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    Val Offline
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    This point from HowlerKarma's mdc thread sums up my opinion about the problems with unschooling:

    Originally Posted by Tigresse 12/19 at 9:29 am
    But unschooling promotes the notion that if a child is not specifically asking or at least willing to pursue certain subjects/tasks, then it is the *parent* that has the issue, it is the *parent* not trusting/respecting, it is the *parent's* baggage. The parent is too much in the "school" mindset. It's OK to verbalize concerns to the child, but the end decision rests with the child. I did do this.

    This is putting ideology in place of thinking, and it's just, well, abdicating your duty to raise a child who becomes a responsible adult. What's saddest about it is that the child is the one who has to suffer the consequences created by the adults he trusts. I see that this woman had seen her mistakes, and was trying to help others avoid them, which I respect. It's not easy to admit you were wrong. smile

    I can see that semi-unschooling (child gets to choose from a menu written by a parent, for example) might be a good experience for a very young HG+ child who's already way ahead of the curve, and can spend time following a non-traditional path. But I'm very dubious about the idea that children can just naturally figure out what they need to know and will just naturally learn to do things they don't like or are hard for them.

    Besides, if kids are such natural learners who will do what they need to do, why do adults need mentors and bosses and coaches and other leaders? Does our natural ability to figure out what we need and then just go do it disappear when we turn 18?


    Last edited by Val; 05/26/14 11:29 AM.
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    Here's another twist on all this. Another name for unschooling is adulthood. The goal of all parenting is to help the adult-in-training reach the point where they can make responsible informed choices. Even if that means choosing to take a class and learn from someone with more expertise.

    But most children just aren't ready for that kind of responsibility at a young age. It's a terrible burden to place on their under-developed executive functions, and it will set up many kids to fail on their own terms.

    On the other hand, some parents err too far in the other direction and never let their older children experiment with decision-making and falling on their butts occasionally.

    Easing a child towards adult competence is really tricky. And the right formula will be different for every child.

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    That's a pretty good summmation of how I eventually wound up feeling about child-directed learning, MegMeg.

    If the theory were sound as a hypothesis, then children shouldn't NEED parents to do any kind of intervention by force-- ever. Particularly not for things like basic physiological needs. That is clearly untrue. Children WON'T "naturally" gravitate to the proper medical care, nutrition, and sleep. Not many of them. Some of them fight parentally-imposed limits on those activities rather, er-- vigorously-- even. Nor do we expect toddlers to have the life experience to live with the natural consequences of all of their desires, either. So why it is that children should be expected to do so with their formal educational choices is a mystery to me as a parent. I come at this as the parent to a child with a life-altering medical condition that requires daily management. She is lucky in some ways that (unlike Type 1 diabetes) her condition offers pretty much immediate corrective feedback... though unlucky in that errors, even minor ones, can have seriously severe consequences-- potentially fatal ones, even. I know that raising a child with T1D is fraught with struggles to impose skills on children who may truly not be very willing to embrace them-- and their lives and longevity and health decades in the future rest on a clear cause-and-effect pathway that involves compliance. So while education clearly is more multifaceted and complex in terms of if-then outcomes, it's VERY clear that children lack the life-experience and metacognition to make such choices for themselves in the long term.

    I didn't let my daughter mouth found objects as a baby. Nor did I attempt to "reason" with her about this activity. It was not developmentally appropriate for me to do so. I tend to suspect the same thing about much of the faith in child-directed learning. It's lovely when it works out, but I'm not sure that it's even a very good theory.

    As one moves up Maslow's hierarchy, it's not at all clear to me why THOSE things should be more self-evident to children, if the lower level items (rest, clothing, shelter, health) aren't.

    Kids really aren't set up well to understand the consequences of their decisions. It seems mean-spirited of me to not impose my understanding of them at least occasionally, when my judgment is clearly superior to my child's.

    The thing about unschooling as a philosophy is that it denies that particular notion-- that my judgment IS superior to my five year old's, I mean. It truly espouses the notion that her beliefs are just as valid as mine-- about her education. Well, that seems suspect to me.

    KWIM?



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Val Offline
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    I'd like to add a note for unschoolers who may feel attacked on this thread. I realize that many of the comments here could be interpreted that way, but they aren't. From what I've read, people are trying to point out potential problems that may not be evident to an enthusiastic unschooling parent. This is certainly the case with what I've written.

    I realize that it's possible to find stories of successfully unschooled kids, but the opposite is also true. I googled "unschooling failures" and got a lot of hits, including some very sad stories. My advice: if you're going to unschool, read what the critics and failed unschoolers have to say so you can make an informed decision.

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    Exactly-- and know when you think your personal point of 'intervention' is, and what your larger, overarching goals actually are. Think about the developmental arc carefully-- and know what "outside resources" look like for you personally.

    Also know that in the case of HG+ kiddos, that picture can get a lot more complex in a hurry. You may be mostly on your own.

    This is why I posted that particular thread from Mothering-- much of the discussion was very thoughtful-- and it came from people who have considerable experience with unschooling.



    This is another very thoughtful and respectful general thread about whether or not this kind of educational philosophy is a good fit-- and what it looks like for parents who consider that fit issue carefully.


    Secular Homeschooling: I have realized something...


    The opening post is SO thoughtful and summarizes the crux of the matter very very well, IMO:

    Quote
    Recently, I've been doing some research about high school because I have to make some decisions in the next year. I have been quizzing as many local families as I can about what their teenagers are doing, what worked, what they used, etc...

    I happen to know a lot of unschooly families, and you know what I figured out? In order to truly embrace unschooling, you have to be 100% okay with virtually ANY outcome. If your kid starts his own business at 17, that's awesome! If they work part-time at a snowboard shop at 19, that's awesome, too! If they do nothing in particular until they're 18 and then decide they want to become engineers, that's cool! If they realize they have have absolutely no math courses done, and now they have to spend two years doing that, well that's no problem. To the committed unschoolers, any path the kids choose to take is just fine because they are on their own journey and they will figure out what they need as they go along and be motivated to learn it then.

    Listening to all the stories has made me realize that I am NOT OKAY with some of these potential outcomes. It is NOT COOL (to me) if you're 16 and can't write a paragraph. It is NOT OKAY (with me) to be starting grade 10 math when you're 17.

    I've always been mainly supportive of unschooling. I can see how it works for many families, and many people would probably describe my style as fairly "unschooly." However, I have suddenly and dramatically realized that I have definite expectations of my kids. In a nutshell, they need to be in a position to enter a post-secondary program at approximately age 18. If they decide not to go because they would rather travel or volunteer or start a business, that's fine by me. No problem. However, there is no way that they will be UNABLE to attend because they have to go back and get basic stuff done.

    Phew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I suppose I'd better let the kids know what's expected, eh?


    Here is how I see that realization be particularly critical for those of us raising HG+ youngsters-- we're already trying to help sail fairly difficult-to-captain vessels, as it were, due to the peculiar needs, asynchronous quirks, and abilities of our HG+ kids. Their potential, however, means that we have perhaps got more reason than most parents to be wary of being "okay" with some outcomes.

    Is it TRULY okay if a PG child never gets a high school diploma or any college education?

    For some parents, I guess the answer is "sure, if that's what s/he wants," but for me, I'd be worried that I'd inadvertently allowed some doors to be CLOSED to that child as a result of MY choices for the education of that child.

    That would bother me. As soon as I could see that being a real possibility (that gaps were going to widen irretrievably into chasms that my daughter, with her personality, was going to simply cry and walk away from)... I realized that prudence for us was going to dictate using whatever means necessary to get her to tolerate instruction-- and even direction-- from others.

    I don't actually view unschooling as negative, though. Just... not always right for all children, at all ages, or for all families.





    Last edited by HowlerKarma; 05/26/14 01:43 PM.

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    Everyone has made valid points.

    I don't see it as assuming that the child's judgement is superior - rather that in trusting children to explore their limits and interests, we get to help them in the way that works the best for them. And yes, for HG+ kids, sometimes we need to direct that - because we can see what they need when they cannot even verbalise it themselves. As they get older they do well having more and more freedom to flex those self-directing muscles and I think this is what (to me) unschooling is. It's not that I will make my child study everything *I* think is essential for him to know, and it's not that I will allow my child to study everything that some random bunch of people sitting in a office somewhere decide should be in a national curriculum. I believe that he should be allowed to study the things he is curious and passionate about, and that it is my PARENTAL responsibility to teach/guide him in the things that will make him a good citizen (like basic economics, politics, religious view, tolerance, kindness, integrity, honesty, manners etc)

    That's not the responsibility of education at all - that is the responsibility of parents. Regardless of how their children are schooled (or un.. lol )

    I agree that as in all types of educational models there are radicals and to me that always seems suspect, because there is no "system" that is a one size fits all, works exactly the same for every person - simply because we are, well, people. So we are unpredictable, unique, quirky etc.

    I see unschooling as doing things outside the proverbial box. Perhaps it translates differently due to us here having so many fewer options academically, I'm not sure. I do know that I love the idea of democratic schooling, and to me that is unschooling really; where a child is not forced or coerced into learning something that he at that point has no desire to learn about, that he could be guided to that through his other various interests, and that when he needs to take certain steps to reach his goals that he will then understand the process needed to do so.

    Val - unschooling is not letting kids do it all and figure it all out on their own - it's helping them find the tools/resources they need to meet those goals. It's the same as for adults. If I'm not good at anything new that I need to do, I find someone who is good at that who can teach me, guide me in my learning of that thing. That is the ideal for children surely? That they do not have a view of "my teacher said" or "my mother said", but that they understand the best places to go to find the resources they need. I truly believe that unschooling is more a way of saying that we need to stop believing in a largely failing system and we need to understand that the way we find information changes more rapidly with every passing year - that therefore the way in which we prepare children to exist in a world that largely is not yet in existence cannot be done by using outmoded methodologies and ideas.

    Sir Ken Robinson has some excellent TED talks on why the current education system doesn't work as it ought to. They really were the tipping point for me into realising that there is nothing here in South Africa that will prepare my children for the world they will work and live in in 15 - 20 years' time.

    And that this means I need to teach them how to find answers instead of what all the answers are. (in a nutshell)

    For anyone interested, here are some links to his talks:
    Changing the Education Paradigm:


    Do schools kill creativity? : http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

    How to escape Education's Death Valley: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley

    And my current favourite: bring on the learning revolution, where he makes strong points for natural learning, where kids natural talents can flourish: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution


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    Originally Posted by NotSoGifted
    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.
    This is my son and why I never really considered homeschooling/unschooling for my son. Even through the system, my son has missed some area's that are currently causing him problems in high school.

    Last edited by bluemagic; 05/26/14 01:00 PM.
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    Just to bring a lighter note to this topic -- fictional anecdata!

    The Bennett sisters in Pride & Prejudice were unschooled. "Such of us as wished to learn, never wanted means . . . Those who chose to be idle certainly might."

    It succeeded with Jane and Lizzie, failed with Kitty and Lydia, and backfired with Mary (who became an annoying autodidact).

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    Originally Posted by MegMeg
    Just to bring a lighter note to this topic -- fictional anecdata!

    The Bennett sisters in Pride & Prejudice were unschooled. "Such of us as wished to learn, never wanted means . . . Those who chose to be idle certainly might."

    It succeeded with Jane and Lizzie, failed with Kitty and Lydia, and backfired with Mary (who became an annoying autodidact).

    hehe that is cool laugh


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    For the original poster, you may want to read this to see what unschooling looks like: http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/unschooling/

    She sums it up better than I most likely did


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