"Unschooling"


#1

(CNN) – It’s a child’s dream. Wake up whenever you want, with nobody telling you what to do and when to do it. And here’s the kicker: No school to rush off to.

Welcome to the world of “unschooling” – an educational movement where kids, not parents, not teachers, decide what they will learn that day.

“I don’t want to sound pompous, but I think I am learning a little bit more, because I can just do everything at my own pace,” said Nailah Ellis, a 10-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, who has been unschooled for most of her life.

Nailah’s day starts about 11 a.m., her typical wake-up time. She studies Chinese, reading, writing, piano and martial arts. But there’s no set schedule. She works on what she wants, when she wants. She’ll even watch some TV – science documentaries are a favorite – until her day comes to an end about 2 a.m.

cnn.com/2006/US/01/27/gutierrez.unschooing/index.html

Thoughts?


#2

I am so glad I will not be around when little Nailah turns 16 and her parents are confronted with an undisciplined ignorant teenager versed in the martial arts.


#3

Personally, I’m not a big fan of unschooling and VERY few home schoolers I know ever completely and totally unschool. Most use certain “unschooling” methods or attitudes combined with other styles and materials. Unschooling for the most part is just making an effort to be in tune to the specific learning interests of the student and gearing the education to those interests. It doesn’t mean you can’t use books or get up at a certain time or have basic requirements to meet.


Note that the student in question is still completing the same standard testing as the public school students. If she was failing to meet the basics on those tests, it surely would have been mentioned as I’ve yet to see a chance to bash home schoolers passed over.


#4

I wouldn’t risk “unschooling.” Why take a chance on a child’s opportunity for education? I love homeschool because it allows my children to do what they choose with their *free *time, but only after they finish their approved curriculum for their grade and skill level.


#5

Well the only problem with unschooling is that it is, almost by definition, undefined. So even among those who claim to unschool there are arguments over whether they are truly unschooling.

We do “freestyle education”. What that means is we do not observe any bells, or hours of the day set aside for math, and another for reading, and another for history. However we still discipline our children, and push them when they need to exert themselves.

Actually unschooling really liberates the mother or parents. There is no school board tell US when we need to drop off our children. There is no bell telling us that time is up and we have to move on to the next topic. If the child is really eating up American History, they can spend an entire week on it if they so choose. However we reserve the right to expose our children to things we think are good. Sometimes the kids take off with it, sometimes they balk at it.

And we just make up the lesson plan as we go.


#6

"I actually don’t know what I’m learning," Nailah said. “I think I’m just having a good time.”

Pretty scary…she does not know what she is learning!!!
Would also love to know how she stands in comaprison to the public or private school kids on the standarized tests that they take.
Is their a BIG difference or really not any.


#7

Karin,

My guess would be that Nailah would score extremely well in certain categories and pitiful in others. But those standardized tests do very little to predict how well a person will do as an adult.

What you need to ask yourself is: Will Nailah go on to become a productive member of society, or will she lead a life of crime. If we cannot foresee her becoming a ward of the state then we must butt out of her parent’s business. The CCC teaches us that the parents are the primary educators. We cannot usurp that role.

How much “schooling” a child gets has little to do with whether they become productive members of society or not. The level and degree of abuse the child suffers is a more realistic indicator. I would be more worried about Nailah’s parent’s relationship.


#8

I would be seriously skeptical of any coverage provided by Mr I-Love-Myself-so-much-my-opening-credits-provide-a-360-view-of-me" Anderson Cooper…You can bet it’s not “fair and balanced” by any stretch…I fell asleep but wanted to watch it just for kicks


#9

[quote=Rob’s Wife]Personally, I’m not a big fan of unschooling and VERY few home schoolers I know ever completely and totally unschool. Most use certain “unschooling” methods or attitudes combined with other styles and materials. Unschooling for the most part is just making an effort to be in tune to the specific learning interests of the student and gearing the education to those interests. It doesn’t mean you can’t use books or get up at a certain time or have basic requirements to meet.

Note that the student in question is still completing the same standard testing as the public school students. If she was failing to meet the basics on those tests, it surely would have been mentioned as I’ve yet to see a chance to bash home schoolers passed over.
[/quote]

I would agree with this. “Unschooling” is not an experiment in child freedom ala Rousseau.


#10

When she grows up, is she going to be able to find a job that will let her do whatever she wants all the time, as long as she’s doing “something”?


#11

When I first heard of “unschooling” I was skeptical.

I still am skeptical of their particular techniques and attitudes, but no longer due to the term “unschooling.”

It seem to me that the model for schooling was very powerful tool for society in the industrial age, but in the information age things could be, and IMO should be, done so much differently that kids will learn a new set of skills.

For example, we can find things on the web in five minutes that used to take a multi-hour trip to the Library and then success was less certain. These things have not been factoring into education in any meaningful way, as we continue to teach kids in ways that discourages skills they need for the new social and political realities.

Moreover, I think that “schooling” of children often does them as much disservice as service. Children are taught one set of values and demonstrated many others – and that’s just by the authority figures. Children learn how hypocritical teachers are by the time they are out of high school, and I think that “normal” school actively nurture distrust of each other and a propensity to always “reach up” for human beings with higher “certified” power whenever there is any sort of conflict or issue with another person, directly contradicting the teachings of the Bible.

One philosopher Alan Watts compares it to the salting of meat that used to be done to preserve it. Education is like that; they teach you certain skill which help you survive, but it also leaves a nasty flavor that has to be rinsed. Personally I think the educational system – not just public or private but our whole attitude for it – has a tendency to crank out generations of increasing lovers of bureaucracy and seeking comfort in “experts” of various types, and is completely contrary to Christian unity.

So they have a great idea, but I don’t know that the way they choose to deal with it are necessarily what I’d choose. My own children are all pretty high achieving in school, but at home and with their friends we have been able to keep their view of authority in perspective with human behavior – something I consider critical and something the schools themselves – even Catholic schools – tend to destroy.

Alan


#12

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