Skip to comments.Home Schoolers [Unschoolers] Content to Take Children’s Lead
Posted on 11/27/2006 11:31:32 AM PST by kiriath_jearim
CHICAGO, Nov. 23 On weekdays, during what are normal school hours for most students, the Billings children do what they want. One recent afternoon, time passed loudly, and without order or lessons, in their home in a North Side neighborhood here.
Hayden Billings, 4, put a box over his head and had fun marching into things. His sister Gaby, 9, told stories about medieval warrior women, while Sydney, 6, drank hot chocolate and played with Dylan, the baby of the family.
In a traditional school setting, such free time would probably be called recess. But for Juli Walter, the childrens mother, it is child-led learning, something she considers the best in home schooling.
I learned early on that when I do things Im interested in, Ms. Walter said, I learn so much more.
As the number of children who are home-schooled grows an estimated 1.1 million nationwide some parents like Ms. Walter are opting for what is perhaps the most extreme application of the movements ideas. They are unschooling their children, a philosophy that is broadly defined by its rejection of the basic foundations of conventional education, including not only the schoolhouse but also classes, curriculums and textbooks.
In some ways it is as ancient a pedagogy as time itself, and in its modern American incarnation, is among the oldest home-schooling methods. But it is also the most elusive, a cause of growing concern among some education officials and social scientists.
It is not clear to me how they will transition to a structured world and meet the most basic requirements for reading, writing and math, said Luis Huerta, a professor of public policy and education at Teachers College of Columbia University, whose national research includes a focus on home schooling.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I think this is cool but it wasn't for us.
I am all for home schooling, but unfortunately you get the idiots doing it too.
When does she think they are going to come home with a sudden interest in integral calculus, or valence shell electron pair repulsion theory?
Maybe mom is too stupid to know such things exist, or maybe the newspapers are trying to make home schooling sound bad.
It's probably both.
"..an estimated 1.1 million nationwide.."
Seems they have recited that number for years. I will bet it is a lot higher than that.
We home school and we use a curriculum.
We have some friends that are "unschoolers" and don't use any curriculum. There kids no how to read, write, and do arithmetic just fine.
Both my kids no how to ride a bike. We certainly didn't need any formal curriculum to teach them. They went riding with us, saw other kids riding, and wanted to learn how to ride. We told them a few things, pushed them along for a bit and they figured it out. It's called learning and children do it very well. Sadly, most adults have stopped.
As school choice expands and home-schooling in general grows, this is one of those models that I think the larger public sphere needs to be aware of because the folks who are engaging in these radical forms of school are doing so legally, said Professor Huerta of Columbia. If the public and policy makers dont feel that this is a form of schooling that is producing productive citizens, then people should vote to make changes accordingly.
Apparently, the point of school is to produce productive citizens. Welcome to pre-WWI Germany.
Well, we homeschooled our children, having first tried to mainstream them into the CA school system. We found that they had had educational experiences less structured than the one the NYT is here castigating and we also found that it took at least a year to get them back on track enough to actually have lessons and learn things.
So context is everything and the NYT is nothing, as usual.
Some officials don't like the competition. That said, this completely unstructured home schooling ("unschooling") worries me a bit.
Funny, this same theme was taken up in a derogatory, manipulative "Dr. Phil" TV show last Friday.(A description, which is how I heard about it, is appended below). Coincidence?
Some other references, that provide a broader view than either the show or the NYT article:
One of the sources that encourages many to consider "unschooling" is a well-credentialed educator who now practices his profession in a non-institutional setting: http://www.altruists.org/static/files/The%20Six-Lesson%20Schoolteacher%20%28John%20Taylor%20Gatto%29.htm
His online free book "Underground History of American Education" is indexed starting at:
A "quick tour" of this history, a kind of "readers digest condensed version", begins at
Biographies of Gatto and his associates: http://johntaylorgatto.com/aboutus/index.htm
A recent (2005) book provides a taxonomy of reasons parents give for home educating:
So - Why Do You Homeschool? (Paperback)
by Mimi Davis
Here is the piece on the "Dr. Phil" show referenced above:
> Forwarding from another list. Thought you might be interested.
> The Dr. Phil show will be airing what homeschoolers in California
> think will be a very anti-homeschooling show this Friday. It was
> originally scheduled to be aired a month ago, but it was moved to the
> day after Thanksgiving. Some homeschoolers wrote in and complained
> after the taping, and the date was rescheduled, perhaps because they
> thought fewer people might be watching.
> Several California Homeschool Network local contacts were invited to
> be in the audience, and one of them wrote a detailed accounting that
> others who were there agreed was an accurate description of the
> experience. It was originally discussed on the CaliforniaHS Yahoo
> list, and Annette Hall put it on her website, so others could easily
> refer to it:http://localhs.com/scuttle/2006/10/great-school-debate.asp
> Dr. Phil's website now has a promotional video clip of the show you
> can watch to get an idea of how it's going to go: http://drphil.com/
These kids don't watch television and they don't spend hours staring at computer/video games. They have longer attention spans than most adults of my acquaintance.
The unschoolers take schooling very seriously. The term is the problem. Anyway, the left wants the money and control so they must pick at the weakest point. I suggest to unschoolers that they change the name and go on doing what they are doing as long as it works.
I should say know how instead of no how. LOL Of course, I wasn't home schooled, I'm a product of a publik education.
For the person that asked about when they will learn to do integral calculus...they will learn it if they have an interest and a need. I took Calculus in high school and higher math in college. Haven't used a bit of it.
I did use my probability theory when playing poker though. :) Those of us in the technology business are learning all the time.
As I said, children are natural explorers and learners. My understanding of unschooling isn't putting your kids in front of an XBOX all day. It's guiding your kids and teaching where you see their interests are. If you read to your kids, they'll want to learn to read. When they want to learn you guide, train, etc.
So what! I am very satisfied with my life, and have accomplished some things of which I am very proud. I would guess that if her kids have the "math gene", they will be interested in learning the stuff you mention. If they don't--then they will hone in on things in which they have interest, and develop learning in those things.
In working in alternative school settings we let the student interest lead to diminish alienaton. Invariably, they demand rigorous instruction, usually quicker than you would think. So, if we let them choose the topic of an English course, they demanded grammar.
As long as they're actually learning something and not just goofing off all the time, this might prepare them to be self employed when they grow up, IOW, actually SUPERIOR to pubic school. "Prepared for a structured world" could be a euphemism for being trained to do what you're told, when you're told, and not to ask questions, hardly admirable values for a citizen of a Republic.
I did both. Kids need to learn to be still, listen and concentrate but there were many other times when my son was learning but thought he was playing.
We homeschooled and turned into unschoolers bascially because certain family tragedies upended our homeschooling discipline. At the time I was very concerned that there were areas missing from my kids' education.
But the unschooling worked better than I thought. It's true, math is a sore point, but as my sons got older and developed life ambitions, they started to come to me with requests for texts for more advanced math.
One I couldn't get to touch his math, but when he found he couldn't get into a college computer course without it, suddenly started advancing in it on his own. Plus if they have friends doing a particular class they will often do it with them.
Unschooling does not work for all. My boys ended up in the trades (which was their inclination anyway), but I think if one had wanted to become a doctor or such they would have directed their own learning in necessary subjects.
It probably has more to do with personal discipline than anything else.
Yeah. The name must go.
How many children graduate from public high school without any exposure to those topics?
I didn't take integral Calculus or valence shell electron pair repulsion theory (Advance Chemistry) until 2nd year college.
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