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lewelma

Differentiating between Unschooling and not educating

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I think people need to be careful saying, my kid would just waste time if I let them do whatever they want. Part of the unschooling philosophy includes the idea that the more children are "forced to learn" the less self motivated they become, even in areas that interest them. I think most unschooling philosophers will freely admit that a child who is used to having things planned and being told what to learn/do will initially appear to "waste time" if those structures are removed. It takes time to relearn to initiate and self motivate. I would guess that you only can really start to get an idea if your child would self-initiate learning math, etc...after you have given them a year or so of not being forced to learn anything.

 

I want to second this. The thing people miss when they say 'my kid would just play computer games all day' is that that child is already burnt out from hours of schoolwork. There's a big, big difference between what a child chooses to do with their 2 hours of downtime a day, vs what they do with their 12 hours of downtime a day. Just like moving from school to homeschool requires an 'de-schooling' adjustment period and the children are often far more interested in things after that time, going from a traditional educational setup to an unschooling enviroment requires a certain amount of time as well. If your husband has worked all day he doesn't want to come home and begin working on the kitchen DIY project. But if he has two weeks of vacation time, he is likely to not only do the kitchen willingly, but WANT to do it and be EXCITED to do it. His dreading of the task after work has nothing to do with the task itself, and everything to do with being tired and not wanting to do one more hard thing when he could be relaxing and tuning out for awhile.

 

I use the same theory in relation to screen time. If a child only gets to go on the computer for half an hour a day, then they are going to use that half hour every day, they are going to push for more time or try to stretch it out, because they view it as a desirable and limited thing. If the computer is always accessable, sure they will go through periods of using it all day, but they will also go through periods of not using it. They know it is always there and available, so the draw to it, the 'need' to use it when it's available before the opportunity is 'lost' is gone. Thus, they have the chance to learn how to use it as a tool to benefit them without the obsessive need to get on every chance they get. Of course, some kids need more guidance than others, and parents need to teach kids responsibility, good choices and habits, and how to be in control of it. There is still a learning curve that parents must be involved in. And this is just like unschooling. A child who has been reading history books all day is not likely to 'waste' their precious time off reading about biology when they could be reading whatever fluff book they got from the library which is easier and 'more fun' (immediate gratification and a mental break). But a child with nothing to do all day will have the energy and interest to pick up the biology book because it looks interesting and they are bored of the shallowness of the 'fluff' books. Being bored is not a bad thing, it's a necessary step from shallow pursuits to deeper, meaningful activities. Many unschooled kids have learnt that those sorts of time wasters are not fulfilling, and get boring, and while they, like everyone else, will indulge in them from time to time, the ones I have seen have passed the point of sitting in boredom and begin looking for more. Again, not all kids will pick this up as naturally as others, but with parental guidance and mentoring I think most kids are capable of it.

 

Now whether that is truly the best thing for a child is another matter, I think unschooling can be very successful in it's goal but I do not unschool, so it's possible to disagree with the philosophy itself. But to say that most kids would not have the self-motivation to do it is rather unfair and unrealistic because it is missing the entire point of the method, and in some ways only proving their point by giving more examples of children who school traditionally and have very little natural curiosity because of it. My husband is not unmotivated to do hands on, household projects, he is just unmotivated to do them after a day of work in his limited free time. He loves doing the projects when he has the freedom of time to do them without feeling like he is missing out on relaxing or working himself to the bone.

 

NOTE: I am not an unschooler, so if I am completely on the wrong track with my analogies here please, someone who does unschool correct me :) This is just my understanding of it from my limited exposure to the philosophy

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But your daughter is profoundly gifted, isn't she? I can see it working for kids like her, but I am always curious to see how unschooling is motivating for "average" kids.

 

I have the opposite concern; I have 2 school age kids, and both are more or less highly gifted (dependent on subject, to an extent).  I have this fear that if I just let them go in their own directions (they're 8 and 5), I'd be failing to nurture their gifts.  What if they never got interested in math, or writing, even though they've got the capacity for that?  Wouldn't I be denying them the potential development they don't even know they have?

 

So currently we do a sort of hybrid; the things I'm really afraid of neglecting - math and writing, basically - I insist on, and at their level (Life of Fred is good for this as they don't even see it as math, half the time).  Everything else I have left more or less to interest, although I read them SOTW daily.  My daughter is learning Attic Greek and my son is playing minecraft, and they have probably 3 hours a day of actual structured school work, if that.  

 

I lean sometimes toward more freedom and less structure, sometimes I think ack! and start making plans for 10 online classes next year.

 

 

Also, I think the relative business of the parent doing the homeschooling might have some impact on the quality of any kind of schooling, but especially present in unschooling.  My husband and I run a small business from home; it takes up a lot of my time.  I also have a baby and toddler.  I feel that if I unschooled, I'd never have time to provide all the enrichment, conversation, engagement, observation, mentoring, etc. necessary to properly educate/nurture 2 gifted kids.  With some structured curriculum, I can feel like I've done some educating even on busy days.

 

I love the careful and deep explanations of unschooling I've read here, I just suspect that (in my case anyway) it could easy slide into not-schooling, because of how busy we are and how easy it would be to neglect and say to myself, oh, they're doing fine.

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 The idea is that with one's character shaped with skills to identify, prevent, and overcome obstacles, "making good money" is a side effect.

 

That all sounds very nice, and thank you for explaining...but I'm still not getting how seeing money as a "side effect" is enough to translate into being able to pay all of the bills. I'm not even talking about college or European vacations...we do not have a high standard of living around here (my husband is blue collar, I stay at home)...so we are not money-driven or high society, but I'm concerned about giving my kids the opportunities to really thrive on their own. More than anything I want them to have options. Options that dh and I do not have. That is the big fear holding me back.

 

I want to second this. The thing people miss when they say 'my kid would just play computer games all day' is that that child is already burnt out from hours of schoolwork. There's a big, big difference between what a child chooses to do with their 2 hours of downtime a day, vs what they do with their 12 hours of downtime a day.

 

I will say that this particular child has closer to 12 hours of downtime than 2 hours of downtime. Well, I take that back...for screen time he gets about 3-4 hours a day, max. That still is not enough for him. He eats, sleeps, breathes thinking about video games.

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Video games are where I come unstuck. I unschooled middle dd more or less all the way to 6th. Her thing, around age 6, was TV. Oh my, she watched SO MUCH TV.

 

Around 7, she just stopped. Cold. It was done. And as a teen she watches far less than her peers.

 

So when ds got into video games, I thought, no problem, I've seen this before with TV. Just be patient. Well, somewhere in the second year I couldn't take it anymore. I try harder than any parent I know to be accepting and interested in his 'thing'. I spent this last weekend helping him design and make a Link costume, for example. We've read histories of Nintendo together.  I put his Paint created maps of Hyrule up on the wall. I just can't allow it to be The Thing, kwim ?

 

I don't know whether it's a personality difference, or a difference in the medium. I'm leaning towards medium. I wouldn't go so far as to call it addictive, but it is endlessly rewarding and hard to switch off.

 

I do believe in unschooling and have seen it work in my older kids...who, incidentally, didn't have access to the internet or video games till they were - idk - getting to be close to ten. So I feel badly imposing limits on ds. But I also feel imposing a limit was necessary. Ours is no screens between 9 and 3 and until I backslid, no screens till sundown on Sunday.

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That all sounds very nice, and thank you for explaining...but I'm still not getting how seeing money as a "side effect" is enough to translate into being able to pay all of the bills. I'm not even talking about college or European vacations...we do not have a high standard of living around here (my husband is blue collar, I stay at home)...so we are not money-driven or high society, but I'm concerned about giving my kids the opportunities to really thrive on their own. More than anything I want them to have options. Options that dh and I do not have. That is the big fear holding me back.

 

 

I will say that this particular child has closer to 12 hours of downtime than 2 hours of downtime. Well, I take that back...for screen time he gets about 3-4 hours a day, max. That still is not enough for him. He eats, sleeps, breathes thinking about video games.

Ok please take this in the spirit it is intended. I can see you are thoughtfully concerned in the quoted post. And I think those concerns are very legitimate.

 

But I also think it is hard to see the complete paradigm shift that occurs with unschooling. It seems that you are saying: You feel like due to lack of education you and your dh lack options. Options that directly affect your financial stability. One of the philosophical ideas of unschooling is that it allows one to learn how to think creatively and create options when they are not easily seen. Self sufficiency and self initiation is a huge goal of unschooling. Being able to meet your own financial needs is part of that. The unschooling philosophy would argue that forced education dampens creativity and self-sufficiency so it limits the ability to see and grab ahold of those options you are desiring for your kids. Options become very defined, relating to employment and career mostly, requiring specific pathways. For unschooler options are more wide open. Yes some things have specific requirement s but the paths to get there aren't as limited. Unschooling seeks to see both work and learning as life long processes, not limited to certain times in the life span, though they may change proportions and focus throughout ones life.

 

Money is a side effect, because the point is not to make money, but to live your life, so that requires money. There is actually is a very utilitarian component to unschooling that many miss. In forced education we often have kids doing things that have limited usefulness for their life, or little usefulness they can see. So the argument would be that making "useless" things mandatory and somewhat unpleasant actually sort of immunizes kids from recognizing the usefulness of other things that are somewhat unpleasant. I hope this is making sense. It is all kind of heady stuff.

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 More than anything I want them to have options. Options that dh and I do not have. That is the big fear holding me back.

 

 

I hear ya. I don't want to give the impression I'm trying to talk you into something, so if you don't like the idea of unschooling, far be it from me to try and convince you otherwise. With regard to your question, I think a27mom hit on the points I would have made as well. Unschooling, as I understand and apply it, is not about finding an alternative means to provide a conventional education. The goal isn't to prepare the child for college, the goal is to prepare the child for life. Part of preparation for life is the very skills that meet the goals desired, goals like having a home, a steady income, ability to make choices, etc.

 

Perhaps you've seen this video, it's one of the most popular TED Talk. Sir Ken Robinson explains the theory behind rethinking our conventional education system. Unschooling is an attempt to apply this theory in a practical sense.

 

 

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I started off with Ambleside and my son flourished. My daughter didn't like it. Her personality is wired that she seems to detest whatever I like and it's been that way since birth. It's not that she hates me as we are extremely close and can stay up all hours talking or spend an entire day shopping and lunching, etc. However, she's had a need to be independent. So around middle school age, I gave up and said we would unschool. My son liked it for first month or so because he loved video games. However, he felt he wanted a challenging curriculum and he didn't know what he didn't know and said he needed me to tell him what he needs to know and he wants it to be challenging and he wanted to be pushed. So I went back to a rigorous curriculum with him. Now some days, he would do math all day long and some days he would read the history books we picked out all day long. Sometimes it was Latin all day long.

 

For my daughter, I just sat down with her and asked her what she wanted to do and if she wanted to keep college as an option or not. I had her look up what she needed to get in to college and how to backtrack to where she is now. She pursued her interests (dance, video making, and creating dolls and dollhouse furniture) and she read some, wrote some and did a lot scout badges. She loved Percy Jackson and Greek Mythology so she read a lot of Greek Mythology, history and even did about half the Hey Andrew books. She would occasionally pick up MCT or look at Latin because my son was doing it. She did some math but was easily frustrated with it and I believe a lot of that was because her younger brother was so far ahead of her and she couldn't perceive the notion that it wasn't her, he was ahead of most people. We were in 2 different homeschool groups but she really never felt like she fit in. The Christian group at our church was her favorite because she had known everyone longer but she always felt judged. The secular group that mostly unschoolers was too uncivilized for her liking though she made one of her closest friends there. She did join a book club to hang out with that friend.

 

Anyway, a new school opened up and a lot of her friends were thinking about going. We signed her up with the caveat that she try it until Christmas. Her friends ended up not going for various reasons and I gave her option not to before school opened (and even a few weeks into school because I was missing her). She apparently learned enough Latin to place into Latin 2 and get credit for Latin I. She apparently wrote well enough on placement test to get into Honors English -and she is rising sophomore this year to be allowed into a class that requires English 2. She did not place into Math 2 as she hoped though and is now sitting in Math 1 and not liking it (not as well behaved kids and her friends are in higher math) -she should have passed but her anxiety got the best of her. So she is working with a teacher and tutor after school to learn Math 2 so she can skip Math 2 and go to Math 3.

 

The school is amazing. The teachers are amazing. Math has had a hiccup because the school can't afford books yet and the teacher quit midyear and the new teacher is not a math teacher but our only concern is passing the EOC. English hasn't been what I wanted as it 's more of a philosophy class than an English class but other teachers have made up some of the academic writing and she's worked around it. She still has a lot of control over her education by working to skip a level in math, deciding whether to take the highest levels or not, getting permission to take Spanish 2 next year online afterschool so she can take a more rigorous class in that time slot (small schools make schedules difficult). She's formed study groups, got a Spanish conversational partner (a very cute guy whose a native speaker lol), handles issues as they come up, and her teachers are really mentors to her. She loves all of them except one (always got to have that one! -and this is only a mild dislike because the of the subjective component of the class). She's learning a lot and loving it -even in classes like Honors Biology -the one class that she thought she was going to hate and was only taking it for that hoop. It's one of her favorite classes and she has a 100 in it on her report card yesterday. She makes straight A's, is top 5% student, student ambassador, Vice-President of the Student Government, founder of two student clubs (Film Critics and Fiber Arts) and is the freshman choreographer of the Dance Team. She is also on the Green Team that does recycling and school grounds beautification projects. She is trying to get a service club and photography club going for next year. She knows every student in the school and every teacher -even the ones that she doesn't have classes with (actually there was one who had not met her yet because the teacher is part time and that teacher subbed in one of her classes this week. The first thing that teacher did was say "Which student is _____. " My daughter raised her hand and the teacher said "I finally get to put a face to the name."

 

She still pursues dance. She had to cut back on classes but that was because the studio had the classes scheduled so that she was dancing from 5:30-9:30 with only a 15 minute break and she dropped two classes because she was just plain worn out. She did join company though and is winning competitions and loving it. She has decided to not do dance at school next year and do chorus instead and auditioned into the middle level She still makes videos for her youtube channel though not as often and she's on the video announcement team at school and working on a video yearbook project and has done quite a few videos for group projects. She does a lot of nature photography and spends a lot of her free time learning how to use the camera, etc. She know longer is interested in creating her own line of Monster High Dolls but she is using those skills on the Costume team that is designing and making costumes for upcoming performance at school.  She still reads the books she wants and it's still determined by what her friends are reading. She still writes in a journal, goes to museum, art galleries, and the zoo (actually now she WANTS to go and makes the arrangements herself). She still watches Once Upon a Time religiously and still runs a Disney blog. She still babysits and does ebay selling and does writing contests to make money (now saving for Europe instead of Disney). She also teaches dance to help offset her dance tuition.

 

I would still consider her an unschooler because she wants to be at her school. We missed 16 days this year due to the weather and an incident where a pipe burst and boiler broke. She contacted the admins to see if she could come in and do some volunteer work and they let her! She goes to the PTSO meetings, the board of directors meetings, does every lick of extra credit that is offered. She can't get enough. She's even going in to help with the summer camps . I also think that it helps that her particular school is the perfect fit for her. The focus is on creativity and philosophy and it's almost like a bunch of unschoolers teaching a school at times. Even the classes that I don't think are up to snuff, I can't totally criticize because they excel in other areas so I have to tell myself to look at the good and balance out the bad and it will work out in the end. I also consider her an unschooler because she makes most of the choices in her life -where to take dance, who she is going to socialize with this week and how. She has no issues walking around downtown in our city or taking the city bus. I say most choices because I'm still a parent and think there needs to be boundaries -your boyfriend isn't going into your room for example.

 

 

*** Where I differ from some factions of unschoolers is I sat her down and discussed goals. I then helped her figure out to break down goals into manageable bits. Then I reminded her of her goals. She is driven but she is also a child. She wants to be in Math 3 badly next year but she also likes to text her friends and waste time on Instagram (my view of time waste not hers lol). When I notice that she is slipping into the habits. I simply ask her if she still has "math 3" as a goal and how is her progress going? She sighs and usually either do her work or write into her schedule for the week. She also knows that I am fine if she stops the goal and stays in math 2. I also differ in that I took the viewpoint that I am not a maid or a short order cook. I don't hand out money just because you want something. You want it, you do chores for it. You don't want to do the chores, then you don't want the money. It's your choice.

 

I am never going to stop what I am doing to make you a sandwich because you are on World of WarCraft (which is what I saw suggested on a unschooling yahoo group. That group felt that the mom was supposed to give up her life to cater to child. I didn't get it. Then "I" am not doing what I want and not modeling the way life works. I also felt that certain people on these groups seem to put video-addicted child ahead of the other children. For example, I remember a mom who wanted to go on a hike and her other kids wanted to go on a hike but the one kid wanted to play video games w/ her. It was all about putting this child first- she should take a wireless on a hike to continue playing the game with her son while hiking or not go on the hike, etc.

 

I have not been impressed with the homeschoolers/unschoolers that I have met who are "hands off" or don't actively strew, suggest, and/or give consequences for behavior. This is where I draw the line between unschooling and Not educating. I am talking the ones who don't even help their child pursue their interests when they ask and the ones who only interest is video games to the point it is an addiction and they don't see it as an addiction. I also think that by high school age, you should be able to read, write coherently (including spelling), and do basic math and if you can't do that, then you were not even minimally educated.  I will also those that don't help their child work through the hard stuff and just let them move on because  "he's no longer interested in that and it's his choice." and never inquiring why he's no longer interested. To me these types of unschoolers (NOTE FOR THE READING IMPAIRED: NOT ALL UNSCHOOLERS) are the LEAST curious and least motivated and often the worst behaved children I know. I am sure there are exceptions out there but I am not seeing it. The kids I know who "graduated" from this style are not doing well at all -two are homeless, one can't even pass the remedial classes at Community College, none can get/keep a job. They are aimless.

 

 

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:iagree:  I'm not going to serve sandwiches while the kid is playing WoW. Heck, I'm not even going to serve sandwiches while he is reading War and Peace or doing extra MM. Because in our family, we eat at the table, with no reading matter, toys or electronic entertainment beyond the occasional piece of soft background music. If you don't come at lunchtime, there may be some sandwiches left over for later, or you may need to make your own. To me, that's nothing to do with our educational choices (I'm never going to be a Sandra Dodd devotee).

 

I have a sneaking suspicion that some people (and it's only a tiny minority) like to use their kids to make a statement about themselves (eg "I am holier, purer and more unschooly than thou because I encourage my child's WoW addiction").

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I really, really wish I didn't have to mention this, but if I.Dup thinks she has experienced classism within the greater online unschooling community, my personal experience makes me hesitant to dismiss her concerns as "all in your imagination" or "just being too sensitive".

 

:(

 

This is absolutely NOT a sweeping generalization and she might find a completely different atmosphere in her local unschooling group or on smaller communities online.

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*** Where I differ from some factions of unschoolers is I sat her down and discussed goals. I then helped her figure out to break down goals into manageable bits. Then I reminded her of her goals. She is driven but she is also a child. She wants to be in Math 3 badly next year but she also likes to text her friends and waste time on Instagram (my view of time waste not hers lol). When I notice that she is slipping into the habits. I simply ask her if she still has "math 3" as a goal and how is her progress going? She sighs and usually either do her work or write into her schedule for the week. She also knows that I am fine if she stops the goal and stays in math 2. I also differ in that I took the viewpoint that I am not a maid or a short order cook. I don't hand out money just because you want something. You want it, you do chores for it. You don't want to do the chores, then you don't want the money. It's your choice.

 

I am never going to stop what I am doing to make you a sandwich because you are on World of WarCraft (which is what I saw suggested on a unschooling yahoo group. That group felt that the mom was supposed to give up her life to cater to child. I didn't get it. Then "I" am not doing what I want and not modeling the way life works. I also felt that certain people on these groups seem to put video-addicted child ahead of the other children. For example, I remember a mom who wanted to go on a hike and her other kids wanted to go on a hike but the one kid wanted to play video games w/ her. It was all about putting this child first- she should take a wireless on a hike to continue playing the game with her son while hiking or not go on the hike, etc.

 

I have not been impressed with the homeschoolers/unschoolers that I have met who are "hands off" or don't actively strew, suggest, and/or give consequences for behavior. This is where I draw the line between unschooling and Not educating. I am talking the ones who don't even help their child pursue their interests when they ask and the ones who only interest is video games to the point it is an addiction and they don't see it as an addiction. I also think that by high school age, you should be able to read, write coherently (including spelling), and do basic math and if you can't do that, then you were not even minimally educated.  I will also those that don't help their child work through the hard stuff and just let them move on because  "he's no longer interested in that and it's his choice." and never inquiring why he's no longer interested. To me these types of unschoolers (NOTE FOR THE READING IMPAIRED: NOT ALL UNSCHOOLERS) are the LEAST curious and least motivated and often the worst behaved children I know. I am sure there are exceptions out there but I am not seeing it. The kids I know who "graduated" from this style are not doing well at all -two are homeless, one can't even pass the remedial classes at Community College, none can get/keep a job. They are aimless.

I think we may have been in the same yahoo group. That really really bothered me with the unschoolers as well as the NCP/CL folks. 

 

I had a lot of the same experiences that you describe with hands off parenting and calling it unschooling. I have met some WONDERFUL folks who unschool and have great kids but most of the ones I met I was unimpressed with. I completely gave up after a field trip DS was really interested in but could not focus on the guy talking because the kids were running around screaming. Sadly, whenever someone brings up unschoolers the group of wild kids comes to mind before the young people who are highly motivated and successful. Squeaky wheel and all.

 

 

 

 I will also those that don't help their child work through the hard stuff and just let them move on because  "he's no longer interested in that and it's his choice." and never inquiring why he's no longer interested.

My son speed skates and I see this same thing with other kids and not just unschoolers. I frequently talk to DS about his goals and where he wants to go. He is not going to the Olympics but he has a goal in mind and I encourage him to talk with his coach to get a plan and figure out what all he needs. Currently, he is lacking strength to meet his current goal. I coordinated a session with a personal trainer to get exercises to target that muscle group. I remind him to do the exercises and he does them. 

 

I also have the rule that he is not allowed to quit skating until he reaches his current goal. Once he reaches a goal and is able to do it consistently I give him the option to quit. Funny thing, he never wants to quit.

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...

I will admit, I am not familiar with how people "unschool" some subjects but formally learn others. I don't know how that would work and I have no experience with it. In my experience, that would be more difficult and the child would loose out on the benefits unschooling can provide. That's not to say it's worse, or not legitimate or anything like that. I don't mean to pass judgement on it because I don't know enough to make a judgement call. But the concerns raised in the post I quoted here are, in my opinion and experience, addressed in an environment in which the child is allowed to pursue his or her interests without the kind of arbitrary cut-off that conventional schooling requires in order to make way to keep on schedule. 

 

...

 

 

DS has been working on a henhouse, his own project, and there is enough learning there that I find it fine for in school hours as "unschooling." It is a major current project, and suited to the time of year.  However,  he still does an hour of formal math, at least a little writing, and German and/ or guitar required as time away from the chicken house project. Yes, there is some math involved in the chicken house, as in cooking and various other projects also,  and I do think the real projects are very important.   But it does not hurt him to take an hour for his AoPs (or other math that he might choose instead), and to do one lesson of a writing program, or some other writing (I am flexible about what exactly is chosen, but something must be done on writing as on math daily--and neither would be done if not required.)

 

Other subjects are not currently required because they just do get done (reading, history, science). And I also will allow some reading marathons when he is hooked on a book and cannot put it down.

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But your daughter is profoundly gifted, isn't she? I can see it working for kids like her, but I am always curious to see how unschooling is motivating for "average" kids.

 

Well when it comes to mine it means sleeping until 2, then video games/computer stuff until 2am

 

A friend who have unschooled since she decided to start homeschooling when her oldest was turning 5.  Boy now is 15, he sleeps until 1, then lays around the house watching her play with the youngers, strums his guitar but nothing else.  He has a job at McD's but says he is never going to college so there is no point in doing anything else.  The others I knew personally that unschooled when kids were younger, 1 moved to a developing country and the kids do nothing but play on the beach etc, another sent her kids to public school for high school, the 3rd was always a proponent of strewing and being intentional in her unschooling.  Those kids some asked to go to public school some are still home, none have plans to attend college.

 

 

ETA: I can say without a doubt the video gaming is an issue with ds15 and why he can never be unschooled.  If I don't get after him (and in full out toe to toe near daily) to not only do school but to shower, to eat, to sleep etc he won't.  All he cares about is video games, he skips meals, forgoes sleep, cancels plans irl to hang out online on xbox live.  He will get up in the night to play more after everyone is asleep, has extreme reactions and meltdowns if he feels he is not getting enough time.  Unschooling for this child would be agreeing to not school him at all.  However, I believe he is addicted to it so is simply unable to just turn it off even when he says he wants something more in life.  dd14 is more unschooled than him, she chooses her courses and while she does distance classes online etc they are the courses she wants to finish to meet her post secondary goals.  BUT she also would rather stay online in her message boards etc than doing her work.  And some subjects she would rather pretend didn't exist (like math) rather than learn it and I have to battle for that one to get done.

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I think that the unschooling movement hasn't done itself any favors in their choice of a name. Defining yourself by what you aren't is likely to lead to confusion. If you asked me what my religion was, and I answered "I'm a not-Buddhist", well, you'd be likely to be confused. I haven't heard the term "not schoolers", around here we have "unschoolers", and "radical unschoolers", each of which is a pretty broad brush. I would challenge the unschoolers to try to come up with a more term that more closely describes what they are, not what they aren't.

John Holt termed it unschooling because he really couldn't think of what else to call it. He also used homeschooling and unschooling interchangeably. To him unschooling/homeschooling was not school or not being in school. That whole unschooler vs radical unschooler article by Sandra Dodd was so off putting to me. http://www.holtgws.com/whatisunschoolin.html

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The name "unschooling" is actually a reference to an advertising campaign of the 7-Up soft drink at the time John Holt coined it.

 

There was a "cola war" between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola at the time, and 7-Up was presented as "the uncola", i.e., something different and not a cola at all.

 

"Unschooling" was, by analogy, a different way to live and learn than what is presented in institutional schools.

 

Sandra Dodd and her followers have pretty much taken over the term in the 21st century. Tammy Takahashi makes some interesting points about why she would not use the term in 2007 here:

 

https://justenough.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/unschooling-zen-schooling-and-trust/

 

and I still love Pat Farenga's definition, but language does evolve over time. I believe "eclectic" or "relaxed" is a modern and less emotionally charged term for those of us who are more aligned with Holt than the ubiquitous Ms. Dodd & the Doddettes

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The name "unschooling" is actually a reference to an advertising campaign of the 7-Up soft drink at the time John Holt coined it.

 

There was a "cola war" between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola at the time, and 7-Up was presented as "the uncola", i.e., something different and not a cola at all.

 

"Unschooling" was, by analogy, a different way to live and learn than what is presented in institutional schools.

 

Sandra Dodd and her followers have pretty much taken over the term in the 21st century. Tammy Takahashi makes some interesting points about why she would not use the term in 2007 here:

 

https://justenough.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/unschooling-zen-schooling-and-trust/

 

and I still love Pat Farenga's definition, but language does evolve over time. I believe "eclectic" or "relaxed" is a modern and less emotionally charged term for those of us who are more aligned with Holt than the ubiquitous Ms. Dodd & the Doddettes

I was going to say similar about Dodd. It's sad though. So many refer her (no diss on her) when others want to learn about unschooling. I do like some of the articles on her site.

 

I love how Pat Farenga pointed out there is nothing wrong with using curriculum or classes.

 

Laurette Lynn of unplugged mom interviewed him that was pretty goodhttp://www.unpluggedmom.com/featured/beyond-unschooling-the-holt-legacy-interview-with-pat-farenga/

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If I had a crazy gifted and/or passionate kid, I'd say there's 99% chance we'd be on the unschooling bandwagon all the way (I love reading the stories about your budding herpetologist, I just don't have kids anything like that...). I think this is part of the problem with some of the unschooling success anecdotes. It does work wonderfully for kids who learn well by osmosis and/or are passionate about really digging deep in some subject and then make all those awesome connections. But most kids aren't that kid, even if left alone to their own devices, even with strewing and rich environments (although I'd definitely say those up the chances of success). They may never develop a passion, and they may never pick up much of anything by osmosis. I think either just gifted or just passionate can both work well with unschooling, and if the kid is both, then it really makes sense just to get out of the way...

 

But it's just not universally applicable to all kids. I went to a homeschool to high school talk where some homeschooled kids now in college told their stories. One boy spent his high school years pretty much in his room being delivered pizza under the door. I think he did have some books in there. He emerged, went to Cornell and successfully double-majored in Physics and Japanese. That's a lovely anecdote, but hardly a replicable plan for homeschooling high school for most kids...

FWIW, this zombie revived at an appropriate time-DD is applying to a crazy-competitive program that would let her combine high school and college (and is considered a public school, so is free), and I'm, therefore, in the process of trying to explain our homeschooling and wondering if years of "snakes, mythology, and math" is really sufficient, particularly when she won't have an outside math teacher recommendation because that's an area we haven't outsourced, both because we need flexibility in the schedule, and because it's one that she seems to prefer to self-teach and DH and I are competent to guide. She has tons of outside science recommendations, and since she chose to outsource literature so she had people to talk about it with, she has that, but nothing on math, unless I can track down the grad student who had a nice chat with her about the benefits of bayesian statistics!

 

It remains to be seen whether she'll be seen as a good fit or not, but just to say that even a kid who seems really well suited for interest-led education might decide that they want something non-interest led. It would have been a heck of a lot easier to jump these hoops if I'd been a little more "traditional" in some ways!

 

As DH says, it's good practice, but ugh!

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FWIW, this zombie revived at an appropriate time-DD is applying to a crazy-competitive program that would let her combine high school and college (and is considered a public school, so is free), and I'm, therefore, in the process of trying to explain our homeschooling and wondering if years of "snakes, mythology, and math" is really sufficient, particularly when she won't have an outside math teacher recommendation because that's an area we haven't outsourced, both because we need flexibility in the schedule, and because it's one that she seems to prefer to self-teach and DH and I are competent to guide. She has tons of outside science recommendations, and since she chose to outsource literature so she had people to talk about it with, she has that, but nothing on math, unless I can track down the grad student who had a nice chat with her about the benefits of bayesian statistics!

 

It remains to be seen whether she'll be seen as a good fit or not, but just to say that even a kid who seems really well suited for interest-led education might decide that they want something non-interest led. It would have been a heck of a lot easier to jump these hoops if I'd been a little more "traditional" in some ways!

 

As DH says, it's good practice, but ugh!

 

This is really a good point.

 

Also, I happen to have a gifted kid that needs structure.  When he has too much say, it all becomes overwhelming and he retreats to his standby of computers and video games.   He's happy (mostly) to study things I plan for him, but he just doesn't have the executive functioning at this point to put stuff together himself.  Screens are so easy to hyper-focus on, I would really be doing him a disservice if I let him to his own devices. (I've tried, and it goes as I've described.)

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