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Any Unschoolers?
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Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 15
Location: PEI Canada

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:54 am    Post subject: Interesting Reply with quote

Interesting thread.

In the younger grades we were very relaxed. Not Unschoolers, but there were at least 3-4 subjects we never "taught" in Africa because the kids fought over who's turn it was to read the nice books we had on the subjects in the back seat of our Double cab truck on the way to the village.

That was one thing Raymond Moore helped us to relax about, with Boys especially. We HSed no more than 2 hrs a day then. Most days less. They went into the top of their Public school classes when we moved home. The 4 yrs of PS were an academic waste of time. Because truth is they were ahead of the class grade, not just top of the class.

Anyway, coming back to HSing for older kids caused us to do MUCH reading and research. What results we saw from HSing in elementary encouraged us but we were nervous.

HS did not begin out of ideology for us, rather out of necessity with a move to Africa. We knew nothing about it, and had to scurry to find out about it. SO it was not any moral or religious convictions that pushed us into this. We had never met a HS family in our life. Anyway, we got some bad advice for curriculum and then stumbled on Sonlight. It was a good fit for us - though we did not order all the literature etc they suggested.

Anyway, it was not any moral/religious convictions that brought us back to HSing either. We simply felt we had no choice. PS was not working, in fact retarding, the educational process. We like the Christian content we can add, but that is not our only motivation- one of a dozen reasons.

Anyway, kids can learn so much in a relaxed environment early on. But we could never say we were unschoolers. But I/we don't teach either. Not even today. We use SL and they get up each day and just do their work independently. I will ask them what they learn-ed each day and that is about it. They read a lot. We see our Sonlight materials not as "Text books" (They use none anyway) just good books we buy for them to read. Anyway the younger needs some encouragement each day as he is not as independent as the others.

Anyway, our experience, and those on here, is about the same i'm sure. HS kids by grade 3-5 are a full 1.5-2 years ahead, And by 8th grade can pass a High School GED.
That is what the research HSLDA pointed us to says.

Anyway, the last 2.5 years HSing have seen the retarding process stopped and the kids advanced at least another 2-3 grades a head of their peers. After 1.5 years of Hsing. My now Oldest son (Would be grade 11) is now taking two university courses and will be taking another two in December. Anyway, again I attribute it to the HS methodology, not their "exceptionalness".

Our kids learn so much from commercial fishing with me. Also from our time living in Africa. Life teaches a lot. However, the real truth is we need books of for kids to learn. They have to have access to books where they can get the information from. In French West Africa there were no libraries, there were no other missionaries around us for "Support Groups". My Kids would not be able to learn any more in Africa without books. They would have been "unschooled" like the African kids. Facilitating education there required buying books and making them available. That is why we Highly like SL there. They provided a variety of rich books to read across a wide subject field. The literature approach worked and the kids love to read today. Anyway, not promoting Sonlight here. But in Africa the other families in other cities and towns mostly used Abeka and that was just sad. We knew nothing About HS when we began, but were thankful we found SL early on and that someone put Raymond Moore's book; "Better late than early" on our hands. We did not adopt his philosophy hook line and sinker. However, out of great trust and hope that we were not mistaken or mislead, we lightened up for the early grades - especially because we had boys - like Raymond said.
Remember, his Helping institute? He helps kids who were sick all their young lives and were never in school all their early life because they were in Hospital all their life.
He said they have proved it. They rutinely take kids who should have been in Grade 7 or 8 in Public school because of their age. Who were never taught anything but to read. And He said: "You can teach a 7th or 8th grade aged child everything that other PS kids leaned from grades 1-6 in only 2-3 months." Why? Because they are developmentally ready and it's easier to learn. He said we falsely insist kids learn things when they have to struggle and wrestle with it because they are not developed yet. Delay it a year or two and presto.

Anyway, those comments made us relax more, and it did work for us and the kids. We had books, bought books and hauled books to Africa. To suggest unschoolers do not use books to teach - I think is just wrong. They may let the kids choose them at the library or buy them for them. Some info comes directly from Mom and dad as well. But they do Point the kids ot books.

Anyway, the "Teacher at home" with text books is getting rarer these days I think. There is just so many more and better approaches out there now that are less rigid.
Anyway, we only have 100 kids HSing on our Whole province. It is not very popular or common in Eastern Canada at all.
Our Very tiny tiny library is so pathetic - well if we let the kids "Unschool" they would wait weeks and weeks for books to come in on the subject once they requested them (The Provincial library is connect to all Libraries and you can order books online from the other ones and they will come to your local library for pick up) and by then want to forget it.

Anyway, the approach or methodology of Unchoolers may be more relaxed, more hands on. But they are still using experiments (Be it your ancient war machine project or one set up in a "Curriculum" that makes the same suggestion) and books to teach information and mom and dad as a resource. I have seen a lot of jargon tossing on these subjects (It was so overwhelming when we started researching HSing at upper grades to behin in Dec 2004) and it's more semantics than real life differences. There are great differences for sure. But there are lots of people who buy curriculum for the sake of having the information handy when needed. But far from "stand up teachers". In My reading what I got the impression was that unschoolers were looking at all the abeka and Bob Jones users with the chalk board in the School room- and ran away. Not that I blame them. Laughing

But one readily notices that these companies are not picking up many of the newer HS families just breaking in to Hsing the last 10 years. Companies like Tapestry of Grace, Sonlight, Winter Promise, Konos etc are growing leaps and bounds over them. Which I think is a good thing. Anyway, we may not like other approachs, I may not agree with them. The bottom line is I think Kids learn better at home no matter what methodology they use, and when Parents can spend more time with their kids that is wonderful.
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Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 148
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:28 pm    Post subject: Unschooling defined in a nutshell Reply with quote

So many people have said to me, "If we didnít make children do things, they wouldnít do anything." Even worse, they say, "If I werenít made to do things, I wouldnít do anything."

It is the creed of a slave.

When people say that terrible thing about themselves, I say, "You may believe that, but I donít believe it. You didnít feel that way about yourself when you were little. Who taught you to feel that way?" To a large degree, it was school.

John Holt
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Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 148
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 7:29 pm    Post subject: LifeIsGood Unschooling Conference 2008 Reply with quote

It is, of course, impossible to know where to start, what to write, and where to stop; so, I'm just gonna shotgun some stuff out there and what sticks, sticks and what falls away, falls away.

Life Is Good! (http://www.lifeisgoodconference.com/)

At one level, you wanna say that unschooling is all about the kids and that was certainly true; the kids and their interactions and activities were the beating heart of the entity which was the conference. But radical unschooling (or whatever label you wanna assign to it) is a philosophy/lifestyle which informs every member of the family and the weltanschauung of family living. In that sense, it's not just about the kids but about the entire family and how the family interacts with the larger universe in which it functions. In that vein, I saw a lot of adults blossoming and relaxing because all the other adults there accepted their kids and their entire family for what they are, without the usual societal assumptions of what they should be, according to some laundry list which was apparently passed out one day at school while I was out sick. Maybe it was in one of those business classes I avoided at college? Anyway, I'm happy to have missed that particular lesson.

Kids were loved and hugged and accepted. And parents were loved and hugged and accepted. It's really all any of us wants, whether we're six or sixty, simply to be accepted for what we are, warts and all (as Schuyler might say!). Nobody grabbed a sparkly child's arm and hauled her away while stage-whispering, "You're embarrassing me!" Nobody said to their injured, crying child, "Be a man! You're not really hurt."

And nobody demanded of the parent of a shiny sparkler that they should control their unruly child, nor did anyone complain to a parent consoling a distraught child that there was too much nurturing going on and some tough love was called for. What a nice break from the social ocean I typically swim in. Predator-filled, that thing is and our happy conference pond of acceptance was a welcome respite.

The rate of the beating heart of the conference was set by the drum circle and, believe you me!, it was groooooovy. Ronnie the Rhythm Mistress got our pulse pounding!

If the kids were the heart of the conference, grooving to the beat of the drum circle, Mary was obviously the brain. Thank you! Thank you! A thousand times, thank you! You organized this madhouse into a coherent unity. Amazing. Of course, this means I'm not mentioning John and us guys gotta stick together; so maybe you're the superego of the conference's brain and John is the id. That leaves Connor and Qacei as the two halves of this brain's ego. Ok, maybe that analogy doesn't work so well; but a million thanks, anyway, O Brainy Diva!

Continuing the organ theme, the lungs of the conference got their breath from the sharing between and among participants. We breathed in the fresh and refreshing philosophical O2 provided by our fellow unschoolers and offgassed our CO2 of fear, doubt, and insecurity. The more experienced among us provided one isotope of O2 while the newbies provided another but they were all valuable and refreshing. It's all O2, baby, and don't let anybody tell ya otherwise.

I don't really wanna continue this metaphor to such a granular level that I cover every organ in the body. I mean, who wants to know about the conference's kidneys? However, I do feel that John deserves a mention for contributing to the workload of the conference's liver. Yum! Cocktails good! For that matter, the wine tasting was a very pleasant interlude for me, too. I'm definitely not an oenophile (which I lovingly pronounce as "weenie-phile") but I do enjoy a nice glass of wine. And I certainly did that night! Thanks to all the providers and our two wine professionals. A swell time for me individually but mister liver is tired now and he needs a nice rest.

The voice of the conference was the panglossalalia of all our various voices blending into the harmony of one concept, even if it was expressed across a bit of a spectrum rather than on one single wavelength. Individuality in all things, eh?

And who could doubt that the feet of the conference were present at the Barefoot Boogie! Phew! I'm still tired. The lovely MJ put together a kickass playlist.

Ok, to finish this metaphor with a well-deserved euthanasia, each of us was the eyes of the conference. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the eyes have it! I'm not a huge Lord Byron fan but I'll close with a poem of his and specify an allusion between the poet's "she" and the embodiment of the personification of the conference itself.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

I had a helluva good time and, if you were there, I hope you did, too. If you weren't there, get your ass in gear and ATTEND next year! I expect to see you there!

P.S. This is a duplicate of what I wrote on my blog. If you go there (the www button below), you'll see the same thing.
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