I was going to post a comment on this article, Untruths About Unschooling by one of my favorite bloggers, but it became so long I decided it should be a blog post of my own.
She wrote in response to some comments written following a t.v. broadcast about unschooling. There is a lot of misunderstanding about homeschooling, let alone unschooling. Here are my responses to the comments she quotes in Untruths About Unschooling. If you are exploring the idea of unschooling I suggest reading her post before reading my responses below.
Re: a child asking to study quantum physics — Perhaps not, but we can see in young children an inclinations toward less specific topics. The point is we offer a lot and allow the child to follow her path, walking along beside to guide, help, celebrate, etc.
Re: picking nose for 18 years — Why do people make up such extreme and unlikely scenarios? It does not help their argument. As for child-led, teacher-lead, etc., the way I’ve long seen unschooling is summed up in one word, “RESPECT.” I think of my children as people, not lesser creatures, who deserve respect. Just like if any adult in my household might express an interest and I might talk with him about it, ask him about it, etc, that’s how I interact with my children. They might be lacking in experience but that doesn’t make me automatically an expert in whatever they’re interested in, nor does it give me a right to choose their interests. Then, one thing leads to another. Have you ever wanted to spend even one day, let alone 18 years, doing one single thing?
Re: educational theory — I earned my teaching credential and taught in a classroom for five years before I had children. In retrospect, soon after I began unschooling, I realized that what I learned most in my teacher ed program was how to handle 30 children in one room. When we homeschool/unschool we only need to pay attention to our own children, learn about them, just BE with them.
Re: not exposed to the outside world — We’re in the world a lot more than kids stuck in school.
Re: expert vs well-rounded — I’ve pondered a lot on this myself. I have discussed it with my 12 year old about it quite a bit. She understands that she’s making choices that affect future options. But she is sure of her path and definitely puts a lot of effort into it. Anyway, there are no educational emergencies. There are very few things that would be “too late” to do. If my daughter decides at 25 she wants to do something completely different, she might be “behind” in a subject compared to others her age, but she can learn it then. And she’d probably learn it much faster and more thoroughly because she would be motivated to do so. Someone (I’m sorry I don’t have the reference handy) calculated that the entire K-12 standard math curriculum could be learned in 8 weeks of study, for one rather extreme example.
Oh, and in case you’re thinking they might miss out on basic subjects like arithmetic or reading, now that all of my children are old enough I can tell you that unschooled children do learn the basics we need to live in our culture such as reading and math because they are in the real world and they want to use the skills.
Schools as we know them have only been developed over the last century and they’re not working well. I think it’s a fabulous idea instead for teens* to be in the real world, under mentorship, becoming an expert in something instead of stuck in school being given a “well rounded” overview of the vast knowledge available in today’s world.
* p.s. I wrote “teens” there because that’s where we’re headed soon in my family, with kids ages 12, 9, and 6 . I feel strongly that unschooling is fabulous for little kids and medium sized kids too! 🙂 If you browse other posts on my blog you will find many stories about my kids’ always unschooled life.
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Finally, because blog posts are better with photos, here’s a book recently devoured by my daughter. 🙂