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Why is unschooling so rare among homeschoolers?

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  1. Jen Law
    Jen Law
    I am hoping to get this group going, I nee some sanctuary. I find it a little frustrating that conversations on homeschooling forums so often centre around which curriculum for this or that, which is the most intensive, how to make your 4 year old sit sill and make them do phonics.

    I don't understand why people go down that direction, if you choose to educate you children at home why do you then go about using the resources, techniques and values of public school to construct your home education. If you choose to reject school, I don't understand why unschooling isn't the most natural alternative. Why are we not the majority? I just don't get it.
  2. rueyn
    Honestly? When we started down this route, that's how we did it - full curriculum. I just didn't know any better and was mirroring how I'd been taught. The further we went, however, the more I could see it wasn't working for ds. I dropped the formal study of subject after subject, and last week I looked up and realized we were fully unschooling
  3. albeto
    That's how I fell into this as well - dropping one subject after another because getting the kids to comply to my ideal was more painful than pulling teeth. Watching my kids run around the house and play and explore during those hours they had been trained to sit still in a desk at their brick and mortar school was a bitter sweet experience for me. We haven't attempted a curriculum or assignment for a couple years now, so I'm really seeing the payoff, but training a child to sit quietly was something I thought you just do.

    I'd love to have this group active as an outlet myself. It can feel pretty isolating.
  4. larzus
    The last reply came up in 'latest posts' and has opened my eyes to my own situation, so I have joined this group now.

    I really don't know if I am an unschooling parent but I definitely have an unschooling student. I didn't realise what he was till I saw your posts about dropping subject after subject. My son (aged 15) spent some unhappy years at school and reached a point of total school refusal. After a year of homeschooling he follows his own path and resists anything I try to put before him that reminds him of school. It has puzzled me because he is an otherwise very cooperative boy who helps around the house and gets on well with others.

    He is an avid learner and likes to investigate his interest areas one at a time. He is quite in touch with his own learning style. He is talented at drama and music and is hoping to train in classical singing one day.

    It is a real pity we have concrete curriculum requirements to meet and show evidence of work in. Trying to force him to do them has been a great stress to me, especially since I personally object to pushing study onto the disinterested. But I don't want him forced back to school.

    I am also homeschooling a daughter (aged 14) who loves bookwork and the conventional academic approach. She wants to be an astronomer and has her own long term study plan mapped out. I'm just providing the information as she needs it. So I think I need to teach two teenagers in two different home school styles.
  5. rueyn
    larzus - Just out of curiosity, when you say you have laws that require you to use a specific curriculum and have to show evidence of work in that curriculum, can you elaborate? I'd love to brainstorm some ideas to keep you legal, but still allow your son do his own thing, as I'm sure there are other people here in your same situation
  6. larzus
    Yes, certainly. I am in Australia where each state has slightly different requirements. When I registered to home school in my state, I received an envelope full of papers - the 'Learning Outcomes' for each of my student's year levels and 'Companion Documents' which give in more detail the standard to be achieved. I was told the simplest way is to tick off each outcome as we achieve it and keep an item of work as proof of mastery or at least attempt at mastery. Then when I have my annual inspection they can just look through this record and reregistration will be a simple affair.

    For instance, English (in the US I think this might be Language Arts) has as one of its requirements:

    [B][I]Language Standard 5 At Standard 5, towards the end of Year 10, the student:

    5.7 Identifies and critically appraises combinations of features in texts when reading and viewing a broad range of texts dealing with abstract themes and sociocultural values.

    Examples of evidence include that the student:

    recognises a variety of language choices in texts (eg discusses the representation of non-standard and standard Australian English in scripted drama, novels and short stories with abstract themes, diverse values and from different eras)
    interprets multimodal texts (eg evaluates effectiveness of choice and placement of images and verbal text in webpages)
    demonstrates understanding of text organisation (eg discusses patterns of layout and language use in tourist brochures, news reports and procedures)
    analyses and interprets grammatical resources in written texts (eg discusses a writer’s use of nominalisation to suggest that a viewpoint is definitive)
    appraises the ‘building blocks’ of language (eg identifies and talks about different sentence types (coordination and subordination) used in different texts)
    responds to expressive aspects of language (eg reads scripted drama expressively to create characterisation through voice quality, rhythm, pace, volume and intonation).

    Now my son is probably able to do these things but they remind him so much of school that he won't even try.

    We've had our most success through his learning Japanese, which he is learning very well. He understands English grammar better now from learning Japanese grammar and finding the differences. Still, I have no evidence of this to show for the annual inspection. My son tells me he doesn't want to be present for the inspection. At the last one he vanished after saying hello to her. I imagine he'll do the same again rather than show all the things he's done.

    We can choose any lesson delivery system we like and there are successful primary and infant year unschoolers around, but high school is harder. In Australia there is a huge push to keep all children in education to higher years, youth unemployment is rather high and we tend to compare our school leavers to those of neighbouring countries eg Thailand and China where the academic standards are quite high.

    The first challenge is not to fall asleep while reading the subject requirements.

    Now I am probably a victim of tunnel vision here. These documents drive me mad. Sometimes I have wild conspiracy theories about the Dept of Ed making it complicated just to quell home schooling. But that's a bit unfair of me. They just weren't written for my very free thinking son.
  7. rueyn
    Which state in Australia are you in? I'm researching...
  8. Ashley Sears
    Ashley Sears
    I am so glad to find this group. I have been unschooling, or some semblance of it, off and on for three-four years now. I am though at my wits end with one of my kids so would love to figure out what works for each of your families as well. We unschool because I don't think you can learn from just a text book. Life is a whole journey through learning, and wanted my kids to see that as well.
  9. ReneeMBM
    I've decided to go with unschooling, too. The curriculum options are overwhelming, honestly, and they seem like such a struggle to adhere to. However there is plenty of great material we can extract from them to support our kids as they show interest/ask for help. I'm glad all the education theory and sets are there, even if only used as loose ideas... by which I mean: my daughter seems inclined to literary-based learning, and using Charlotte Mason "living books" and keeping journals is the style of learning she enjoys. Ambleside Online and other resources have tonnes of stuff she can enjoy... but I know if I tried to follow the program strictly, she'd quickly tire of it and the whole thing would become useless, and counterproductive to learning... I suppose objections to public school aren't solely based on curriculum use, but rather some specific objections to specific curricula and/or the overall production-line/one-size-fits-all style, lack of individualised attention, bullying, homogenous or irrational religious/cultural values, special needs, etc. And creating a family-centred culture of human-to-human respect at home rather than outsourcing to authoritarian structures... but I think unschooling is the logical conclusion to most of the objections and goals of homeschoolers... But that's just me! And some of you. Perhaps some kids - and parents! - simply need more direction to explore the realms of human knowledge, while other kids/parents need less structure to explore and learn well... I have doubts about anyone truly benefiting from "structure" but nonetheless... I'm a bit creative, and thinking/living/learning/adventuring a bit more towards the chaos/anarchy end of the spectrum appeals to me... And we are never really entirely free of structure in our learning/thinking... What's radical unschool to one person might seem a bit like a structured or inflexible routine to someone else? I don't know...

    I'm in Australia, too. The Facebook homeschool/unschool groups (run by Beverley Paine, I think) have helpful examples of documentation accepted by state government educators describing natural learners/unschoolers.
  10. halfpint
    I'm in agreement with the OP - we will be unschooling because we think institutional ed is prison-like and designed to turn kids into slaves. Why would I create a prison in my home? I'm not looking to make my kids slaves. Thank the PTB we live in Idaho, land of the (educationally) free!
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