"Your child's education is your responsibility" but how do you define "education"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 03:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was talking to a lady at my church yesterday who homeschools her children. Her kids dress very goth and she even dresses a little goth-ish sometimes...I always pegged her as being a pretty laid back homeschooler but she threw me off when I asked her about her reasons for homeschooling.
She told me that a child's education is their parents' responsibility. I am responsible for making sure my kids get a proper education.
I then brought up unschooling and radical unschooling figuring she was probably pretty anti public school'ish way of learning and she went on to tell me that her 9th grader is starting Algebra this year and science will be physics and last year they did three units on weather etc.....
I got the impression that she was defining an "education" as pretty standard when it comes to most people's idea of "school". I dont know why this bothered me so much but I think that when someone says "its your responsibility to make sure your child gets an education", they have a preconceived idea of what they looks like ...ie: a public school education-ish

What is your definition of an education? Why do people constantly try to drill your children (who are homeschooled) to make sure they know x y or z. What happens if your child is homeschooled and doesnt learn algebra but can take apart and put back together a computer? What if they can name every species of animal on this planet but cant dissect a sentence? I just dont see why we focus so much on the very narrow public school curriculum when there's a whole world out there to learn about......

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#2 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 05:11 AM
 
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I agree that it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure their children are educated. However how that looks should be up to each individual family. Even if you unschool it can be said it is the parents responsibility to have an environment conductive to that style and also to see that it does fit their children. I mean if you have no books in the house and only tv going and ignore the child when it asks to be taught to read as an unschooler that parent would not be taking responsibility for that child's education. I am not much interested in diagramming sentences (I don't think we ever did that at school here, that or I was asleep during it )

By the time my kids are ninth grade we will probably do algebra. Hard to say if it will or will not be of any use. Most 14 years olds still don't have much idea of what they want to do, so in case they do need that I think it is a good idea to do. My idea of a good education is that my kids can read well, write legibly, do maths as needed and hopefully to have a good understanding of history and geography, plus to think critically and have some common sense which seems to be lacking a lot these days.
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#3 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 06:13 AM
 
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I'd think that many parents view their children's education as their responsibility, regardless of where their kids go to school.

When I say it's my responsibility for my kids to get an education, what I mean is that they're able to read, write and do math well. That they have a decent grounding in history and science. I'd like them to be able to speak at least one language other than English. Not to mention all the life skills that I didn't learn in school or from my parents, like balancing a budget, housekeeping, changing a tire, etc.

Homeschooling is the easiest way I see to facilitate that happening. With homeschooling, I design the curriculum to make sure that what I think they ought to learn, along with what they want to learn, gets covered.

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#4 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 09:42 AM
 
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I agree that most parents probably see their child's education as their responsibility. That would seem to me to be the rule rather than the exception. I also agree that it needs to vary, not only by family but by the individual child; My son would be miserable with little/no parent-imposed structure, but BooBah would probably thrive. It's my job to know my own kids and know what they need, and to work hard to see that each one gets their own most appropriate education.

As to my definition of education-- I'd like to see my children grow up to be functional, contributing members of society. I'm not really sure what that means for each of them, and I certainly hope that they're not sure at their ages! Regardless of what they do, they'll probably all need basic mathematics and literacy skills; beyond that, I feel that my job includes giving them enough room to feel confident exploring their interests and learning who they are. There's this really strange idea going around that kids can't begin to learn who they are until college. I personally think that this is because most kids aren't given enough freedom before they get to college, rather than not being old enough to know who they are/what they want out of life. If my kids don't have enough free time and encouragement to explore and know themselves well before they're old enough to move out of the house on their own, I'll feel as though I've failed to an extent in their educations.

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#5 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 10:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mykdsmomy View Post

What is your definition of an education?
I like to look at education as a whole-life experience. Hopefully, we'll be learning until the day we die--with that in mind, I don't see my kids' education as my responsibility. What I DO see as my responsibility, is that they know what resources are out there and how to access them. So, I'll answer their questions, help them find information, provide experiences they're interested in, and otherwise help them meet their goals for as long as they need me to, but ultimately, their education is in their hands.

I'm not really concerned about specific skills, like algebra and the like, because I've seen that, when the interest is there, or the need to know arises, they pick up skills pretty quickly.

I've known some people who feel education is a school's responsibility and is separate from parenting, and others who feel education is the parents' responsibility and either choose a school to provide it, or educate at home.

I agree with the op about school curriculum being narrow but in most people's minds, it equals "An Education." It's the norm, it's the way it's always been (at least in living memory.) I think some charter and magnet schools and special focus schools have tried to break through that, but NCLB and other "standards" focused movements just reinforce the idea that that narrow curriculum means education.

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#6 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 10:50 AM
 
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Of course my kids' education is my and my husband's responsibility. How could it be different?

My definition of education is a solid foundation so they can make reasonable decisions about where they'd like to go in life, the skills they need to get there, and enough cultural literacy that they can participate in conversations with traditionally schooled folks. To do this, I think they need basic literacy and numeracy of course, experience with all the basic academic subjects, a solid understanding of personal finance, health and hygiene and good research skills. I'm sure we'll do more than that, but that's what I feel is most important.

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#7 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 11:24 AM
 
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.....I think that when someone says "its your responsibility to make sure your child gets an education", they have a preconceived idea of what they looks like ....
sure, i would guess we all have a preconceived notion of what we think an education should look like. even unschoolers believe an education is obtained through all aspects of life, while more traditional homeschoolers specifically put aside time for structured academics, etc. the fact that this woman believed differently from you and it it bothered you, tells me you must also have preconceived notions about an education and what it should look like too, yk?

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#8 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 12:41 PM
 
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I have always said that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that it has forced my dh and I to look deep and think very carefully about what is important in our lives. In the case of thinking about the children's education, I do believe that we have a preconceived notion(maybe goal is a better word?), and I think that is important, how else do we chart our territories?

In our case, our definition of an education is that our children will be kind and ethical, capable, confident and creative problem solvers. I do not always have a preconceived notion on how to get there. However, scientific inquiry, logic, history (what brilliant problem solvers were the Trojans? ), literature, math, reading, writing-- all these I would see as important skill sets to solve problems. But I have also seen things that would not traditionally called academics be important to help move us to our educational goals; in the case of my kids' hobbies-- they build confidence, perseverance, ability to complete projects, sometimes they enter into competitions and learn to communicate and sportsmanship.
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#9 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 02:11 PM
 
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Most people have some preconceived ideas. You had a preconceived idea that people who dressed gothish would be super laid back homeschoolers.

I think of education as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. It is a dictionary definition but I agree with it.

By homeschooling, I hope my dd will learn how to learn things for herself (a great life skill), learn in the way that suits her best, be self confident and be ready to care for herself as an adult.

I do feel that a parent is responsible for helping their child acquire skills and knowledge no matter if they are ps, school-at-home hs, eclectic hs, or us. I think we all help our children to do that no matter the method we choose. Perhaps the lady at your church meant she feels it is important for the parent to take personal responsibility for educating their child rather than handing them over to an institution and backing away as many parents do.

We are using a curriculum but our homeschool education does not look like public school education.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#10 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 06:44 PM
 
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Well, I'm pretty visual, so I have a picture in my mind of the whole earth we all live on and the goal of introducing the new child to what's going on here - with the intention that he will be able to grow up understanding the world in an intelligent way and being able to navigate comfortably while contributing to it. I flipped when I came across this essay by David Albert in his book, Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery, because it echoed my own vision, but in his eloquent way:
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#11 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 07:04 PM
 
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I disagree. It is the individual's (in this case child's) right/responsibility to make sure they get the education they want. It is that person's parents/family/friends job/duty as allies and friends to help remove obsticles that are in the way of that the child would like to persue.

of course, not eveyone is an unschooler, yet.
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#12 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for your responses. I feel I need to clarify that I didnt mean to stereotype this lady at church. I've known her for a while and have talked to her on many occasions. I "assumed" from the things she has said in the past, as well as her take on government and it's control in the classroom that she would set herself apart from the public school system in every way including curriculum.

She seems to be a nonconformist. She doesnt dress the part of a 40some year old mom with teenagers who attends church on a regular basis. I had a preconceived notion of what I thought she believed in, not of who she was.....I hope that makes sense

Lillian~ I love that article!!!

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#13 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 03:12 AM
 
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I disagree. It is the individual's (in this case child's) right/responsibility to make sure they get the education they want.
Then why do kids have parents? It's my responsibility to make sure that my kid learns why he should brush his teeth, it's my responsibility to see that he is well fed, that he is clothed and has shelter... as far as I'm concerned, education falls into the same realm.

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It is that person's parents/family/friends job/duty as allies and friends to help remove obsticles that are in the way of that the child would like to persue.

of course, not eveyone is an unschooler, yet.
And not everyone ever will be. Are unschoolers more evolved than the rest of us? Should that be our ultimate goal?

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#14 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 10:58 AM
 
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I disagree. It is the individual's (in this case child's) right/responsibility to make sure they get the education they want. It is that person's parents/family/friends job/duty as allies and friends to help remove obsticles that are in the way of that the child would like to persue.

of course, not eveyone is an unschooler, yet.
The implication here is that if my child chooses not to learn important skills when she's small and suffers for it later, I can throw all the blame on her, because it was her responsibility. Children, even unschooled children, don't have enough power in their lives to carry the full weight of responsibility for their education.

ZM
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#15 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 11:10 AM
 
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of course, not eveyone is an unschooler, yet.
what's that supposed to mean? ..."yet"... seriously, SD, is that the enlightenment state i should be aiming for.

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#16 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 11:51 AM
 
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The implication here is that if my child chooses not to learn important skills when she's small and suffers for it later, I can throw all the blame on her, because it was her responsibility. Children, even unschooled children, don't have enough power in their lives to carry the full weight of responsibility for their education.

ZM
In my mind, there is no "suffering" or "blame." If my child needs some "important skill" they will learn it when they need/want to. Maybe that's when they're 9, maybe when they're 39. No one learns everything they need to know for life as a child--there are plenty of important things I needed to know that I didn't learn until I was an adult. No one blamed me for not knowing it, I just learned it when I needed it.

My kids might not have the power to make certain things happen (I need to register them for some things, or they need transportation or funding, etc.) but I have found that they are aware of what they need to learn to live the life they want to live. That's where their responsibility comes in--we talk a lot about what they want to do and what might help them reach their goals, but they know themselves and their needs better than anyone else does.

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#17 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 01:36 PM
 
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what's that supposed to mean? ..."yet"... seriously, SD, is that the enlightenment state i should be aiming for.
Are you in college/high school? Have you stopped learning? Is someone else deciding what you will learn? If the answer is no, then you are currently unschooling yourself.

There are 2 kinds of people in this world: The ones that never leave college and eventual self/unschoolers. It is not some enlightend state, it is the eventual state of most humans. This is one of the main reasons why my we allow our kids to unschool themselves, because we don't like rules that eventually must change. IMO it is hard to prepare someone for the lifetime of unschooling they will embark on by keeping them from doing it for the first 18 years.
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#18 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 02:04 PM
 
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Are you in college/high school? Have you stopped learning? Is someone else deciding what you will learn? If the answer is no, then you are currently unschooling yourself.

There are 2 kinds of people in this world: The ones that never leave college and eventual self/unschoolers. It is not some enlightend state, it is the eventual state of most humans. This is one of the main reasons why my we allow our kids to unschool themselves, because we don't like rules that eventually must change. IMO it is hard to prepare someone for the lifetime of unschooling they will embark on by keeping them from doing it for the first 18 years.

SD, don't take my post so seriously. i was only teasing because your original post had an underlying tone that unschooling seemed to be the ultimate goal. and if that's the case for you, i think it's great. yes in high school and college i learned under the direction of someone telling me what i needed to know, etc., and yes of course i'm still learning as an individual. point taken. but i'm 36 and my children are just that...children. i know many parents here feel our kids are on leveled playing ground with the parents, but i'm not one of them. for example, my kids aren't vaccinated. it was a decision that my dh & i made for them, but they had no input with that decision at all, yk? in fact, there are many decisions i have to make on their behalf still, and in my opinion education is one of them. even unschoolers choose to not send their kids to public school, and usually that decision isn't made by the child but rather by the parents. i value that MDC members all have different agendas for their families and with that we each have preconceived notions of what our end goal in mind should be. sorry if you took my comment as snarky. i was honestly just teasing sorry.

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#19 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 02:10 PM
 
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I'm all in favor of kids learning and growing. Of course it's the eventual state of all human beings, but there's got to be a period of time when adults are making the decisions for children. As they get older, they shoulder more of the responsibilities of living, but in the beginning those responsibilites are entirely my own. Even as someone who leans *heavily* toward a consensual lifestyle, I don't think it's reasonable to expect a four year old to shoulder the same amount of responsibility as a teenager. Is a newborn "responsible" for making sure that they're fed? Are they even responsible for making sure that adults know when they're hungry? Some newborns can "handle" that responsibility, but you know I myself had one who couldn't. She could not be relied upon to wake up and cry or indicate when she was hungry-- left to her own devices, she'd have slept around the clock and starved.

Children have rights. They should absolutely be entrusted with responsibilities... those which are commensurate with their individual abilities. I'll concede that American society in particular tends to deny children responsibility at all costs, and that the public school system (among other things) encourages parents to think of seventeen year olds and seven year olds in the same way, and as having the same ability to be responsible. That's absolutely ridiculous, to my mind. Things change, things evolve. Children grow every day. And while most young teenagers should, ideally, be absolutely capable of shouldering most of the responsibility for their own educations, I don't believe that the same thing is true of most eight year olds, or five year olds. More to the point-- what is true of most five year olds won't necessarily be true of mine. As a parent, I feel that it is *my* responsibility to know my children, and know what they're capable of. To give them the responsibilities that they can manage, and the freedom to do so, as well as to take care of those which they *can't* manage.

I'm responsible for their educations *now*. I certainly hope I'm not still primarily responsible for that when they're sixteen.

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#20 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 02:30 PM
 
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sorry if you took my comment as snarky. i was honestly just teasing sorry.
haha no, I put out a loaded statement, and expected some healthy debate.

I pulled the "we are all unschoolers" card because I think it's good for everyone to realize that even though the path is different for everyone, I think the destination is the same.

I just don't think sudden rules changes have a positive effect.

If my kids learned nothing acedemic for the first 18 years of their lives, but liked learning, IMO they would be ahead of where I was when I left college. Because I was learning resistant for all of my schooled years and several years of detox after that.
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#21 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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I just don't think sudden rules changes have a positive effect.

If my kids learned nothing academic for the first 18 years of their lives, but liked learning, IMO they would be ahead of where I was when I left college. Because I was learning resistant for all of my schooled years and several years of detox after that.
Interesting perspective. I kind of reminds me of the way I looked at "chores." I absolutely hated the way the idea of "chores" was approached by my parents. They just made it so unpleasant - yuk! - rather than just a part of natural rhythms. So I avoided it with my child. I just asked him to pitch in and help when things needed to be done, and he never thought anything of it. A little friend of his was over once when I said something like, "Hey, y'know, this living room is a mess - before you go next door, let's pick it up." When he came home, he mentioned that his friend said, "Boy, your mom sure makes you do a lot of CHORES!" My son was really perplexed. He said, "Well, not really... But if something needs to be done, why should my mom always have to be the only one to do it?" His friend had a "chore chart" on the refrigerator at his home - and he hated the idea of "chores."

Years later, my husband and I got to talking, and he mentioned that he too had avoided that kind of thing with our son - because it was such a miserable part of his childhood on the farm. We both wondered a bit whether we'd done our son a disservice...because, let's face it, we had been following a pretty different course. But those concerns were quickly smashed later when we saw him throw himself into the long hours of grungy labor that went along with the volunteer work he was doing full time at the soup kitchen/services center. He'd grown up learning that when there was work to be done, one simply goes about doing it. But he never heard the word or concept of "chores" except when the neighbor mentioned them.

That's different from what you're saying, but I think there's a similar thread to it... - Lillian
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#22 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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I pulled the "we are all unschoolers" card because I think it's good for everyone to realize that even though the path is different for everyone, I think the destination is the same.
And yet, you intimated that perpetual college students aren't unschoolers, nor are they responsible for their own educations. I disagree entirely with that notion; choosing to go to school, choosing to have another person teach you, is still a decision that you have to make. While many 17/18 year olds go to college because that's what's expected of them, a fair portion of them, and the vast majority of people who go when they are older, do so because they wish to do it. Doesn't make them any less self-directed, in my opinion.

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I just don't think sudden rules changes have a positive effect.
See above.

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If my kids learned nothing acedemic for the first 18 years of their lives, but liked learning, IMO they would be ahead of where I was when I left college. Because I was learning resistant for all of my schooled years and several years of detox after that.
Fair enough; I still don't think it's reasonable to expect a five year old to be as responsible for his life as a fifteen year old, or a twenty-five year old. It just doesn't make any sense to me, and I've got a pretty exceptional (nearly) five year old.

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#23 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 03:19 PM
 
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And yet, you intimated that perpetual college students aren't unschoolers, nor are they responsible for their own educations. I disagree entirely with that notion; choosing to go to school, choosing to have another person teach you, is still a decision that you have to make. While many 17/18 year olds go to college because that's what's expected of them, a fair portion of them, and the vast majority of people who go when they are older, do so because they wish to do it. Doesn't make them any less self-directed, in my opinion.
Our opinions differ fundamentally here, the best professors I personally had allowed the group to help/feed off each other. In fact I would go so far as to say the best professors we had simply got out of our way. In other words, we paid someone to get out of our way so that we could resume the actual learning. If you allow yourself to be taught, the most you could hope for is to know the few things that others already know. If you seek out learning, you can discover, innovate, revolutionize, you can change the way we think as a society because you are not learning to think the way society dictates. My feeling on perpetual schoolers is that they were cheated by the system. They never learned how to learn, they learned how to be taught. If you are always following someone else, the best result you could hope for is second place.

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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Fair enough; I still don't think it's reasonable to expect a five year old to be as responsible for his life as a fifteen year old, or a twenty-five year old. It just doesn't make any sense to me, and I've got a pretty exceptional (nearly) five year old.
I think a 1m old, 5 year old, 25 year old is every bit as responsible for his education, that is the things he would like to learn. My 1 year old would like to learn how to brush her teeth because that is what we are all doing. She learned to eat because she wanted to, learned to walk, turn off the television, dig in the trash, play peek-aboo, etc etc because she wanted to. We never showed her how to dig in the trash, we never broke out a diagram of how to walk. A 5 year old does not need to know practical applications of numbers if he doesn't really want to... a 16 year old may want to get a job running a cash register, so he might want to. A 5 year old may want to put a number on how many cars he has... he might want to know how many he will have when he gets 9 more for his birthday.

I place a lot of respect and value in the nature of humans of all ages to seek out and learn all of the things that they need to know, and I think children are more adept than most adults at finding their path because they are not burdened by 20+ years of preconceived notions.

PS... I loved Prydain as well
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#24 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ShaggyDaddy View Post
A 5 year old does not need to know practical applications of numbers if he doesn't really want to... a 16 year old may want to get a job running a cash register, so he might want to. A 5 year old may want to put a number on how many cars he has... he might want to know how many he will have when he gets 9 more for his birthday.
My son was always good at math, but never interested in it as a pursuit or pastime. So when he needed to get good SAT scores for college entrance, he went about polishing up on it. He took a sample test, got a tutor to run him through specific things he wanted to concentrate on, gathered together some good texts,and simply applied himself. He did well on the SAT, which was an important factor in admittance and scholarship offers. He doesn't feel he permanently learned all the material he covered, though - he just covered a need, and has a working knowledge that will serve him in college classes. If he should really want to master it in a more permanent way, he knows exactly how to go about it.

People with little ones often read this kind of thing and think that he and others with stories like this are exceptions to the norm - but I think it's actually the kids who get their confidence and enthusiasm about their own learning abilities ground out of them during all those long school years who are exceptions to what would otherwise be the norm. Others may read this kind of thing and interpret it as saying that a parent doesn't need to do anything while the child is growing up - just sit or pace and wait for them to discover things and get interested. But they're not going to be able to discover things that are not even within sight. My own way of looking at is that a parent needs to be exposing them to lots and lots of interesting things, modeling a natural love of learning, and helping them in their own pursuits without getting in the way. That getting-in-the-way thing can be a real hindrance... - Lillian
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#25 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 04:22 PM
 
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Errands to run, stuff to do, but just one more comment ...

Regarding the getting-in-the-way thing, I think that often happens in the form of curriculum a parent gets and makes a child work through - without stepping back and asking herself specifically what in the world the point is other than making her feel that they're schooling. Oftentimes, it's needless repetition or grunge work that is absolutely not necessary for that child's process of learning that material. Oftentimes it's years before learning that material will come naturally and easily for that child - it might be infinitely easier if they were to wait. It might later come in minutes or days rather than in weeks or months or years. And oftentimes it's years before that child will have any practical use for it. Learning some things at some stages can be "work" - the specific process my son went through for his SAT prep could be considered that, but lots and lots of other things he's learned at leisure would not. We've become all too complacent about the school-based notion that a child needs to be doing something called "work" in order to be learning. As if it's somehow something that's wholesome and character forming - something that's going to mold them into good little students. We can let go of all that outside the school model - we can do so much better.

Okay - got to go run those errands! Lillian
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#26 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 04:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ShaggyDaddy View Post
Our opinions differ fundamentally here, the best professors I personally had allowed the group to help/feed off each other. In fact I would go so far as to say the best professors we had simply got out of our way.
Perhaps the classes we took would be the difference, then; I wanted to study things that I didn't already know, and wasn't able to learn on my own. *That's* what I was paying professors for-- to share knowledge which they had, but I didn't.

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My 1 year old would like to learn how to brush her teeth because that is what we are all doing. She learned to eat because she wanted to, learned to walk, turn off the television, dig in the trash, play peek-aboo, etc etc because she wanted to.
But again-- when? And why? My Bella *didn't* want to eat for several months of her life. Should I have let her sleep and starve, or was it my responsibility to see to it that she did, in fact, eat? While most children will learn to walk because they want to do it, and their bodies are ready, it won't be the case with all of them by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think it's fair to leave that sort of thing on a child's shoulders. What about vocabulary and primary language acquisition, one of the few things for which there is a proven window during which chilren are capable of learning-- should I assume that my child will automatically talk when they're ready? Heck no-- if I don't expose my child to language, they won't learn. I'm not saying that you necessarily have to actively teach a child how to walk or speak, but to entirely abdicate responsibility? Not a prayer. If I am at home with my child 24/7 and we're alone, I never so much as speak two words to him or around him, how is he supposed to learn how to speak?

I'll agree that children will learn a great deal from their environents, and that very little needs to be formally taught to children, particularly in the early years, but they do need (at the very least) exposure. As far as I'm concerned, that constitutes "education," and again it is my responsibility to see that such exposure happens (or doesn't).

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We never showed her how to dig in the trash, we never broke out a diagram of how to walk.
I know you're being facetious here, but I have a seven year old niece who had to be taught both of these things, explicitly and over a period of several months. Getting her to empty a bucket of blocks, and then to put the blocks back in the bucket... that took, iirc, six solid months of therapy (from about 16 to 22 months? Maybe a little later). It goes to illustrate my point-- not every child can be expected to be responsible for every aspect of their education. Do you think that perhaps my niece didn't need to learn to empty/fill a container? It's a very useful skill, and it enabled her to do more complex things. She worked very, very hard to learn to do it-- it was clearly important to her on some level, despite the fact that she needed to be actively *taught*.

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A 5 year old does not need to know practical applications of numbers if he doesn't really want to... a 16 year old may want to get a job running a cash register, so he might want to. A 5 year old may want to put a number on how many cars he has... he might want to know how many he will have when he gets 9 more for his birthday.
Again, that varies with the individual child, and of course it's still the responsibility of the adult in charge to teach them what they do need to know. If your five year old wants to know how many cars he'll have if he gets nine more for his birthday, and he can't figure it out on his own, how is it *not* your responsibility to explain the process to him? Are you really doing him any favors if you don't explain to him how that knowledge can be applied to other things (i.e. how many days left until he's saved enough money to do X)?

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I place a lot of respect and value in the nature of humans of all ages to seek out and learn all of the things that they need to know, and I think children are more adept than most adults at finding their path because they are not burdened by 20+ years of preconceived notions.
Preconceived notions indeed; the idea that by going to school, everyone learns that learning can only take place in a particular environment, for one. That's actually not something that I learned in school. (Quite the opposite, truth be told.) I do believe that children should have the opportunity to find their own paths; I just think that opening those paths is the responsibility of their parents. So is knowing when your child needs help, and how much they're ready to be responsible for on their own. I used to believe much as you do, and I still tend to trust my children a great deal more than typical parents (and even than the more crunchy kinds of parents who inhabit MDC), but it still feels like a copout to me to say, "They'll do everything they need to do when they need to do it." I've seen too many kids, my own included, who simply can't. It's not fair to ask them to do so, in the name of freedom or TCS or unschooling or any other philosophy to which I may adhere. Some babies need to be awakened and fed, or they'll starve. Some children need direct education, or they will not walk, or speak, or learn to turn the lights on and off. Some kids need more freedom and some can't take it when the world is too open to them; they need more direction and more parent-imposed structure.

Each child is different. Not all of them are born unschoolers, and I don't think any of them should be forced to shoulder all responsibility for their own educations. As I've said before, my son is a child who thrives in a highly structured learning environment. My BooBah, on the other hand, is very laid back; in two years, I may find myself enrolling her in the cyber charter with her brother... or maybe not. She asks me for what she needs and would probably be very content to direct her own education as she sees fit for many years to come. They're two different kids, but both mine and still my responsibility. It's my job to see that both of them have all of their needs, including their educational needs, met. For BeanBean, right now, that means Agora. For BooBah, right now, that means reading a lot and helping her write the letters of her name.

What will it mean next year? I can guess, but who knows for certain? They grow and change every day. Two years ago I didn't expect BooBah to take herself to the bathroom when she needed to pee, but today I don't think about it at all unless we're about to get in the car. These days I brush BooBah's teeth at night, but I don't do BeanBean's-- he can get them clean on his own. They learn new things all the time, each day they're more able to be responsible for something... but education is a BIG thing, as far as I'm concerned, and when they show me they're ready, they'll have those responsibilities-- but not before. They're not ready to be in charge of those things any more than they're ready to be in charge of seeing that the bills get paid.

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PS... I loved Prydain as well
Fun books, yah.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#27 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
Regarding the getting-in-the-way thing, I think that often happens in the form of curriculum a parent gets and makes a child work through - without stepping back and asking herself specifically what in the world the point is other than making her feel that they're schooling. Oftentimes, it's needless repetition or grunge work that is absolutely not necessary for that child's process of learning that material.
In my opinion, that too is a form of abdication of parental responsibility-- choosing to adhere to a curriculum for no reason other than to feel as though you're really "doing school" is just as much a copout as refusing to consider a curriculum because "you're unschooling." Opposite ends of the spectrum, but they both amount to the same thing-- turning the responsibility for educating your children over to someone else (either the child or the curriculum/school).

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And oftentimes it's years before that child will have any practical use for it... We've become all too complacent about the school-based notion that a child needs to be doing something called "work" in order to be learning.
But what constitutes "practical use?" And who is to decide when something does, in fact, become practical to know? As far as I'm concerned, there's no practical reason to learn how to fish-- I can go to the grocery store or farmer's market if I want to eat fish-- so should I discourage my son from learning, because it serves no practical purpose? Of course not; he's having a good time, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's far from practical, though. In fact, it could even be construed by some as a complete waste of time. As to the idea that one must be doing work in order to learn... I think that's true. The thing I have a problem with is the notion that work must be unpleasant drudgery. Absolutely not!

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As if it's somehow something that's wholesome and character forming - something that's going to mold them into good little students. We can let go of all that outside the school model - we can do so much better.
Er... a) Again, this is only a problem if work=unpleasant drudgery; it doesn't quite follow if you don't define work that way. b) What's it got to do with molding them into a good little student? A child who is unwilling and unable to work on anything won't learn anything-- regardless of what it is or how much they may want to do it. I realize that the pro-unschooling argument would be, "They'll learn it if they need to know it," but if they're unwilling to work at it, how can they possibly? Even if it's only a matter of minutes, they have to want to think about it in the first place. Take your example of your son and the SATs-- it may not have been difficult for him, nor drudgery, but there was most assuredly work involved. He had to find out what he needed to know, and how to learn it, and actually learn it. That's work.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#28 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
But what constitutes "practical use?" And who is to decide when something does, in fact, become practical to know?
I almost clarified that wprd when I wrote it, but was in a hurry, and the words didn't come to me fast enough. By "practical," I mean something that is going to have some use, even it's only for the fun of it. That's a practical enough use to me - something that applies to the current life of the learner, even if it means learning ancient Greek just for their own satisfaction. As compared to something that's just "worked" on and memorized because somebody somewhere in some school board or curriculum company says so.

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Take your example of your son and the SATs-- it may not have been difficult for him, nor drudgery, but there was most assuredly work involved. He had to find out what he needed to know, and how to learn it, and actually learn it. That's work.
I said that! And I also said that he'd learned lots and lots of other things that didn't call for "work."

But, darn it, I only came to the computer to type up my To Do list for the afternoon to make things run more smoothly, and I spaced out and ended up online again - gotta' run!
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#29 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 05:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
But, darn it, I only came to the computer to type up my To Do list for the afternoon to make things run more smoothly, and I spaced out and ended up online again - gotta' run!
Uh oh! Maybe you need to go back to school and learn how to buckle down to the mindless drudgery!

(: I am SO kidding. )

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#30 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 05:31 PM
 
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If my kids learned nothing acedemic for the first 18 years of their lives, but liked learning, IMO they would be ahead of where I was when I left college. Because I was learning resistant for all of my schooled years and several years of detox after that.
Following your line of thinking, are you responsible for allowing yourself to become "learning resistant"?

My fear with unschooling is that if a kid gets too far behind his or her peers in a particular set of basic skills, when the need for the skill comes along, it may look like too big an obstacle to cross. For example, a kid who at age 12 doesn't know arithmetic with any fluency might look at the geometry his buddy is using for his 4-H project and be inappropriately intimidated.

I have too kids old enough for me to feel I know something about their learning styles, and one is extremely persistent, and would certainly look for help if she found herself in that situation. The other would silently decide that it was too hard, and make her world smaller than it needs to be.

Kids can not be relied on to always ask for what they need, and it isn't fair to expect that of them. All in all, I think declaring a 5 year old solely responsible for his or her own education is a cop-out. I'm all for empowering my kids, but I am responsible for providing an environment that is healthy and appropriate for them. If they aren't progressing, it's my responsibility to figure out why-- maybe they're not interested, but maybe there's some other issue going on that I need to address. It's not a 5 year old's job to figure out that she's dyslexic or needs glasses.

ZM
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