Sunday, April 22, 2007

Parents on unschooling

Some interesting quotes on unschooling from actual (or claim-to-be-actual) parents. Copied verbatim (with edits for length), punctuation/capitalization (errors and otherwise) and all.

They ranged from the vehemently outspoken...
Un-Schooling is for those parents who are LAZY and dont want to do anything. In my PHD studies at Arizona State we studied a lot of families... the parents were usually trying to compensate for their lack of being able to make it in society.
to the globally praising...

From what I've seen, these children will not only get into college, they'll do it at a younger age and graduate with honors. the somewhat illogical. Note that the point of unschooling is that students take charge of their own educations, including finding appropriate resources and mentors to draw upon. It is wholly possible to facilitate the learning of something you don't know.

There is NO good reason to homeschool or unschool your child. Are you a teacher, can you teach every subject?

And then the "social development" argument - because being limited to 15-minute recess arguments with children within a year of your own age prepares you to interact socially with the diverse range of people and situations that are actually out there in the rest of the world.

...will he be able to adjust well when he is finally presented to a group of people ? Will he be able to interact with them? socialise with them? mingle?

Not every approach works for every student. Unschooling isn't a magic pill that fixes all. At the same time, there are developmental milestones, and then there are human-imposed milestones; walking around one year of age is a developmental milestone (and even with that, there's a wide variation and they're all okay), but reading by age 5? That's all human-imposed. You're not "better" or "smarter" just because you can add earlier.

I think unschooling is a joke! I know a family that swears by it and their 12 year old could hardly read a simple 5 year old could read better!

It's strange how with just a few words I start drawing pictures of people in my mind; I should not jump to conclusions about how rigid their ideologies are, how they were raised, how they school their chlidren. I know mine are also biased, and it's always easier to see the mote in your brother's eye than the plank in your own.


Sarah said...

I'm so tempted by the utopic vision of kids passionately tackling their own original, creative projects and learning as they go, but realistically (and sadly), I don't think unschooling would work (/would have worked) for me. One reason is that I'm just not very good at making use of my time. Which is not to say that reading novels and daydreaming doesn't have value, but when I get bored with that, I'm not good at finding something else to do.

Also, the socialization thing. As a kid, I seriously would have spent all my time reading, and I did this in the summers, to the point where my mom would sometimes confiscate my books and kick me out of the house, or require that I set up a playdate with a friend before I could read any more. I think I would be a very different person (and not a better person, I don't think) if I hadn't been forced to socialize. On a related note, my family moved several times while I was growing up, and I hated it every single time--starting over in a new school, having to make friends all over again--but I kind of appreciate it, now. I think it's made it easier for me to pack up and move to an unknown city without being too stressed out about it. This is only tangentially related to unschooling, but my point is that things I would not have chosen for myself, as a kid, have had a positive impact on me as an adult.

Another anecdote (albeit about homeschooling, not unschooling): a couple of years ago I was interviewing at CWW, and the candidate was a boy who told us that he had been homeschooled by his parents ("who both have PhDs"). Most interviews that I've done have been pretty comfortable conversations, but this kid could not do it. He could not participate in a normal conversation. I think more socialization might have helped him.

Boris Dieseldorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boris Dieseldorff said...

I went through the thread that Mel linked to and I really liked this one:

Unschooling is entirely child directed, with very little to no structure or educational requirements.

It is NOT the same as eclectic homeschooling, which uses many different methods for homeschooling, including (but not necessarily requiring) published curricula, unit studies, unschooling, on line schooling, group classes, etc.

I have known a few unschoolers who got an excellent education and showed no deficits academically, behaviorally, or socially.

I must admit though, that most of the unschooled children that I have met are far behind in basic subjects, many bordering on ignorant, and are very poorly behaved, so much so that if I am leading an activity I cringe to see them show up.

In a homeschooling group unschoolers often stick out because most other homeschooled kids are academically advanced, socially mature, polite, and well behaved.

I think for some children and families, unschooling works really well, but parents really need to pay attention to whether it really works for their children, and switch homeschooling philosophies/methods if necessary.

I probably like it b/c it fits my view that unschooling would be awesome for people who are natural autodidacts but pretty bad for everyone else...