Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To school or not to school?

Or to unschool?

Discuss.

12 comments:

M said...

Interesting article. I think unschooling can work for some people, but as a teenager I didn't really thrive in that setting. I was homeschooled for about a year when I was in middle school. Things started alright, but after awhile I got lazy and just wanted to watch "The Jerry Springer Show" anytime my mom left the house. It is my opinion that different types of people function well while being unschooled, while others do better in an "ideological state apparatus."

I do wonder, though, how my learning patterns might have differed if I was unschooled at an early age (without being introduced to public school).

Although I didn't flourish as an unschooled teenager, I take pride in being an unschooled adult. I guess it's never too late...

Aby Runyan said...

I am currently in the throws of Kindergarten panic.
That being Capri is starting Kindergarten in August and I am panicking about it.
But I'm not going to home school unless my kids ask me to. If they truly hate school and are having bad experiences then I'll pull them out. That said, I'm still freaking out about her starting and DAILY think, "I'm just not gonna let her. I'll keep her home." Ugh. It's maddening.
luvs, aby

Kelsey said...

I am pretty pro-homeschool, but think that "unschooling" often doesn't work. I do believe some sort of curriculum needs to be followed, even if it is tailored to individual interests. Often unschooling becomes synonymous with letting your kids play in the yard or watch tv all day while you do whatever you feel like. Not always, but often. Some parental structure (especially while younger) seems necessary.

Jacki said...

I don't think the article actually represents what unschooling is. I think independent study is great, but I'm not sold on unschooling. Kids aren't going to find and show an interest in stuff they don't even know exists. An adult needs to show the way.

Jen said...

This has been on my mind as I wonder what will happen to my extremely bright child when she goes to school. I think the article makes some good points, but I don't think unschooling is for everyone.

I think such a system would benefit a very small minority, and as other commenters have said, at least a limited structure would be necessary as well. Otherwise, I could see a lot of kids getting into Jerry Springer (or Judge Judy, as with my sister) and much worse.

Kate said...

If I had had "unschooling" as a child I would have gotten very into Hawaii 5-0. Oh, wait... that happened to me anyways. I say, either way the parent has to be heavily involved. If so, the kids will turn out alright. If not, the kid will likely turn out to be just as selfish as the parent. [Hence the reason I do not have any.]

betsey said...

Richard and I watched this tonight and thought of you and your love of Jazzercise.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/4192/saturday-night-live-body-fuzion

missy. said...

I'm pretty pro-public school (although you certainly won't hear me criticizing anyone who decides to homeschool!) My husband's a teacher, after all, so we're believers in the potential social benefits and conceptual educational equity that public schools can provide. (This is also why I'm not a fan of subsidizing private/charter schools that further entrench socioeconomic classes by offering better education only to those who can afford it).

My preference would be to funnel more funds into public education. Some well-funded schools have managed to mimic the benefits of unschooling (like providing opportunities for kids to choose what they study, or vocational ed, or more opportunities for independent study, etc.) while still providing the helpful structure that comes with having supportive mentors. We know how to do this: pay teachers more, decrease class sizes, make more learning resources available to schools, restructure classes to emphasize participatory learning, conduct more research on learning styles and make that information widely available to teachers, offer incentives for creative and innovative teachers.

The problem isn't necessarily that the system of public education is flawed; free education for all is a great idea! The problem is that our country underprioritizes education. Only 5 percent of our national spending goes toward education (versus nearly 30 percent that goes toward the military). Can you imagine if just a portion of this money was reprioritized and redirected? Then maybe fewer parents would have reservations about sending their children to public schools...

Kate said...

Amen! I love the bumper sticker, "When will the military have to have a bake sale to buy a new jet?"

Ann Marie said...

SUPER interesting. As usual, I don't have much to discuss other than summarizing the article. I really love the idea though. Thanks for sharing!

Rach said...

I unschooled. High five. It was much better for me than school.

li'l mil said...

Maybe "unschooling" isn't the perfect fit for everyone, but I think the article presents a good principle. If the federal gov't would stay out of the public school system, I think many local and state gov'ts would encourage this type of learning bc teachers wouldn't have to spend all their time teaching for tests. I think we'd see a greater variety in curricula and school programs if the federal gov't would back off.