Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unschooling


Each person is responsible for their own education, in the classroom or out of it.

GMA set off a firestorm about unschooling here and here. I read http://walkslowlylivewildly.com/  and http://theorganicsister.com/  and as I care about people educating themselves I had long comments on their sites.  I decided to write the long response here, and to write the summary in their comments.

I was only unschooled on nights, weekends, and the summers, My parents paid for me to go to a Christian school from K-8th grade.  High school was at a public school, three years at a community college, three years at a university, and distance learning involving 5 universities obtained my Masters in Human factors after work for six years.  I wised up in the 7th grade and started taking advantage of the classes offered to control my own education  to reach the goal I set out.  I figured out that I was responsible for my own education and future at that young age.  The counter side is because I stayed in classrooms I had to meet a grading curve.  To meet that hurdle I cut corners on my homework and passed classes with high grades.  Cheating in early classes made the later classes exponentially more difficult.  It took the grace of a professor to let me pass some of my last semester classes instead of requiring me to retake those classes.

Looking back in time I can see points in time where my unschooling life was in step with my schooling life.  When I was 10 I passed a punctuation quiz with a 100% when the rest of the class had about 50%s.  Why, I did not study for it more.  I was a stage in my life where reading was very important.  I was seeing example after example of correct punctuation when I was not in the classroom.  My last semester of college I did such an excellent job animating a factory that the professor gave me a reasonable grade in his other class where I was not doing as well.

My daughter is 5, she knows when she wants to be read to, she knows when she wants to color.  She knows when she wants to be on Starfall or PBS.org.  She knows when she wants to be doing what we are doing and when she wants us to do something else.  She can play on her own, she can play with friends.  But as her preschool teacher says it, she needs to 'get the wiggles out' and sit still in the corporate learning environment.  Next year she will be going to public school kindergarten and have more practice getting the wiggle out.

Why is my daughter going to traditional school given all I have learned?

Because I work all day the choice is not really mine but my wife's with my input.  She says she does not have the patience, or the observational skills to pick up cues to be in charge of schooling.  She said we can pull our daughter out of school for sex ed.  But then what is going to happen?  She will be getting the GMA version on the playground.  She already gets the GMA versions of many other things playing with kids in the neighborhood.

It has been proven that a husband of a college educated wife will make more money than a husband of a non college educated wife.  (and gender vis-a-vis)  My question is, can a person unschool all the way to a masters degree?  Do they still need to go to college at some point?    I was downsized from two jobs because my degree did not match that of the definition of the position even though it was proven I was excelling at the jobs.   Could I be where I am now if I had not done classrooms and gotten degrees from known universities?

I listen to the Dave Ramsey show and he says a quote "You will be the same person you are except for the books you read and the people you meet."  Learning does not end at graduation.  Right now I am privileged to be able to learn from parents who are unschooling.

I am proud to know people that have taken charge of their own education and have the wherewithal to entrust their own children to take control of their own education.

2 comments:

Tara W. said...

I think the problem I have with many schools is they see an active "wiggly" child likes yours (and mine) and they want to change that.

Why is being active at age 5 a bad thing? Shouldn't we encourage that activeness so they don't lsoe it later in life? What about things like childhood obesity or adult obesity for that matter? Does sitting at a desk hour after hour and day after day contribute to such a change in lifestyles? I think so.

I also thnk our kids are healthy and should be active and should NOT learn to sit still at such a young age. That naturally comes later. And I and Zeb can attest to what happens when you try to push it.

I do understand your wife's POV. Unschooling and homeschooling are not easy. They take much more patience and dedication than I ever imagined. But I'm glad that I pushed myself to do it. I'm a better mother and a better person for it.

I think many kids can be successful in school. Having involved (not overbearing or pushy) parents that encourage self-expression, curiosity and stand up for the child when the school gets out of line makes all the difference.

Good luck to you all. :)

Stone Cottage Mama said...

First of all, thank you so much for coming over to my page and sharing your story about taking time off with your family. That really warmed my heart to hear of someone else doing it!

Second, have you read the book "In Their Own Way" by Thomas Armstrong. As I am reading your blog, I am thinking - he must read this if he hasn't already! I am reading it now and it has radically changed everything I thought about public schools. It is written in a way that it can be used by everyone from teachers, to parents that are either homeschooling or public schooling. It also gives a lot of instruction on how to work with the school system so your daughter still gets a home-school approach.

And it will explain the "wrigglies." lol. But you already understand. Your daughter is 5, not 25. I'd be concerned if she didn't have the wrigglies.

Good luck!