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Unschooling... an option that works or doesn't?

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    ABC just did a piece on something called unschooling. See

    Generally unschooling is where the children pick what they do for the day, week, month with a little guidance from their parents. They don't use textbooks and they don't take tests. Generally, this aproach moves further into the everyday lives as well. Many do not set bedtimes, allow the children to eat whatever they want.

    "Unschooling is legal in many states, and now there are at least 150,000 unschooled families nationwide."

    Do you think that kids without rules, boundries, and formal education will pick their own path and learn what they need to know? Or will they stumble on the basics and when they finally do decide what they want to do be behind?
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    Adam Sandler's,"Big Dadddy" tries that. Works for moral but lacks substance. The intention is well placed and children in that environment, it would seem, would be free to make a lot of decisions for themselves, instilling problem solving techniques and further critical thinking. But, without some sort of guidance they would fail.

    It would be like a well intentioned group of uneducated teenagers sitting down to try and assemble a motor. Even with all the pieces, without the instructions, or at least a guide book to point them in the right direction, they would probably fail. I say probably because logic and reasoning are inherent in every human being. But, the means in which to utilize these tools and the secrets that have already been unlocked by others would not be at their disposal. At the very least, they would be incredibly hampered.

    I would say a better way to educate your children would be a healthy combination of the two ideas, schooling and unschooling. Strengthen a child's inherent ability to think, create and act for themselves. But, couple that with teaching them the basics of subjects that make sense to understand in this world. The question is, which subjects? Well, I think most agree on the core basics: mathematics, grammar, spelling and the correct use of the English language, the fundamentals of science, history, and health. I would also include computer skills, personal finance and money management, home economics is good, and speech, the arts, philosophy and world religions. But, that's just me.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    I agree that "unschooling" by itself might not fulfill all the expectations. However, there is a lot to be said for many aspects of an "unschooling" type of environment.  While strictly not unschooling, the Sri Atmananda Memorial school in Austin, Texas is one where the child has considerable freedom to learn, while blending that freedom with proper instruction. But not every child is suited to that learning environment.

    On the other hand, a child that has been the product of the James Dobson approach to learning where discipline, punishment and obedience to authority figures are emphasized, might not take to the new freedom, especially if that freedom isn't also exercised at home.

    Here's Dobson's view on how long a child should be allowed to cry after being punished:

    "Yes, I believe there should be a limit. As long as the tears represent a genuine release of emotion, they should be permitted to fall. But crying quickly changes from inner sobbing to an expression of protest... Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears. In younger children, crying can easily be stopped by getting them interested in something else."

    I can't see the "James Dobson child" thriving in an undisciplined school atmosphere.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    I had friends who raised their child in a similar manner except they homeschooled. They allowed him to set his bedtime, eat what he wanted, make his own "choices" etc. We spent a weekend with a group of friends, these friends included, at a B&B. The child kept us up till 3 AM running all over and shouting, because he wasn't ready to go to bed. We all went out to a restaurant, he totally disrupted the meal, climbing all over the seats, under the table, running around. When he was "asked" to be quiet he pitched a fit. This doesn't work. Children need structure because when they're adults there is structure. He was an annoying little boy for the entire weekend. I don't blame him, I blame the parents. This is not the way to raise children, they need social guidance.