Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Small rant about “Unschooling”

This was posted elsewhere for awhile, but it belongs here...

Don’t really have time to really write about this today, but here is a small rant that ended up in some Facebook comments on a link to the article below…

My sons' cousins are "unschooled" so I have some distant first hand knowledge about this. Also, I have fewer concerns about traditional home schooling, which I do feel can be a good choice with some kids -- maybe not for their entire childhoods, but here and there as needed. I've done it with my own kids to some degree, through some rough spots in life, but, mostly, this work was done in conjunction with enrollment in a traditional school, as well.

Really, though, most of the benefits of the unschooling approach come from the fact that the kids have involved parents and I fear the actual benefits from this are tremendously overshadowed by the risks...

I fear these kids will hit the real world and have a real hard time holding jobs and staying focused on the aspects of life that are taught through the education system. The sucky stuff like getting up and going someplace you don't want to be for eight hours a day, five days a week.

Is it indoctrination into our system? Yes. But it is the system we have and just saying it sucks and not participating is not a path to real happiness or success (which I measure by making a sustainable living though work you don't hate) in our society.

While I would love to get in a time machine and go back 4,000 years (heck, in someways, maybe only 200 years back here in America) when the first social contracts defining our civilization were forming and scream, "No! It's a trap! Don't do it!", it is a little late for that now.

Now we are stuck just trying to figure out how to do the best we can in the civilization we have. Completely rejecting our system is a hard road that usually leads to neither happiness nor any true measure of fulfilling success in life.

Through my work in the recovery community, and from experiences earlier in life, I've seen kids who lived in horrible childhood situations that turned out happy, confident, and successful in life, but that is not the norm.

Without real statistics to support unschooling, I fear that the results may be very similar. Sure, he can point to one student, or a handful of students that are successful later in life, but he offers no real data other than saying something along the lines of it feeling like the kids do well.

While there is a lot wrong with the modern educational system, I really feel a best of both worlds approach is best. A lot of active parenting and working to provide the kids with the self-directed learning opportunities outside of the classrooms gives most of the benefits of unschooling without taking on most of the risks.

And encouraging our kids to find value at school, especially when they are older, and helping them find meaning there can be difficult, but boy, when done right those kids do fantastic. My oldest boy is a good example of this. A kid who used to get sick just thinking about going to school a few years ago now won't even stay home when he's got the flu unless forced to, because he likes it there!
And he is definitely very happy and certainly does not feel like he is "trapped" for hours each day.

A big part of learning how to be happy and successful in the world is learning how to cope and survive and to be happy and successful in situations where we have little control and few real opportunities for self direction. However, those who can learn how to thrive in these very real world environments tend to have the richest lives of all of us.

I hope this works out four my boys' cousins. They are smart kids and seem fairly well adjusted for kids their age, though we don't see them often enough... It will be interesting to see how college and careers work out for them. I pray for the best.

However, I suspect that most of their success, if they achieve it, will come from the fact that they had great parents who raised their kids well and not from the unschooling.

Unschooling: The Case for Setting Your Kids Into the Wild | Nature |
'via Blog this'

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