[QUOTE=Crabbcakes;971871]I have a few thoughts, so I'll just give them to you in no particular order:
You and DH could go to a few homeschooling conferences (Christian, secular, and unschooling). If you have never been to one, it will really open your eyes as to the possibilities. If nothing else, the vendor halls alone are a glorious cornucopia of learning and ideas - your daughter really couldn't get bored anywhere between K and 12 if you mine these resources for just fun stuff/her interests/adjuncts to her public school curriculum if she shows signs of boredom. (This also works for stuff she might get stuck on in the future - at this point, there are homeschooling resources out there for solving almost any learning stumbling block.)
I really don't think anyone is ever too old to "learn how to learn". If you would like a neat book, try Howard Gardner's "Multiple Intelligences". The author himself is worthy of an epic googling session. I think his work will awaken a hidden side of you...
Yeah, I am worried for public education as well. Mostly I get angry at the admin side of it - big, huge office buildings and loads of unnecessary (my opinion) people (from the state boards of ed all the way to textbook publishers) getting in the way of what should really be a much simpler relationship: the kids, the teachers directly dealing with the kids, and a local community to decide what atmosphere their local school should have.[/QUOTE]
Thanks for your thoughts. So far we're doing preschool at home and DD is loving simply reading books about all sorts of different topics. We've done some science and she's catching onto math. She gets everything the first time through which is why I think she'll be bored at school. I might have to look into one of those conferences in the area and see what it's about.
I think part of my problem with learning how to learn is that the material is really hard. I would like to have a better understanding of the theory of relativity and other modern physics concepts. I was a physics major but only understood enough to get an A/B in college on these. It's a little bit humurous to me since I was a teacher and still tutor students and therefore know various ways to present material. I just haven't found any way to understand advanced physics or math topics more than I currently do. Maybe some day when I have more time.
I totally agree with you on your last paragraph. The community we're moving to has actually told the BOE that they need to start by cutting administration to balance the budget.
95% of teachers and other educators are there because of students. They want to make a difference and they want kids to succeed. The good ones find ways around all of the BS that they have to deal with and make it work. I know a lot of people feel like we need to be done with conventional schools. But there are a many many many children who will not get an education without conventional schools. I love what I see here. You are all parents who will do what it takes for your kid. But as long as there are kids who don't have that we need some type of public school system. Does it need to be changed? Oh beyond any shadow of a doubt. Help support that change for all of those kids who don't have parents like you
One of the results of schools (probably not intentional) is that by the time kids get to high school they are turned off to learning. It sometimes happens even earlier when a child's learning style doesn't mesh with classroom management. They've been told what to do for so long they are over it by the time they hit the teen years. My husband teaches an elective class (pottery) in high school and he says it is a rare day when he actual gets to teach something. There's a big difference between just doing the assignment and truly wanting to learn how to do something.
I second what Crabbcakes said about going to a conference, you'll meet other families and see that it is totally doable. If there isn't a conference in your area find out if there's a homeschool group in your area you could probably meet up with them and talk to the parents and kids. Our homeschool group has a park day and we encourage families that are considering homeschooling to meet us there.
[QUOTE=zoebird;971747]home schooling generally uses some form of curriculum and has a more organized process of education.
unschooling is opting to not have a curriculum, and provide opportunities related to the child's interests so that they can learn. for example, a friend of mine unschools her daughter (and my son when they are together), which mostly involves free play and then listening to what they are playing, and then creating opportunities around it. They were playing that they had an imaginary pet elephant, for example, and then there was an elephant thing at a local museum that she noticed and then she took them to see that to follow up where their interests were.[/QUOTE]
I like this concept... but ultimately I still think it's important for kids to get SOME curriculum (ie maths skills etc.) that they may not get from that approach. Well, I suppose it depends what they want to do AFTER school, but it seems that having some sort of formalised curriculum would at least pave the way for them to get a university education, if that's what they choose.
Although, I guess if their interests lay in that direction, you'd end up going there anyway? I still think it'd be a bit hard to do something like calculus (for example) without any formal textbook type education (unless the parents were really good at it :D).
Maybe I'm missing the point, though?
There was a time I liked the idea of homeschooling my kids, but I would have done it with a curriculum, and probably concentrated more on extending in those areas that the kids' interests lay.
i think that one of the things to consider about unschooling is that the underlying process is that human beings are capable of learning anything that they want to learn, so long as they have a desire to learn it -- which means that a person with no formalized mathematics training can learn what they need to learn to do university level (and life long academia) mathematics.
likewise, mathematics exists for us in daily life. my son is 4, and goes shopping with us. today, we noted that we could get loose asparagus for 14.95/kilo, or we could get bunches of asparagus for $3.95/bunch.
Each bunch weighed 1/3 kilo, which means that it was just about $12 per kilo, or a $3 savings. DS and I measured, compared, and did the basics of maths -- 3 bunches equals one kilo, and each bunch costs $4, and that equals (he counted on his fingers) $12. And the other price point was listed at $14.95.
DS spends a lot of time counting and constructing with blocks and lego -- trying to figure out how to create what he wants using these interesting cubic increments. He'll often say "I need three more one-box, and 4 more 6 box" in order to construct a specific sword or shield or boat or car or plane or what have you. And, some of it is predicated: I want this car to fit these (non-lego) wooden people (literally pegs), and so I need it to do this, and I need that to do that, and the window needs to be here vs there. Which is design and engineering in it's infancy.
This, of course, comes with no pressure from us, and certainly not working on any formal mathematics training, really -- just what life brings us, which is a fair bit of daily mathematics.
He also loves to play "store" with his dad, where they come up with different price points and he has to weigh which objects to buy with the money in his hand. And, they alternate between purchaser and shopkeep -- so he learns both sides of that economic equation.
In addition, he cooks -- which deals in equal parts, or parts-of-parts . . . as he understands that half a teaspoon is . . . well, it's half of that amount. And, he'll measure things out in dirt to practice -- so that he can "eye ball" what a teaspoon is vs a half a tsp vs 1/4 tsp and so on. He does the same with cups and tablespoons, and commented to his father that it seems to him that working in metric is much more accurate than working in "household amounts" becuase he happened to note that designed cups might not be an actual "cup" even though he sees the elder ladies at the church cooking with teacups and random spoons.
All of this is basic mathematics training, and there are other opportunities as well in terms of crafting, music, woodworking . . . and a myriad of other skills that would deeply engage a child without overtly looking at mathematics per se in the terms of the formula and memorization that we did in school.
And, finally, a tale of a fabulously unschooled child:
one of my online friends opted to homeschool her son, simply because school didn't seem to work for him. She started on curricula, but he rejected those pretty intensely, and she finally just got fed up and asked him what he wanted to do.
Turns out that the kid had a relatively random interest in ancient egypt, and that became the primary focus of his study for 6 years. He not only read and learned the history of all of these great thinkers, religious leaders, and political leaders, but he studied the culture as best we know it. He studied the religious traditions and it's connections to other communities surrounding egypt -- and the mixing of cultures in general that happens. Which means that he studied more than egypt itself.
In the last two years, the boy started to write plays -- plays about these different political leaders, teachers, religious leaders, philosophers. He included details about the history and culture in costuming, language, and even set design. With some community help (community theater), he was able to put on the plays. He helped to *build* the sets. . . not just design them, but learned the skills required to build them, which includes maths. He did the same with costumes -- having to measure people of different sizes and figure out pattern making and then also help put them together with ladies who knew how to sew and were willing to teach him. He wrote and directed the plays, as well as designed the marketing and worked within a budget.
All told, he lodged 6 plays which were not only attended by community members in general, but also *school children* who happened to be studying world cultures, or egypt, or what have you.
He was 13 when he finished his time with Egypt, but through his study of egypt he was introduced to a myriad of concepts and ideas -- maths, science, philsoophy, religious studies, cultural studies, history of course, archeology, and he also was working in english (play writing), and several other aspects of the arts. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.
Today, he's 19 years old and at university. He had no grades, and he didn't take his SATs, etc. He simply lodged an application and portfolio with the state school, and got a letter of recommendation from the professor in the area in which he wanted to study.
Which happens to be engineering.
He contacted the professor when he was about 15 or so, to ask about how certain things were built. he was interested in architectural engineering because of his egyptian studies, which took him into interests in all kinds of buildings throughout the world -- how did ancient peoples do these things? how do we do these different things like sky-scrapers? How do those work?
After creating a relationship with the professor and starting to study this on his own, he began to move deeply into the maths and sciences -- well into university level -- as a teenager. . . on his own and self directed, seeking the help that he needed from others as he felt that he needed it.
It's not for everyone, of course, but I see no specific reason to worry that a person won't get the basic maths that they need to live well, and if they want more than that, they can certainly get more as they want it.
Although, I guess if their interests lay in that direction, you'd end up going there anyway? I still think it'd be a bit hard to do something like calculus (for example) without any formal textbook type education (unless the parents were really good at it [/QUOTE]
This is a common misconception about unschooling; that textbooks aren't used. If a child shows an interest in an area most unschooling parents will use what ever material works best, that could mean a textbook or a tutor in some cases.
Zoebird my son was also passionate about ancient Egypt, he studied it for about 3 years. It led him into areas we wouldn't have been able to explore any other way. He was particularly interested in their religion and philosophy. It led him to study sacred geometry and we were fortunate enough to find a mathematician who specialized in sacred geometry. Before visiting the Tutankhamen exhibit he gave DS a lesson in the geometry and the mathematical meaning in the designs of the pieces in the exhibit, it really enriched the experience.
The beautiful thing about unschooling is that when you follow your passions you end up learning so much more. Kids don't need to be coerced to learn things when they are already fascinated with the subject, it's intrinsically rewarding for them.
I am an eclectic homeschooling mom. My two older boys are in public school because that is their father's wish and in our state both parents must sign off to be allowed to homeschool :( I understand the reasoning but it is not good. My second son was homeschooled for 5 years though. My younger two I do a lot of unschooling with some workbook type stuff thrown in to keep the state, Dad and step Dad happy. Plus my kids have this awful lack of motivation. UGH! But I am pretty relaxed. I do not push and let my kids learn at their own pace for the most part. I do not feel our public school system is the natural way kids learn or grow. It is an artifical environment that has little in common with real life no matter what people try to convince me! I will probably get flamed for that statement but oh well.
I love Waldorf (Steiner) education and wish I had discovered it when my children were younger. I feel it is a gentle, creative and natural approach to learning. Seems like a good balance between the natural child and classical education.
I would say that steiner is a nice mix between natural child and classical education. what i like is how they make their own textbooks over time. And, they work at all different styles of learning on a given topic. And, it's community focused. And, there aren't any grades or standardized tests.
My son loves it. It works well for him. He would not do well in public school. They'd punish him too much because he's so fiery (passionate) about everything.
Just a personal story -
I was homeschooled starting in kindergarten. My mom did a pretty structured program at first. It wasn't a set curriculum or scientific, just a lot of guided reading and some worksheets.
Later, my mom decided to have more kids. As a result, I just had some textbooks and did them myself. The results were - unsatisfactory. I liked my History textbooks and a few other things, but I fell way behind on math and science. Combined with the general sense that girls didn't "do" those things, I floundered for a while and felt completely lost. I've never felt comfortable with those subjects, though I did manage to complete my college requirements with decent grades. I ended up majoring in History in college, and now have to endure comments from relatives that I didn't do anything "practical."
Because of this thread I checked a few books about unschooling out of the library, and because of my own experience I have a few critiques.
1) I totally agree with the position of [B][I]not[/I][/B] testing. My mom had us do some standard testing every few years (Iowa Basic, I think) and all the scores did is turn us into prigs (we scored well, obviously, except for my math score). The result was that if I was not at the very top of the class, my self-confidence fell into shambles. Testing may be helpful for the parents to see where the child is at, but I don't think the score should ever be shared with the child, it does nothing but teach them that intelligence is a quantity that makes some people better than others.
2) I disagree that you can just let a child go and do whatever and whenever. The result of this is that the child will not be able to rise above the inherent limitations of the parents. My mother thought that taking us to the library and us checking out a lot of books was "learning." The problem was, I think I read every single Babysitters Club book, and no, it does not really enable people to run a small business or acquire competence in inter-personal relationship. Unschooling, to be done well, must have constant guidance and attention, with constant attention to knowing the things you do not know and constant self-betterment.
After I read the unschooling books I read "When Children Love to Learn" that talks about the Charlotte Mason method. Mason believed children have an inherent desire to learn new things and that this must be lovingly cultivated, but that children were also limited in their abilities. She set forth a program of gentle presentation of inductive learning which is guided to result in a well-rounded person, intellectually and personally. She was insistent that children not be allowed to simply waste their time with "twaddle" as she called it, which really spoke to me.
I mean, seriously, most of children's programming on TV is twaddle (I'm quite underwhelmed with PBS at the moment), most of the children's books in the public library are twaddle (see above), and all music CD's for children are twaddle (egads!). In this environment a child needs to be provided with carefully selected materials and encouragement to interact with the material in various forms of communication with confidence.
I tried to summarize, sorry if it's confusing. tl;dr: I like some things unschooling points out, but I agree with Mason more.