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Thread: Un-schooling Discussion

  1. #37

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    Did they all have problems? I thought only the two youngest boys in the family of all boys had trouble with literacy (and mainly the youngest one)? Pretty sure the oldest one had a PhD and worked for Google or something. Their Mum was also a teacher as well so I kind of thought that if she couldn't teach them to read then they would have struggled in school as well and maybe there was some learning difficulties there. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd be ok with it if my children didn't learn to read. I really think that's important. But I don't really see how it's possible unless there are learning difficulties. We have so many books, we read every day, they see me reading and writing all the time, so they see the value of being able to read and are motivated to learn. My DD1 (5yrs) wants to know how to write things and asks me all the time and consequently is reading at the same level as her schooled peers now. So for me personally it's not concerning because it hasn't been an issue so far.



    I'm actually kind of amazed at how it all happens. We have no specific sit down learning time every day. It's kind of just when things come up and we talk about it and she wants to know more or she needs to work something out. Or if she's been interested in something I might set up a little activity for her that I think she might like which she can do when/if she likes. And yet, I was looking at the prep curriculum for maths a couple of days ago, wondering where we're at and what she would be doing if she was at school, and we have covered all but two things already and gone further in some areas. How did that happen? Just from her natural curiosity and desire to learn I guess. It's pretty awesome that she is still learning all that and is also able to spend the majority of her time playing, which is what I think she should be doing at her age.
    Last edited by Heaven; April 3rd, 2014 at 10:51 AM.

  2. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heaven View Post
    I also thought about the fact that there are things that I wouldn't even know to introduce them too because I don't know them, but then realised it's the same at school. They don't get introduced to everything in the world. Just whatever they decide to include in the Australian curriculum. And then when you're older, like you said wysiwig, you learn whatever you need to get along or whatever you're interested in. And the questions my kids come up with about things, LOL, all I need to do is follow that and I end up learning about totally random things that I never even would have thought of anyway.
    I totally agree that it is the same at school the set of things they get introduced to at and through school won't encompass everything. It it a 'lucky dip' but I like that - I like the fact it is out of my sphere of influence - I will always have the opportunity to introduce them to stuff I know about - because although they may go to school I don't believe that is the their sole avenue of education or even their main avenue. I am not saying school is better than 'unschool' is just a different method. I don't think school gives a particularly broad view of things, but from my perspective I just like the fact that being part of that system gives them exposure to all sorts of things and through us (parents, families, friends) etc. they get exposure to other things.

    About the 60 mins thing - and the literacy and numeracy - to me whether or not they had struggled with literacy and numeracy they seemed to have found a career that they enjoyed - and to me that is a good outcome. Maybe they could have gone to school and struggled but learned to read and write but not discovered a career path that they enjoyed. Maybe if 'unschooling' is only measured on literacy and numeracy it wouldn't come out so well, but maybe it would do better if measured on career measures associated with people enjoying what they do.

    At the end of the day you can't really ever say if school or unschool has the better outcome because how do you define the better outcome - that depends on your perspective - so really all you can do is think about what sort of things are more important to your own situation and then maybe one method or another or a combination will work best for a particular situation.

    I do think it interesting that reading about people who have been unschooled, that there seems to be far more who have developed into with a more 'creative' than 'scientific' bent, and more involved with academic/educational careers than working for bigger corporations (I know one on 60 Mins worked for Google who are now quite big, however Google are a bit of a special case and perhaps a good example of a company which actively embraces thinking a bit differently and using it to its advantage). I studied Molecular Biology and I never got on with any of the lab work because I couldn't cope with the discipline needed, always wanting to tinker and fiddle and try out new things instead of just repeating the steps to get results - never quite learning when to reign in my curiosity. I wondered if 'unschooling' was less likely to lead to that type of discipline - or if it is more to do with genetics. Also this leaning towards creative maybe is in part due to the fact that professions with alternate hours that might work well for 'unschooling' can tend to be more creative - so therefore the likelihood is that their children are more likely to head that way as well. I don't see it as a bad thing, different educational structures and philosophies in schools also do tend to influence people in a way that may makes them more likely to pursue certain career paths than others - (I work with many people who have been through the educational system of another country - which is different to the Australian system - and you can see it has influenced how they tackle certain things) - and it takes all types of people to make the world.

  3. #39

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    I have thought that before wysiwyg, that perhaps people drawn to unschooling tend to be more creative and then possibly have a higher chance of their children following suit. From my reading there is actually a higher percent of home education graduates that go into STEM courses and careers than from traditional schooling but there is not a lot of research that separates out the various methods of home education. I agree it is hard to study unschooling because the outcome isn't intended to be greater academic success but just reaching the personal potential and how do you accurately measure that unless you clone the same child and have one travel a traditional schooling path and the other unschooling and see what happens. Happiness, secure identity, close family bonds - they are all much harder to measure than the results of a test. People within the unschooling community are currently trying to push for research but it is proving quite difficult and that is before you even get into try to decide well what are we actually looking for here and how are we going to do that. There is some research into things like play based learning and more hands on approaches for younger grades. And there are democratic schools and streams within schools that have more sort of concrete figures. But the research is definitely patchy and sparse.

    I've never had a career but my best subjects in school were math and chemistry (top of my class) and I wanted to become a marine biologist (still do and hope to one day). But I did well in all my classes really, typical solid A student. I dropped art quite early into highschool though because "art is a hobby not a career" and "there is no stable future for an artist", I felt pressure that it would waste whatever intelligence I had to go down a creative path. But I am drawn to art, it is something I adore and love - all forms from performance to visual to writing. I get itchy fingers to create. Sometimes it feels like there are those who think I have wasted my life, my brains, my talents (nobody would blame my private school education though haha I had all the 'best opportunities' so it is I who has wasted it, two unplanned pregnancies doesn't help my case there). But I love my life. I imagine that son feels similar; he has a career path, his life doesn't sound miserable in the slightest but all anybody can focus on is his difficulty in reading and writing. People all struggle at something you know?

    Definitely takes all sorts in the world.

  4. #40

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    Default Re: Un-schooling Discussion

    Funnily enough I got accepted to do Marine Biology at University, but then changed my mind and went to a different Uni to do a more general biology course.

    I do find it surprising that within the unschooling community there is a push for research - because what is the end aim? Once you have shown whatever the results are what would it change what would it make different?. I can understand research into play based learning etc, because play based learning can be studied and be applied in school type environments.

    Say unschooling was shown to have the best results - it is not like that can then be adopted across the board. Also I think part of the problem with the education system, is the desire to measure, quantify and standardize it - better to keep those things away from 'unschooling' in my opinion.

  5. #41

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    I understand what you're saying and unschoolers are definitely not fans of standardized anything, that's a very accurate generalisation lol. But the motivation is not to have it seen as 'best' or adopted across the board but as a valid educational choice legally speaking so that the regulation and testing and hoops and red tape for those that do want to unschool are more suited to the practice. Right now it is quite difficult in some states and is really just paperwork for the sake of filling out paperwork, it doesn't reflect unschooling or give an accurate picture of what is actually happening in an unschooling environment so it benefits neither the parent or Government side to be doing it in this manner.

  6. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyfish View Post
    I understand what you're saying and unschoolers are definitely not fans of standardized anything, that's a very accurate generalisation lol. But the motivation is not to have it seen as 'best' or adopted across the board but as a valid educational choice legally speaking so that the regulation and testing and hoops and red tape for those that do want to unschool are more suited to the practice. Right now it is quite difficult in some states and is really just paperwork for the sake of filling out paperwork, it doesn't reflect unschooling or give an accurate picture of what is actually happening in an unschooling environment so it benefits neither the parent or Government side to be doing it in this manner.
    That makes more sense then - although I am not sure research would persuade the adoption of a better system to allow unschooling - plenty of educational practices in schools are not supported by research but they still happen - it seems to me that many decisions in the educational sector are driven more by politics than based upon research.

  7. #43

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    Yeah, I know you're probably right. I think it is just a matter of attacking it from as many angles as possible, there is campaigning to politicians and such also but it is not a very weighty subject for them to address because whilst it is a growing number of people who home educate and unschool to do so, it is still a tiny minority in the scheme of things. When you look at a state like Victoria where you essentially just sign a waver vs NSW where you have to write plans and reports and have a home visit, it does make you wonder what the driving force is behind why they have basically no regulation in one state and an overbearing amount in another. The double edge sword though is the risk that pushing the issue could make things head in the wrong direction (more testing, more regulation, more hoops, every state suddenly as difficult or worse than NSW) and I think that is why they want to have some research behind them.

  8. #44

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    JF - I started reading a book called 'Free to Learn' by Peter Gray - I thought was one you specified but fairly sure that the author you said was female? - I couldn't find the thread though. I didn't know if you could maybe post the stuff you put in the locked thread about reading material in this one?

    As I said I am interested, not from a 'how to unschool' perspective but more in the information about 'how we learn etc.' - I have been reading "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv - which touches on the natural environments impact on learning.

  9. #45

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    That is an interesting book also but the one I wrote about is a different one by the same name by Pam Laricchia. I'm sure you'd get something out of it (it is the one I gift curious friends and family) but if you are more interested in the how we learn side of things then John Taylor Gatto (particularly Dumbing Us Down) and John Holt (particularly How Children Fail and How Children Learn) are probably more what you're looking for. You might find this ted talk about math interesting also Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover | Talk Video | TED (there is a transcript if you prefer to read) and there are other ted talks (Sir Ken Robinson in particular). Also the book Free Schools by David Gillespie might interest you, it is Australian and about how all the things we think matter (public vs private, co-ed vs single sex, class sizes that sort of thing) don't really according to the research, it is a good read for anyone picking a school I think.

    And here are my previous recommendations...

    The books I recommend to read first are Free to Learn and Free to Live both by Pam Laricchia (the first is also great for giving to family to help explain it to them). She also has a free email introductory series you can subscribe to if you google her name and living joyfully her site should come up, it is an email once or twice week and it is 10 emails I think (been a while) and explores topics gradually to give you time to digest and reflect. Another well known unschooler Sandra Dodd who is currently in Australia for ALLive (was, there is information about what went on at the events on her site) gathers writing and thoughts from all sorts of unschoolers and collates them at her website (with permission and credit given), a lot of those writings come from the yahoo group that began many years ago 'Always Learning' but that is a closed group more specifically for unschoolers or those interested in becoming unschoolers but she also runs an open FB page Radical Unschooling Info that can be accessed without joining and read by anyone and much comes from there also (a lot of long term, well respected unschoolers are there) - she also has a brilliant book and a blog of inspiration snippets and thoughts shared daily (Just Add Light and Stir). There is also Danya and Joe Martin, some might have been exposed to their family as they were on wife swap USA, their main FB group is Whole Life Unschooling and they also have a standalone website, they are quite controversial because of media attention. There is a grown unschooler who pens a blog, her name is Idzie Desmarais and you can find it by googling her name, she recently wrote about how unschooling is not relaxed homeschooling which seems quite relevant to the discussion we have had here. There is John Holt who is the person to have first used the term unschooling, his books are great reads. There is John Taylor Gatto who also has brilliant books. There is a lot of information out there, these are just some of the many people who have spoken or written about unschooling and these people will lead you to other people and works.

  10. #46

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    Sooo many good TED talks. I love Sir Ken Robinson. And this guy is super cool http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Hacks...-Lo;search%3A/

  11. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyfish View Post
    That is an interesting book also but the one I wrote about is a different one by the same name by Pam Laricchia. I'm sure you'd get something out of it (it is the one I gift curious friends and family) but if you are more interested in the how we learn side of things then John Taylor Gatto (particularly Dumbing Us Down) and John Holt (particularly How Children Fail and How Children Learn) are probably more what you're looking for. You might find this ted talk about math interesting also Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover | Talk Video | TED (there is a transcript if you prefer to read) and there are other ted talks (Sir Ken Robinson in particular). Also the book Free Schools by David Gillespie might interest you, it is Australian and about how all the things we think matter (public vs private, co-ed vs single sex, class sizes that sort of thing) don't really according to the research, it is a good read for anyone picking a school I think.
    I looked up the Free Schools one at the Library and it has about 8 copies and it has 25 reserves against it!! Obviously a popular read. It will get round to me at some point - but our criteria have always been as long as is not known as a 'bad' school then distance from home is the most important thing - as to me is important to maximize the time spent outside of school. John Taylor Gatto -I have had Dumbing us Down out from the library quite a while back now - I really didn't like it - too American for me, there didn't seem to be much evidence to back up some claims, and the bit on solutions lacked reality.

    The TED talks I like when there are transcripts, I don't really enjoy watching the videos. The Maths one is interesting but I didn't think was that unusual to for those sort of approaches to be used in both maths and physics in schools? - or maybe I am confusing my memories of what I learned at school from what I learned from my Dad (who had a very practical approach to everything).

  12. #48

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    That is a bit of a problem as most writers are American and coming with that frame of reference in mind plus the books are starting to show their age in places as things are changing (always lol). I still find it interesting to read all the various things people write, never leave without 'something' even if it is just hmm yep, still disagree. All helps in clarifying my own ideas and ideals. I like people asking questions even when they don't have the answers, I spend a lot of time doing that myself

    Free Schools is fairly new, if you google around he has done some radio interviews that will give you the I guess cliff notes of the book if you're interested in listening to things (I listened to one before reading the book but I can't find the exact link for it anymore but there are some others around that I imagine would be similar).

    School experience is 10 years behind me now (well 10 if you count the year of primary education I took at university, 9 otherwise) but for us it was at least 90% questions in a book with one answer and one expected way to find that answer. And you lost marks for doing things in a different manner (lots of experience with that delightful concept). The only exception was maths extension which was I guess more philosophical and open ended exploration of problems and numbers and I very much enjoyed that (but this was about 30 students out of 300 so not the norm for students to experience). I do hope that has changed.

    I don't want to give the impression that my mind is comparing the two options as opposing ideals, I don't really think of it like that. I don't think unschooling is hands down, no contest, always 'better' either, I think it is an option that works and that has the potential to suit anyone. My posts are more to explain why I think that and not to be read as a commentary on school in the same breathe. Some of the way in which learning is implemented in our home might be how it is in a school so when I describe what we do it isn't to say a school might not do that as well, does that make sense? I don't think a positive about unschooling directly means to suggest a negative about school or any combination of that sort of thinking, they are not polar opposites like that (well outside of the name I suppose lol). I just don't want people to read more into what I'm saying than is intended so hope that makes things more clear.

  13. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyfish View Post

    I don't want to give the impression that my mind is comparing the two options as opposing ideals, I don't really think of it like that. I don't think unschooling is hands down, no contest, always 'better' either, I think it is an option that works and that has the potential to suit anyone. My posts are more to explain why I think that and not to be read as a commentary on school in the same breathe. Some of the way in which learning is implemented in our home might be how it is in a school so when I describe what we do it isn't to say a school might not do that as well, does that make sense? I don't think a positive about unschooling directly means to suggest a negative about school or any combination of that sort of thinking, they are not polar opposites like that (well outside of the name I suppose lol). I just don't want people to read more into what I'm saying than is intended so hope that makes things more clear.
    I don't think you give the impression of comparing opposing ideals - but I do think alot of the literature/websites etc does, and much of that does give the impression that it thinks that 'unschooling' is always better, some are very much along the lines that some kids will do ok in school but they would have done better out of school.

    I do think 'unschooling' is a valid option, but I can't agree that it has the potential to suit every family. Even if you assume that all parents will have the ability to 'unschool' (which would be far from the case, as pointed out here 'unschooling' actually requires a lot of effort and not everyone would be capable of it) - so if you then look at those who would have the ability, how many have the capacity in terms of the time required. Much of the literature seems to regard 2 x working parents as putting themselves first, or putting money first, talks of concepts of secondary income, like the second parent working is just there to top things up a bit rather than an often 50/50 split. Peoples professions, age at which they have children, where they live all impact on the ability to unschool. Imagine everyone with children and then one of the parents (no idea how single parents would do it) in 70 % of those (as lets say 30% can work round it or not working or planning to work during childhood years) drops out of their job to support the 'unschooling' of their children - think how many teachers, doctors, dentists, warehouse managers, accountants, builders etc are taken out of employment.

    I think if unschooling movement (or elements of it) dropped that one idea 'that it has the potential to suit anyone' and acknowledged more that it is an option that can be done in certain circumstances, I think it would be less polarizing and I think there is so much of it that could be adopted into institution based education (not using the word school - because maybe they could be different to what we know as 'school'), it also might open the idea up to more people, it 'shoots itself in the foot' a bit in my opinion.

    (My comment on the maths thing, was purely about the talk itself and the bits and pieces I read around it all seemed to regard it as an unusual approach, and I didn't think it was particularly - I was educated in the UK, in what would equate to a non-selective public co-ed high school (20 years ago for me :-)), so I could be in for a rude awakening about education over here?)

  14. #50

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    I don't think the statement invalidates circumstances that prevent it, I just mean it could potentially suit. It doesn't always in reality. Maybe there is a better way to phrase it? That the learning style can suit any child but circumstance might prohibit it from being a recommendable option?

    I mean it is always a choice, not saying it would always be the best option to choose but it's still a choice for anyone to make. Choosing not to unschool because of xyz shouldn't be a negative, I don't think unschooling should be pursued at the expense of everything else. I know Sandra Dodd recommends school over divorce for example and she's one of the biggest unschooling advocates out there. Just because the choice seems obvious doesn't negate the other option from existing.

    Our life would be different with a second income, maybe my kids would end up better off because of it, it's kind of hard to predict though. Everyone just tries to make the best choices they can.

  15. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyfish View Post
    I don't think the statement invalidates circumstances that prevent it, I just mean it could potentially suit. It doesn't always in reality. Maybe there is a better way to phrase it? That the learning style can suit any child but circumstance might prohibit it from being a recommendable option?
    That is certainly a better way of phrasing it, but I think we may have to agree to disagree on whether most people really have a choice. If you have the ability to think about it far enough ahead of having children that you set yourself up to be in a position to be able to do it logistically/financially - then you may have a real choice - but otherwise really the path is predetermined by what has already happened - the type of job you have, the partner you may have or not, the age you have your children (if you have your children in your early 30's and take time out to unschool - can have severe implications for being able to support yourself in old age).

    Thanks for pointing out about the Free Schools book - I read some reviews online and it appears like the first part is an explanation of the Australian schooling system and its history - which will be very useful to me when it turns up at the library (IRL - I don't actually know that many people that grew up here).

    I found one site with a page about unschooling if both parents work - some of the options were predictable (the whole you can just scale back your life one) but I liked this one:

    Let the kids go to school (traditional, or maybe even an alternative school), then unschool after school. There's nothing that says you can't combine regular school with unschooling. I guess this is what most people do anyway. But you could do it more explicitly, exploring unschooling ideas at home and even working with teachers to have them manifest your unschooling philosophy during school hours.

  16. #52

    Default Re: Un-schooling Discussion

    My dad had pretty short guidelines for us growing up...

    "Keep us informed, consider the consequences thoughtfully and remember that you always have a choice, even if you don't very much like your options"

    And they still guide me often.

    If you choose to work to provide a home and it means school instead of unschooling whilst homeless it is still a choice. An obvious one perhaps but still a choice. And possibly a number of options in between the two of course.

    I think the only true way it isn't a choice is if you are unaware of the option. I'm not sure why you are opposed to it being described as a choice? Isn't it okay that you choose not to unschool for whatever the reason/s may be? You don't have to explain it to me or anyone else but for yourself perhaps explore the discomfort. Maybe it is more of an available option than you're willing to admit just yet? And really, not unschooling simply because somebody doesn't want to is just as valid as any other reason, nobody needs an 'excuse' or whatever.

    When somebody really wants to do something, whatever that something is then they find the time, the money, the patience, the whatever. Maybe in the case of unschooling they use school for a while to set themselves up better to eventually get there. Sometimes barriers only seem immovable and it's more that one doesn't really want to move them and really, that's okay too

  17. #53

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    The Qld Govt make it pretty difficult to combine schooling and unschooling. They're pretty all or nothing.

    I'm stalking this thread because I haven't made this decision yet. I love unschooling, and support it, but I also think I have what it takes to navigate my kids through the system fairly unscathed. Our local school is small and has some excellent programs, including philosophy, and the kids I know going through it have some great emotional outcomes, which I just don't think there's enough of in schools. So I'm keeping my options open.

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    Default Re: Un-schooling Discussion

    The thing is I am not talking about me, my family. I am sure we could do it if so desired, it could be an option for us under certain scenarios, I am sure, I feel lucky that we could probably manage it. Any barriers that we have I am sure could be removed, that is not the case for everyone.

    One of the definitions of choice is "The power, right, or liberty to choose" - society would not let people choose to be homeless/without any income so they could unschool. It wouldn't be allowed so people don't really have the liberty to choose that option. While the numbers are small maybe people could choose that, but as numbers grew things would change, to prevent it.


    I'm not sure why you are opposed to it being described as a choice?
    I could ask the reverse, why does the unschooling/homeschooling literature all like to insist on the fact there is a choice for everyone?

    Why not just accept it works for some but for others schools will always be their only option.

    I have always been very interested by the Finnish schooling model which is based around achieving equality in education for all - maybe that is why I don't like the notion that unschooling is a choice for all, it isn't an equitable system. It is probably the most expensive model financially (both for individuals in terms of lost income for a significant proportion of their life and the government due to lost taxes from those not in the workforce) - and is unlikely to provide any form of leveling between disadvantaged and other students.

    Quote Originally Posted by luna moth View Post

    I love unschooling, and support it, but I also think I have what it takes to navigate my kids through the system fairly unscathed. Our local school is small and has some excellent programs, including philosophy, and the kids I know going through it have some great emotional outcomes, which I just don't think there's enough of in schools.
    I love that phrase - that is exactly how I feel - I think I have what it takes to bring my kids through the system unscathed, and maybe the more people who like the philosophy behind unschooling stay involved in the mainstream education the more there is a chance of changing it. I mainly think about what choices I would like my kids to have as adults, and one of them would be to have the ability to choose an education system that would allow their children if they have any to develop naturally, and to have a job/career that fulfils their desires too - and if their desires are around unschooling/homeschooling their children be able to do that also.

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