Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to grade schooler, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national parenting and lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Tuesday
Sep142010

No More Teachers No More Books: Unschooling

There was an article in the weekend's Globe and Mail about the unschooling movement. Not homeschooling, unschooling. As in no school, no schedule, no textbooks, no curriculum.


Sounds like a kid’s fantasy doesn’t it?

Unschooling is about letting kids find their passion and helping them pursue it without any formal education. So no memorization, no textbooks, no goal-setting.  It is a growing segment of the homeschooling movement. There was even a conference in Toronto last weekend of unschoolers. (I am trying not to make a wisecrack asking if there was a schedule).


The unschoolers make it sound utopian: life and learning are not separated but intrinsically connected. Kids learn by doing, by asking questions and by pursuing their interests sometimes independently and sometimes with a parent. The best case scenario is the kids find their passion and immerse themselves in it, gaining critical thinking skills along the way.


In the worst case scenario the kids have absolutely no skills and find it hard to exist in the world outside of their granola community. This ABC news report makes unschoolers sound like a bunch of kooks:






But I’m not sure that they are. Okay, some of them are, but not all of them. Reading through the blogs for this post, I found the unschoolers' passion to be infectious. Idzie Desmarais is an 18-year old unschooling advocate and her blog is ironically titled: I'm Unschooled. Yes, I can Write.


My eldest son would have loved it and maybe he would have found a passion to store all of his intellectual energy. Or maybe he would have spent the days playing Playstation. Either way, he is on his way to school at 8:25 a.m. sharp.


 






Reader Comments (42)

Kids should stay in School as thats how they learn from teachers and parents the right way to grow up and learn about lfe in many ways
September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn
I went to the blog" I'm unschooled and Yes, I can write" and think that those who question the choice to unschool should read up on it a little more before they make their decision. Most people haven't even bothered to understand the concept before they criticize it. Many people think that the instituional way of learning is the only way to learn because that's the only thing they know.
September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I home schooled my core specail needs youngest son, who is now helping to homeschool his own son. As to the issue of "unschooling" this form of self-directed learning was well documented by a Dr Knolls.The first rule in alternate education should be "watch for any learning opportunity, and go with it"Also, many cultures (including ours) supported this so called "new concept" of "unschooling".Learn by doing, find your strengths, learn from your Elders and other members of your community....My son? I was told he would (90%) never, speak, read or write. At age 12 he was re-evaluated, and he scored way above normal in intelligence, social awareness, spatial orientation.....He could hold discourse in Comparative Theology, phylosophy, sociology, international law, treaty law, natural law. He could build computers from scrap components, solder, weld with Oxy-acetaline. Do automotive body-work as well as basic mechanical repairs and maintenance. He also advocated for the rights of Learning Disabled youth, did public speaking. He commonly walked around with books he was reading: Poe,Longfellow, Byron. The Tibetan Book of the Dead (english version) was one of his favorites.At the age of 10 he ran a small Landscaping business and had to budget for new equipment, maintenance and repairs, as well as deal directly with his customers.......In school, he was simply "warehoused"........had I left him in school could he have accomplished so much?
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Bedard
I believe that kids should stay in school until grade 8. At this level the child has obtained some understanding for several subjects so they can further develop which ever they choose when they are unschooled. This is an important decision for the student to make and can be a starter for making their own choices. If they choose to be home schooled they will miss out some of the benifits of school, but will expierence many things an average student cannot.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElliott
I have homeschooled for the past 14 years and have graduated 2 who are currently in university. Not all homeschoolers feel this way, there are many who actually teach their children. I still have 3 I am schooling and could not imagine "teaching" in this manner. I feel children need some form of schedule and to have to do some of the curriculum that is not necessarily fun, such as phonics or math. Past that you can have fun and study whatever may interest the child. To let them do whatever feels right or they want to do, in my opinion, will not prepare them for real life. I really don't feel like cleaning or my husband doesn't always feel like going to work but we both know we need to, to care for our family. I hope this new form of "homeschooling" doesn't give everyone a bad name, this family on the video sounded ridiculous, laughable actually.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLena
I support this idea completly.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterN.A.
But kids could go to school to learn the basics for 6 years of school. So kids could learn about economics, math, job interview, how to act socially, ecs.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterN.A.
Michelle: I admire anyone who homeschools I think that it takes remarkable parents to be able to do that effectively . Unschooling has obviously been part of the lives of some very intelligent and articulate people but I do think it wold take very special kids and committed parents.I love the idea of "watching for any learning opportunity and go with it" and I wish the schools would be able to follow this philosophy better.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmmachaos
I went to the homeschooling conference in niagara falls as of this past weekend.The conference had speakers who were all well educated, with various degrees,one speaker happened to be Dr. Carlo Ricci, who if you look him up on the net, you will find tons of info on him. He is an advocate of unschooling.

Homeschooling is a parents choice, alot like vaccinations, and i dont understand all of the furor over it. I have seen so many parents use the school system as a dumping ground where they leave their kids and generally abdicate their responsibilities to the overworked teachers and principal in a government run system. It hasnt changed or moved to accomodate the way things have changed much since the early years. If one on one learning is best for your child then its a no brainer isnt it?? If he does better in a school structure than its best for the child isnt it??? We have to remember that we are the only advocates a child has, and whatever others opinions are of us or of the way we do things, well everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not everyone knows what is best for my child.On in interesting note many who homeschool their kids are teachers, professors, and extremely educated themselves. Interesting isnt it???
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertam
Many of the comments here are about Homeschooling, which is different than Unschooling. I recently learned that myself. With Unschooling, there is no curriculum, tests, etc. Unschooled hildren are often unprepared if/when they decide to enter the formal schooling system. Homeschooled children are a completely different story.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I don't agree with this idea whatsoever. As a teacher, I would lose my job. In this economically difficult time, there are already enough people out of work. What happens to those of us who have put in all the time and money for 2 or more university degrees if we take kids out of schools? Schools are venues for socialization and identity development. We will hamper these if we take kids out of schools. In today's high schools, there are many opportunities for students to pursue their dreams and their interests. Take a look at all of the SHSM opportunities. (Specialist High Skills Majors). They don't need to be taken out of school to pursue what matters to them, or what they enjoy doing. Life isn't always easy....the structure of school prepares them for that.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterontarioteacher
As Frank Herbert would have said: "the most important ability someone must learn, is learn to learn". I learnt most of what I know by myself, and for fun. Anything can be learnt this way, even to an expert level. I efficiently perform tasks that would normally require certification. I could learn something new *in depth* if I need to. Sometimes the "golden path" is to create a need for someone who would otherwise be sipping coffee at home. As Lazaro de Tormes would say: "La necesidad aguza el ingenio" (Need sharpens the mind).
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
to the post above.how do we know what is the" right " way to grow up?just because we are parents and teachers does not mean we are the epitome of perfect.children need to be allowed to be individuals and be able to identify their own personality and to be comfortable with themselves.too often the school system supresses this in children and creates and unhealthy enviroment where the last thing children are able to do is succeed to the best of their abilities because they are too worried about being tossed out for not conforming and being the" in" kid at school.often the superficial one.yes i think children need boundaries but it does not mean that a parent cannot provide this to their own child.once again a parent that wants their children at home with them 24-7 says alot about the care and patience they show for their children.as long as it is a balanced enviroment at home and they provide the access to the healthy knowledge the child wants and encourages the good and not the bad.you would be surprised to see what my children have latched onto.about wanting to go greener and help sustain her future and be more responsible for her actions.she wants to learn more about growing her own food and she cares about what chemicals shes putting on her body.shes more aware.she helps me in the green house and she helps feed the chickens because she wants to learn the basics of what we need to really survive and what we do not need.she asks questions about how things harm her in respect to all the words she reads off a shampoo bottle.some she cannot pronounce.i mean,what could be more important than that?learning how to live a healthy life?on top of it all,everyone we meet says she is the most polite and wonderful person and they ask how we get her to behave so well.and she's only 11.well read what i have written above and thats how.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersherean
I think in theory, it's an interesting idea, and done correctly, is probably a beneficial way to learn. My biggest concern is that it may not give children all the tools they need to live independantly as adults. You can't always do whatever you want, sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. There are times that you do have to follow someone elses rules. And there are things that have to be done that you might definitely not be passionate about, but you do them anyways because they have to be done. And I'm not sure a college or university is going to recognize unschooling when it's time to actually be a grown-up. A good portion of jobs require some kind of schooling. I think the key to sucessful learning is exposure to a lot of different experiences, and if unschooling parents are making sure that their children are exposed to many different things, then this is awesome. In a perfect world, the education system would allow for more opportunities for children to figure out what they are passionate about, but still teaching them the important skills that school teaches them. For a good portion of life, I did learn a lot of what I needed to know in kindergarten!
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCLS
Ok, lets get real! Unschooling....the new strategy for getting our kids an education. Great idea, great theory. This is all it is! I can only imagine if this idea takes hold. In twenty years when I am getting ready to retire and we have a society that will be in 'unstructured' chaos. Great idea! The sooner the idea goes away, the better.

How do people have the arrogance to say that parents know what is best for their children? Ok, most parents believe this. Even the deadbeat parents. It will be a perfect excuse for these people to be lazy and say that they children are 'unschooled', instead of being a responsible parent and giving their children the best chance in this very difficult world. University will NOT be an option for these kids. How could the University measure success when you compare it to REAL schooling and eductaion. As adults many of the 'unschooled' adults will have no work ethic, and leech off the system. Some will go onto be successful, I'm sure. Just as many will not. Get real and stop making excuses. This is a fantasy, fad, whatever you want to call it that will be gone in a few years. This world is a tough enough place as it is, don't put your children in a situation to make it harder for them. Get real people!

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJason
Their parents are exposing them to things that maybe a school wouldnt. And they can focus on something they might like rather than waste 15 years learning.. not a whole lot of useful information lol
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterben
I am amazed at how close minded people can be!!.I remember my days in school and except for a few good times, it was not pleasant, I was teased & bullied and still to this day do not understand why? I was decent to others. Also the school work was ok, when I needed help it was minimal and the teacher's were not really willing to help they made it seem like they were being interrupted with whatever they were doing.My 4yr old started jk this last week, I think their is around 20 kids in her class junior and senior. And really how much time do you think will be spent on her with One teacher in the class room. I really didn't want to send her but she seemed generally interested. Oh and at recess guess how many teachers supervise the 500 children in the school yard? 3.For some I believe the structure of school is essential for their growth and developemnt. For other's different ways would work much better.My family and friends tell me that it's good for socializing she will make friends etc... rarely does anyone say she will get a good education, I don't feel that socializing and making friends is a good enough reason to send a child to school or to teach them life isn't easy.And as far as the ontario teacher above goes OMG, you are the standard teacher attitude $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Sorry to be so cruel but come on. Your paycheck is still their, and pension, and benefits too!!!!As far as developing an identity, children can do that in many other safe way's, unfortunately, most of us know that often with school comes many bad traits and learning bad behaviour's.I am not completely down with school I just don't feel that it is as good as the teacher above thinks it is.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLes
I don't know about the idea of not being educated(litterature and mathematics) but it sounds like it would be very beneficial for some people. Some of you say that you dont know if it would be a good idea, but you say that because you dont know if it is yet; it could be. I know I would have preferred the "unschooled" option. I graduated all confused, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. Since my mom always pushed me to my limits, I went to university with my friends. 10 000$ later, I realise its really not I wanted to do. So I thought I might like college. College was fun, I loved the hands on, but still there was something missing. So I leave with over 5000$ in debt(from university as well). Well all that to say that(even if I am happy to read, write and calculate as I want) if I would have been unschooled, maybe I would have had the chance to find my passion before spending all my savings...I think that both options are beneficial in their own way...
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave
I wish i had known about unschooling when my kids were younger... especially my son, School was a difficult time for him.. I often thought, that he should have been born in a earlier time, when you were taught what you needed to do to live by parents and the village they lived in.. Now i hear of unschooling, and so wish i could have offered this to him.. My daughters, however, seemed to be ok in school.. I think all children are different, therefore, have different needs.. This i think would have done wonders for my son, who still to this day struggles with things.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
I'm turning 18 next week, and I started unschooling at the age of 9. I had been having issues with going to school since grade three, however. I was faking sickness (I know, every kid does that right?) and my mom would have to deal with major tantrums every morning. In grade four, when I started getting four hours of homework on subjects that we never even spoke about in class, my mom decided to pull me out of school. Honestly, I did nothing for 6 years, and then the summer before I was to start grade ten, something changed. I was helping my mom peel apples for applesauce that we were making and I realized that without a High School diploma, I could very well end up peeling apples for a living. I decided that I didn't want that so I said to my mom "I think I want to do some school this year." So we set things up with a local homeschooling school (that I was already a part of for my unschooling) and that was that.The key thing there is that I WANTED to do school. I decided on my terms. Jason, up at the top, said "How do people have the arrogance to say that parents know what is best for their children?" Well let me ask you this. When I was in grade 4 and I was crying and screaming and becoming depressed, do you think it would have been right for my mom to just put me on some mind numbing drugs and send me on my way? Would that have been what's best? Just so that I go to school? Why do you think there are so many High School drop outs, and teen suicides? Partly because of the stress of "life." As teenagers we have so much pressure put on us. Get a job, do well in school, maintain a happy homelife, maintain a healthy social life (but be responsible at the same time), the list goes on... We are expected to be adults, but at the same time, we are expected to do whatever others tell us. That's also why there is so much teen drug use and drinking. They need some outlet for their stress.Just a bit about who I am. I have two little brothers whom I am extremely close with ( one of whom only went to playschool, but taught himself to read when he was six. He simply picked up a book and started reading it.). I have been reading since I was three. I have been playing soccer on a community team since I was 7, and, along with many of my teammates (only one is homeschooled) I am creating a women's league soccer team for this winter. I don't drink, simply because I don't like the taste. I have aspirations to be a Psychologist. I get along extremely well with my mom. Seriously, she's one of my best friends. I am very happy with my lifeThere's so much more that I want to say, but since this is so long already, I'll just say this. School is not real life. You have no choices in school. Not until University, anyway. In life, you always have a choice, because YOU are responsible for your own life.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTasha
I was a homeschooled child from grade 3 through grade 12. I can say for certain that I did not acheive the level of mathematics and science of my public schooled peers. I also can say for certain that I was doing grade 12 level of English by the age of 16, and that I had already written two novels, each over a two hundred pages long. By being homeschooled I was able to really get into my creative writing skills. I was accepted into a business college by simply passing the entrance exam. Most colleges will except homeschoolers if they can simply pass an exam covering basic knowledge. If a homeschooler wants to get into a specailized field requiring more science or math than what they can learn at home, they can take a college course. But that's just me. I accept that everyone has different desires and needs. I am a parent now, and I do truly believe that I know what is better for my children than a teacher or someone in a commitee. People say that parents who unschool or homeschool are lazy, well I'd say they should examine themselves before they point fingers. Most public schooled children are picked up by bus early in the morning and stay at school all day and then are dropped off in the mid to late afternoon and come home to watch their favorite shows and play video games before supper. Sounds pretty easy for the parents to me. I think the best thing would be that whether the child goes to public school, private school, is homeschooled or unschooled, that the parents just get involved! Take your kids out in nature, to museums, on trips, take them everywhere! Because I'll bet that kids will remember the experiences with their parents a hundred-fold over their trig and their english lit.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKat
I was always told that I would need an education in order to get a good job...can someone tell me how these unschooled children are going to get hired by anyone in the future? Will corporate jobs, government jobs, ... what if the child grows up and his/her passion is to be a doctor? How will they get accepted to med school without a Bsc and how can you get a Bsc without high school. I can see how this is good for "some" kids (ie, SOME (certainly not all!) challenged individuals, learning disabilities, etc) but other than the rare case I would think these parents are basically limiting their children's potential. Instead of giving them the opportunity to do whatever they want and follow any dream, they will be limited to a trade. And this is not for everyone.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I dunno. IMO "unschooling" can only work with very educated parents. I did regular schooling and also taught myself a heck of a lot on my own time (skills that I use today for my career) but... I look back and see the limits I bumped up against and the limits of my parents' limited education and knowledge. There's also the stuff I couldn't and wouldn't have taught myself, like advanced maths, which I use today.

I agree the school system is broken and only works for a handful of kids. It holds back some that have greater potential, and it lets slip through many who are troubled and need a different means to learn and motivate them. From the various people I have known in my adult life, the most successful and of strong character often went to private school. That should tell us something.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArby
I totally agree with what Kat and Tasha said. I know a lot of parents basically are just using TV or video game to babysit their kids after school. I have two young kids and am interested in this unschooling concept except I don't have the resources, the time and energy. We are very involving parents but still hanging with kids 24/7 is not easy. You have to be well educated, instrumental and at the same time emotionally well balanced! I believe those parents who unschool their kids and their kids end up become socially responsible persons are doing a tremendous job.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack
We homeschool. Homeschooling has given us an opportunity to explore what the kids are passionate about. We do follow the government standards. I am not comfortable with the kids being underachieving as far as Math and English though. There is NO choice on those ones. No matter what you do in this world those two are non negotiable. We have extra time for eachother and the bond between our family is not broken by the school system. If something was to ever happen to me I would want my kids to be able to smothly go to the school system and acheive all they can because of the life long skills they are learning at home.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKari
I think a lot of the problem lies in the term "unschooling". It's not that children aren't getting an education, they are just learning in a different way than the "traditional institutional" way. Education continues our whole life and does not just stop when a person graduates from high school or college. These children are getting wonderful, rich educations and their parents have the courage to think outside the box and allow their children to do the same. Look at her blog and tell me she isn't educated! She's brilliant and can write better than most adults I know!
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Many of these children are not "getting a job" when they leave home, they are creating jobs and are entrepreneurs that do the hiring.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
As far as the interview goes, I think it was too one sided and the interviewer should be ashamed of herself! She approched it very unperfessionally. If you are doing a story don't make a mockery of the people. Show some respect! I was impressed by the teenagers, you forgot that they are teenagers didn't you.... When was the last time you tryed to talk to a random teenager who is in the school system? Not the goody goody kind, the random kind. The people who were interviewed where random not overachievers or under. Think on that and then YOUR attitude may become right and ready to look at what they have and want to achieve.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKari
This "unschooling" might be the next best thing since sliced bread. A LOT learned in school is forgotten and A LOT of information is not used in a normal world. I think the basics should have to be taught but then to let an individual follow their own interests is supreme. Funny how many of our leaders in invention had minimal to no secondary education at all. All these children in full time full day school at 3, 4 and 5 years of age is completely ridiculous - it's full time day care is what it is - for a generation of parents whom would rather make the all mighty dollar than stay home and enjoy and teach and parent their children themselves. Hats off to us stay at home moms whom hold the love and care of our children in the highest regard.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterme
When was the last time any of you sat in classroom? Students do have choices. Choices in the courses they take and in many situations the type of assignments they do. The education system is changing - assignments are authentic and focus on the type of learner the students are. And when has a teacher ever stopped a student from going above and beyond on an assignment.....that's where their passion can really be expressed.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarie
I'm the author of the blog linked in this article (I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.), and I wanted to thank the author of this article for including my blog! I just wrote a post dealing with misconceptions about unschooling, and it addresses a lot of the issues brought up by the commenters on this article. Here it is, if anyone is interested: http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/2010/09/misconceptions-about-unschooling.html
I feel school is a waste you learn far more in everyday life doing hand on learning. For young kids to go to school full time is insane, I am a work at home full time mother of three and have no problem providing education to our children. I feel school is for socializing,and a babysitter for most parents. 8 hours of schooling!!! This is how I feel, honestly I really don't remember most of what was taught in school.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa
right....well unfortunately most kids have absolutely no skills at all after finishing both highschool and post secondary education so that argument is null.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlol
I don't understand what the deal is with sending kids to school. It's been done for years. I went through the school system, sure it sucked "at times" but not everything in life is peachy.

The blog states, 2 people persuing medicine. Pursuing it is one thing, actually becoming it is another. Besides, all that unschooling and they're studying to enter...a Medical SCHOOL. Funny how they're studying to go to a school where in fact they will have to studying and do tests, kinda like what the whole unschooling is not doing.

I'm not saying that this won't work, but I don't understand why we are soo against giving students a structured education. I didn't want to learn history or geography or science. I did it and it didn't make me any less successful.

Why is this new generation of parents trying to dumb-down the youth. Kids complain about going to school and we support their laziness.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave
I'm a mother, I stay at home and raise my three children. This is an interesting subject for sure. My oldest child is in grade two and I am pondering this organization called school whom I share my daughter with and feel the system doesn't work for everybody. Learning happens in many forms, we can't avoid the process of learning, it's the amazing, on going task and joy which simply put,is life. What's unfortunate is how closed minded so many are on what is "normal" Who's made these decisions anyway? If you don't answer "yourself" to that question than I think it's a gentle reminder to keep asking questions and seek finding the confidence to make decisions based from a place in ourselves that allows us to feel we are in fact living our lives. And I mean LIVING, not getting by or being greatful because we could have it so much worse so on and so forth. Is it not a goal that all parents have for their children to grow up confident and excited to get out there and enjoy their lives? I could go on forever, this idea of children and parenting, in my heart is such great purpose. I do need to mention in regard to the reporters comments at the end of the article about the playstation...who bought him the playstation? Perhaps school could become one of the possibilities and lose a little of it's arrogance in being the one best possibility.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTess
It's going to be really hard for them to compete against the mass of Asian immigrants who have had years and years of rigorous schooling. In an interview, who is more likely to get hired?

There are some essential skills you need to survive outside your home. Sure some of them may become entrepreneurs and start their own business but the vast majority will feel as if they have no skill-set compared to everyone around them and may become disconnected from society.

Besides, up until the start of college you don't really learn anything practical -its mostly improving your problem-solving and critical thinking skills so that, after high school, you have the necessary learning skills to pursue what you want.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdeel
@ Vanessa - too bad we don't have more moms like you in the world. Comment well said.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterme
Not sure why I'm commenting as I found this post as a fluke, but anyway.I've been going to school my whole life. No, it has not always been the best thing ever. But for people to say that you forget most of what you learn is besides the point-- it's not WHAT you learn, it's HOW you learn it. School teaches you more than just 1+1 = 2... it teaches you how to get to that conclusion, and how you in particular as a learner can take in that information in your own way. It's not always about the content.I'm not completely against unschooling, I'm sure it has its benefits. But what's the point of unschooling for twelve years, just to choose to go to college afterwards? And like so many have already said, employers are looking for people to best represent their company for whatever they do, and if you put an "unschooled" person up against someone who graduated high school and maybe even college, who do you think they're going to pick?As for the argument that you learn more out doing hands on stuff by yourself, that's not true of everyone. I'm a verbal learner-- I need someone to explain things to me and show me how they work, and doing things hands-on teaches me nothing. I learn even better by writing stuff down in note form, and school is great for that. That's why I feel that to generalize in this situation is not right.Everyone learns differently, and what works for some may not work for others. School works for me-- doesn't mean it works for everyone.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina
The main function of schooling in any country in the world but no more so than in the so called democracies is to provide the elite with an army of young men and women ready, willing and able to fit into the system who will not question the common narratives associated with the myths and legends and lies of a democracy . They are trained so that they will happily loot the world of its wealth, to work 50 weeks of the year as drones for the super rich and not to complain. They are taught to obey, to work hard and to remain in a state of perpetual adolescence all their lives. That is the role of a school from K to graduate school.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Wiseman
My opinion of this is "Who Cares?" If it does not affect your family, why would you care what another family does with their children. As long as the children are loved and cared for, WHO CARES?

I am a mother who homeschooled for two years and now I have three kids in public school. They all enjoy school. I get to volunteer a lot in the school. We take them out for private lessons or 'homeschooled days' to aquariums, science centres, farms, holidays... But, for the most part, they are 'schooled' by public education. In saying that, I will always think that WE teach them more important things at home. It is, however, the whole package that makes my kids happy. Socializing, learning different things than I teach at home, their amazing teachers, etc...

I think that music has been the most important learning tool in our family. My kids have NEVER argued about practice...they love it. All three of them love their various instruments. It is a good example of WHO CARES. I choose to pursue this enrichment of their education. Others don't care to go through the financial committment or the hard work that a music practice is. It is all a personal choice.

I know people who have been fully homeschooled in the true sense of 'unschooling'. I hope that my children turn out to be like them. In saying that, some children who are in private school turn out to be a nightmare. It is part love, part support, part exposure and part PURE LUCK.

May the best candidates for the job get the job--some day. I am sure that we all, as parents, hope that our child wins the happiness lottery! And that makes us ALL equal!
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTerri
It is a musunderstanding to think that because you are "unschooled" you cannot go to University. Almost all the Universities in Canada and the US have a policy for admitting people into their facilities who do not have a formal diploma. There are entrance exams, and other ways to apply and get in. People can put together their own transcripts complete with a portfolio showing what they have learned, and I know many who have entered after they are 19, as an adult (any adult can do this) and then began taking their classes. They are just as able to go onto University or do anything else they want to do. The diploma will not and has not (for years!) kept unschoolers from reaching their dreams. I wish people would "educate" themselves before they make these kinds of statements.
September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
This article is badly researched and inaccurate! Unschooling is not about "No more teachers" or "No more books".

Unschooling is based on the belief that children don't need to be coerced into learning, and that no standard curriculum could ever be broad enough. There are many other things unschoolers would agree on, as described very eloquently in the blogs you mention. It isn't a new phenomenon.

My unschooled 11 year old gets 30 books out of the library every fortnight and reads voraciously - mainly fiction and history. She is fascinated by documentaries on nature, the planets and the origins of humans. She has set herself the ambitious goal of learning 4 school years worth of Irish language over the next 6 weeks. For that she has borrowed textbooks, gets daily structured help from me and chooses to go to a teacher. She also takes part in several activities offered locally, is a keen horserider and swimmer, and dips in and out of music playing. She still has plenty of time to hang out with her friends doing whatever takes their fancy.

My other daughter chooses to go to school. She loves it.

We try to listen to and respect our daughters opinions and choices. We do have rules and often have to make decisions for the whole family, but we try to negotiate these rather than lay them down. I don't always find it easy to know if we're getting it all right, but we have put a lot of thought and research into our approach, and at the moment our daughters are happy, stimulated and well-adjusted.

July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre

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