconventional approach to math I've ever seen and I really love it, too. If you're in the process of looking for a math curriculum, check it out and see if it sounds like it would suit your chil(ren).

I swear, I'm not an affiliate or anything. I had felt the need for some kind of math books and was just not really drawn to any of them until I ran across this one.

If anyone wants more of a detailed explanation of the books (that we've read so far) I'd be happy to post more when I have some more time.

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#18 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 06:01 PM
 
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We are unschoolers.  We have some Waldorf-inspired objects in our house--supplies for wet-on-wet watercolor painting, for instance.  We also have a Montessori moveable alphabet set.  Yet I don't say, "We're using a Waldorf approach to painting and a Montessori approach to reading" because my children use these supplies however, and whenever, THEY want.  I don't say, "We're going to do painting today," or tell my kids that they must use the Montessori letters in a certain way, at times that I announce. 

 

Yes, you can be eclectic in your approach to homeschooling.  But I wouldn't go into the Waldorf or the Montessori or the unschooling forums without clearly identifying yourself as eclectic.  Some (many?) people feel very deeply about these philosophies of learning and aren't necessarily open to getting advice from people who don't subscribe to the larger philosophy.  For example, every now and then someone who "unschools for everything but math and reading" comes into the unschooling forum and recommends that a poster "just take charge" of a child's math learning, or recommends aggressive action for a seven-year-old who is not yet reading.  This typically doesn't go over too well. 

 

I'm not trying to be mean.  I just want to emphasize that while labels certainly aren't everything, they are one way that like-minded people can find each other and discuss concerns or experiences in a safe environment.

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#19 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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I very much view myself as combining a classical education with unschooling.

 

I perhaps have a slightly different view of unschooling, in that I don't just leave my kids to learn what they learn, and let it go at that.  I call my philosophy "subversive unschooling."  Have you ever read "Cheaper by the Dozen"?  The book, not the movie.  The dad is always doing stuff to make his kids learn, but they don't know they are doing it.  He very much has an agenda, but applies it very unconventionally. 

 

So, I have a list of books, skills, knowledge, etc, that I'd like my children to experience.  But, I highly value allowing a child to learn something in their own way, and at their own time.  I keep track of what they are doing, what they will probably be ready for/interested in next, and be sure to expose them to it, in the most interesting way I can.  Sometimes I have a "problem" I need them to solve for me.  Sometimes, I'm deliberately too busy to solve their problem for them.  (Like, dd and the weather lately.  I've been non-commital about checking the weatehr for her, saying, "Well, uhm, looks like rain," as I casually look out the window.  So, she dug out some weather books we have, and now she is forecasting on her own. :) )  Sometimes, I just keep getting out the same thing every six months or so until they bite.  Sort of like putting new food on their plate.  Sometimes, I set up life to be very boring for a while, and the only out is doing something super creative on their own, or to read the new books that just came in the mail.  When we've been really busy, and the kids haven't had free time in a while for running errands, or whatever, the relief of science materials on the coffee table is almost comical. 

 

Mostly, I try to be interesting, and live what I'd like them to know.  Dh and I purposefully talk about educational topics, in real world terms and in philosophical wonderings, with each other, at the table, and with the kids.  At the end of this great experiment,  they will have been given a good deal of a classical education...just in the form of conversations, and "need" based learning.  

 

At some point, I expect we will switch over to some nitty gritty, but at this point, I see that happening from the ages of 12-15, or so.  I'd think I'd like some formal training in some topics, but we'll see.  I'm finding that anything I thought had to be formal, I've been able to "teach" in a way that is relevant to our life. 

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#20 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 06:50 PM
 
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Just1More, while I am always looking to see what my kids might be interested in, I am not trying to trick them into learning without them knowing it. To me, this violates the trust that is at the heart of unschooling.  And I think kids always figure out when adults are doing this.  I also don't feign problems I need them to solve for me so they can learn fractions or how to spell a word or whatever.   And I don't plan to switch them over to "nitty gritty" at some specific date (to me, that seems like code for "the really important stuff," and I find that distinction to be a false one).

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#21 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 07:35 PM
 
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I very much view myself as combining a classical education with unschooling.

I perhaps have a slightly different view of unschooling, in that I don't just leave my kids to learn what they learn, and let it go at that.  I call my philosophy "subversive unschooling." 

When my kids were young I did a bit of this but my kids proved to be incredibly adept at sniffing out (and emphatically resisting) my hidden agendas. My elder two in particular had very high autonomy needs and high levels of perfectionism and anxiety. Me wanting them to do something was enough to make them not want to do it, or too aware of being observed to be willing to try.

I had to back way off and avoid even the subtlest of educational-agenda interaction. These days I can share authentic interests and enthusiasms and my kids are often receptive. If I'm sharing in the same manner and for the same reasons as I might share with my dh or with my friends or parents, my kids are cool with it. For example if I encountered something and it seemed like the sort of thing they'd just love. Or if it's something I've been mulling over and want to talk through with someone. Or if it's something I'm so genuinely intrigued by that I feel the need to share. But if I'm sharing because I think it's "good for them to be exposed to this" or whatever, they (inwardly) roll their eyes and check out.

Different kids, different approaches I guess. But I'm posting mostly to point out that even without "subversive" intentions, I think all unschooling parents do more than "leave their kids to learn what they learn." The members of unschooling families are part of each others' lives, and as such there's a lot of natural, authentic cross-pollination of interests and enthusiasms that occurs.

MIranda

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#22 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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 If I'm sharing in the same manner and for the same reasons as I might share with my dh or with my friends or parents, my kids are cool with it. For example if I encountered something and it seemed like the sort of thing they'd just love. Or if it's something I've been mulling over and want to talk through with someone. Or if it's something I'm so genuinely intrigued by that I feel the need to share. 
 The members of unschooling families are part of each others' lives, and as such there's a lot of natural, authentic cross-pollination of interests and enthusiasms that occurs.
MIranda

This is how it is in my house.  My being interested in other things and sharing doesn't preclude all eye-rolling, or the little kid versions (like "What started this??!!")  but it is not with an agenda when I get on a talking spree, it's just that I can be something of a nerd about some things.  Some things do click, though.  I decided to show dd1 the difference between alternate and opposite leaf arrangements as we were looking at nettles.  It was one of those moments where mama just goes way, way beyond the necessary answer, (often there being no question in the first place) but this time dd was interested.  Cool!  

 

I agree on the distinction between inspiration and philosophy.  

 

For example, I like the way that Waldorf (outwardly) teaches art.  I am inspired by it, like Luckiestgirl.  But you can't "do" *real* Waldorf art without being fully immersed in Waldorf, because the philosophy behind what you are doing with the art extends beyond that subject and into the whole of life and childhood.  Wet-on-wet watercolor makes lines impossible and the paint is active and alive and--this is the whole of the Waldorf early education philosophy--expansive.   Even THE WAY you perform the painting-- the way you prepare the paint, the paper, the way you use the brush, clean up, transition to the next activity-- is so integral.  And the art is integral with the rest of the day, so, according to Waldorf philosophy, Waldorf is an entity as a whole.  Even the singsong way the teacher *speaks* to the child while doing art is all part of the package.  You can be inspired by it, but you don't "do" Waldorf without immersing yourself because *the philosophy* dictates this as paramount!

 

Normally, I would be the first to say "Whatever."  It is a favorite mantra of mine.  I am inspired by a lot of philosophies, I even call myself an unschooler, but I am fully prepared with the knowledge that some of the limitations in my house might make other, more radical types think that no way is this unschooling the way they consider it.  Well, not a problem.  I would love to have that conversation, but in the end, it's a useful label *for me*, that is all.  Labels are for communication, not for dogmatization.  Every word is a label.  The first step in a debate is to agree on the terms in question so that semantics don't derail the conversation. 


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#23 of 58 Old 05-14-2012, 10:06 PM
 
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I haven't read the responses. However, you may be interested in reading "Legendary Learning." http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Learning-Homeschoolers-Self-Directed-Excellence/dp/0983151008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337058288&sr=8-1

 

his is probably the best parenting book I have ever read. How you can offer your kids the skills they need to follow their passions and succeed (as they define it) in the world. Although it is geared to homeschoolers, most of this can be applied to children who attend school. She discusses Montessori, Charlotte Mason, A Thomas Jefferson Education (a form of classical education,) and unschooling. She has researched how many highly successful people were educated as they grew up. Although all were homeschooled for some period of time, many also went to school for awhile as well. She discusses people like Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Pierre Curie, Agatha Christie, Margaret Leakey, and many, many others. The bottom line is to help your child find their passions and teach them the creativity and skills to attain their goals.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#24 of 58 Old 05-15-2012, 05:51 AM
 
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I only have a minute.

 

I did want to say that I can see how my earlier post could be misconstrued.  I know I used the word "subversive", but I don't actually trick my kids.  You're right.  That would be deceitful, and would certainly backfire.  Nor did I mean that I thought unschoolers didn't do anything with their kids.  I was trying to say that I understand my method is a little more methodical and organized than many unschoolers, while still being very unconventional and informal.

 

So, here, I am known to be following a reading list for bedtime books.  We aren't locked into it, and I will read a different book if asked.  But, we are working through a list (and the kids don't know it).  The "problems" I meant, are real life things that I can use help doing.  I don't just contrive meaningless things and fake that I can't.  As mentioned by previous posters, it is much more of a working together relationship.  I know this is basic level stuff (but I can easily see how it can move up to the more complex), but things like writing my shopping list for me while I nurse a baby, or tallying up purchases off a receipt, are things I truly need done, and appreciate the help.  The kids, obviously, are practicing writing, and math by doing those things for me.  Sometimes, it's a little too hard for them, and they need a little instruction on how to finish.  And, I am actively watching for things I can have them help me do that I know will stretch what they already know.

 

I hope that explains a bit better.


"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#25 of 58 Old 05-15-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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Sometimes I have a "problem" I need them to solve for me.  Sometimes, I'm deliberately too busy to solve their problem for them. 

 

Not to be a pain in the neck, but I don't see any other way of interpreting these statements.  Why would you put quotation marks around a real problem?  How can one be actually too busy, and deliberately too busy at the same time? 

 

It sounds to me as if you want to trust that your children will learn without you controlling the process tightly, but that you aren't quite there yet.  And that's cool.  But I think words matter, and they sometimes do a really good job of revealing differences in the philosophies we hold.

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#26 of 58 Old 05-15-2012, 11:11 AM
 
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Not to be a pain in the neck, but I don't see any other way of interpreting these statements.  Why would you put quotation marks around a real problem?  How can one be actually too busy, and deliberately too busy at the same time? 

 

It sounds to me as if you want to trust that your children will learn without you controlling the process tightly, but that you aren't quite there yet.  And that's cool.  But I think words matter, and they sometimes do a really good job of revealing differences in the philosophies we hold.

 

I think another poster said semantics was a pretty big issue in this sort of discussion.  I agree.

 

Sigh.  I am actually too busy lots of times, and I can pretty easily chose not to help when I feel that the process of coming to a solution is just as valuable as the solution itself.  Sure, I can hold off supper to help them...I dunno...get the batteries back in the remote control car.  But, by standing back and being busy making supper, ds learned how to do it himself and is pretty proud of it.  I could have made time (and sometimes do!), but there's a lot of value, I feel, in letting them do things that are real and useful.  And in developing the "I can figure it out" confidence that those situations allow.  So, yes, I do deliberately tell them "just a minute", or "hang on, I need to finish x" before I can help you.  Often, that 5 to 10 minute delay is what gets them going on their own.  This wasn't deliberate, but an example is when dd3 was born.  I couldn't read to dd1 on demand anymore, and with the few skills she had, she taught herself to read because she was tired of waiting for me. 

 

As far as unschooling, I already said I'm working with a bit of a different definition.  I totally and truly believe that children learn best in a non-formal atmosphere, doing things that really matter, especially that really matter to THEM.  I also believe that there is a core set of stuff that classical education builds (writing skills?  speaking skills?  upper level math?  chemistry?) that well-educated people have well in hand.  It is my desire to give them as much of that upper level stuff in as unschooling a form as possibe.  Lots of things can be accomplished as a way of life, and don't need that nitty gritty I mentioned earlier.  Some things do, but I intend to do as little of that as I possibly can. 


"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#27 of 58 Old 05-15-2012, 11:32 AM
 
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As far as unschooling, I already said I'm working with a bit of a different definition.  I totally and truly believe that children learn best in a non-formal atmosphere, doing things that really matter, especially that really matter to THEM.  I also believe that there is a core set of stuff that classical education builds (writing skills?  speaking skills?  upper level math?  chemistry?) that well-educated people have well in hand. 

 

Ah, okay, so your definition of unschooling is about informal, learning-through-life education. 

 

My definition of unschooling has nothing to do with formality vs. informality, but with who decides what should be learned and how: the learner. My unschooled kids have actually done quite a lot of formal learning. 

 

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#28 of 58 Old 05-15-2012, 12:49 PM
 
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For me, as well, the autonomy of the learner is central to unschooling.  A related concept is the lack of specific outcomes that I as the parent am trying to check off some real or imagined list.   John Holt addresses this idea in Instead of Education:

 

Why does there always have to be an "outcome?"  When I go to see something that interests me, I don't have to do a dance afterwards or make a six-foot papier mache map and hoist it up to the ceiling.  I can decide for myself what sort of outcome, if any, I want to have for my experience.  More important, I can wait until the outcome reveals itself to me.  This takes time, sometimes years, and it never happens if "creative teachers" are busily pushing and prodding and motivating to make it happen. (page 120)

 

I'm not saying I'm perfect at this, but it is the ideal toward which I am working.

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#29 of 58 Old 05-16-2012, 04:11 PM
 
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I've been homeschooling for  4 years now, and on some retrospective thought, yeah we combined the two. It does depend on how your child works, and honestly I have 2 girls who work totally differently. Our eldest loves to learn, so she wanted to read. Once she learnt how to read, classical education came naturally. Even before that she was watching a certain type of movie or I was reading her a more classical book. She's read abridged versions of some things and complete of others. But its been from pleasure. Math, I''ve supplied workbooks and she's done computer games, again, I don't force. I think the combination of the two is an attitude shift rather than an actual curriculum choice. If you are child led, then you are an unschooler in many ways, and you can live a classical education lifestyle which they in turn absorb.

Now saying that, I'm just in the process of ordering the Oak Meadow curriculum, as we need a bit more bite in our life. My girls are so excited by it. I can't wait to try it. Its the closest I've ever seen to a curriculum for unschooling and its classical based to... with a bit of Waldolf thrown in. Check it out for sure! <3

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#30 of 58 Old 05-16-2012, 05:45 PM
 
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I'd say you have to know your child and yourself.  Neither of my kids are super self directed at this point, although they have a super rich play life full of fantasy and innovation, curiosity and discovery.  We use some of The Well Trained Mind's guildelines and materials, and some others that we like, Singapore Math and All About Spelling for example.  My feeling is that my kids may be more interested in self directed study as we go along and I can be open to that.  I think you can absolutely do some unschooling, say with science, history, art while having a specific curriculum for math and spelling. 

 

Good luck!

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