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    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Originally Posted by AvoCado
    Would it be so bad, if she didn't?
    Yes and no.

    If we don't, there will be negative consequences for her. For example, she is passionately in love with Beast Academy grades 3 and 4, but isn't ready for them because she lacks the basic skills. The sooner I teach her to fly, the sooner she can explore those mountains she's gazing at so longingly. So that's one thing.

    Also, I've mentioned before that teaching self-discipline is going to be a tricky job with this child. Ten or fifteen minutes of math a day is an ideal beginner's task for that, opening up opportunities for conversations about noticing progress, about how it feels to choose to sit down and do it early rather than later, etc. For many kids, self-discipline to accomplish what they want in life is a long learning process, not something they can be dropped in the deep end of.

    But then, also, no. If circumstances prevented us from schooling this summer, I would just thank my lucky stars that she is alive and healthy. So it depends what you mean by "so bad."

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    Don't just stand there. Undo something.

    Can anyone tell I absolutely hate the term "unschooling". It's a completely useless piece of terminology. It just means you're doing something instead of something else. It could mean anything.

    I hope everyone stops using the term, and instead uses more meaningful terminolgy that actually describes an activity.

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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    That's just it, though-- what DO you do with a child who simply refuses to exercise a particularly important mode of learning or expression?

    Is that okay? Well, the hard-core unschoolers that I know would say that it is. I disagree.

    Yes, that's the problem. I suppose that saying, "NO, I. will. not. learn. about. verbs." is fine for an unschooled eight-year-old, because there are no consequences involved.

    What bothers me is that putting a child in the driver's seat sends a clear message saying, you're different from others, and if it makes you uncomfortable, just do something else. <3 <3 What happens when the child is 18 and can't get through remedial English at the community college, either because it's too hard or he's never had to exercise self-discipline? Worse, what happens if he carries this attitude into a job? I've met people who never had to learn self-discipline. It's not pretty at age 20, and it's Medusa-like in its ugliness at age 50. Not to mention the lost opportunities.

    I have trouble with basing something as critical as a child's education on an idea that "children are natural learners, so we can just let them lead." Absorbing information may indeed come naturally, but this fact doesn't mean, "And therefore kids can acquire a meaningful education with minimal guidance and no expectations."

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    Originally Posted by Val
    I have trouble with basing something as critical as a child's education on an idea that "children are natural learners, so we can just let them lead." Absorbing information may indeed come naturally, but this fact doesn't mean, "And therefore kids can acquire a meaningful education with minimal guidance and no expectations."

    Exactly. This is akin to children's noted ability to select a nutritionally complete diet from a menu of healthy choices offered by the parent. The parent chooses the "what", the child decides "how much" and "when", subject to the parental constraints set. When the child avoids vegetables, the parent makes them 90% of the available offering (or secretes them in other foods!) wink

    Last edited by aquinas; 05/25/14 08:22 PM. Reason: Or =/= of

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    DD has an acquaintance who has some developmental challenges. This young lady is in a regular classroom (though she started school a year late) and works extremely hard for each and every grade. I often comment to DD that I'm impressed with that kind of dedication to learning. But if this young lady were left alone to follow her interests, with an attitude of "you'll learn it when you need to" I expect she may not have a successful future.

    DD on the other hand has never really had to work. If I let her do whatever she was interested in she'd coast forever without learning how to apply herself. It's hard enough finding stuff that actually makes her work and is still developmentally appropriate.

    CAN this methodology work for some kids? Sure. Public school works for some kids too. I however would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to my child's future (making sure they know what they need in order to make their way in the world).

    This is not a zero sum game -- the choices aren't a) destroy my child's love of learning and crush their independent spirit or b) let them completely self education based solely on their own interests (and set their own bedtime too!). There's really a very large grey area here.

    Extremism in education is part of what holds the PG kids back. The attitude that there's one right way (whether that way is common core or unschooling) that works for every child.

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    Another example of unschooling success.

    The reason I believe that unschooling can be so successful for high-ability kids is because I see it every day. We have an unschooling group of kids here who meet up twice a week to "play" together. Some are highly creative, some are highly mathematical. Majority of them have never been in school. They range in age from 3 up to 12.

    I think the thing that attracts me the most to the concept is this: If you have a child who is a budding author. WHY should they learn calculus and trig? Daily maths as they will need it will be learnt through what they do. And if you have a child who is heavily passionate about science, how much knowledge do they need on the parts of speech? Sure I am over simplifying here, but you get the point.

    Gifted kids fill gaps FAST - we all know this. We have all seen that when our kids are intrinsically motivated - self invested in something they learn it accurately and lightning fast. This methodology works to that ability. So when they see their own gap, they will want to and they do then fill it - whatever it takes!

    Unschooling allows kids to truly be anything they dream of. Not what society or their parents see as what they should do. They can be exposed to so much more, understand how they would affect the world, society at large and they can fill their own dreams without anything stopping them.

    If my child is absorbed in reading, I don't want to stop them right then to come do maths. Their head will be back in that book for the entire "lesson" - so I'm wasting my time, his time, and both our energy for something that will most likely need to be repeated at some stage again.

    But if I leave him to finish his book, he will come searching maths and then will immerse fully into that.

    Like HK said - headstrong can (And do) refuse point blank to do anything. You gotta be sneaky like a ninja, it needs to be THEIR choice so they immerse fully.

    This means parents must be inventive, totally focused on how to ensure their kids learn those things that need to be imparted. It's not for the lazy parents I assure you. It takes a lot more dedication from me than after-schooling and homeschooling ever did.

    And I see it working. Aiden is happier, much more willing to immerse into things. And because I am not afraid to let him jump around as he will, he eagerly fills any gaps that come up. I am humbled by his focus and commitment to getting to where he wants to go. He has already chosen formalised school leaving through the Cambridge route. Chances are good he will do this around age 12/13. he will be able to skip most of the spiraled course work and exams because he will be quite used to starting with the bigger picture and filling gaps as he needs to.

    Nathan is only 5 but with his abilities we know that this is how he will best be served. No other educational institution in the country will even consider allowing a 5 year old to work at a 3rd - 4th grade level, and it's harder and harder to find appropriate reading material. So he gets to "play" with what interests him. One could argue that since he technically is still too young for school this is fine for now - I can only see this expanding as he gets older.

    Other terms for unschooling are democratic schooling, child-led learning, free learning.

    It can really look like anything - the core idea is that nothing is forced upon one person by another. That there is autonomy in directing your own life. And that kids who get to practice this will be adept at is by the time they are ready to make their way in the world. So if you child chooses to attend grade 8 for example, they are unschooling. If your child asks for a specific maths curriculum, they are still unschooling. If they need time to dream under the tree and that time extends to 4 days - it's okay too because you know they WILL eventually move on when that need is filled.

    For me, the hardest part was stopping myself from being in the traditionally educated mindset of drills, skills and grade levels. It was much harder for ME to trust my children's curiosity than it was for them to trust themselves.


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    Gifted kids fill gaps FAST - we all know this. We have all seen that when our kids are intrinsically motivated - self invested in something they learn it accurately and lightning fast. This methodology works to that ability. So when they see their own gap, they will want to and they do then fill it - whatever it takes!

    I'm glad that this is so clearly working well for you. Honest.

    But I disagree with the latter statement-- it is directly counter to our experience with our DD. I have to disagree with the idea that completely ignoring some aspects of basic education is a good idea for anyone, too. Sure, not everyone is motivated to learn about economics at the college level, but everyone ought to possess basic competence at understanding personal finance. Whether they want to or not. Every person ought to understand what factors in a national psyche lead to things like genocides, and how their own national political system operates. That's part of basic civics. Everyone ought to be able to construct a professional cover letter by the time they are 16 to 20 years of age.

    We first noted the problem when DD was about five years old-- but it started following an exponential curve, frankly, and by the time she was 6.5, we HAD to do something else-- and honestly, because we had done a child-led model of homeschooling, even switching to more parent-determined modes of eclectic homeschooling couldn't work at that point.

    She knew that she was supposed to be driving the bus, and that I wasn't allowed to ask or tell her what to do. At all.

    So she was completely okay with not picking up a writing implement. Ever.

    Completely okay with using keyboarding ergonomics SO dreadful that they were interfering with her ability to play the piano (via repetitive stress on musculature and joints)...


    At six, I wasn't "wily" enough, I guess, to get her to do things the right way-- or to tackle those challenges at all. She was completely okay with just writing them off as "I'm just not good at that."

    smirk Hint: I'm pretty devious and wily, so honestly-- if I couldn't manage it, nobody else could. I've got DD's number and always have... most people don't have a clue how she has outmaneuvered them, and wind up scratching their heads in puzzled bewilderment while she happily waves and goes around. LOL.

    I guess what I'm saying is that for MY kid, child-led homeschooling created a many-headed hydra, and opened the door to a fixed mindset. SHE chose that mindset-- over our gentle admonitions and objections. But we've all been paying for it for the past decade since. It was a disaster.

    I don't dislike child-led learning, and I do think that it works for some children. I do. But it is a bad, bad idea for some of them, as well. SOME kids really do need to learn that doing what others want is a good idea sometimes, because the world just plain works that way-- there is a tradeoff involved in defying/ignoring authority that way.


    I mostly think that child-led learning is a great thing for young HG children. In regular small doses, also a good thing for older ones. We basically still encourage our DD14 to spend her free time this way. BUT-- only after her "must do" list is complete. She has to meet the obligations before she gets to do as she pleases. There are things to learn from others-- and sometimes you don't KNOW what you don't know until you're learning it.

    Those are important lessons for her.


    When my DD was five or six, though... I'd have had many of the same things to say that Madoosa does. It wasn't until later that it became apparent to us just WHY this was such a bad idea for the long term. Stubborn and autonomous kids can become far, far more oppositional to any outside direction whatsoever using unschooling methods. It escalates.



    This is a good snapshot of different long-term perspectives re: what I'd term "radical unschooling" and regrets therein. It gets particularly interesting when you look at posts made by parents with kids 15+yo.

    Regrets

    While that particular conversation is re: math, in my own experience it can be about nearly any fundamental skill set that such a child decides is their hill to die on with a gently guiding parent. It gets even more tangled with HG+ learners because of their sometimes radical asynchronous developmental arcs. There IS no developmental roadmap to follow in the first place, and frequently the common meshing of developmental milestones that are used as readiness indicators with NT children are completely skewed with our kids.

    Bottom line-- no, not all kids KNOW what they need to learn, and when. That's what they have adults in their lives for. IMO, of course.

    Last edited by HowlerKarma; 05/26/14 10:18 AM.

    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    While unschooling is great for some kids, I agree with others that this is mainly a good practice for some young kids. When kids are young, it is tough to see that what works now - be it in academics, sports, music, etc., - may not work when kids are older. I was just looking at a sports forum and a proud father had posted a "skills video" of his daughter. She looked pretty good for a 12 year old, but there were clearly issues with some of her fundamental skills. She can get away with that lack of proper form/skills at this age, but later on it will bite her in the behind. I think it can be much the same with unschooling.

    I also think the possibility of unschooling older kids varies from country to country. I think that unschooling HS age kids in the US is not a good idea - that is, if the kids want to go to college. I did a search on unschooled kids going to college (in the US), and most unschooling parents had joined some sort of group that could provide a transcript for their kid. So, while much of the experience might have been unschooling, to be a qualified applicant for a sort of decent school in the US, I don't think these kids were purely unschooled.

    In countries where HS graduation and college entrance depends upon a national exam (and not much else), the unschooling approach may work. Ace the exam and attend the college of your choice.

    With my eldest, unschooling would have been a disaster. She has her areas of interest and would have avoided everything else. Heck, she tried to do that to some degree even in regular school. Middle kid is more self motivated and quite even in her abilities (across all subjects), so it might have worked when she was younger. Youngest has asked about homeschooling from time to time, but she is fine in school and likes the social aspect.

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    The thing about toddlers choosing themselves a healthy diet, given free choice, relies on them not being given things with added sugar; if they are, they eat those and balance goes out of the window. Pretty sure computer games are the equivalent, for schooling - the idea that it's OK to let your kids be all night gamers instead of getting an education strikes me as, well, irresponsible.


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    Originally Posted by Madoosa
    WHY should they learn calculus and trig? . . . And if you have a child who is heavily passionate about science, how much knowledge do they need on the parts of speech?
    Two answers, plus a corollary.

    1) We need educated citizens. There is no substitute for having broad knowledge of how the world works in many domains, in order to be able to evaluate the issues of the day.

    2) Different fields of knowledge affect each other in surprising ways. You can't really be a well-rounded practitioner of any field without a basic working knowledge of lots of other fields.

    and: 3) Autodidacts can be really annoying.

    Quote
    Admittedly the man who has educated himself is in a better position than the man not educated at all. But his work is sure to bear the mark of his limitation. If one studies the work of the self-educated . . . what one notices at once is the spottiness and therefore awkwardness of their knowledge. One forgives the fault, but the fact remains that it distracts and makes the work less than it might have been. One finds, for instance, naively excited and lengthy discussions of ideas that are commonplace or have long been discredited.
    - John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

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