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.
NYT pandering to the indoctrinators at the NEA.
"There kids no how to read, write, and do arithmetic just fine. . . . Both my kids no how to ride a bike."
You KNOW, THERE is a crew of folks on FR who make it THEIR mission to make fun of spelling.
I, of all people should never make fun of spelling/grammar, but. . .
"There kids no how to read, write, and do arithmetic just fine."
THERE KIDS NO HOW TO READ...??
HOW ABOUT "THIER KIDS KNOW HOW TO READ"
I HOPE YOU WEREN'T HOME SCHOOLED, THAT WOULD NOT BE A GOOD AURGUMENT FOR IT.
"All I can say is that I am closing in on 70 years on this earth, and I haven't a clue what integral calculus or valence shell electron pair repulsion theorty is."
VSEPR is easy to grasp (in general):
Who bulldozed Walden's Pond?
Worse, it's not just the point of "school", it's the point of GOVERNMENT to force people to be productive citizens. Thus, if some parents aren't using a "schooling philosophy" that is expected to acheive the goal of "productive citizen", the people are expected to VOTE to force those parents to do something different to ensure their children become "productive" citizens.
I think it was meant to be funny but hey....there are a lot of very smart freepers who get those two mixed up sometimes. The thing to do is to keep a good sense of humor. People don't know what to post to people that can agree and laugh at themselves.
I homeschooled and my goal was to raise a productive citizen. I guess it all depends on the meaning of productive.
THERE KIDS NO HOW TO READ...?? HOW ABOUT "THIER KIDS KNOW HOW TO READ" I HOPE YOU WEREN'T HOME SCHOOLED, THAT WOULD NOT BE A GOOD AURGUMENT FOR IT.
LOL...see my previous response about my publik education.
Seriously though, it's called typing very fast and responding to hundreds of emails and/or posts a week and not taking time to proofread.
Math and science were my top subjects in school. I never did like English that much. However I read plenty more today with my family than I ever did in school.
When I take my time I actually write fairly well. Along with work I also working toward an MBA and an MA in Spiritual Formation. You can see how important proofreading is before handing in my papers. I naturally make those kinds of mistakes when I'm typing as fast as I can think.
I'll do better next time, especially on a home schooling thread. LOL ;)
"there are a lot of very smart freepers who get those two mixed up sometimes. The thing to do is to keep a good sense of humor. People don't know what to post to people that can agree and laugh at themselves."
Exactly. You don't learn that in school either. :)
I HAVE A VERY GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR, I CAN EVEN LAUGH AT MYSELF BUT WHEN YOU ARE MAKING A POINT YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD IF YOU MAKE THOSE KINDS OF MISTAKES. MAYBE IT WAS TYPED THAT WAY FOR HUMOR BUT AFTER READING ANOTHER ONE OF HER OR HIS POSTS I DON'T THINK IT WAS.
AND I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE HOME SCHOOLED EITHER. I AM A PRODUCT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, THEREFORE I MAKE MISTAKES...LOL
I UNDERSTAND.....I SEE I IRKED SOME OTHER READERS/POSTERS WITH MY COMMENT TO YOU....LOL....
YOUR CAPS LOCK KEY IS STUCK!
One of the reasons home schooled kids do so much better on average than their government schooled peers is that MOST parents go well beyond the 3 hour figure.
In 1978 or so my wife and I came to know a young woman named Patty. She was a devoutly religious young mother who'd become more devout when her husband and father of her two small sons aged 2 and 6 informed her that he was leaving. In dire economic straits, I offered to let her stay in our former home in Chamblee -- which was not rented at the time rent-free until she got back on her feet. She had been clandestinely home schooling the 6 year old for about 2 years using very well done Christian course materials from an organization in Texas the name of which escapes me. The lad had recently been tested and had placed at least a year ABOVE his chronological age. As required by the government school authorities at the time, she dutifully apprised the authorities of his scores.
For reasons which would become clear in a moment, Patty had been harassed by the DeKalb County school authorities for about 6 months and, by the time she moved into the Chamblee house, had been -- unbeknownst to us -- ORDERED to put the 6 year old into the nearest government elementary school or suffer the consequences. Because she wanted the boys to be educated Christians, there was no way she was going to do that and she told them so.
At approximately 2 am one morning, a loud knock on the door announced the arrival of the aforementioned "consequences." Dressed only in a nightgown, she was confronted by several burly police officers who thrust an arrest warrant in her face. With the now awakened 6 year old watching and the 2 year old wailing in the other room, she was handcuffed and led out the door to jail. She was tossed into a large cell with a couple of hookers and a junkie who spent much of the rest of that morning vomiting in the corner. The two young boys for whom the educational authorities professed such great concern were just left AT THE HOUSE -- ALONE! Patty was later told that the bureaucrats from Children Services who were SUPPOSED to accompany the cops were late and, in their haste to get this dangerous miscreant behind bars, the cops just missed the fact that the Children Services people were, well, missing. The CS folks showed up an hour later to find two terrified kids, one of whom had just seen his mother hauled off in cuffs.
Patty was ultimately brought to trial under the Georgia Truancy Statutes. Her pro-bono attorney tore the school authorities to shreds and hers has been called THE case that opened the floodgates to home schooling in Georgia. Once they had all the facts, the jury didnt take long to acquit her. Im proud to have played a small part in that.
At Pattys trial, a previously overlooked aspect of the government schools was put into sharp focus for those paying attention: The Director of Instruction for DeKalb County testified that the then current 7 hour school day consisted of an average of approximately 3 hours or less of instruction. At that time, Patty was devoting 4 to 5 hours a day to direct instruction.
He also as much as admitted that the REAL reason they wanted ALL these kids in school was the $3,000.00 per kid per year they then got from the state and federal government. Empty seats = lost funds. As in most things, follow the money. Patty home schooled these two boys through high school.
And how did the boys turn out?
One is now a physician and the other a budding journalist.
But that now seems to be the norm for the growing legions of home schooled kids which most likely explains why the NEA and the government school folks feel so threatened. I believe a home schooled child won the last National Spelling Bee.
Thomas Jefferson believed an EDUCATED PUBLIC to be the cornerstone of the system he and the other Founders TRIED to leave behind. He would NOT, I feel certain, be a big fan of the current government education system. If he returned today, hed home school his children just as he did before.
I homeschooled for a while, then allowed my children to go to a Christian school, and I also taught in a classroom. My goal through it all was to raise my children (or students) in the nuture and admonition of the Lord and to present them complete before God. I strongly believe that all (real) education is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ and should guide the learner to seeing the Author of it all. My friend, a rocket scientist, sees God through the order and faithfulness of the physical laws which he (the scientist) is helping to uncover.
NAH...I JUST TYPE LOUD FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED.....
YEP, JUST LIKE MY AURGUMENT....LOL....
Turn off your "Caps Lock" key. Yelling is rude.
Well yeah. I feel kind of bad now for not mentioning raising Christians , because to me that was a give. God gives everyone special talents. Learning to use those talents for the Lord's work is being productive.
HOW ABOUT "THIER KIDS KNOW HOW TO READ"
I HOPE YOU WEREN'T HOME SCHOOLED, THAT WOULD NOT BE A GOOD AURGUMENT FOR IT.
LOL. No good ever comes from being the spelling cop.
I did. But take another example. Kids don't naturally gravitate to learning spelling and grammar and diagraming sentances. If you give my boy his head in directing his education, it will be memorizing the symbols of the various power rangers.
More power to the folks who unschool. I have no idea how they succeed.
Neither a spell-checker, nor a dictionary would have caught the error involved with the homophones "no" and "know." It was a proof-reading error and I believe it was confessed.
So the only way to raise Christian children is to use either a home-school or a private school? I hope you realize the absolute arrogance of that type of statement as many of us use public schools and have very strong Christian children who witness to other students and invite unchurched kids to attend services with them.
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