Monday, October 02, 2006


A new chapter in education: unschooling: Controversial home-taught approach lets kids take the lead in learning - Newsweek

Interested in the Greeks? Start cookingWhile homeschooling began as a trend among fundamentalist Christians with largely religious motivations, unschooling is more about educational philosophy. It’s rooted in the belief that humans are naturally driven to learn and will do so fiercely if left to their own devices.Unschooling is difficult to define because no two unschoolers do the same thing.

Kike homeschoolers, unschooled children don’t attend traditional class. Unlike most homeschoolers, however, unschoolers do not follow any sort of curriculum. Children are allowed and encouraged to set the agenda and pace using their parents, their own lives and their homes and communities as resources.

So if they want to spend all day learning about bugs or gardening, they head outdoors. If they’re interested in criminal justice, parents might set up a visit to the police station or help them get books on the subject. If something about Greek mythology piques their interest, maybe they’ll cook Greek food or write a play about Perseus and the Gorgon. Or maybe not.

“Here’s how I define it: Unschooling is allowing your child as much freedom to explore and learn from the world as you can comfortably bear as a parent,” says Farenga, co-author of "Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling."

Others have called unschooling ambient learning or child-led learning. Some call it bunk.

You think?

I am for choice, but not all choices are good.


Jetgirl said...

am a rabid homeschooling supporter, mostly so that my future children have a chance to learn real biology (without warning stickers), real math, science, and economics as opposed to the watered-down versions generally taught in public school. As you can see, I'm not the typical religiously-motivated homeschooling advocate.

I don't like the "un"schooling idea, because I have a gut feeling it will end up being an excuse for parents to pretend their child is being educated while not having to engage in any of the grunt work of teaching the fundamentals.

Sure, I agree that if a child has an interest in a subject, a homeschooling environment would offer some really fantastic opportunities for hands-on or immersive experiences. However, somewhere in there the kid has to learn phonetics, the multiplication tables, and all the other boring base knowledge subjects that would make immersive learning really worthwhile and retainable.

Jetgirl said...

I'm going to add that somewhere in there kids need to learn to manage their time and their impulses.

I can't imagine what a nightmare you might be confronted with at 18 if you start a trend at 5 of allowing a child's personal motavation to dictate what they will learn.

If that's not a recipe for never learning anything difficult I don't know what is.

rory said...

Lately I have begun to see more and more the benefits of homeschooling, though my preference would be to send them my kids to a highly effective public school. As a parent of five kids, I think that sometimes an outsider can connect with your kids just a little bit better than a parent can.

My compromise is to supplement my childrens education, though it takes dicipline and time.

I firmly believe in setting limits for kids and teaching responsibility. Our kids have been raised to perform their fair share of chores from an early age.

Most adults can't go through life doing what ever they want, we have responsibilities and obligations. Even if unschooling proved to be effective as a teaching method, I would still oppose it.

Jetgirl said...

I got curious about the unschooling movement after reading this post and read through a good deal of advocacy material.

In a trend that is disturbing to me, it seems that part of the more purist unschooling plan also involves parents refraining from setting limits on anything a child does, including what they eat, or how many myriad hours are spent watching TV or playing video games.

Perhaps I'm close-minded, but I just cannot see how this prepares individuals to confront real life.

Jetgirl said...

Because I'm a n00b and haven't figured out the trackback thing yet:

I had to go and blog this topic