Unschool Me

I've just learned about a controversial new trend in education called "Unschooling". An MSN Health article on this method of homeschooling describes it as an unstructured way for children to learn what they want, when they want, however they'd like to learn it.

Unlike homeschooling, there's no curriculum & parents don't use any format to teach kids. The child is the architect of learning by being allowed to explore whatever they want.

Where I come from, this is called parenting & has nothing to do with school. Parents are supposed to do these things regardless of the type of school a child attends.

School isn't supposed to teach you every last little thing in the world. Your parents are supposed to fill in the blanks.

But the casual attitude of unschooling is a welcome change from the parents that schedule every second of a child's day, from Kaplan kindergarten prep to no-score "everyone's a winner" soccer.
When I hear the term homeschooling, I can't help but think of the old adage "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I wish I could feed my dog a t-bone from free-range, organic black angus with no hormones that's infused with all necessary nutrients every day. But I don't just stop buying dog food & start screwing around in the kitchen.

How will a child ever fully realize their own personality if there's no seperation from mom & dad? Nobody wants their kid to come home from first grade demanding platforms & a belly shirt "like Xtina's" because everyone else has them.

At what other point are you going to get an opening to teach the kids about sleaziness & how there's no place for it in a little mind full of self-respect? Or, if you're of another school of thought, this is your chance to instruct little Bambi on using what nature's given her to get ahead.

Hey, our future generations of pole dancers & trophy wives have to come from somewhere.

Sure some of the teachers are impatient, mean or unqualified. But someday your child will work for a big dumb idiot somewhere & they'll have no way to cope if their only reference point is mommy & daddy's unconditional love dashed with sprinkles of constant encouragement.

The frank sexuality among America's youth is disturbing at times. Nobody wants their child to be a pimp daddy or hoochie mama. But blinders are temporary. You can't shield your child from society forever.

Would you rather a tween have an identity crisis in 9th grade when Tommy breaks her heart by dumping her for Sally (because Sally makes out behind the gym)? Or a socially inept college sophmore blow an ivy league scholarship chasing booty?

The clique-ish torture of American schools are a right of passage. If you take that away from a child's scope of knowledge, they'll never be able to deal with catty coworkers, backstabbing colleagues or the management that flourishes through nepotism alone.

At that rate, your child won't even be able to fathom the candidates on a given ballot in an Allegheny County election.

And don't ignore the fact that the darker childhood experiences often make the most accomplished adults. If Bruce Wayne hadn't fallen in that bat-filled well because of his overprotective mother, where would Gotham City be today?


At 10/17/2006 11:05 AM, Blogger Ave said...

Your unschooling diatribe points out the very questions that unschooling and homeschooling parents constantly ask themselves. Will my child really be successful without participating in the life experience that is school? It is a common paranoia among the HS'ing crowd - until we settle into the rhythm that is unschooling.

The old cliche "Don't knock it until you try it" applies here. I can sit here all day and give you reasons why public school sucks. Forget the fact that most teachers can't change a lightbulb or that it is safer in a prison than many public schools. The homeschooling movement is growing. People are entitled to enact change in their lives in whatever manner they see fit. Homeschooling and particularly unschooling is that change for many of us.

Our kids may not go to a conventional public school but many of our kids participate in social activities and sports alongside the regular HS'ing activities. Our kids do come in contact with the social misfits that do go to public schools - we live in their neighborhoods. Kids (and people in general) cannot simply be labeled because of the seemingly different choices we make.

Unschooling is a viable option for many parents and is widely misunderstood. Life is all about choices. Homeschooling just provides the child another option - just like real life.

At 10/17/2006 12:22 PM, Blogger Steph said...

Point vs. Counterpoint

"I can sit here all day & give you reasons why public school sucks."

Well, I could sit here all day & give you reasons why anything sucks. If you look for the negative in anything, you'll find it.

Schools are far from perfect. But it seems pretty unlikely that ALL public, private, religious & philosophical schools are completely without merit. That's simply not true, which makes it a very ignorant statement.

Generalizations such as all teachers are morons, prisons are safer than schools & children who attend schools are social misfits makes you seem very bitter, antisocial & uneducated.

If these are really your views about society, you're far too negative & narrow-minded to educate anyone.

You're not doing yourself any favors by going through life hating everyone, disparaging everything & carrying a chip on your shoulder.

That's no way to live & it doesn't seem like the kind of thing any loving parent would want their children to learn, at home or elsewhere.

At 10/18/2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Ave said...

Okay, you're right -- there are far too many sweeping generalizations in the response.
Let me add, I am obviously a supporter of homeschooling. All public schools are not terrible. The first school that we attended was fabulous and we could not be happier there. After moving halfway across the country, we were disappointed to find that all schools (and all teachers) are not created equal. My hat is off to any teacher who is able to teach well and any school who rises above mediocrity. There is far too much of that in many school systems. It is sad that all children are not afforded the same education options.

There are plenty of articles on homeschooling and unschooling floating around on the internet. Not all of them fully explain the movement and it is hard to understand "homeschooling" unless you are doing it. Not all children are alike and everyone learns differently. Thank God America provides us all with choices and I am free to choice to homeschool my child if I want to.

Your comment, >> When I hear the term homeschooling, I can't help but think of the old adage "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." << is the usual response from people who are not farmiliar with HS'ing. I myself was once one of them. Homeschoolers excel in many areas and are just like other kids.

At 10/18/2006 11:56 AM, Blogger Steph said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment & to respond.

I wasn't attacking HS & I'm not against it. I just don't think that everyone who does it is qualified to do so.

The examples in the article are the things every parent should always be doing for their children whether they HS or not.

And plain old good parenting skills aren't in any way a substitute for education.

But surely I shouldn't base my opinion on one article.

So I make these posts to read the reactions. I learn a lot & get to consider other viewpoints, see my own errors & affirm my own opinions.

Thanks for being a part of that I enjoy your blog as well.

At 10/19/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Ave said...


Sometimes there is so much negative publicity when it comes to homeschooling or unschooling that it can make any HS'ing parent want to scream. I'm sure the same is true for anything really, public school included.

There is much more to homeschooling than any "formal study" article has to report. I have been doing it for a while now and I have yet to meet another family with the *exact* ideology as I have regarding teaching.

It is interesting to read opinions from real people - either HS'ers or others - it really puts things into perspective. I don't believe in a cookie-cutter form for everything. I like the freedom of doing things my own way. Judging by your blog posts you do as well.

Thanks for the replies.


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