Do you think most people unschool b/c of the philosophy or b/c of the child? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-26-2005, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here's something I've been pondering for some time, but I haven't figured out how to say it clearly and diplomatically. I'm still not sure that I can do either, but I will try.

When reading unschooling threads, I notice that the kids usually seem very self-motivated, resistant to being directed, advanced in at least one area, and interested in a wide variety of things.

This is like a chicken and egg question. Do you think that most unschoolers go this route primarily b/c of the philosophy itself, and that the philosophy confers those traits to the kids? Or do you think that most choose unschooling, whether overtly or sub-consciously, because their kids already possess those traits to some degree?

I think that children are brighter than society gives them credit for and if all were somehow magically homeschooled, that 99% would be advanced compared to where they'd be in regular school. You know, instead of being forced to learn bits and pieces of everything in the same manner as a crowd of kids, they would naturally gravitate to what they're good at and like, so their option of organizing their own internal resources would result in comparative advancement in some area(s).

I'm wondering if school can kill self-motivation in kids, so perhaps they would all be very self-directed if left alone. I'm not sure though. I think that it's a personality trait, for the most part.

Ok, so I'm just thinking out loud. And I don't mean to offend anyone. It's just something I want to know. Do a certain combo of traits in kids make unschooling very appealing to some? Or does following an unschooling lifestyle highly develop those specific traits?

For me, I was drawn to unschooling simply b/c it was the only philosophy that seemed to work with my child. He's very self-directed, resistant to being directed by others, etc etc. He would not fit into school very well. He would be starting next year, and we just can't imagine him there. He'd be miserable for several reasons and I don't think he' cooperate with their plans for him. But now that we have experienced unschooling, we plan on going with it with our second child, whether he is like that or not. I mean, I'd tailor whatever had to be tailored for each kid, based on what they wanted.

I'm just wondering about this. Are unschoolers a self-selected group or does the philosophy change the kids in some ways? Again, i'm not trying to offend, just genuinely understand and toss this question around with the wise people on this board.
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Old 10-26-2005, 02:10 PM
 
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Okay...how's this for a non-answer....

I think some unschoolers recognize that their kids don't fit in a box and they search for a better way to educate them. Then they hear of unschooling and the philosohpy. They like the philosophy and adopt it. Because their kids are selflearners , the process goes well for them.

Unschooling didn't work for my kids. They are super smart , excel at one or two things each , but they crave direction. They wandered around bored to tears. They desperately desire to be told what to do. So although I LIKED the philosophy of unschooling , it didn't work.

I think you have to have the right combination.
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Old 10-26-2005, 02:26 PM
 
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For me, unschooling will depend on each kiddo ... ds#1 is an unschooler at heart. He likes to be able to direct most of what he learns. He is very, very inquisitive, loves science and painting, and doesn't do too well when I try to directly teach him. Some days he'll make comments about how he needs to do "homework" and so I'll give him some workbooks to play with and he gets it out of his system. But, if I were to decide we were going to do some "work" one day, he'd balk at the idea. He very much, even at age 4, directs his learning and we allow him to do so.

I'm not sure what ds#2 will be like; he isn't quite 2 yet and just seems to like to do whatever big brother does. I can tell already he is quite different from his brother in that he is much more artistically inclined; he is also very independent, yet attached to us. So, he may naturally unschool as well.

I also like unschooling because it fits my personality (I used to teach public school and tried so hard to "unschool" while there ... didn't work too well). I'm not big on someone telling me what to read and when to read it by ... I love reading but will completely ignore a book if told I must have it read by such-and-such date. I think I would have done very well unschooled myself.

So, I'm thinking, at least for me, we unschool because it fits our kids very well. I want our time to be a joy, not drudgery. "Schooling" would definitely change the overall feeling here (and my blood pressure), so we don't go that route. Unschooling fits and allows me to sit back and let my children take the lead.

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Old 10-26-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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I'm planning on unschooling for the philosophy. We'll see how it goes. It's about what I want for my children, which is real freedom. I want my kids to grow and be confident about who they are without depending on the opinions of others to form their self-image. I think that unschooling goes hand-in-hand with unconditional parenting.

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Old 10-26-2005, 02:44 PM
 
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Interesting question.

Quote:
Do a certain combo of traits in kids make unschooling very appealing to some? Or does following an unschooling lifestyle highly develop those specific traits?
Both

I am unschooling partly because I believe in the philosophy but also because it's the only way to go with dd. She takes after her mom and bristles at being told what to do
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Old 10-26-2005, 02:59 PM
 
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I decided to unschool DS because of the way he learns however, I think DD could have learned that way too if I hadn't let the school get hold of her I don't feel comfortable taking an unschooling approach with her because she seems to really need lot of direction. I do try to keep my instruction pretty minimal though so as to leave her lots of time to explore things on her own. Ds seems to learn things through osmosis
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Old 10-26-2005, 03:25 PM
 
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It's totally the philosophy for me. I believe that the freedom unschooling provides allows for kids to get what they need, and to develop the traits noticed in the OP. An unschooler who felt they were needing more structure in their lives could just go after it.

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Old 10-26-2005, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Cool. So here's a related follow-up question. Do you think that adults who are drawn to unschooling fit the traits listed? Perhaps we grown-ups find unschooling so appealing, partly because we had the types of personalities that hated being controlled.

I was pretty good with taking direction as a child, but I got in trouble constantly for day-dreaming. I really think that I would have blossomed with relaxed homeschooling at a minimum. I cannot say for sure if I'm very self-directed. I mean, I go after what I'm interested in and dh says that I become obsessed with the topic de jour. But I tend to start lots of projects and finish none. I usually read multiple books at once, but I may not finish any of them. When I took the Meyers-Briggs in college, one of those letter combos basically said as much (I used to work with someone who was obsessed with Meyers-Briggs and loved to chat about our personality quirks).

Anyway, if I were unschooled, I think I would have really liked it, because deep inside, I hate following other people's plans. I always had a lot of crazy ideas and if I were unschooled, I would have had all the time in the world to follow those ideas. Now, whether or not I would have finished anything is up in the air. But neither my dh nor I think that we've ever used anything from K-12 in our careers, save reading, writing and basic math. And I think that those three come from living as well. I sincerely believe that if I were unschooled K-12, that my reading and writing would have developed to the same degree. All that other stuff fell to the cram and dump strategy.

Ok, now I'm really going on a tangent...Dh, who only recently accepted unschooling and who was never a huge hs advocate, actually said that he felt K-12 was filler time. After we both concluded that we used nothing from K-12 in our career, save some basic skills that would have developed anyway, I asked, "So why do you think we spent all those years in school? What were we doing?" He thought about it and said, "Well, it was just a way to pass childhood. It was something for people to do with us while we waited to grow up."

Does anyone feel that they are attracted to unschooling, because it's what they wish they had experienced? Without going on too much of a tangent (again), I have to say that I follow certain types of parenting practices, because I wish it's what I had experienced as a child. I know someone who had an AP childhood who deliberately avoided much of AP for her kids, because she felt that it negatively affected her. Maybe we're drawn to what we crave for ourselves. Maybe parents love Waldorf, because they would love to have a Waldorf childhood for themselves. I know I desperately wanted to do classical education for my kids at one time, because it's what I really wanted for myself in some ways. Maybe we unschool, because it's what we wanted for ourselves and since we can't change our past, we give it to our kids. But then there's the whole combo thing as Jen123 mentioned; we choose what we we like and what works for our kids.

Sometimes I just wonder what makes us all tick and why we all choose different types of homeschooling. There are so many types and all have many proponents. I find that interesting.
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Old 10-26-2005, 05:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
Cool. So here's a related follow-up question. Do you think that adults who are drawn to unschooling fit the traits listed? Perhaps we grown-ups find unschooling so appealing, partly because we had the types of personalities that hated being controlled.
I think control is a large part of it. If you give up control of your children (or never take it in the first place) that mindset certainly lends itself to unschooling. I know my beliefs about children are rooted in my memories of how it felt to be a child--and I certainly hated being controlled!

Before I heard of unschooling, or ever considered homeschooling, my beliefs about children being free and self-directed were forming. For a while, we tried to make that philosophy co-exist with going to school, but that was impossible for us, so the kids came home.

Here's a thought: What if most kids (maybe all) naturally start out as independent/self-motivated/resistant to beng directed, but because lots of parents believe they must "break" their child of this, "make" them "obey," and take direction and follow others, they loose that independant spirit and end up expecting, needing and looking for direction from others?

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Old 10-26-2005, 05:42 PM
 
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I'm drawn to unschooling because, as I researched various curricula, it became apparent that with these curricula I would only be able to duplicate all the same inferior teaching methods used in the school system. Sure, I could go at my Dd's pace, but I kept thinking that these methods of teaching math or reading or whatever were developed purely to work with groups of children rather than individuals. Also, they were arbitrarly cut into subjects that don't exist in the real world. It wasn't making sense to me to use these inferior methods to work with my child, one individual. I kept thinking, if I want to learn about a topic as an adult, I don't go for resources such as schools use. I go for higher quality books from the library, and to discussions with knowledgeable/experienced individuals, and to direct experiences. Suddenly, it dawned on me that my Dd could learn in the same way and that she would actually remember what she learned, unlike most school children who forget most everything they're taught because they have lost the love of learning and because they're taught things they don't care about or in a manner so artificial that it becomes meaningless.

I really want to preserve that love of learning that was drained from me by the public school system. So, to be explicit, I think I'm choosing this method more on the philosophy than on the child, but, obviously, already knowing my child, I think it will work with her.
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Old 10-27-2005, 07:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField

I know someone who had an AP childhood who deliberately avoided much of AP for her kids, because she felt that it negatively affected her.
Sorry if this is taking the thread OT but I was wondering if you had any examples of what practises she feels affected her negatively. I'm curious because I've never heard of anyone saying being raised AP affected them negatively (I was raised AP myself and get a lot of inspiration from the way I was raised).
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Old 10-27-2005, 04:06 PM
 
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I feel unschooling is respectful of my children, and treats them as I would want to be treated. My love of unschooling is rooted in respect and then branches out into some other reasons lol. I did not get that in my own childhood, and I want to be sure my kids do.

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Old 10-30-2005, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternal_grace
Sorry if this is taking the thread OT but I was wondering if you had any examples of what practises she feels affected her negatively. I'm curious because I've never heard of anyone saying being raised AP affected them negatively (I was raised AP myself and get a lot of inspiration from the way I was raised).
I'm sorry I missed this! I didn't actually know this lady, but she was a friend of a friend. The big thing that I remember my friend talking about (wrt to the anti-AP lady) was that she had lots of sleep problems and attributed it to cosleeping. So she would not cosleep with her child, because she felt it led to unhealthy sleep habits. I'm not sure what her objections were to the other things, but I remember my friend saying that she deliberately did the opposite of her mother's AP practices, because she blamed them for problems she had.
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Old 10-30-2005, 05:45 PM
 
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Thanks! That's interesting. I co-slept as a child, and I feel that it affected me in a very positive way (it contributed to a very positive self-image and good self-esteem as well as a fundamental feeling of security).

My feeling is that other factors are at play here as well.
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Old 10-30-2005, 06:52 PM
 
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Didn't get through all the posts yet....

I happen to be a control freak (and I know this about myself so I try to do what I can to not be over-the-top about it). So you would think that I homeschool for control reasons (to control my dd's education and where it comes from...) and that I would use books and lectures and lessons and all that stuff to control the homeschooling situation. But somehow (maybe it's her age) we have leaned toward unschooling for now, and I think it is a great process for me as well as her as it allows me to relinquish the control I usually desire. And that makes me feel free and not so binded. Even though I am a control freak in a lot of ways I am realizing that there are plenty of things that I prefer to do by free-thinking and RayeAnne prefers this approach as well. So more or less we just stumble upon things that work best for us and didn't plan any of it ahead of time. In fact, I think I spend more time researching hs topics for the benefit of those that question it rather than for our own purposes, so I wouldn't have even known that what we do had a term attatched to it if it were'nt for that.

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Old 10-30-2005, 08:52 PM
 
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For us it is a philosophical choice.
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Old 10-30-2005, 10:59 PM
 
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Well.... even though I grew up in public schools, my folks were at the height of the John Holt movement ( I was born when they were both in college).. so my whole childhood was exposure to many opportunities and adventures... it was great! Nature walks.. political discussions at age 6... I remember staying up the night of the Kennedy / Goldwater election with a giant map mapping votes.. I was 6 at the time... so when my husband and I decided to homeschool...it seemed like a natural choice given that I already had that mind set... we also at that time had the pleasure of having dinner with Micki and David Colfax who were pioneers of the unschooling movement...they were able to mentor us for a time to give us the courage to totally let go...that was 14 years ago.. all but one of our children is grown.. and they are all happy and following unschooling ways of life for themselves....

My oldest son jokes that he is simply trying to get through as many life expereinces as he can in this life~smile~

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Old 10-31-2005, 12:54 AM
 
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Philosophical here. We pretty much made the decision to do it when dd was a tiny baby and I was leaning that way before dd was even born.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:08 AM
 
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Lea - I just wanted to say that your post was totally cool. Thanks. I wish I had such amazing mentors on this journey, and I love the life philosophy that has emerged in your son.
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Old 10-31-2005, 11:56 AM
 
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My little ones are ds: almost two, and dd almost three, so... i have had the thought that what i have been doing these last few years is preparing them and myslef for their "future" education. It's all learning. when we're taking a bath, when we're putting toys away, when we are digging.... It's a chance to learn and impart knowledge and an opportunity for creativity and questions.
i truly have only skimmed the surface looking at Waldorf home learning and Unschooling. it makes sense to me.
i am nervous at times thinking about how impatient and unorganized i can be. Then i also know there is alot of support available. i really don't want my
kids to be alone. That is also my husbands biggest fear. He says homeschooled children can be kid of "weird". To me it shows the stark difference between the Garbage that others are learning and wallowing around in all day and the quality time we'll be able to spend on practical learning.

i know this is getting long so i should.... SHHhhhhhhh~
Maybe there's another mama out thiking and preparing in the same way?
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Old 10-31-2005, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Peace~*
i really don't want my
kids to be alone. That is also my husbands biggest fear. He says homeschooled children can be kid of "weird".
Peace,

I know your kids are still really little, but have you scoped out your area for homeschooling support groups? I feel weird, because of our non-mainstream ways. We get to where we feel normal and then some venture out into mainstream land reminds us of how "out there" we apparently are wrt our lifestyle. Just the overpraising alone and the reward/punishment strategies that I see other parents do in public make me feel pretty weird.

Anyway, I assumed that I would have a hard time finding people like us, because, while hs is popular in my state, I assumed that most would be conservative Christians. What I found was really surprising and wonderful. There are conservative Christians, but also pagans, for example. I've met people who have gone by the most formal program for their 4yos all the way over to unschoolers. Just going to a few hs park days has really done a lot in making me feel like we're not that weird after all. Also, it's given my kids a chance to play with other kids. It's not that they don't play with other kids. But, for the most part (warning: generalization ahead), the hs kids we've met have been very inclusive and respectful of all ages (even with my then-1 year old!) and also have been into the same kind of simple, imaginary play that mine are into. It's been a wonderful exp just to go play with other hs-ers: conservative Christians, liberal Christians, pagans, unschoolers, formal types, etc...
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Old 10-31-2005, 12:14 PM
 
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We are unschooling because it just seems to fit. I believe in teh philosophy of listening to what my children need in terms of what they enjoy and what they are capable of doing. So we unschool my dd.

She is VERY self interested and teaches herself much of what she knows. I just facilitate since I have a drivers license and a much larger field of experience to draw upon. We go through stages and currently we are on a math kick, so I scope out toys/tools that I think she would enjoy. She has been asking questions about anatomy so for Christmas, I got her some cool books and a CD ROM on the body. It just fits.

My son (who is 2) is proving to be a very different kind of learner. So I will just have to figure out what my role is in helping him learn.

Rather than make my kids fit a mold of what i like, I try to make thier education fit the mold of what they like. IT is working! They are naturally curious and intelligent beings. They LOVE to learn and I LOVE getting exposed to new things because they are learning them.
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Old 10-31-2005, 05:05 PM
 
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Do you think that most unschoolers go this route primarily b/c of the philosophy itself, and that the philosophy confers those traits to the kids?
I don't know about others, but yes, that is what I think. (It only holds true, though, for an always-unschooled or deschooled child.)

Quote:
Maybe we're drawn to what we crave for ourselves.
Absolutely. What I see as valuable, I want to give to my children. It of course does not necessarily follow that everything I see as valuable will be to them. I think I can safely say though that freedom and respect (which unschooling is based on) are.
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Old 10-31-2005, 07:02 PM
 
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I've got a problem with your question; there are unschooled children who demand a lot of structure in their homeschooling, but are still technically "unschooled" because the choice of structure is entirely theirs. Just like an AP family who has a child sleeping in a crib because they can't stand to have a person touching them at night is still AP, because they're doing what the child wants, yk? Are you including such children in your definition of "unschooling," or only those with limited/no structure?

While I attended public schools and private schools, the overwhelming majority of my education was achieve through unschooling, or self-directed learning. I'd spend 8 hours a day standing in line and reading interesting books under my desk, or doing logic problems or whatever and then I'd get out of school and go to the library to do research projects on whatever had caught my fancy on that particular day. When I first read about unschooling sorts of philosophies, I was in junior high school and thought that it would be great fun if my mother would just pull me out of school and let me do what I wanted. I was very interested in learning things, and while I wasn't resistant to being taught I rarely seemed to be in situations where I could *be* taught by someone else.

The more I thought about it, and the more research I did on education changed my outlook somewhat. I decided that while unschooling wasn't inherently dangerous (as some opponents to the philosophy will tell you it is) in most situations, it probably wasn't an ideal philosophy for a homeschooling parent who was as totally anal as I was/am. I decided that I would probably use a classical approach once my children were ready for kindergarten (A-Level, in my own private scheme), and move from there to whatever level of structure my individual children needed/desired to learn, and that's what we're doing. I guess that you could say that I chose not to unschool based on philosophy, but I don't think that's quite correct. It has a lot more to do with my own proclivities growing up and the needs of my children (one of which is to have a mother who's not losing her mind every minute of every day), and finding a balance.

I think that a lot of kids learn the way that their parents did. While it's not true 100% of the time, there are soooo many children out there who have inherited a learning style from one or both of their parents. Sometimes they will learn one thing, say, math, the way that one parent did and learn to read the same way as the other parent, but other kids seem to just follow in one parent's footsteps as far as learning goes. This would lead me to believe that the answer to your original question is a combination of both-- a parent who is naturally drawn to unschooling is more likely than the average homeschooling parent to have children who are, likewise, drawn to unschooling. Therefore the selection of philosophy by the parent might indicate that the child/ren being unschooled would have been likewise drawn to that style of home education on their own.

(Does that makes sense? I've got a headache and the screen is starting to blur... )

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Old 10-31-2005, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy
Therefore the selection of philosophy by the parent might indicate that the child/ren being unschooled would have been likewise drawn to that style of home education on their own.

(Does that makes sense? I've got a headache and the screen is starting to blur... )
Nope, that makes sense! I also believe that learning style is often hereditary.

When I referred to structure, I meant adult-imposed structure.
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Old 10-31-2005, 10:06 PM
 
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Hey, I just found this forum. Are there many unschoolers here? We are radical unschoolers from birth. You know AP, CC, TCS, radical unschooling, consensual living. Are there others? It is totally a philosophy of respect and freedom, imo.

Pat

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Old 11-01-2005, 11:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by scubamama
Hey, I just found this forum. Are there many unschoolers here?
Pat
Welcome! I see you found the other thread, but yeah...there are a few of us here.

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We are radical unschoolers from birth. You know AP, CC, TCS, radical unschooling, consensual living. Are there others? It is totally a philosophy of respect and freedom, imo.
We're living a tcs philosophy. There are a few others here who are as well. I agree that all these things tie in to an overall phil. of respect and freedom--I often have a hard time separating my unschooling thoughts from my general parenting thoughts when we get into discussions here about defining terms, as it's all tied together in my mind.

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Old 11-01-2005, 02:44 PM
 
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Thanks for the welcome. I am trying to just find my way around MDC still. And find what is most interesting. I am active on the yahoogroup AlwaysUnschooled the Unschooling list for children always unschooled. Basically, younger than age 8 ish. It has some 600 members now and is quite active.

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Old 11-01-2005, 03:28 PM
 
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I think parents go into unschooling because of the philosophy and then stick with it because they see that it is working for their child.
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Old 11-01-2005, 03:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
Thanks for the welcome. I am trying to just find my way around MDC still. And find what is most interesting. I am active on the yahoogroup AlwaysUnschooled the Unschooling list for children always unschooled. Basically, younger than age 8 ish. It has some 600 members now and is quite active.

Pat
That sounds good! I'll try to find that group.
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