View Full Version : Are Titles Necessary or Helpful?

01-12-2011, 10:05 PM
I'm not saying they aren't, I'm just throwing the question out there :confused:! I can't really see the point. Recently, in our local group, there was some barely polite "discussion" of why someone wasn't really in the category they said they were. I just don't get why homeschoolers fall into the habit of labeling things. Maybe that helps to label me...I don't follow well-defined paths :)

Any thoughts on this?

01-12-2011, 10:24 PM
If you dont lable people, how can you be sure you are better than they are?

Oh, wait, that belongs on the frustrated thread . . sorry . . .

Seriously, I got really sick of ppl telling me either that I should be an unschooler, or i really was an unschooler, or i was more unschooly than i thought. Whatever.

01-12-2011, 11:01 PM
It can be a shortcut to finding people with similar values/interests, like secular vs. religious. I stress "can be", though. When my son was in public school, I looked for the other "special needs" moms because I generally had a lot more in common with them than with the regular moms. But I met some great "regular" moms, too.

If you dont lable people, how can you be sure you are better than they are?

Btw, Cara, I think I'm definitely more secular than you....:-)--and I hope that's a smiley face I just made....Ok, no smiley face. That was a joke!

Ok, I found the smilies: :D There!

01-12-2011, 11:15 PM
I have no idea what "category" we would be. We tend to unschool science at least part of the time, but we have defined curricula in math, spelling, and Spanish. Everything else is a little of this, a little of that. Is that "eclectic"? That word in and of itself doesn't really define anything, really. I couldn't care less what others would define us as, though.

01-12-2011, 11:24 PM
It can be a shortcut to finding people with similar values/interests, like secular vs. religious. I stress "can be", though. When my son was in public school, I looked for the other "special needs" moms because I generally had a lot more in common with them than with the regular moms. But I met some great "regular" moms, too.

I think that what Batgirl said works for me, too. In my community, I seem to be 'different' from the majority. Being able to use a label to describe what we do or how we think is helpful.
I also agree that labels can serve to divide - it depends on what your intent in using them is. I think a lot of people use them like Cara said - to judge or make others feel bad, but I tend to think they're more helpful than harmful - at least in my social circle.

01-12-2011, 11:45 PM
I guess its true - after all, if you are classical and you want feedback on curriculum, you're more likely to find the info you want from other classicals. If you are a radical unschooler, you'll only feel totally safe from any nasty talk of curriculum with other radical unschoolers. I've hung out w a few radical unschoolers (the kind that let their kids sleep whenever/whereever they want, play video games all day long, and spend more time planning entertainment than anything else) - they get SO defensive any time I mention that we used curriculum today or someone is doing well learning something. OTOH, classical homeschoolers get tired of people laughing at them for teaching latin to 5 yos.

01-13-2011, 12:23 AM
First, labels aren't a homeschool thing. They are a human thing. It's how we learn. It's how we organize all the information & stimuli that we come in contact with everyday. It's a human trait to group things together, with others that share similar characteristics, to aid understanding. Therefore, it's also human nature to provide ourselves with labels to describe & define us to the outside world.

Second, labels are not inherently good or bad. They are inherently informational, and that's it. What makes them good or bad is how we perceive them. If you see them as informational & nothing more, they serve a purpose. Their purpose is to quickly and easily convey a brief description of a specific part of you/your life.

I could say that I am a homeschooler who uses various aspects of multiple homeschooling/teaching methods/philopsophies to create my own style and meet the educational goals I have set for my children. I could add to that the fact that I use a variety of materials from many publishers & sources, including some that I make myself, to design the curriculum we use. That is a very long answer to provide when a simple "I'm an eclectic homeschooler" or "We use an eclectic method" will suffice in most instances.

Many of the problems with labels stem from differing views on the description of certain labels. It sounds like this is what you're describing in your group & what Cara mentioned. Cara sees herself as a relaxed eclectic homeschooler, whereas some other people obviously see her as an unschooler. The big problem there is that neither method is strictly defined. Eclectic, by its very nature, is not a method where the name gives a clear understanding of what it entails (unlike school-at-home or Classical method), and even unschoolers can't agree on a definition of unschooling. That's why they are the most commonly misunderstood methods.

Unfortunately, there is generally no way to change the way others perceive a specific label. Some people see labels as negative, and will no matter what. Some firmly believe that their definition of a label is the only correct one and anyone who sees it differently is wrong. Often, these poeple can not be reached, their opinions can not be changed. Sometimes, you'll be lucky & come across someone who has an open mind & is just uniformed/misinformed.

How you see labels is up to you. You can see them as negative, pointless, a way to judge others and for others to judge you. You'd have a lot of comapny, because a lot of people see them that way. You can choose instead to see them as informational. The decision really is yours.

01-13-2011, 09:25 AM
I think the problems happen when a person/people want to "own" a label, use as their identity, and decide exactly what the label should mean to others, instead of leaving to everyone to decide for themselves how to interpret a label or what they want to call themselves. Then we get situations in which people are described as not really homeschoolers, unschoolers, classical, rigorous, secular, Christian, green, holistic, breastfeeding, gay, freethinking, or whatever.

01-13-2011, 10:04 AM
I agree with a lot of the above points - labels are inevitable, they can be useful, but they can also be abused. Probably because I'm in a really liberal area, I feel it more from the unschooling side of things - like if you do anything formal at all or own any workbooks or ever make your kids do ANYTHING (be it go to bed or not eat candy or anything) that you don't have the right to call yourself an unschooler. Le sigh. That sort of mentality drives me bonkers. Most of the people I know casually through our local homeschool group don't really identify by their homeschooling style label, which is very good, I think.

01-13-2011, 10:36 PM
I agree with many of the above points. Like stated above, labels can be useful but they can also be abused. Of most the homeschoolers I hang out with in real life, I don't know that ANY of us has asked the OTHER "what kind of homeschooler do you classify yourself as"? Actually, I think a discussion about it would probably end with fits of laughter because it would just sound so ridiculous to us. None of us homeschool the same and yet I don't think any of us care as long as its working well for whoever it involves. And I would like to think that the majority of homeschoolers are the same way. Most homeschoolers that I know in real life and online are using a mix of different things at different times, regardless of what they call themselves. I get that a label can help you organize information, and if you're looking for advice on something, "labels" might be an easier way to know where to look for that information, but still. When labels become something that other homeschoolers use to attack each other, or when labels become "limiting", I think they've lost their point.

01-14-2011, 11:01 AM
See, the issue came up because we had, for a while, a small park day going and the core group consisted of one pagan radical unschooler, one christain classical teapartier, and me . . . whatever I am. With occasional visits from another radical unschooler, and another secular ecclectic w specail needs kid (like me), and a few random "we have small kids and just decided to home school' types. and as i mentioned, the radical unschooler got really mean any time anyone mentioned curriculum. So it was an issue. Becuase she made it an issue. Sigh.

01-16-2011, 01:38 PM
I know that labels are everywhere and people use them for all sorts of things :) I guess, for me, the general label of "Homeschooler" is enough. I joined the local secular group, but have found that it is populated by lots of Christians (ones that can't stop bringing their religion into the group), so the label "secular" means nothing here. I recently discovered that all of the parents who think like me about things like religion and politics are actually in the Unschoolers group. They kept inviting me to join, so I did. You are not allowed to discuss anything education-related unless it is something your kids spontaneously did. If they ever come to my house, they will discover that we have an entire room we call both the Craftroom and the Classroom (depends on what we're doing in there at the time :) ). Maybe we'll get kicked out if that happens!

Basically, the labels people around here use don't help me find others like me! I have my own beliefs about what constitutes a good education for children, but I would never shut someone down when they talked about their way. Why can't adults just have discussions anymore? This thread is a great example of people talking about something and sharing their various perspectives!

Stella M
01-18-2011, 09:59 PM
I got kicked off a radical unschooling forum once for continually rejecting the idea of self-chosen bedtimes - so keep very quiet about that Classroom and Craftroom! :)

01-19-2011, 09:58 PM
I throw people off all the time. I find it hilarious. People see me with my son and try to label me 'homeschooler' and then I'll say something about having to pick up DD from school and watch their faces screw up. I'll say something about winging off some lessons on literature, and they'll assume I take a relaxed/unschooling approach, and then I'll talk about using Story of the World or studying Latin, and again, more confusion. I suppose I'm eclectic with a classical bent, but I'm not a huge label person. The only time I really use them is when DS gets himself into a pickle because of his Asperger's and I have to give the other parent SOME reason to explain why my son is doing (or not doing) whatever it is. I guess, in response to the title question, are the labels helpful? Not really, because then people try to peg you into a certain stereotype. Are they necessary? Probably. Our minds spend a lot of time trying to make order out of chaos, and if we didn't have labels, there would be a lot of very anxious people out there!