on learning and unschooling

I could have used this new form of homeschooling back when I was in high school.  From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Five years ago, frustrated with the pace and depth of a Chicago Public School gifted program, Abby withdrew from eighth grade and entered uncharted territory — a branch of home schooling often called “unschooling.”

Under this ultimate form of “child-directed” learning, Abby used no set curriculum. She called her own hours, worked at her own pace and, most important, followed her own interests — without taking tests or receiving grades. Some days, she’d wake up, grab a bowl of cereal and go back to bed with a book.

5 thoughts on “on learning and unschooling

  1. Yes, I’ve heard of unschooling (as opposed to curriculum-based homeschooling) and I can definitely see it being the direction we go with with Ben. When I read about it, my heart beats faster and I have this yearning to go back in time and do it myself. There are so many things to see and do and the idea of spending a chunk of it taking attendance and standing in line just depresses me.

  2. Unschooling seems to be a fabulous idea for the right set of circumstances — well educated parents, some one to stay home while said child “unschools” itself, access to a wide array information and/or a parent who can write algebra problems, a child smart, and motivated, enough to learn on its own. Seems to me that requires a certain class standing and financial security. It also makes me wonder about the kids “left behind” at school — if this movement is successful, will only the poor and working class kids stay at school? Will schools lose funding and become even worse? (A whole new layer to “separate but [un]equal,” eh?) I would like to see a successful movement to reform public schools — from administartion down to curriculum — for many reason, but also one that would possibly incorporate some of the ideas of “unschooling.”

    Also, as a child of an abusive home, I *liked* going to school — I liked the consistency, the ability to get *away* from my parents and be somewhere sane for the day.

    Mmm, since I am middle class and most likely would be able to afford to do so, I would just take unschooling as another option to add to the pile of “things to consider whether or not it’s right for my child.”

    p.s. KK I think it would be very perfect for Ben. Let me know when he’s looking to delve into tractor driving, farming mechanics and sheep management. :)

  3. I think it’s important for a child to follow her interests, but also important to be put in situations where circumstances require her to do things that AREN’T especially interesting and where social and academic situations are challenging on levels that go beyond the intellectual. I’m with Deb in that I adored going to school, but some of the most interesting things were being an ethnic minority in certain classes, and learning to interact with teachers who had very different styles (including a minister/football coach who taught typing while constantly prosyletizing about Jesus and the superiority of cheerleaders and football players). I’ve had homeschooled students in my college classes and while they tend to be smart (as Deb said, depending on what kind of learning is available to them in the home), they tend to…not sure how to put this…dismay easily. I’m thinking of one student specifically whose total flexibility growing up made it hard for her to deal with things like a regular schedule in college (and made her monopolize class discussions).

    I think some of the ideas in the article are great as a supplement to school. When Glen and I are parents someday I think we’ll be active in following what’s going on in our kids’ classes and inclined to structure leisure activities that reinforce and add balance to those lessons. And I think we’ll have a lot to contribute to improving and helping the local public school system.

    I do want to know when Ben’s sheep management lessons start, though! For some reason, I’m imagining him wearing a suit and carrying a clip-board. Heh.

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