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  1. ETA: changed the title for clarity This is an X-post, and many of you have already read it. But given the other thread might be deleted or titled in an unsearchable manner, I've decided to pull my post out so that it might help someone one day..... X-post I will stick my head out and differentiate between unschoolers and Notschoolers. I was an unschooler for my first 3 years of homeschooling, and ran the unschoolers group here in town for 4 years. I have met and been good friends with many unschoolers. I have read every unschooling book I could get my hands on and done quite a bit of personal thinking and reflection. This is my take: I personally believe that all kids have a right to an education, and I am willing to define it. I think it is unfair to children to say that it is undefinable, and that anything counts. Horrible parents lose their kids to social services; we as a society have found a way to draw a line in the sand. And I believe that we need to do the same thing with education. NZ has a very good system for evaluating home educators, until 5 years ago (when National came in), all home educators were evaluated in person on a rotating basis, so about every 5 years. The law is fair; it requires that homeschool students are educated "as regularly and as well as public school." Clearly this must be interpreted, and here in NZ it has been interpreted as educating for at least 40 weeks a year (not a problem for unschoolers as they educated year round), and that all multiple learning areas are included in the education environment. This society has decided that all children are entitled to an education; and a democratically elected government has defined it with these 7 learning areas: Language (Maori or English) Numeracy Social studies (understanding people and society) Science (understanding the natural world) Arts (chosen from: music, dance, theatre, art ) PE Technology (understanding *how* society runs. This is NOT a computer class (although it could be); kids study the things like how a grocery store works: growers, distributors, store management, etc; or how gasoline gets to your car; or how mail gets to your house; etc So when evaluating if you are providing an education, the evaluator is looking for evidence in all these areas. I have gone through a review while I was an unschooler, so I know that *how* you achieve the above does not matter. I also know that if you fail a review, you are given 6 months to improve your game with the help of the ministry before your children are returned to school. I'm going to give 4 examples based on unschoolers I know. 2 city dwellers and 2 rural dwellers. One is a pass and one is a fail in each category. 3 of the 4 have had reviews (the 4th one I am just guessing at). I'm talking about 9 - 12 year olds here. Rural dweller #1 This family works a farm. The kids help with the animals and the farm maintenance and their small farm market. They cook, sew, draw. The kids are surrounded by books in the home and read when they are ready, which has been up to 10 years old. The parents read and discuss the newspaper over breakfast. This is a pass: Language - they do learn to read (writing is weak but is often associated with drawing) Numeracy - through cooking and sewing and the farm market (never getting to algebra, but learn elementary maths) Social studies - newspaper reading Science - farm work Arts - drawing PE - farm work Technology - how a farm works rural dwellers #2. This family lives rurally with a big yard, but does not actually run a farm. The dad works and the mom is very busy with her babies/toddlers and generally running the home. She does not include her older kids in home management, but rather kicks them outside to play every day for all day. They carve, build forts, play in the river, play imaginary games, etc. This is a fail Literacy - none, older kids do not read and are not being taught to read Numeracy - none, not even in cooking etc. Social studies - none science - biology from being outside Technology - none PE - playing outside Arts - carving perhaps? These children are not being educated. City dweller #1 A good friend of mine unschoolers her children in the city. They have a print rich home, the kids learn to read when they are ready. They do a lot of activities in the city: swimming, dance, drama, karate, art museums, etc. The mom reads a lot to her kids - whatever kind of books they want. She talks to them all the time as she does errands, talks about how things work in general. They cook, sew, play with some pretty cool computer programs (video, architectural, games, etc) This is a pass Literacy - print rich home and her children love writing stories Numeracy - through maths, sewing, architectural persuits social studies - read alouds science - read alouds technology - computers and errand discussions art - drama, dance, museums pe - swimming, karate, outdoor fun city dweller #2 This child typically plays video games all day long. He does go to swimming lessons and drama class. This child could read, but did not ever do it. Mom was too busy setting up her new business to do any read alouds. This is a good friend of mine, and she failed her review. She was given 6 months to change her game, did so, and passed the subsequent review. Literacy - none. not ongoing math - none social studies - none science - none technology - computers art - drama PE - swimming once a week, but nothing else My point is that you CAN define education. It does not need to look like what I had as a child or what I provide now. It does not need to set the kids up to do/be anything they want in life. It does not need to cover specific topics or be completed to someone else's timetable. It does not need to be provided in a certain way or create specific outcomes. But it must be an education. Children deserve no less. Ruth in NZ
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