Sunday, November 26, 2006

We Unschool, so what?

For my regular readers this will not hold much interest, but we are unschoolers and the NYT just had a nice little article with a friend being profiled. On a local news blog there was a discussion about them and unschooling and of course I had to jump in:

(just needed to add Snape because we have not seen him around here much)

Not everyone learns the same, thinks the same or lives the same.
Not everyone considers college the be all and end all.
Not everyone thinks that living in the Heights and driving an SUV to be the pinnacle of success in life.

Unschoolers get into colleges everyday. Universities and colleges are more then happy to accept students who have had a more non-traditional type of education. They like folks who can think outside of the box and come to campus with a different mind-set then most students from a traditional learning environment.

This is a conversation that does not work on a blog, but I’ll try.
Surely parenting includes providing some direction.In the fifth grade I would have insisted I would never need long division and I suspect my parents (who didn't understand it either) would have agreed. Do I use it now? Although I'm home all the time now, I'd guess I use it almost every day. As a simple example, how many (15 ounce or so) cans are there in a gallon can of tomatoes?

Hello? Am I the ONLY non-math person who uses a calculator in my life? Who went through a traditional education and looks in a cookbook to figure out conversions?
How many folks out there reconcile their checkbook without a calculator?
Right-brain, left-brain…we are all different. I can’t do math, but still have my own business.
Oh, and I was right, I don’t need algebra in my life. I’m glad I went to school when you only needed one math credit to graduate high school or I would have never done so.

I worry about the child whose mother complaisantly explained that he learned to read when he was seven. I fear that little value may have been placed on reading in that household.

Ummm, talk to any school teacher and they will tell you that even by 4th grade there are a good amount of kids not reading well. Or only reading, but not understanding.
Plus you missed the point.
He taught himself to read.
How? By being surrounded by books in a reading rich home. Being raised by parents who provided what he needed to learn on his OWN schedule not the schools.
(as an aside I have yet to meet an unschooling or even a homeschooling family who’s house is not FULL of books and magazines and learning games and internet access…well I could go on, but you get the idea)*
Ever wonder why so many kids are not reading by that arbitrary age set-up by the institutional schools and the text-book publishers?
Because they and their brains are not ready. All kids can not read by age 6 or 7. Some need way more time. Unfortunately they are in an environment that can’t allow them the time THEY need because of the amount of children that must be pushed through….not the fault of teachers, it is just the nature of the beast.
They could keep learning with their classmates if the information was being presented orally, but as they go up in grades text-books become more important. These kids fall farther and farther behind, get labeled and end up in resource.
A child at home does not have to meet some arbitrary learning schedule, but has the time to develop based on their internal time clock.
The assumption is also that if a parent does not “know” something then the child does not learn it.
Do you folks not use the internet?
I learn something new everyday from it.
MIT and Harvard have free classes you can take. There is information everywhere. As unschoolers get older they choose to access local colleges or find ways to apprentice to learn what they want that they can’t do on their own. It is still all about the teen making their own decisions about their education and life.
I’m sure some of these kids will end up as janitors, some as executives, some as teachers and some will write bestsellers that go on to be made into a major motion picture about dragons opening on Dec 15th at the Rave.
I’m also sure that most of these children will NOT grow up to be haunted the rest of their lives by damage done to them during their school years at the hands of educators and other students.

*I freely admit there are probably sucky unschoolers/homeschoolers (like those huge fundi family folks…even I worry about those kids) out there. But there are WAY MORE sucky families who’s kids go to school and fall though the cracks everyday. I really think that is where concern should be focused.

1 comment:

Antonia said...

I'm a regular reader, (and a childless one)and I say good for you. There's a lot of roads to the party,and you have to take the best one for your kids, not someone else's.