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11 comments

Unschool In Session?

Posted December 26, 2014 12:00 AM by Hannes

The national Common Core initiative and a bevy of standardized tests have drawn an awful lot of doubting eyes toward American education. While Common Core at its heart seems a fine idea, implementation has proved troublesome in many states. Here in New York, where significant improvements in standardized test scores from September through June result in financial gain for schools, fudged scores and student manipulation spur militant reactions from both parents and teachers.

The increase in national oversight has also added fuel to the alternative education movement, particularly homeschooling and unschooling. The question remains, though: are these relatively extreme ideas viable gateways for bypassing constrictive schools or pipe-dream solutions at best?

While the public is mostly familiar with homeschooling, unschooling might be a foreign concept to many. As the term implies, unschooled kids do exactly what they please. Unschooled kids are taught by one or both parents, like homeschooling, except that unschooling focuses on life skills and a "learning to learn" approach. If a student's passion is to play video games in their room for eight hours a day for an entire year, they do just that. There is (and should be) no logical ceiling to unschooling: the idea is that an individual child knows what they need to learn and when, and that traditional schooling exhausts this curiosity through forced activities. In the case of the year-long video game binge, unschooling parents would contend that it's natural and that many wildly successful entrepreneurs went through identical periods.

Unschooling is one of the more radical approaches to bypassing a U.S. higher education system that seems to lose adherents every year. With more and more bright students coming up with million-dollar ideas and securing venture capital from their dorm rooms, college is no longer a fish-in-the-barrel on the road to financial success. Sure, unschooled kids can take the SATs and attend college on their own wits, but why would they want to reintegrate with the system their parents worked so hard to avoid?

As radical as unschooling seems, if combined with a parent knowledgeable in information seeking and evaluation it might be a superior option to traditional schooling, especially regarding STEM education. An engineer friend of mine once told me that a good engineering program doesn't teach to facts and figures but instead teaches how to think critically and analytically when facing any problem. How feasible is it to expect a traditional school, with national and state testing standards, to achieve the same?

Unschooling is about teaching kids to teach themselves, and search for information that interests them. The goal is to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, not the jobs of today as traditional schools do. Critics of unschooling level complaints similar to those traditionally pinned on homeschooling. Undersocialization, underskilled parents, and inherently lazy kids are frequently cited criticisms. Then again, there's a variance in defining success. Unschoolers draw on stories of brilliant, unconventional dropouts like Steve Jobs, but is every student cut out for an entrepreneurial future? Conversely, many unschooled and homeschooled kids do attend college, in which the unschool-to-school transition is difficult but not impossible.

My daughter attends an independent school by necessity, and there are the same pros and cons as in any comparison of education systems. I both love and loathe the freedom: the school can do whatever it pleases academically (so that you'd better hope it's run by qualified individuals, not business owners), but it's also sorely lacking in quality extracurriculars like those found in publicly funded schools.* Perhaps the unschooling debate is essentially similar: a student better hope their parents know what they're doing, or they'll be left unsocialized and sorely lacking in life skills. Then again, there are some terrible public school teachers out there. And maybe parents really are the best candidates to foster their child's curiosity, whether at school, home, or both.

*Although they did host a kindergarten engineering challenge: the old "see-how-many-pennies-you-can-float-in-your-paper-boat-design" one.

Image credit: Nicholas Scalice

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#1

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/26/2014 1:07 PM

I hate "common core", in practice.

The idea of uniform education/educational opportunities in every state is a good one.

But, when we draw boxes and bow ties on the chalk board and deconstruct a simple math problem, work on the ones, tens and hundreds and reconstruct it all to get the same answer most of us could get in our minds, common core losses me.

I went to a 4th grade parent's math indoctrination class and was left wondering what they were talking about.

But, unschooling just sounds like an invitation to live at home.

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#2

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/26/2014 7:09 PM

Once I had the basics of reading and practical applied math I really never felt I got a huge amount of additional useful anything from my public school experience.

I did however get a lifetimes worth of experience in how BS floats and how those who can typically have to do daily battle with those who can't or don't want too along with apparently how honesty, intelligence and insight are the last things that people want in those who are in charge.

I want to be unschooled too. Most of what I learned that has served me well I learned on my own and what I did learn in school I really didn't need and really don't want anymore. .

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#3

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/26/2014 7:58 PM

Lets just unschool the disruptive feral garbage that is the product of the welfare state. Aside from democrat votes, these people amount to nothing.

This trash will either become skin heads, new black panthers, or drug dealers, and they have nothing to offer anyone. Get them the hell out.

For those that want to learn, we re-institute discipline, and the classroom becomes what it was before 1960.

...and before some idiot pipes in that I want racism...NO. Hard work, home work and discipline. No BS tolerated.

F&%k! We've got idiot teachers/administrators in CA that are worried about having gender specific bathrooms, and who's feelings might be hurt.

We've got to flush these freaks out our entire system before we're finished and dead!

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#4
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Re: Unschool In Session?

12/26/2014 9:28 PM

"the classroom becomes what it was before 1960."

That's great. Do you want the rest of our country to become what it was before 1960?

I don't think so.

Do I need to point out what it was like then, outside the classroom?

I'm not even going to tell you what my life in Arkansas was like before 1960.

I will point out that most women did not work and leave it at that.

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#5
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Re: Unschool In Session?

12/27/2014 6:14 AM

I didn't say "society", did I?

This is the typical lib response to anything that smacks of common sense.

"What!!!! You want to go back to being racist and sexist?!?!"

It's truly an idiotic response.

The classroom should be about reading, writing, arithmetic, science, math, and no BS. We need a return of discipline.

Looks like I was off by a few years, and things started trending down around 1964...just about the time liberals started infiltrating our public education system.

Yep. It was shortly after this time that they came up with the wonderful "Bell Curve" as a way to manipulate data and make it look like dumb kids weren't so dumb, and all teachers should get raises.

Then there's the fact that we are graduating so many kids that don't even understand the basics. Education is just one more example of what happens with more and more government involvement. This pretty much sums it up. He's probably racist.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-22/guest-post-dysfunctional-dishonest-insane-and-intolerable

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Re: Unschool In Session?

12/27/2014 11:03 AM

You can't have it both ways. THAT's idiotic. We do agree about basic education.

Maybe you need to move out here where I live.

They've started censoring textbooks out here so 10th graders don't have to read about birth control. In biology class no less!

California is riding the fore skin in liberalism, once again. Maybe when Yellowstone blows, it'll go that way and kill 'em all. Then God can take the few good conservatives who still live there.

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Re: Unschool In Session?

12/27/2014 11:39 AM

I have no interest in right wing idiocy either.

I think your problem is that you are surrounded with right wing extremists, which shouldn't be confused with conservatism.

Part of the reason I got banned from the conservative forum is that the owner of the site, along with his buddies, aren't conservatives...they just want right wing rule. I was nice enough to remind them of that...over and over again.

Emily goes to a Christian school, but even if you removed the religious stuff, there is discipline, rules and lots of homework.

I walked into the high school section one day as class was letting out...you could just about hear a pin drop as those kids were going to the next class. Amazing!

Maybe your schools taught racist and sexist behavior when you were a kid; mine didn't, and all of us knew not to cross the line. Liberal doctrine and social experimentation has turned our public schools into institutions of free babysitting for a bunch of feral idiots.

There's nothing wrong with biology class. Unfortunately sex ed now includes instruction on oral sex, condom use, homosexuality is healthy and normal, and a ton of other crap that is nothing but lib indoctrination.

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#6

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/27/2014 6:18 AM

If anybody needs me, I'll be in the bathroom checking out the babes and peeing on the seat.

http://www.examiner.com/article/california-mandates-gender-free-bathrooms-for-schools-k-through-12

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#9
In reply to #6

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/28/2014 7:15 AM

What are they up to nowadays? Gender free bathrooms, hmmm really bad idea. It would be rather seemingly fit if additional lesbian or gay bathrooms are to be made.

Easy Kram, I read from somewhere, that those who love most babes(womanizer or woman who are fond of boys) , would have a big tendency to have bi or homosexual offspring.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/28/2014 12:43 PM

We don't have schools anymore. We have petri dishes of socialist experimentation.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Unschool In Session?

12/28/2014 8:51 PM

But if a survey would be taken for the gays to belong to womans comfort rooms and lesbians as well at the men's cr, i doubt if 9/10 men would not agree and 9/10 woman would agree. =) Less lesbian more gay will result with that anyway.

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