Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Unschooling - Why I think its a ridiculous idea (IBOT)


(One of the unschooled on The Project)

Last night one of my favourite programs screened a story on Unschooling (not to be confused with home schooling which is entirely different).  If you missed it you can read about it here.

Now I know people all have their own opinions, but when it comes to things like vaccinations and education, I stick to the facts.  When you’re playing around with children’s health and access to opportunities, its best to educate yourself with research.

There’s been a lot of of hooha (you don’t hear that word very much these days) about the movement to scare parents into adopting the practice (or non practice as it seems) of not vaccinating their children.  Not only is this dangerous to their and other children, it is not backed up by any scientific research (but I’m not going into that huge debate here, there’s been enough already).  So when this story on unschooling appeared on The Project last night, a little bit of the hippy in me died.  Diehard principles can go jump when they don’t make any sense.

Why would anyone keep their little blank canvas they created in the dark and not open them up to all that the world can offer.  One of the mothers interviewd said she wouldn’t care if her daughter didn’t find history interesting as she didn’t like it either.  Yeah, that’s intelligent.  Make sure your child doesn’t get interested in things you aren’t into because of course they are not their own little individuals, they’re an exact replica of their parent!   Aaarrrgh!  What stupidity and narrow mindedness.  

Another parent of a six year old girl said that her older son had problems at school and all he wanted to do was computer programming.  So she pulled him out to do what he wanted at home.  He’s now studying computers at university and apparently getting top marks.  All well and good if he has learnt that when things get difficult you don’t solve it by just running away to do whatever you want.  For all I know they were unsolvable problems but it is still no excuse to assume that her daughter will benefit from the same unschooling her son enjoyed.

As Carrie said after the story, some things you found dead boring to learn at school can come back to you later in life and you realise you were really glad you were there to discover it. Even my children started to tsk and hmmph at the idea. They love going to school (Year 5 and Year 9) and know that the world will still value the merit of conventional schooling in regards to finding their place.

When I was in high school (uhoh, here we go, I hear), personal computers had just started to go into the workplace (no sign of them in school of course) and I was dead against them.  I believed they were going to put everyone out of work and ruin my imagined career as a journalist.  I left at age 15 after deciding two weeks before the end of 4th Form (or Year 10 as it’s called now) that nothing interested me at school in the next two years.  I started working in an office the following March in 1982 and discovered I had a knack to operate the enemy.  I developed a bit of an obsession with the PC. First a Wang, then a Decmate where I first learnt that it felt I was creating art when I developed my first database at the CSR Library.

But I didn’t go back and get my HSC and go on to University to explore what else was open to me and I deeply regret that.  I closed my mind and have virtually never risen above a secretary in most jobs I’ve been employed in for the last 32 years.  I can’t blame my parents because they were poor and didn’t push me to go further and I can’t blame my first partner for keeping me from finding independence.  It’s my fault. Fear is still stopping me.


But I’m trying to show my children all that the world is offering and telling them everyday they can do anything they set their mind to and I will back them all the way. Part of that is offered at home and a huge part is offered by schooling.  By the number and by the diversity of teachers and students they will come into contact with over the many years. By being away from the protective wing of their parents and learning how to interact with other personalities.  By discovering that there is more mysteries in the world yet to discover beyond what they find on the internet.

To think for themselves.

Hopefully the mothers in the story come to realise that their little sponges need more than what’s offered by their parent.  No one person is an island.

Rant over.  Your turn!

17 comments:

  1. I wouldn't elect unschooling for my children and I agree that children don't actually know what they like/don't like until they get to experience it. However, I do understand why some parents are dissatisfied with the education system. I really believe there is a better way to do it, but it takes creativity and ingenuity and a changing of some old guard attitudes. I read yesterday about a highschool in Victoria that had seen enrolments drop from 1000 to 300 and in a last ditch effort to save the school a new Principal implemented streams suited to children's preferred learning styles direct instruction, collaborative learning, accelerated learning and a Montessori approach. Individual learning plans are being implemented and I would so love such a school in my town! Here's an article about it http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/individual-focus-key-to-learning-20130217-2elkj.html

    I know that's off the topic of unschooling but I think parents dissatisfaction with mainstream education is what's driving them away.




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    1. I agree and it would be lovely if more schools could be like that one. I work in a small school and the individual attention is priceless but unfortunately rare and expensive. But I don't believe unschooling is the answer either. Thanks for the link!

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  2. I always use the term unschooling unofficially. I didn't realise it was a 'thing'. Like you, I object to the antivaccination debate. I find it so frustrating, because I feel like there IS no debate. But with education, I feel a little anxious. I hate the idea of kindergarten kids doing homework. I just want my kids to play for a few more years. But I am also mindful that I can't protect them from the world. I loved school as a kid, and for the social side of it alone, I would never take that away from my kids.

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    1. Some kindergarten work is enjoyable and it gives the parent an opportunity to have a part in the childs education as some schools are so full and underfunded the help is appreciated. But its a big busy world out there and kids are resiliant.

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  3. My thing with home schooling & unschooling - how do the kids get their own little world away from the family if their school and social interactions are made by the family? My son has started high school this year and a smattering of new names have dropped into his lexicon. He was at a very small school (8 boys in the class) and he seems to be enjoying making new friends.
    He is enjoying metal work (which I thought he'd hate), enjoyed food tech but pretended he didn't and the school sent a team to Hawaii for Robotics, Netball and Soccer - how do you get in on those team things if you home school (I know they all meet up, but how do you get a team together?). How do the kids be in a musical?
    The education side can be picked up after hours, if necessary, but become their own person, selecting their own interests, gets harder to promote if you are always there.

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    1. Hopefully those that are home schooled are accessing resources for the extra curricular activities as they need to follow the curriculum to be allowed to home school.

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  4. This would have been a much more concise article if you had just come out and admitted, 'I have no idea what I'm talking about', and ended with that. It's always unfortunate to see someone who doesn't understand something *at all* profess to know how 'bad' it is. I'm sharing on facebook, because it's just so laughably ignorant. :)

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    1. Its a pity you didn't supply me with a contact where I could find out more as it seems you may be an expert on Unschooling. I didn't profess to know all about it but expressed my reaction to the story on The Project and stated my personal opinion. Thanks for your opinion and I'm glad I provided a little entertainment for you and your friends on Facebook.

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  5. Oh, I am so with you! My three step children were taken out of school by their mother and unschooled for 18 months. We say their behaviour and manners disintegrate, their opinions and right to do whatever they wanted increase (helpful when wanted them to help with chores - not!)
    Now they are back at school, but their stint of unschooling has put them a year behind their peers.
    So very sad...almost like a form of child abuse...

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  6. I have actually looked into homeschooling & this 'unschooling', which I believe is merely a slang term for just a form of home education called Natural Learning or Self-education. Home education definitely has it's place, like all forms of education. It comes down to the level of commitment from the parents & if like Wendy stated above, they are left to their own devices then it isn't homeschooling that is the problem but the slackness on the Mothers behalf.

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  7. I can't believe parents would choose this for their children. School has so much to offer an individual, than history, text books and maths! The diversity of life, opinions and the many opportunities that life has to offer do not only stem from the family home. Everything in balance - not one thing over another.
    Josefa from #teamIBOT

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  8. I don't mind the idea of home schooling, and being able to tailor learning opportunities to benefit each individual child, but that doesn't mean kids should never do something they don't enjoy. That's just stupidity.

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  9. If I unschooled my teenager she'd get really really good at Tumblr.

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  10. Becci - I have to say I'm not really a fan of home schooling, but not just because I don't have enough patience to do it, I want my kids to be exposed to all sorts of people, experiences, and life, the ups and downs - this is how they will be more prepared for the rollercoaster road that is life! Emily

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  11. I think unschooling is rubbish.

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  12. The opinions I've read in relation to 'unschooling' are clearly written by people who have no idea what unschooling is! Following a child's interests and exposing them to a whole world of knowledge & experiences is the best way for a child to enjoy their learning. Anyone who thinks its ridiculous or rubbish or child abuse or neglect has not got the faintest idea what they're talking about! Research the topic people before you make a judgment, you might learn something they didn't teach you in school ;-)

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  13. I love your opinions regarding this issue. Countless children are unhappy in class.



    Some may distance themselves from friends and merely steer clear of
    everyone. This will definitely merely make it even worse.


    They must be permitted to drop out and obtain a happier education somewhere else.

    It truly has to be made less complicated for young adults to just drop out by themselves.


    Parents ought to be supportive of their teen's emotional needs,
    although the fact is that several are certainly not.


    my web page ... school makes me hopeless - forum.freestateproject.org -

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