HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Free-Range Education: Why...

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:15 PM

 

Free-Range Education: Why The Unschooling Movement Is Growing

A once-utopian idea – allowing kids to ‘discover’ their own education path while learning at home – goes mainstream.

By Stephanie Hanes, Correspondent FEBRUARY 14, 2016

MADISON, N.H. — On a late Monday morning in this rural New Hampshire town, Dayna and Joe Martin’s four children are all home. Devin, age 16, is hammering a piece of steel in the blacksmith forge he and his parents built out of a storage shed in the backyard. Tiffany, 14, is twirling on a hoverboard, deftly avoiding the kaleidoscope-painted cabinets in the old farmhouse’s living room. Ivy, 10, and Orion, 7, are sitting next to each other using the family’s two computers, clicking through an intense session of Minecraft.

It looks a lot like school vacation, or a weekend. But it’s not. This, for the Martin kids, is school. Or, to put it more accurately, it’s their version of “unschooling,” an educational theory that suggests children should follow their own interests, without the imposition of school or even any alternative educational curriculum, because this is the best way for them to learn and grow.

“I don’t even know what grades are,” says Orion, who has never spent a day in school, has never followed a lesson plan, and has never taken a test. (Tests, his mother says, can be degrading to children – an invasion of their freedom of thought.)

“We live as if school doesn’t exist,” Ms. Martin explains. “People are really brainwashed into seeing things in school form, with life breaking down into subjects. This life is about freedom and not having limits. It’s about really trusting your kids. And it’s amazing what they do.”

Martin says that, left alone to follow their own interests, her children have learned everything from history and ethics to trade skills and math. But what they learn isn’t her concern, she says. She doesn’t much care if her son knows how to read by age 8. She trusts he will read when he is ready to read. Her role, she says, is not to be her children’s teacher or judge, but a facilitator and perhaps partner in helping them follow their own passions.

MORE...

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2016/0214/Free-range-education-Why-the-unschooling-movement-is-growing?cmpid=editorpicks&google_editors_picks=true

18 replies, 1556 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:18 PM

1. Cough: HIPPIES: Cough......

Actually, if you have the time and the patience, this is probably a better way for a lot of kids.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:19 PM

2. It can work. My friend the artist and NYU grad student is living proof.

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:23 PM

3. I think this is as good an approach as any, and I am a teacher.

 

Everybody is, ultimately, self-educated. Everything else is resource, particularly peers. A motivated organism is the essence of education.

--imm

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:27 PM

4. My son did his last year of high school

All online, he only needed four classes and they were self-paced. With the technology today it was better than him driving 15 miles to the school and he could go ahead and start working during the day.

I barely even went to my high school the last two years, the county paid my tuition to go to technical school instead.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:31 PM

5. This is a tough one.

Know of Family that have and still do home schooling. Heard all the stories how their kids didn't fit in,or the teachers are picking on them,and the Righteous Fundie wing,they are teaching Socialism and Communism.

Well,each and everyone who applied to College and was accepted,had to take what we used to call Remedial Courses as a result of their SAT and ACT scores. You be the judge as to the vast amount of persons who are Home Schooled,yes some will have the tools to teach,got a hunch there are bigger social issues that are at sway.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:32 PM

6. as someone who taught reading for 30 years and am still enchanted by the magic of it I would

be concerned if he didn't read by 8. It isn't an osmosis process because if it was we would be able to look at Egyptian hieroglyphics and read them.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 06:54 PM

7. I just hope the parents have enough saved up in trust funds for those kids to live off.

Those kids might be smart enough to get into Harvard, MIT or Stanford, or skillful enough to take on any number of apprenticeships in skilled labor positions, but without a network in place, no one is going to hire them, nor will any reputable institution of higher learning take them in.

Not saying the regimentation of school learning is best (heck, I'm saving up for my grand-daughters to go to Montessori instead of the standard public schools), but there is a basic level of general education that the children need to know to be able to allow those "leaps of imagination" become actualized.

There were a lot of classes I just didn't want to take. Tedious "work through the process" classes, where critical teachers had me go over and over formulas, processes, and rules that needed to be exact before my work could be accepted.
But without the discipline of going through a logical process to come to a result, of having to defend my work, and being able to assess what changes to the environment that process and result, I'd be working some tedious low-skill job wondering why my great ideas can never get launched and no one would take me seriously.

Grades - no problem with tossing them; you either pass or fail the requirements to complete your work. Grades are there for a the student to compete against, and some students are horrible when they need to compete. Tests - well, tests as a skill or understanding assessment measure are good. But meeting a Pass/Fail criteria should be the only recorded assessment the student should deal with to advance to the next level, or record completion in learning a skill or process to express competent understanding.

And I agree, play is an important part of learning. But so is practice to a point of proficiency. And stepping out of one's comfort zone to experience the world around them as it is, rather than as they want it to be. Just letting kids do what they want can facilitate the child into failure in society as it is, especially if there's no goal set and it's easy to give up whenever one gets bored.

It must be nice to have enough wealth to build one's own reality for oneself. Thoreau would have approved of adults making that choice to be happy in their lives, to be comfortable with their ability to slow the world down, contemplate, be artistic.
Let's just hope they also have enough wealth that their children (who don't deserve to be punished for their parent's philosophical retreat from the outside world) can make it when Mom and Dad can no longer support their freedom to live and learn the way they want. Not all children are capable of being artistic enough or lucky enough with their networking not to have to follow the standards that 70% of the population has to meet to be able just to have enough income to keep a roof over their heads and food on their plates.

I'd like to have been able to adopt that sort of learning environment for with my step-daughter, and with my grand-children. My parents would have liked to be able to have done the same with me and my brother. But, sadly there's that little issue of family well-being or sustainability and being able to grow up to be employable if need be.


Haele

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to haele (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 07:05 PM

8. My girlfriend has raised her son this way

He's 15 now. She's well off, and thanks to a buyout of the company, and some family money, she can afford to stay home and "unschool" him. He's very well adjusted, bright, personable, and competes in equestrian events. He has friends his own age, and also relates very well to adults. But you're right, there are gaps in his education. He doesn't write and spell as well as perhaps he would if he'd been formally schooled. OTOH, he's naturally mechanically gifted. He can take anything apart and immediately understand how it works. So we will see what happens. I don't know if college is in his immediate future, or work. She is talking with him about a horse related apprenticeship of some kind-perhaps as a farrier. They can do very, very well in the right location.

My girlfriend graduated from a highly competitive, elite high school, and an Ivy League university. She burned out on the pressure, and she chose another path for her son.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ex Lurker (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 07:25 PM

10. And therein lies the rub. These are special cases, not the average.

In the optimal location, with the optimal resources, and the right child, homeschooling based on a more liberal "unschooling" philosophy will not leave them wondering why the world around them seems to be working against them.
I also know a few people who homeschool their children for liberal learning rather than religious reasons. The results seem to be all over the place. But what I've observed is this:

A bright, curious child that is self-motivated, that lives in a positive environment surrounded with access to a wide range of activities and learning resources, will thrive.

A child that is very introverted, that has emotional or learning issues, that lives in a more competitive or judgmental environment where resources are limited will fall behind, and will inevitably have problems as they enter adulthood.

Good luck to your girlfriend and her son. It seems that she has been able to position him into an environment and network that he can thrive in. Hopefully he will also have learned how to learn enough that he can make up for the gaps in his education should he need to.


Haele

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 07:09 PM

9. I see these families in the clinic, quite frequently.

The majority of the kids I see are struggling with issues like social anxiety, self esteem, and seem to be struggling to find themselves in ways that are extreme compared to peers in other school/developmental settings. Few of them seem to be making much progress at development in most ways. They often get little exercise, spend a lot of time in transitions, and do very, very little with their days.

I'm sure there are some for whom this might work, but I doubt it's a viable developmental course for most families/individuals.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:00 PM

11. I think "unschooling" only works with kids who are very self-driven and self-diciplined.

Basically, the kind of kids who would be "high-achievers", anyway.

For most kids this would be a disaster.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Odin2005 (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:15 PM

12. Yep.

 

I hope they will enjoy working as drones for the Chinese, cos that's where they are gonna end up.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:26 PM

13. We unschooled.

Worked out great for two very different children. One graduated from one of the most academic colleges in the US and one became a farmer.

One taught himself to read at 3, the other wasn't interested until 7 or 8. And yes, there were things we insisted they learn, but they weren't required to learn them on a "schoolish" time frame.

We did try school for the first child. It proved to be nothing more than daycare with bullying. He was refused an education at his rate and level of learning as is required by our state law.

Segregating children by age is a ridiculous practice. Even within school, there's no reason to require that. Once you've learned something you should be able to move on. There should also be no shame in taking more time than the child sitting next to you to master something or just taking more time because you find that subject fascinating. Holding children back from learning or pushing them before they're ready or interested shouldn't be what we practice.

We were very fortunate that one paycheck was enough, so that one of us could stay home to facilitate their education. Not that we were ever home....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:26 PM

14. Who wants to be around their kids all day?

And what kids want to be around their parents all day, for that matter?

School also teaches socialization and how to exist with all kinds of other people.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NightWatcher (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:46 PM

16. That's an old argument....


Unschooling isn't sitting around the table with your mom and a bible, isolated from the world. Apparently you didn't read the article. You're out in the world most days interacting with all people, not just stuck in a room with 35 people who are only your age, only from your neighborhood. Unschooling is about facilitating an education that fits your child and engages them and entices them to be life long learners.

If you really think about it, who wants their child socialized by a group of 5 year olds? I'd much rather my children learned to interact in a reasonable way with all ages in a more natural setting as we go about our daily lives.

If you're not stuck in a classroom all day, there are also multi-age classes and group learning experiences you're available for where your children either conform their behavior to the norm, or they're not welcome. They easily learn to behave and engage with others in a far more mature manner than most.

Plus, bonus! When your children exist in the real world, instead of a classroom with all of the immature behavior and boredom, they can be much more pleasant to be around. Not at all times, of course, but in general.

It's a progressive idea. Not that we're all progressives here.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sense (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 18, 2016, 03:33 PM

18. I have to agree, "But, Socialization!" is a weak argument

There are four or five families in the area around our tiny town whose kids get together a couple times a week at a park or one another's homes. They range from strictly religious (Bible-based, school-in-the-home type curriculum) to our own apostate-Unitarian-Universalist liberal approach, but they've all learned to get along fine and respect each other. Frankly, the DU population could probably learn something about social interaction from these kids. Not only that, they all have friends in public school as well; our kids and the school kids visit each other's homes after school for play, parties, sleep-overs, just like any other kids. I don't see where my public school socialization was better in any way.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 08:45 PM

15. Reeding n riting n spelling gud r eeleetst ideels

Ah yes; another go-round with good old fashioned American anti-intellectualism, which wrinkles its piggy nose at "book learning." Sure, keep the masses as dumb and complacent as possible - and make them think that being dumber than shit is a revolutionary act. Fucking brilliant.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Feb 17, 2016, 09:17 PM

17. Damn

I wouldn't have wanted to be around my mother all day, so such a regime wouldn't have worked for me. I went to big city schools (Detroit). They didn't segregate by ability so i was held back by the pace of the slowest student in the 35 person class. I learned to read, spell, and do basic arithmetic quickly but got lazy because of the slow pace of the classes. I ended up getting mostly Bs and Cs in high school. I got into a decent college only by getting 1450 on my SATs (in 1956). In college, I was challenged a bit more and graduated in the top 20% of my class (in engineering) but I do know I could have done better if I had applied myself more. I wish i had been thrown into a very competitive environment of high achievers in grade 1. I night not have been so lazy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread