Mothering Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm working through my philosophical grounding for homeschooling and I'm now reading the ideas of Howard Gardner and his colleagues involved in Project Zero at Harvard.<br><br>
I'm curious to hear thoughts on different ideas of unschooling and where the term was first introduced. While some of the ideas of unschooling resemble those advocated by Mr. Gardner, I also see a departure from his ideas which makes me curious as to the etymology and evolution of this concept.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
427 Posts
I would investigate John Holt and his writing. I actually came to unschooling through reading his collected letters, before I read any of his other books. Although, Teach Your Own has been very instrumental in figuring out our path. I know I am early on in this but DH and I have been thinking about these things for years before DS arrived.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
348 Posts
I second the John Holt recommendation. I believe he coined the term 'unschooling' and brought it to light though it existed in the shadows long before that- parents simply following their natural instincts without a label or philosophy to back it up.<br><br>
For me unschooling is allowing my children the space to be themselves. This means they pursue their own interests and define success for themselves. It isn't my responsibility to spot their talents and push them to pursue them. It isn't my responsibility to fill their minds with a lot of facts I believe are important or they might need some time in the future. It is my responsibility to facilitate their own discovery of their talents, to support them in the pursuit of those talents, and to make sure they have access to the information they deem important. I do this through support, active engagement, genuine interest, transportation, monetary resources, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the information, I'll look into his sources. I think I'm ending up somewhere between Holt's view of homeschooling and a more traditional style informed by Howard Gardner's ideas of education structure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,746 Posts
I believe US is a spectrum. There's the RU side and then there's my side. I do think it's my responsibility to introduce my kids to the big, wide world. For example, counting by twos. If my son wants to do it, great. If he doesn't, we'll drop it for now and revisit it another time when he might be interested. It's a skill that will help him. He's never heard of this skill. Without me he might get to be 10 and not know you can count by two.<br><br>
Right now he's into the Magic School Bus books. I'm buying them off ebay. It's his area of interest so I am honoring it. When we were at the used book store I chose a book (not MSB) on tadpoles to frogs. He didn't want me to buy it. I said I was buying it for me. It's now the main book he wants me to read. (I know how often he says no when the answer is yes.)<br><br>
So we have no structure, no curriculum, but I do introduce him to experiences and let him decide which he wants to pursue. He didn't know that mixing together baking soda and vinegar would be fun. But I knew and he loved it. Had I said it's up to him to discover his passions, he would not have known for a long time about this chemical reaction. (He still doesn't know it's a chemical reaction. He just knows it splurges and makes a mess.)<br><br>
When he came to me with his National Geographics for kids magazine wanting to do the bottle and balloon experiment, I said sure. I let him follow his interest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
348 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SundayCrepes</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15396433"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Had I said it's up to him to discover his passions, he would not have known for a long time about this chemical reaction.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I think you misunderstand what most RU mean when they say that they'll find their passions. I know you weren't speaking directly to me but I'll frame my response with my answer since I can really only speak for myself. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br><br>
When I say that I let my kids discover their own talents and that its not my responsibility to spot or push them to pursue them but instead to facilitate their discovery I'm talking about a lot of the same things you're talking about. If I know something I think will be interesting to my kids I tell them about it. If I spot a book I think they'll like I offer it to them. If I know an easier way to do something they're struggling with I offer to help. I don't just turn them loose and hope that they'll stumble upon something they're interested in.<br><br>
But I also don't do what I've seen some parents do and spot a talent and push that. My ds is really gifted at golf. Adults who have been playing for years are shocked when they see his swing and how far he can drive. Now, my BIL thinks I should be pushing this, signing him up for lessons, getting him into youth leagues, etc. But ds has no interest in that so I don't push it. He has a talent for golf but no real passion for it and that's okay.<br><br>
So when I say I let them discover their own talents and define success for themselves this is what I mean- not that I don't ever talk to them or introduce them to new concepts. I can't imagine having any kind of relationship with someone like that much less my kids!<br><br>
HTH to clarify a bit. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,056 Posts
The freedom to learn what, when, where, and how one sees fit. I do not practice unschooling the way <i>some</i> of my friends do, meaning I have expectations of my children. I expect them to take care of their bodies and possessions, and to contribute to running the household as they are able.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
427 Posts
I wasn't going to add this because I sometimes feel weird about offering up too much of my own opinion. But <a href="http://echolage.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/a-curriculum-of-joy/" target="_blank">this</a> is what I wrote last week about our educational philosophy. I'm putting it out here in terms of how we went about coming up with a set of ideas and stating them, mainly to remind ourselves of the bigger picture more than anything at this point, ds is almost 4.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I agree with idea of opening up a world of opportunities for our children and allowing them to move to their own personal areas of interest. I guess where I digress from the conceptualized notion of unschooling is that's it's not my job to set expectations and push them. I'm very much on the fence with respect to the idea of success. I have values that I feel are important that I share with and instill into my children. If my children define success as sitting in front of the tv for hours a day, well, enough said on that. I personally never had a parent behind me pushing when I lost energy for something, and I wish I had. I know people from all walks of life who are grateful for their parents urging when they lost motivation for something, only to soon find it again.<br><br>
I realize the idea of happiness is a very nebulous one, but I can't help but feel it's my job as a parent to move my children in certain directions. I can't reconcile the possibility that being overweight watching hours of tv everyday is somehow a definition of happiness.<br><br>
On the other hand, I also recognize that in our heterogeneous society, there are many, many different roads to happiness and that ultimately, my children will find their own path. I think ultimately, I'm comfortable with an unschooling modality wrapped in a quasi-traditional notion of education harnessing Howard Gardner's concepts multiple intelligences.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
427 Posts
I get the feeling that a lot of what Gardener says (and it's been a long time since I read him) fits with Unschooling, if you use it to inform yourself. That is rather than presenting information in the appropriate manner per child that you have the right resources around. There are a few people around here who talk about strewing (Moominmama wrote so great stuff) that seems to be a good way to bring things to your children without imposing anything, just reacting to their interests and doing some leg work. Anyone have a better way of describing it?<br><br><a href="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=851495&highlight=strewing" target="_blank">http://www.mothering.com/discussions...light=strewing</a>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,824 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>2xy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15396521"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">The freedom to learn what, when, where, and how one sees fit. I do not practice unschooling the way <i>some</i> of my friends do, meaning I have expectations of my children. I expect them to take care of their bodies and possessions, and to contribute to running the household as they are able.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
many unschoolers also practice consensual living and i often see a blur between the two on this board.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,209 Posts
My kid is almost an adult <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/faint.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Faint">, legally speaking anyway, so I'm definitely looking backwards here. I read Summerhill before she was born and I found the TCS list when she was 3 or 4 (and was fairly active there for a couple of years), and those things shaped my views of unschooling more than anything, I think.<br><br>
I've been thinking more about this lately, and I think for me, there's a big chasm between introducing things to your child because you think she *should* know them and introducing things to your child because you think she would *want to* know them. Again, for me, that's the difference that defines unschooling.<br><br>
The corollary is that you need to know your kid, so you can make pretty good guesses about what she would want to know about. That's what makes unschooling so different from sit-on-your-butt parenting.<br><br>
I think it's kind of like being a good guide, maybe. When I come to a new city, I like to have someone here explain how things work - how does one use public transportation here, for example? If I ask how to buy metro tickets, a good guide will volunteer that instead of buying individual tickets, it might be cheaper and easier for me to buy a Navigo (Paris) or Oyster (London), even though it will take more time initially. A good guide won't wait for me to ask about these things, because I may not know they exist.<br><br>
A good guide will know that I like museums but hate crowds, and so will suggest the least crowded times to visit. A good guide might tell me that she loves, say, the Jardin du Luxembourg and offer to take me there, and because I like and trust her I'll probably say yes, even if this wasn't high on my list of things to do, because it sounds like I might enjoy it. If she offers to take me the hottest club, though, I'll probably turn her down and realize that she has some faulty ideas about what I like to do, and if she insists or tried to "trick" me into going, I'll probably be annoyed and not trust her recommendations much anymore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,939 Posts
I very much like Dar's description and I had similar influences on my way to unschooling.<br><br>
I'd read <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Escape From Childhood</span>, before I had kids and had certain ideas about how I would treat my own kids and what kind of relationship I wanted to have with them. Althought the term wasn't used then, when I had my first child I think we had a pretty consensual relationship. The trouble was, that was easy to do when you're both pretty easy-going. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I started hanging out on the tcs list after my second child because parenting her was so very different. That list was hugely helpful to me in looking at things from a different pov, problem solving, finding creative solutions so that everyone could be happy...<br><br>
All of that set the foundation for unschooling. My oldest started school because we weren't aware that he didn't have to. But when his needs and the school's needs clashed, when he wasn't happy or thriving, we had that history of CL and tcs that helped me look for alternatives. I'd read a few of Holt's books on education--that's the first time I'd heard any reference to unschooling.) It is often difficult for me to say whether something we do is "unschooling" or just the way I parent because it's all tied up together, which makes sense to me but often not to others.<br><br>
While I've read Gardner and find much of what he says interesting, I don't see that he advocates anything like unschooling. His ideas about learning seem a little too regimented to me.<br><br>
All that background to say that, to me, unschooling means my kids learn what they want to and find useful to learn. They learn when they want to and in whatever way and to whatever extent they want to. I am not the authority over their learning--I'm a partner. I help them get information, but I don't have a list of things for them to learn. My kids don't think in terms of "school subjects" and they don't separate topics--(at least, they didn't until they got to be older and began looking at colleges, preparing transcripts and having to divide things up into "math" and "literature" etc.) Their learning was all connected and interwoven with one thing leading to the next.<br><br>
And so it goes with all parts of our lives, not just what people think of as school. I believe that they know themselves better than anyone else does and I trust that will lead them to their own unique paths in life.<br><br>
I do share things with my kids--things I think they want to know, things I think they'll like, things I think are interesting or that they might find helpful. It's done in the same way I'd share things with friends. They're perfectly free to say, "Thanks, but I'm not interested." I've also been known to give advice, which they are free to take or leave. While I might have more experience in a certain area than they have, I realize that it's MY experience and their experience might be very different.<br><br>
So, our unschooling is nested in the idea of respect for the individual, freedom, a questioning of standard beliefs (everything from "babies sleep in cribs" to "kids need to read by age 6" to "college should be everyone's goal" and on and on.) I think we're each on our own indivdual paths and we can offer help, ideas, support, etc. but shouldn't attempt to control or direct anyone else's life.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
My working definition, the one I try to keep in my head all the time for help in making decisions is:<br><a href="http://wholelifeed.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/what-is-unschooling/" target="_blank">Live as if school didn’t exist.</a><br><br>
I blogged about it the other day...that's what the link will take you to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,056 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>binxsmom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15433252"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">many unschoolers also practice consensual living and i often see a blur between the two on this board.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Funny you should mention that, because <i>we</i> practice consensual living.<br><br>
Consensual living is when everyone's needs and wants are taken into account; kids AND parents.<br><br>
The people I was referring to in my last post do not practice consensual living. They practice child-centered living, where the wants of the children come first and sometimes at the expense of others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,824 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>2xy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15434499"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Funny you should mention that, because <i>we</i> practice consensual living.<br><br>
Consensual living is when everyone's needs and wants are taken into account; kids AND parents.<br><br>
The people I was referring to in my last post do not practice consensual living. They practice child-centered living, where the wants of the children come first and sometimes at the expense of others.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
interesting. i have never made a distinction between consensual living and child-centered living. guess i have been ignorant. thanks for the distinction. and if you would like to elaborate on it more, i'd love to listen. feel free to start a new thread and post a link.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top