Cyndi bravely asks:
A couple of weeks ago someone asked what unschooling is and unless I
missed a post (which is entirely possible), noone admitted to true unschooling.
Most said that sort of unschooled. I am just wondering if there is anyone
out there who is unschooling?
Here are the responses:
I hesitate to claims of being a "true" unschooler, I like the term "radical"
better, it appeals to my "hippie" mind set. *grin*
I began this list over 5 years ago and was not a complete unschooler
at that time. I have learned a lot since then and have complete confidence
in unschooling now. That is why this list is open to any and all who
are interested in unschooling. It can be hard going this road in a Christian
environment so I hoped this list would be a good support for us "odd
balls" who love Jesus.
love to discuss unschooling and the ideas surrounding it.
Until this year, yes, we were full unschoolers. However, we often used
textbooks and lesson plans when that is what the child wanted. I know
there are unschoolers who would NEVER do that, but is that unschooling
to shun the books and ignore the child's desire?
My teen children have chosen to enter homeschooling high school level
classes (the type that meet once or twice a week) and that involves
using the textbook, listening to lecture, turning in homework, etc.
My suspicion is that they take these classes more for the opportunity
to hang with other teens than for any educational benefit, but that's
how it goes. That's their choice. One son wanted a math book when he
was 11 because all his friends had math books. So we popped out a Saxon
65 and he had no trouble with it (no quizzes, drills or tests, though)
and didn't really want a math book after that (until one of those homeschool
classes came up a couple years later and he signed up for that). My
youngest has always used math workbooks (MCP) because he just gets a
total kick out of them. He self works his way through each level.
That's just it.... some don't "unschool" by "some one's standards" of
unschooling because they can't do it per legal reasons - being threatened
- or both. My kids enjoy a more "schooly" atmosphere though I don't
use canned curricula - if I had it my way, some times, I would have
to do as much as I do, though I do enjoy it some. My family has been
attacked for homeschooling - by officials - by well-meaning (?) neighbors
reporting us...or what-have-you. I know what it's like not feeling you're
able to live and breathe as you'd like.
Just because I don't/can't or won't "unschool" by some esoteric rules
and regulations of some unschooling self-appointed committee, doesn't
mean I'm evil, I don't love my children, I don't love God, I'm not listening
to His Voice, I'm not educated about children - or I'm clueless. The
same goes for those those who are more school-at-home.
I hate it when Christians are attacked on obvious Non-Christian lists
for their faith and I hate it when unschoolers become as self-righteous
in their beliefs as they've complained school-at-home-ers have been.
Frankly, I'm just sick and tired of the entire unschoolers vs. non-unschoolers....and
non-unschoolers vs unschoolers arguments. Why do we feel we must justify
our beliefs in God - His call unto our families to live a certain way....and
the way we are educating our children???? If we truly believe that we
are doing according to the Voice of the Lord - then all others' voices
be blocked. It's no one else's grounds for hounding if you KNOW what
you're doing - and you have the Lord to back you up.
If God be for you - who can be against you?
I have fought long and hard for my family to be able to homeschool in
peace.....with officials, social workers, my family, and myself. I have
now come to the place where I shall not justify myself nor what the
Lord has called me to do with my children to anyone anymore.
We are who we are. Take us or leave us. Period.
Renee K., NY
You will find varying degrees of unschooling on this list. What you
won't find is anyone judging you for how far you want to take unschooling.
We are all friends and although consider ourselves unschoolers, we are
a diverse lot, each a facet of the diamond here.
This is a "safe" list. Even when a controversial topic arises and we
all take different points of view (I'm thinking of our Harry Potter
debate, ladies and gentlemen), you'll find respect and acceptance here,
and all we ask in return is the same.
John Holt, when he coined the phrase "unschool", simply meant anything
that was not school. He would not have stopped a child from using textbooks,
workbooks, or even taking classes if that is how the child wished to
learn and felt he learned best. I don't think he would have forced the
child to do without the books any more than he would have forced the
child to use them.
We even have a lady on here whose only child is her unschooled schnauzer!
But who knows what the future holds for her. She hopes to someday have
a baby to unschool too!
So pull up a chair. Somebody want to get Cyndi a glass of CCU pink stuff?
Oh, I myself don't completely radically unschool but instead follow
the Moore Formula for homeschooling, and help my children explore their
interests under gentle parental guidance. Right now the kids are learning
about the middle ages, and having a blast!
I have to say I cringed when you asked this question, then followed
it with the stand up and be counted comment!
I've only come into unschooling because of the grace of the ladies here
(Christians) and the grace of some others in New Zealand (where I live)
who are Not Christians but have been patient with answering my questions.
I started home schooling in England- and we did school at home- although
not as rigidly as some.
Now my hubby gets a bit nervous at times because we are unstructured...
most of the time.
I've so enjoyed being here and being allowed to gradually slip sideways
into more unstructured ways.
I am tired of being thumped for being either a Christian or an "unschooler"
(even though I don't seem to qualify as such here) so I am hoping you
weren't meaning to tell us that we had to be "totally sold out, preaching
the message, burn all curriculum, cruci..oops... beat up the teachers"
I find I am inspired by John Holt's earlier writings- I can't say I
agree with his later ones- I have not had the opportunity to read any
of them. I find personally that any time I get too extreme that I am
usually stepping outside the Lord's direction for me.
We get excited when we discover something together, here in our house;
but sometimes (very occasionally) we sit up at the table and use workbooks-
and not because the children want to, but because the adult says so,
just like when I say they have to do the dishes, or have a shower- if
left to them they would have nothing to eat off, and would have to live
outside. I do encourage them when they do well at the "school" work,
and have shared with them how at times i have had to learn to do things
I don't enjoy, but have valued later on.
As with most, here at the Pitroff household, we educate day by day and
week by week and year by year depending on what works best for each
child - really only one true child left here at age 10 - the others
are all so grown up! Only the youngest 3 have been closest to unschooled.
The first 5 had public, private Christian, tutor, school at home, homeschool
resource center, combinations of these, community college, 4 year colleges,
seminary and self-education as they work their way through life.
Benjamin (10) is into lincoln log building this week, Spanish and science
classes at resource center, working through a basic math workbook when
he is in the mood, finding recipes and shopping for ingredients and
cooking, caring for his dog, soccer, experiements, listening to me read
Lord of the Rings to him, playing with friends, and other 10 year old
Jonathan (16 on the 24th) taking classes at the community college -
voice, piano, digital music, English, and a math class at the resource
center. Lead guitar and singer in his band, Sense of Loss - concerts
about every other month - writes his own songs and music. Plays bass
in our church worship team, plays guitar for 2 youth groups, Bible quiz
team, friends, work - needs those $$ for a new amp!
Nathan (18) taking classes at the community college and is trying to
figure out what God wants him to be doing career wise - will attend
leadership conference next month specifically for that purpose. Has
girlfriend (they just came out of denial and admitted they were more
than "just" friends!) Enjoys playing trombone and music in general,
reading, movies, coaching Bible quizzing, attends and participates at
another church with choir, prayer meetings and young 20's group.
Up until this year I'd say I was a true unschooler. Due to certain circumstances
I have put my three oldest in private school (where I work too). This
is our first year in school after 8 years of homeschooling - the last
three of which were unschooling. It wasn't until about 2 years ago that
I discovered unschooling and fell in love with the concept. I realized
it was exactly what my family needed - we fought so much doing workbooks,
unit studies, computer based curriculums...you name it, we tried it.
Finally, when I threw up my hands and told the kids - fine you do what
you want! That's when true learning took place. I still firmly believe
in the unschooling method and some days I cringe at what I'm putting
my kids through by sending them to private school....but then we have
an interesting weekend of unschooling that includes earthquakes, flash
floods, lightening storms, power and water outages, slumming it at hotels,
and sleeping on the floor discussing whether or not angels were in our
bedroom when the earthquake hit....all in all life is interesting, and
if we diverge for a while and do some "school" that's okay too!
For all of you who are concerned about "unschooling" math and using
a curriculum for it.....I have a full confession to make. I totally
unschooled math with my boys. About two years ago we ran a little snack
shop at the preschool I worked at and my middle son was the full time
cashier. He learned all his math skills counting out money and giving
out change. Parents were amazed at how quickly he could compute their
order in his head and tell them what they owed. He was only 11 at the
time. In the meantime, my older son was teaching himself computer programming
and web design, and in the process had to teach himself a fair amount
of algebra and geometry. Since we had no formal curriculum around, he
went online and found himself web tutorials that taught him what he
needed to know. This year when I put both boys into private school (11th
and 8th grade) they entered never having worked through a math workbook/textbook
before. Adam (8th grade) was given Saxon's Algebra 1 - a full two years
ahead of where I figured he was at. Kevin (11th) was given Saxons Advanced
Mathematics. Both boys struggled the first month "catching up" on concepts
but now at the end of the first quarter of school both are getting in
the high 80's and 90's for scores. Adam's class has been split into
two groups - the "fast" group and the "slow" group. Guess which one
Adam is in? The "fast" group! I am so amazed as I really was concerened
that he just had too many learning gaps to be able to keep up. However,
his teacher says he listens well in class and seems to grasp the concepts
quickly(now that he is over his initial shock of the whole school situation.
LOL) So.....be encouraged...and don't feel pressured to bring out the
Colleen Smith, Guam
I had to laugh when I read this!! I've been on this list for quite a
long time, but don't post often. But I can't unsubscribe, either, so
I guess I should just accept the fact that I've been assimilated and
quit trying to pretend that I haven't ! :-) This list is just TOO good.
So accepting and so wise. It gives me a place to see that unschooling
is *normal* even though when I mention it in our homeschooling meetings
I get looks (christian group), but it is getting better because there
are now 3 of us unschoolers in the group. I even gave a short presentation
(VERY short) on a day in an unschooling family's life. I was very nervous
and don't feel I did it justice, but at least there are people now aware
that there is another way besides buying a fully canned curriculum and
following it step-by-step, creating a rigid school-at-home approach.
Some of them were relieved to hear that I use a curriculum for math
(guess it eased their minds that I wasn't totally out of my mind), but
that's only because for me, I need the structure of learning math because,
well, that's just me. But it's not done exactly how it's intended to
be done and some days they may do 20 pages of math and many days none.
Well, I've rambled.....guess I should add a short bio for those who
haven't met me. Patti, married to dh Jim, for almost 13 years (in December).
Mom to 10 yo boy 9 yo girl, 7 yo boy and 3yo boy(my little pushing-the-limits
toddler right now!). My kids have never been in school and I am quite
happy with that!!
I find that I am turning into a full fledged unschooler. I go through
those "doubt" periods where I start handing out math sheets but for
the most part I am becoming more relaxed. We have to school 180 days
a year so I break it up into 15 days a month year round.....I don't
schedule them I just mark them off on the calendar as we do "school"
things that add up to a day. We watch a lot of shows on Discovery and
such for history and science. I teach a Nature Study class through our
4H class which is a lot of our science as well. I did want to get some
language and math in there but its such a struggle we maybe only get
to it once a week. My older son, 9yo, just joined the unschooler kids
email list and that is great for spelling and such.... I bought the
Key To math books and my son really likes them, he just does them when
he feels like it. It seems we get enough of each subject just through
living life which is how I want it......its me who has to get over the