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jessica14
08-08-2011, 10:21 AM
I'm just starting and have no clearly defined style. I'm probably more traditional/ecclectic right now. I have been doing a lot of reading about different styles and believe that you can learn something from everyone, even if in general you don't see yourself teaching with the philosophy.

I've been lurking over at a radical unschooling forum and find it, in general, very much against what I believe as an educator and parent. As I said though, I can learn things from everyone and Sandra Dodd has given me some things to think about.

Then I read this:
http://familyrun.ning.com/forum/topics/9yr-old-yearning-to-read

Is this what radical homeschooling is really all about? Teach nothing and your child will figure it all out on their own, even reading? I just don't fully understand letting your child have all the say in everything they do-eating, sleeping, learning. While I believe in developmentally appropriate practice, this seems to be beyond that. Also, is there no steering towards anything? My daughter did not want to do chorus this summer. I had her go and now she loves it and has made new friends. If I didn't push her, she never would have had this worthwhile experience. But as I understand it, rad. unschooling would say that she should have come to this herself; that this would be true for everything. So when she refuses to drink in the heat, that's her decision and I should just let her get sick and that will be her consequence? I've even read on that board that a child should not be forced to change eating habits even if it for health reasons because it was not his decision. It also seems like those who ask questions are raked over the coals for "conventional parenting" which to me is just common sense.

I would love it if anyone had more insights into this. It just isn't anything I'd be willing to try, but it definatley has goetten me curious.

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 11:11 AM
I think it's really hard for people to be objective about this. A lot of us who started out more loose and liberal minded - thinking about unschooling - ended up encountering this sort of attitude and doing a pendulum swing to the other side. Radical unschooling stirs a lot of emotions for people. Both those against it - because they find it really unsettling or even neglectful that parents would allow a child to get to be so old and not be able to read at all or have any limits. And by those for it - because they're pretty embattled from defending themselves against that attitude and the attitudes of those who don't get it at all. So... I can think of things to say about it. Radical unschooling doesn't believe anyone has the right to impose on anyone else a hierarchical dictate that they have to learn or how, for example. But mostly, I just think this has the potential to be an emotional thread.

Amanadoo
08-08-2011, 11:12 AM
I am anxious to see what people have to say about this! I have a really hard time envisioning a child that wants to read and a mother that won't teach her. It's difficult to digest on several levels.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-08-2011, 12:10 PM
It seems to me that there are very different sets of beliefs about how children learn. Children learn by being taught or they learn by getting curious and motivated and figuring it out themselves. I guess my thing is children are individuals and there can't be one rule for all of them. I think it is very possible that there are children who will not learn to read if left to figure it out themselves with no instruction and we certainly know that there are children who don't learn in school, where they are being "taught." I also think it is possible to teach some things and be child led in others, or start with teaching and move to child led, or teach, but led by your child's interests. I see the difference between the way my children learn when they are motivated by their own interests and the way the learn when it is something they are told they have to learn and that is the only reason they are doing it. I would match my dd against any poultry expert in her knowledge of chickens and that is something she got interested in herself (though we did give her some chickens). She devoured information on her own time and did well with her hen at the fair (ok her hen go 2nd place and the judge said hers was in the best condition of all them in her category, so there is my mom brag). We say she needs to learn Algebra and she is learning it but not with the same intensity or interest and yet I am not able to say, "OK, lets forget about Algebra. What do YOU want to do?"

coloradoalice
08-08-2011, 12:56 PM
To me the essence of radical unschooling is letting the child dictate everything and supporting them in whatever they dictate. I can see this working when it comes to learning, I really can. Generally speaking my kids get what they get when they want to. Unschooling supports the idea that it's ok to let go and trust your child will do it when they are ready. It requires a lot of faith IMO. I have friends who are radical unschoolers and it works for them. It's not wrong or bad, it's different. I've never heard of any of them not letting their child learn something, if they want to read they do, if they want to build rockets they do. Holding back or not allowing reading sounds more Waldorf actually. I lean unschool at times but in the end it's just not for us for a number of reasons.

I do have trouble comprehending the radical unschooling lifestyle though, which I separate from the educational style. I see it work for learning but I cannot understand and never could live the radical unschooling lifestyle. We approach our family life with a team mentality and I believe in teaching social skills and expectations so that my kids can function outside of our family or philosophical bubble. The unschooling lifestyle is, to me, just too child centric and unbalanced. It sounds really ideal when you have babies, but in my experience structure and routine and working as a family team is what we need. I honestly have no idea how anyone lives a radical unschooling lifestyle with multiple children and stays sane! I'm sure that's just me though. Like I said before, it's not bad or wrong, it's just different. I do a lot of things that people don't understand or it's just not for them. Everyone has a different level of comfort with all these things. Being uncomfortable with it does not mean it's not wrong or it won't work. Maybe it wouldn't work for you but it could definitely work for someone with a different personality.

That's how I see it anyway. I agree this topic can have a lot of emotion, especially when it's all painted with a broad brush. Just like with our kids, each family is different and can operate completely differently and still be healthy. It's good to keep that in mind.

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 02:17 PM
I have heard of unschooling and I think I know what that means. And I think "radical unschooling" means living the whole child-led lifestyle. But does this really mean radical unparenting, too? Letting children eat whatever they want, sleep (or not) whenever they want, do whatever they want, even if it is detrimental to their health and well-being, doesn't sound like parenting at all. IMHO, it is the parents' job to teach their children right from wrong, good from bad, proper manners and social etiquette, how to take care of themselves and be self-sufficient, functioning members of society. How can they be doing that if they never direct basic things in their children's lives like proper food choices, managing household chores, etc.? Is there something I'm not understanding?

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 03:46 PM
I think the thing you have to recognize is that radical unschoolers are coming from a place of love for their kids, wanting them to find their own way. I think they absolutely draw safety lines - not letting a small child run in the street or locking up dangerous household cleaners or the like - just like any parent. But other things we might find "dangerous" in a more long term way, like eating lots of junk food, not sleeping, not learning certain skills (like reading) which are needed in the modern world, and things in that vein, are things they want kids to learn to regulate for themselves. There's not one right time to go to sleep, after all. There are natural consequences to eating poorly that can teach a kid in a lifelong way that is better than a parent just saying "don't eat that" or even than a parent with nutritional diagrams or something. A child who teaches herself to do something will remember it forever and understand it better - at least, that's in the view of radical unschoolers.

I have mixed feelings about unschooling. Or rather, I have clear opinions (to me), but they're not straightforwardly right or wrong. I think unschoolers, including radical unschoolers, do a lot of things right. Someone who's an unschooler on this board sort of attacked me for saying this (I really think we just weren't understanding each other!), but I appreciate that unschoolers help us (all of us) raise questions about authority relationships in parenting and about the nature of learning - questions that I think are important ones for us to ask. If you just come at unschooling with the idea that it's "wrong" or you just read what might be termed the "horror stories" (whether they're actually horrible or not, I think most of us recoil from older kids who can't read at all) then I think it's easy to miss asking those questions for yourself.

Basically, I don't agree with radical unschooling either. I could take that set of posts Jessica linked to and pick apart each little thing I don't like about it (and the ones I do), but I'm sort of at a point where I'm a bit weary of the "what are they thinking!?!" mentality about unschooling.

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 04:22 PM
I don't really have a problem with unschooling in and of itself. It would not be a good fit for our family but to each their own. What I cannot understand is the application of the concept to the entire lifestyle.

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 05:09 PM
Part of the basic philosophy is that there should be no lines between learning and the rest of life, so that sort of necessitates that it would need to be a whole way of life.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 05:36 PM
Radical unschooling means you feel free to tell another mother ( who hasn't had a full night's sleep for 7 years and is so tired she could weep, and indeed, does at every opportunity) that if she insists on imposing a bed time on her two oldest children ( one where they don't have to go to sleep, they can stay up and listen to books, draw, play quietly ) so that she has about 30 seconds peace in which to go to the loo before the baby wakes up for his next feed, she is a 'poor fit' for unschooling and she needs to re-examine her parenting and educational philosophies and deschool herself until the kids are grown up because she is a control-maniac of a mother.

Yeah, still a little raw :)

Unschoolers without the radical though, no probs.

nancysv
08-08-2011, 05:50 PM
I think a lot of it really depends on the kid - some kids are internally motivated and truly want to learn about their world while others will sit back and not do much of anything if allowed to do that. We, as parents, need to decide how far we will let that go.

From my experience, it seems like the radical unschoolers (those I know anyway) tend to have very motivated kids so that approach works great - the kids push themselves to learn. The families I know who have kids that aren't that motivated have drifted away from radical unschooling because it's not working for their child.

I see that with my twins. I have one son who is very highly gifted and he would do great in a radical unschooling environment. He's very motivated to learn and make sense of the world. He LOVES mathematics and pushes his father to teach him (they are WAY beyond me at this point). He is working on computer programming and is constantly asking Dad to help him go farther. For him, the radical unschooling approach would be great.

My other son, on the other hand, isn't there. He just doesn't have the curiosity and drive that his brother has. He would quite happily sit and play video games all day every day. We have to work a lot harder to get him interested in the world around him. He needs more structure and guidance.

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 06:15 PM
I do understand the concept of unschooling. What I have trouble with is the concept that a 3-year-old should be allowed to have candy every 5-10 minutes because "she knows what her body needs." There is actually a thread about a woman who lets her toddler have candy all the time and no one sees any problem with it.

I like the concept of unschooling. I wish my kids were more academically driven. They're not so we carry on with what works for us. But I could never get behind what I see as "unparenting."

nancysv
08-08-2011, 06:24 PM
What I have trouble with is the concept that a 3-year-old should be allowed to have candy every 5-10 minutes because "she knows what her body needs." There is actually a thread about a woman who lets her toddler have candy all the time and no one sees any problem with it.



Yup :) My sister had that attitude toward her kids. She figured they would eat what their bodies were telling they needed. It worked for her oldest daughter. Hannah naturally gravitated toward healthy food - one of her favorite foods in the whole wide world is a cucumber (she'll just peel it and start crunching away!). Yes, there were many meals when she ate orange sherbet for dinner, but she also ate a lot of healthy food.

Her second child, however, was way different. Mellie ate junk. Lots and lots and lots of it. By the time the girl was 6 years old she was wearing women's size 14 clothes. It was so incredibly sad! When she came to visit me, I tried to give her healthy food but she refused to eat it. I refused to have junk in the house so Mellie survived on whatever she could find that she would eat - it was not pretty.

Again - I think you need to adjust what you're doing according to the kid. Some kids will be fine with a radical unschooling approach, while others won't. Parents who stick to the radical unschooling thing even when it isn't working for their child just don't make sense to me. I can't help but feel they are handicapping their own kids.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-08-2011, 06:24 PM
I think a lot of it really depends on the kid - some kids are internally motivated and truly want to learn about their world while others will sit back and not do much of anything if allowed to do that.

This is us too. If I had started hsing my older dd from the beginning I think unschooling would have been good, but not with my younger dd. When I think about how we have parented the two of them, they have had different needs there also and we have adjusted accordingly.

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 06:47 PM
Good grief, Melissa. See, that's why it's so hard for me to not be emotional about it. I've totally had experiences like that too. Are radical unschoolers more likely to be judgmental of others? Actually, I guess that's sort of true of being at the radical end of any philosophy. It means you're less open to compromise. I have trouble with that in any philosophy.

The candy and screens thing is something I also have trouble with. But I feel like I understand where they're coming from. In fact, when I wanted my kids to stop pestering me to watch TV when they were really little, I just let them watch as much as they wanted for about a month. I didn't even have to dial it back for them (though I would have eventually). After a couple of weeks of going nuts with it, they dialed it back themselves. I tried to do the same thing with sweets after Halloween one year, thinking the TV thing had worked so brilliantly. BalletBoy ate so much candy he threw up. Then he went and ate more candy. That's when I took it away. Oh well. Worth a shot.

nancysv
08-08-2011, 06:57 PM
After a couple of weeks of going nuts with it, they dialed it back themselves. I tried to do the same thing with sweets after Halloween one year, thinking the TV thing had worked so brilliantly. BalletBoy ate so much candy he threw up. Then he went and ate more candy. That's when I took it away.

HA! Love that! We got the free trial to NetFlix a week or two ago and my boys are going CRAZY with it! They sit in front of the computer every waking hour! It's driving me crazy right now, but I'm not saying anything. I really, truly hope they get to the same point your kids got to eventually. If not? I'm cancelling!

Stella M
08-08-2011, 07:30 PM
I think, in my limited experience, radical unschooling - as opposed to unschooling , attracts some very fiesty people who value ideology over individuals. Which is ironic. I 'get' the theory. I even agree with the theory ( sometimes ). But when people are so...idk...inflexible, it's no wonder that the weaker among us run screaming into the gentle arms of Charlotte Mason never to return.

I don't think you can mix them up though - unschooling and radical unschooling. I'm a big fan of unschooling.

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 07:37 PM
Do you think? The funny thing is that I feel like radical unschooling has taken oven unschooling. It's all the same thing now. Or maybe it always was. Or it's a continuum. I think around here and in other really liberal areas it might actually be harder to be an unschooler because there are enough real ideologues (I won't say radical unschoolers) to bully people and make them really question things.

I like boundaries. They're really important to me to preserve my sense of self and sanity. So I could never be an unschooler... or on the continuum of unschooling or whatever.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 07:44 PM
Hmm. I think I've mentioned before that we call unschoolers 'natural learners' here; I'd say there's a huge difference. Sort of like the difference between being centre left and a communist.

Natural learners I know do negotiate a lot of stuff with their kids but they project a comfort with being the parent who is in charge of those negotiations, and because of their greater life experience, will continue to explain and negotiate something they see as important.

CCMom
08-08-2011, 07:46 PM
I think radical unschooling requires really letting go of our pre-conceived notions about education and our definitions of success in education. Schools around the world emphasis reading, science, and math as the most important things and, for the most part, expect them to be accomplished in a specific order. As Sir Ken Robinson says, why don't we require dance class every day in school? We seem to define school as one long college-prep program. Success is defined by our kids getting into college and graduating. But that's not really the only way to be successful. If you look at many , and in particular radical unschoolers, many of their kids either delay college or don't go at all. Many start their own businesses as teens. Others become artists or writers. Many do go to college, but because they're been free to make their own choices they really embrace the learning environment of college in ways that other students don't. A teen wants to become a vet so she realizes she needs to learn trigonometry in order to take calculus in college. So she gets a trig book and teaches herself the math or finds herself a tutor for it. There's no struggle on the part of the parent to explain why earning trig is necessary as the teen as been able to come to that conclusion on her own. I don't think it's for everyone. Frankly, I don't think it's for my family, but I can definitely see a great deal of merit to the philosophy. I try incorporate it into our life whenever possible.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 07:57 PM
See, to me what you've described is unschooling...and I agree it has a great deal of merit. Radical unschooling is a different beast, incorporating unparenting as well.

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 08:04 PM
I am all for giving kids a modicum of control in their own lives. I also believe that if you give children control of some things, then when you have to put your foot down about something, it's easier because they don't feel like they are constantly being controlled. Thus, I have almost always allowed my children to choose their own clothing. They prepare their own breakfasts and lunches and sometimes even dinners. But their choices are limited and reasonable. Fruit and milk with each meal are requirements. Candy and cookies are NOT on the menu of available foods at mealtime. However, a dessert afterward is perfectly acceptable (two cookies, not the whole package). Booty shorts and belly-baring t-shirts are NOT permitted, however they have drawers of clothes from which to choose their daily outfits. They have a set bedtime, however they have the choice to read for half an hour before they go to sleep. To me, it's all about establishing guidelines and reasonable options and then giving them the freedom to choose within those guidelines.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 08:14 PM
I have known plenty of radical unschoolers who advise things that almost tend to neglect eg let your child eat as much candy as she wants. Let her refuse to brush her teeth. If she goes to the dentist and has cavities, she can then choose whether to have them filled and moderate her candy eating in future.

It's unrealistic because small children don't have the same ability as us to forsee consequences and moderate their behaviour accordingly. And it's taking a risk with their health. I'm all for self-direction but I wouldn't - couldn't - go this far. Most unschoolers I know don't go this far either :)

CCMom
08-08-2011, 08:23 PM
Hmmm Myimpression of RU vs US is this: in US a parent would pick put books at the library or bookstore and have them around as suggested reading for the child. The parent would plan field trips with educational value. Overall that while not directly teaching the child, the parent is suggesting and providing educational opportunities that she (the parent) sees as valuable. If the child asks for something specific that would, of course, be incorporated. In RU, the parent wouldn't pick out any books or plan any field trips unless specifically asked by the child. To my thinking those parents who RU and unparent are a separate group even farther afield.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 09:13 PM
They can be the RUUP's :)

Yes, the unschoolers I know ( and the unschooler I was ) were similar to your example. US good. RU scary. RUUP terrifying!

If anyone reading is a radical unschooler, can you join in, because right now the OP is getting a 'they speak as a single voice' view ?

Brittaya
08-08-2011, 09:26 PM
This is a fascinating thread, the whole idea of unschooling is what made me decide to homeschool in the first place, but radical unschooling is just too out there for me. I like what you just described Melissa, Natural Learners. That sounds just right for my family! I've never heard that term before, but I like it a lot. Especially since we're basing most of our studies on nature!

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 09:29 PM
They can be the RUUP's :)

Yes, the unschoolers I know ( and the unschooler I was ) were similar to your example. US good. RU scary. RUUP terrifying!

ITA.

I wish my kids were more self-directed. But, they're not. And that's okay. We just have a more structured, school at home approach and it works for our family. So there ya go. :-)

CCMom
08-08-2011, 09:55 PM
They can be the RUUP's :)

Yes, the unschoolers I know ( and the unschooler I was ) were similar to your example. US good. RU scary. RUUP terrifying!

?


LOL RUUP reminds me of ROUSes from Princess Bride.

farrarwilliams
08-08-2011, 09:57 PM
Hmmm Myimpression of RU vs US is this: in US a parent would pick put books at the library or bookstore and have them around as suggested reading for the child. The parent would plan field trips with educational value. Overall that while not directly teaching the child, the parent is suggesting and providing educational opportunities that she (the parent) sees as valuable. If the child asks for something specific that would, of course, be incorporated. In RU, the parent wouldn't pick out any books or plan any field trips unless specifically asked by the child. To my thinking those parents who RU and unparent are a separate group even farther afield.

Okay, I'm going to try not to get too down on the radical unschoolers... but...

I think that what you describe in both cases is just part of the basic continuum of unschooling. The process of leaving books and materials around, by the way, is called "strewing." Radical unschooling takes it another step farther. If the child wants to learn something, the parents don't even necessarily teach it at all because the child has to find their own way to learn it. In the thread Jessica linked to, the child wanted to learn to read. She was angry at the parents because she felt if she was in school, she would already know how. But she was frustrated by the process and wouldn't work with them so they just left her to her frustration to work it out, with the idea that she had to get through it on her own. More than one of the respondents to the question made references to reading programs as something that didn't work anyway or wasn't worth trying because it wouldn't last. To me, this is a step further than simply unschooling. With radical unschooling, if a child specifically asks to do something that is seen as contrary to the educational philosophy then the parents will refuse it.

Agreed, Melissa, that I feel like an actual radical unschooler should probably answer this question because none of us are getting it quite right. But also a little wary if one did because I haven't had positive experiences with the philosophy. I want to be respectful. I feel like I get it, I just disagree. Sort of like strict constitutional interpretation. I get it. It's a totally legitimate philosophy and people who believe aren't evil or bad. I just disagree.

laundrycrisis
08-08-2011, 11:41 PM
I am anxious to see what people have to say about this! I have a really hard time envisioning a child that wants to read and a mother that won't teach her. It's difficult to digest on several levels.

I have seen this in person...I have spent time with people who follow this version of unschooling. At play gatherings, one woman's DD would ask her for help learning her letters and numbers - she was almost 8. Her mother would say, "you are smart - go figure it out." The poor girl would sneak around asking all the other moms to quietly teach her things, like, "how do you write a seven" ? It was very sad. She was really thirsty for learning but her mom didn't help her even when asked and didn't provide a "rich learning environment" either.

DragonFaerie
08-08-2011, 11:45 PM
I have seen this in person...I have spent time with people who follow this version of unschooling. At play gatherings, one woman's DD would ask her for help learning her letters and numbers - she was almost 8. Her mother would say, "you are smart - go figure it out." The poor girl would sneak around asking all the other moms to quietly teach her things, like, "how do you write a seven" ? It was very sad. She was really thirsty for learning but her mom didn't help her even when asked and didn't provide a "rich learning environment" either.

I can't even fathom this! I'm all for teaching children to learn to think for themselves and encouraging them to "find out" rather than just ask but you HAVE to give them the tools to do it! My son needed help spelling a word today. Instead of just telling him how to spell it, I sounded it out for him and worked him through hearing each letter. I didn't just tell him to "figure it out." Sad. Incredibly sad.

Stella M
08-08-2011, 11:48 PM
Neglect....and the twisting of the unschooling philosophy from something challenging and valuable to something actively harmful; that's what the little girl reading story shows. Like I said, ideology over the individual.

Maybe no-one here is a RU. Shame. I haven't ever had a positive experience either but I'd like to :) I suppose that isn't going to happen. Anything people get so dogmatic about is going to block sincere and useful conversation. But you never know...

coloradoalice
08-08-2011, 11:53 PM
I have seen this in person...I have spent time with people who follow this version of unschooling. At play gatherings, one woman's DD would ask her for help learning her letters and numbers - she was almost 8. Her mother would say, "you are smart - go figure it out." The poor girl would sneak around asking all the other moms to quietly teach her things, like, "how do you write a seven" ? It was very sad. She was really thirsty for learning but her mom didn't help her even when asked and didn't provide a "rich learning environment" either.

That is just plain messed up. That's not even unschooling, that's purposefully propagating ignorance. Why would anyone put their child in that kind of position? None of the unschoolers I know are of that mindset, thank gus!

laundrycrisis
08-09-2011, 12:02 AM
That is just plain messed up. That's not even unschooling, that's purposefully propagating ignorance. Why would anyone put their child in that kind of position? None of the unschoolers I know are of that mindset, thank gus!

She wanted her DD to "own" her accomplishments, and not believe that she ever needed to be the passive recipient of anyone's teaching. (BTW "teach" is a dirty forbidden word in the RU world.) To her it didn't make a difference that her DD was actively seeking and requesting specific help.

DragonFaerie
08-09-2011, 12:20 AM
She wanted her DD to "own" her accomplishments, and not believe that she ever needed to be the passive recipient of anyone's teaching. (BTW "teach" is a dirty forbidden word in the RU world.) To her it didn't make a difference that her DD was actively seeking and requesting specific help.

So, being taught by a person (ie. a parent or other adult) is a bad thing but being "taught" by a book or the computer or some other inanimate source is acceptable? How messed up is that?

laundrycrisis
08-09-2011, 12:33 AM
So, being taught by a person (ie. a parent or other adult) is a bad thing but being "taught" by a book or the computer or some other inanimate source is acceptable? How messed up is that?

Very. Somehow it is supposed to be "empowering" to finally figure it all out yourself, even if what you thought you really wanted was just for someone to please help you :(

DragonFaerie
08-09-2011, 12:39 AM
Kids should be taught to explore and figure things out on their own. However, they need to be given the tools to do that. A basic understanding of letters and numbers, words and sounds, math and reading. They need a foundation on which to build.

jessica14
08-09-2011, 07:51 AM
OP here! Wow, so many responses in a day! I thank you all for your insight. RU really throws me mostly because of the whole unparenting thing. And the described story of the 8 year old girl who wanted to read, I see that as neglect. I don't understand how kids are going to just "figure out" how to read. Some kids are natural readers, but others like my DS need so much guidance. What RU has given me is the reminder that my DS may not be ready to fully read. He is 6 1/2, so this was a good thing for me to remember. However, from my education, I know that development with such things really fluctuates until about the age of 8, not 12 or older. I also read about food issues and am trying to keep it in mind. I'm aiming to be a more peaceful parent. I try to say yes more than no. I'm trying to let them do the computer/TV thing this summer and not worrying too much about it. We have been eating in the living room where it is cooler.

Overall though, I feel like our family would not do well with RU (nor would I). I read another article about cleaning and chores. It was along the line of do the cleaning yourself and let your kids do nothing if they don't want to help. Don't put your need for a clean house on them. It is better to have a loving relationship than one filled with resentment because you asked them to dust. By contrast, I just read a book about Waldorf education where they empahasize consistant structure, chores, bedtimes, etc, because it lets kids know what to expct and how to be part of a larger community. That I get and have been very sucessful with that as a parent and a teacher. RU seems to me that you have to totally put yourself aside for your child. For example, one Mom asked what was she to do with her son who got upset with her when she wrote an e-mail instead of watching a TV show with him (they were sitting next to each other). The response was that she was not paying attention to his needs and to not do the e-mail, just totally focus on him and then he wouldn't be angry any more. To me that's not so much respecting the child but disrespecting the parent. I'd be interested to see how these children function as teens, young adults, and adults and how they do "in the real world" where everyone does not stop to meet their needs. They may be very resourseful, but I wonder about the other.

Although I couldn't do unschooling full-time, I want to make sure there is time for the natural learning. My DS asked me how to make soap. We will make soap, but in RU he'd be told to figure it out. He can't read, how is that supposed to work then? He can't drive himself to the craft store. But I will get him a kit because that's where his interest is. He also asked me how to make skin. We will not be going to the craft store for that! I'm sure we can find something like that online though! Both kids like art. We will making many trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art just to soak it all in. I do agree with a lot of US, just not RU and UP.

Thank you all for your thoughtful answers and interesting discussion!

QueenBee
08-09-2011, 09:42 AM
Radical unschooling means you feel free to tell another mother ( who hasn't had a full night's sleep for 7 years and is so tired she could weep, and indeed, does at every opportunity) that if she insists on imposing a bed time on her two oldest children ( one where they don't have to go to sleep, they can stay up and listen to books, draw, play quietly ) so that she has about 30 seconds peace in which to go to the loo before the baby wakes up for his next feed, she is a 'poor fit' for unschooling and she needs to re-examine her parenting and educational philosophies and deschool herself until the kids are grown up because she is a control-maniac of a mother.

Yeah, still a little raw :)

Unschoolers without the radical though, no probs.

ROFLOL!! =D Too funny! This reminds me of the time (years and years ago) that someone told me that by letting my 1 1/2 year old hang out in her crib for a few minutes so I could take a shower and clean up was basically doing irreparable damage that would scar her for life. To this day I don't get where she was coming from... it's not like my daughter was screaming and crying in pain and I left her there for hours. She was playing with some books and toys and didn't even seem to notice I was gone. Some people should really just not speak to others.

Greenmother
08-09-2011, 11:13 AM
I have been gone a few days, so I am coming into this conversation rather late. I am not a radical homeschooler. But there are at times, when there are elements of this in our homeschool atmosphere. Sometimes my children get bored with their work and they stop trying. So I let them wander away from the subject in question for a bit. And then after a time, with reading or math, etc., they come back and start trying again. I let them become very insistent about it, even putting them off a bit. Psychologically this seems to motivate them to try harder and be more attentive. However this is not our primary mode of operation, and I do not claim this will work for all children.

jessica14
08-09-2011, 12:06 PM
I have been gone a few days, so I am coming into this conversation rather late. I am not a radical homeschooler. But there are at times, when there are elements of this in our homeschool atmosphere. Sometimes my children get bored with their work and they stop trying. So I let them wander away from the subject in question for a bit. And then after a time, with reading or math, etc., they come back and start trying again. I let them become very insistent about it, even putting them off a bit. Psychologically this seems to motivate them to try harder and be more attentive. However this is not our primary mode of operation, and I do not claim this will work for all children.

I don't think there is anything wrong with this. It gives everyone a breather. I think actually rather than being RU, it is just a lot of common sense. I think that when it is done all the time that I have a difficult time wrapping my mind around it.

And Melissa, I have also had no sleep in a number of years! I'm sorry that person was so rude. Everyone can have their philosophies and share and inform, but in a respectful way. Too much of what I read on that site seems to be shaming the parent. Oh, and my daughter is not permently damaged by me using the shower while she played!

DragonFaerie
08-09-2011, 12:59 PM
I don't think a child is damaged by being told no, or by being made to wait his turn for something or by being made to help with household chores. Rather I think these things teach children respect, responsibility, patience and work ethic. "Imposing your need for a clean house"- seriously??? I would think they are doing their children a disservice by teaching them that the world revolves around them and that other people only exist to serve their every whim and desire.

This post was just interrupted by my 8-year-old's attitude about doing his science. His assignment today is rather lengthy and I tried to get him to do it first thing this morning when he was fresh and ready to work. Instead, he put it off and is now grouchy and complaining and doesn't want to do it. I told him that if this continues to be a problem, he won't get to choose the order he does his subjects and I will have to start just telling him what to do. Do I think I am scarring him for life? Absolutely not. He is learning cause and effect, consequences and responsibility for his choices and actions.

HWALTERS
08-09-2011, 01:02 PM
The ability to learn AND teach is at the center of culture.

And without the ability to read, how much can a child self direct their learning? Reading is THE gateway to the world, if a child does not gain that until they are 9 or 10 how are they accessing any of the world outside their home and screens?

In the post the OP referenced it seemed like the parent was saying that her daughter gets frustrated because reading is hard so she wants to stop but then is frustrated because she cannot do it.

I think the ability to overcome frustration (tenacity/perseverance) is the essential skill to give any child. Without that the easiest path is probably the most likely and that does not lead to doing the hard things in life... Like reading, algebra, and advanced science...

DragonFaerie
08-09-2011, 01:04 PM
The ability to learn AND teach is at the center of culture.

And without the ability to read, how much can a child self direct their learning? Reading is THE gateway to the world, if a child does not gain that until they are 9 or 10 how are they accessing any of the world outside their home and screens?

In the post the OP referenced it seemed like the parent was saying that her daughter gets frustrated because reading is hard so she wants to stop but then is frustrated because she cannot do it.

I think the ability to overcome frustration (tenacity/perseverance) is the essential skill to give any child. Without that the easiest path is probably the most likely and that does not lead to doing the hard things in life... Like reading, algebra, and advanced science...

.... working, earning a living, supporting and caring for a family, maintaining a home and household.....

coloradoalice
08-09-2011, 01:29 PM
I have been gone a few days, so I am coming into this conversation rather late. I am not a radical homeschooler. But there are at times, when there are elements of this in our homeschool atmosphere. Sometimes my children get bored with their work and they stop trying. So I let them wander away from the subject in question for a bit. And then after a time, with reading or math, etc., they come back and start trying again. I let them become very insistent about it, even putting them off a bit. Psychologically this seems to motivate them to try harder and be more attentive. However this is not our primary mode of operation, and I do not claim this will work for all children.

We do this too and it is definitely beneficial. I consider it child-led learning, after knowing unschoolers and learning about RU we are definitely not either. Although I do see the appeal of unschooling full time it just doesn't work for myself or the kids. I do try to incorporate parts of it though and knowing unschoolers has encouraged me to be relaxed in my approach most of the time because I find that works a whole lot better than heavy pressure on academics.

Stella M
08-09-2011, 06:37 PM
My middle daughter and I were unschooling when she was experiencing a lot of frustration around reading. She wanted to be able to read, but without the learning! We had quite a few months of exploring this issue. I didn't 'make' her do reading lessons during this time. Eventually she decided she was ready to do the work and we got started. But man, was I ready to teach her the minute she was ready! I can't even imagine refusing a child's verbal desire to be taught to read. Our culture is so text-based - not being able to read leaves you as a cultural outsider - who would leave their child outside banging on the door and not let them in ?

speech mom
08-09-2011, 07:47 PM
I was talking to a home schooled girl at the library today that has a year or two of college under her belt. We were goofing around about unsocialized homeschoolers. She mentioned that she had researched homeschoolers for a paper and found herself having to research unschoolers as a counterpoint to help the reader understand homeschooling. She said that in the end she found homeschoolers, unschoolers, and radical homeschoolers to be 3 groups that should be considered as separate rather than as all grouped as homeschoolers. (At least, that is what I took away from her explanation.) I really hope she lets me read the paper as it involved a LOT of research on her part and she is very well-spoken so I assume her paper would be well-written.

I do know some radical unschoolers and their children are amazing. Incredibly smart, wonderful conversationalists, and so comfortable in their areas of interest. It made me google stuff and try to head that way with my kids. They actually ended up asking for more workbooks. Every kid is different.

HWALTERS
08-10-2011, 10:37 AM
I guess my biggest thing is not helping a child who wants to learn. That just seems strange, and I do not know how some things could even be learnt that way (like advanced math)...

jessica14
08-10-2011, 02:38 PM
Again, thanks to all of you who have joined in this informative discussion! I have continued to research the subject and do find things I can get on board with. I believe in self-discovery and letting the kids make more decisions for themselves. I'm realizing its OK to let some things go.

On the other hand, I read a blog about a Mom who's very young children make all the decisions. This would include not brushing hair or teeth or bathing for a couple of weeks if they don't feel like it. They can eat whatever they want and they sleep where ever and whenever. Now, if a child like that walked into my classroom, I would immediately would think they are neglected. They come in dirty, perhaps have an odor, and may not have a nutritious lunch. Maybe they can't keep their eyes open. As a mandated reporter, I'm now calling CPS at worse or having the school nurse check up on the family. I know these kids never see a school, but aren't they seeing other mandated reporters like doctors and dentists? I'm certainly not saying CPS should be called because I know the parents care and love their children. But, I truly believe that someone could really misinterpret their intentions and they could get into serious trouble. This doesn't even take into account that they often don't read or write until much older. Every family is different and what works for some doesn't work for others, but it really has me wondering.....

coloradoalice
08-10-2011, 02:50 PM
I know the blog you are talking about and that same person said they actually do act different when not in their home and they also do change behaviors to not disturb the people in the apartment below them. I'm not sure how it works exactly and it seems like it would be confusing to allow one behavior at home and another when out and about (and I have no idea how the sleep thing works because with 2 kids you could continually have one up so how does mom stay sane). It seems to me like if you have to change who you are to be out and about then maybe you are recognizing that your ideal is not so ideal. *shrug*

farrarwilliams
08-10-2011, 03:09 PM
See, I actually think if the kids can switch behaviors that's a really healthy thing. That's one of the hardest things to learn how to do for kids - how to understand that it's okay to talk one way with your friends, but not with adults, for example. That different situations require different behaviors and rules. That's how life just IS. It's my experience that a lot of kids struggle with that. My own kids struggle with that.

I think to a radical unschooling family, this might just fall under "natural consequences." Like, hey, kids, if you are nasty and loud to the people below our apartment, then the natural consequence is that they've said they'll call the police. So, think on that one and make your choices.

Marmalade
08-10-2011, 03:13 PM
[QUOTE=jessica14;49570]Again, thanks to all of you who have joined in this informative discussion! I have continued to research the subject and do find things I can get on board with. I believe in self-discovery and letting the kids make more decisions for themselves. I'm realizing its OK to let some things go.

QUOTE]

I think there are a lot of wonderful ideals you can take away from RUNs-but like almost everyone else has said-it's not for me.

coloradoalice
08-10-2011, 03:30 PM
See, I actually think if the kids can switch behaviors that's a really healthy thing. That's one of the hardest things to learn how to do for kids - how to understand that it's okay to talk one way with your friends, but not with adults, for example. That different situations require different behaviors and rules. That's how life just IS. It's my experience that a lot of kids struggle with that. My own kids struggle with that.

I think to a radical unschooling family, this might just fall under "natural consequences." Like, hey, kids, if you are nasty and loud to the people below our apartment, then the natural consequence is that they've said they'll call the police. So, think on that one and make your choices.

I guess that's one way to look at it. I think that for older kids that makes a little more sense. For infants thru preschoolers though? I don't know. For us being extremely consistent with routine and all that was the only thing that kept me sane when the kids were that little. Letting them dictate everything led to disaster every single time and they couldn't comprehend when a behavior was ok and when it wasn't. Maybe that's just my kids though. They would understand better now. The children of the blog mentioned are 4 and under.

It's a personal choice, definitely. I just couldn't live that way.

Greenmother
08-10-2011, 05:36 PM
Jessica, if allowing your kids to bathe or not, brush teeth or not, eat whatever is unschooling, then I was unschooled when unschooling wasn't cool. I always chocked it up to overworked parents who were too young and lacked a support system. As a military person, I will not release the reigns to that degree. I unapologetically run this house as a benevolent dictatorship. Elements of unschooling are just that, elements, but at the end of the day, mommy is mommy, and daddy is daddy, and the kids are put under our authority for their safety and well being, and that includes making sure teeth are brushed, clothes are clean, there are no fire hazards pile up on wall sockets etc., and so on. And I impose my need to clean house, because I don't like disease carrying pests coming in and taking up residence. Because we like to be able to walk through the house without breaking our necks, and because we like the smell of crisp clean sheets on our beds and clean blankets. I feed them balanced nutritious meals for the following reasons: To introduce them to and to instill within them healthy eating HABITS [sorry for the all caps there, but there it is]

Letting your kid develop eating habits that lead to diabetes and heart disease isn't unschooling.
Letting your kid develop gum disease that also leads to problems with the liver and gall bladder and heart --that is not unschooling.
Letting your kid wear clothes that smell is also allowing them to wallow in bacteria and fungi that grow on sweat and dead skin and can lead to things like MRSA.
That is not unschooling.

I understand that somewhere out there there will be a lot of people who disagree. That's fine. This is just how I see it. We keep clean and clean up for a reason. We are normalizing healthy living habits that will lengthen their lives and improve the quality of their lives as they age, and maybe even help them find love.

Something hard to do with black teeth and a stinky butt, and pest infested basement under the house.

Child led learning I get. But I don't see that as comparable with what you described above.

I always imagined the best aspects of unschooling to be like that of Montesorri or something similar. And I would like to think that this is reserved for children whose self motivation and insatiable curiosity would cause them to be serious self starters.

Most kids are not like that. They are just kids who want what they want, even if it's not good for them. If our children could learn all they need to know in the absence of a parent, then they would fall out of the womb on legs ready to run in minutes with a brain packed full of insectoid pre-programming. I don't see that. Like typical primate babies, our children come into the world, blind, naked, and helpless. They need us, because that is the nature of our infancy and childhood. And I don't feel bad about that.

jessica14
08-11-2011, 01:02 PM
[QUOTE=Greenmother;49587Letting your kid develop eating habits that lead to diabetes and heart disease isn't unschooling.
Letting your kid develop gum disease that also leads to problems with the liver and gall bladder and heart --that is not unschooling.
Letting your kid wear clothes that smell is also allowing them to wallow in bacteria and fungi that grow on sweat and dead skin and can lead to things like MRSA.
That is not unschooling. .[/QUOTE]

I agree with your post 100%! I keep reading that this is what some people believe it to be and it is disturbing for the reasons you mentioned. And they tie it into homeschooling which I don't think is fair to unschoolers at all. A PP mentioned that they know someone with a child that has cavities because of the way the child has chosen to eat. That's your job as a parent to make sure that that doesn't happen. That's why I said that in this day and age, if a dentist saw this and the parent said there is minimal tooth brushing, he may have an inkling to investigate further into the homelife.

dbmamaz
08-11-2011, 11:25 PM
I had a 'freind' who was a radical unschooler to the point of unparenting, including unparenting her dogs. She left a really bad taste in my mouth - but she also constantly said how much she was annoyed by her kids, she constantly insulted me for using curriculum and for not being as socail as she was, she was just a really selfish, stubborn, rude person. Her husband would hit the teen boys for backtalking. they told my son he wasnt allowed in their younger son's room because it was too messy . . .and when it was time to move, sent him away to freinds houses so they could pack for him. He was 11!!

I met another unschooler through her who .. . was even more rude to me. and i know this will sound classless, but what baffled me the most was that they were always both financially struggling, and their husbands were supporting them by the skin of their teeth, but they didnt seem to be encouraging their kids to learn anything, to do better? to be able to support themselves?

I met one radical unschooler on line who had been badly abused, in some really horrible situations throughout her childhood. I could see that for her, recoiling from abuse to radical unparenting would feel more comfortable . . .because she didnt want to impose her will on her children needlessly, as had been done to her. It really made me wonder how many of these radical unschoolers who also seem to unparent have some deep stuff going on.

However, I also know one radical unschooler who seemed reasonable to me. Her oldest child was going through hours of tutoring and not reading. her middle child had diabetes and was in a waldorf school and they had no nurse, so she had to be there every day anyways. Eventually she decided to homeschool. Her son was so miserable w his reading classes, she let him drop it and play video games - and then he learned to read. So she felt like he could do better on his own. And her youngest daughter was pretty much oppositional defiant - she really looked almost afraid of that kid, and gave her a wide berth. But . . . she fed them, the house was kept up, the pets were taken care of . . . she was still acting like a responsible adult in many ways. Her middle daughter (who was less challenging!) was helping with the books of her husband's business. At least her choices made sense to me.

yeah, who am I to judge someone else's choices. But OMG i am SO SICK of people telling me I should really be unschooling because its wonderful. Guess what - i have put a lot of work and thought in to it, and my homeschooling methods are working pretty well. And even tho I'm way more relaxed than most homeschoolers I know, i will never call myself an unschooler because I dont want to be lumped w the radical unschoolers i've known.

That being said - i'm pretty darn relaxed. I do use a schedule as a way to limit video game time and (try to) keep me focussed on the kids. I use whatever books they like, I follow thier pace and interests. Esp for my younger one, i'm expecting him to mature in to more work. My older one, tho, i feel needs to be prepped for a real life. I've suggested a career path (he's got issues, esp w planning) and so far he's happy with it. Because you know, thats the whole point . . . make them in to independent people. There is no one right way to do that, but I think its awfully easy for people to NOT put effort in to that and CALL it radical unschooling, when they really just are choosing not to meet their kids needs. Not that all radical unschoolers do that, of course, but i really believe that some do.

Stella M
08-12-2011, 01:12 AM
Cara, coming from an unschooling-approving pov, it's been really interesting to learn from other people's experiences and to have it reinforced that there's no such thing as a one size fits all approach to home ed; the best we can do is respond to our own children's needs in a a way that makes sense for us and them. As much as I love the philosophy of unschooling, I'm starting to understand that it's not automatically in every child's best interest. Rather, it's a tool that we can use if it suits us and suits our children. It's also a tool we can leave in the box if it doesn't work in our home.

Greenmother
08-12-2011, 09:28 AM
I agree with you Melissa. Adaptation is key. Unschooling may work for some because it takes the pressure off so the kid can perform. But some kids and adults need pressure to perform. Different strokes for different folks.

Eileen
08-14-2011, 08:48 AM
I agree with you Melissa. Adaptation is key. Unschooling may work for some because it takes the pressure off so the kid can perform. But some kids and adults need pressure to perform. Different strokes for different folks.

I agree. Or not even necessarily pressure, but structure and guidance. We're not unschooling, but in certain areas we're taking an unschooling approach. My daughter is exploring science and history on her own this year, but I'm guiding her in her literature choices and we're doing math in a structured way. With her personality, she might actually respond well to RUUP but that wouldn't be OK for me or the rest of our family. I don't agree at all with the idea that the entire household should be held hostage to the whims of one of the members. Especially a member with no life experience or understanding of long-term consequences. I don't care if anyone calls me conventional, to be honest. My needs matter too, and the last thing I want to teach my daughters is that they should be subjugating their own needs and desires for their families. Balance is important in families and in life.

DragonFaerie
08-14-2011, 12:51 PM
Balance is important in families and in life.

And that, to me, is the key word. Balance. I believe in balance in all things, school, work, play, life.

dbmamaz
08-14-2011, 02:08 PM
As much as I love the philosophy of unschooling, I'm starting to understand that it's not automatically in every child's best interest. Rather, it's a tool that we can use if it suits us and suits our children. It's also a tool we can leave in the box if it doesn't work in our home.
Yes, that! I honestly love the philosphy behind unschooling too! If I had kids who knew what they wanted to do with themselves and thier time (and it wasnt play video games), i would let them do it. and yes, i'm being judgemental about video games, but I DO have values and I have to live MY values. I have read so many inspiring stories of kids who were very self directed and found their own way, but in the context of very involved, supportive parents. And my kids LOVE the attention I give them when we are 'doing school.' they really want more involvement from me, not less.

My daughter - i got her out of the public school system (mostly) and in to a community college because she said she wanted to study art. I let her dictate what she wanted, and she insisted that I trust her to do her work when she felt like it, so I did. I checked in on her and occasionally nudged, but when she asked for independence, i gave it to her.

I have also met (on line) parents who were fighting tooth and nail to force their kids to do curriculum they all hated, and unschooling was a radical change to get them out of a bad situation, and it made them so happy! You gotta listen to your kid. In fact, that was what i kept thinking in that 'wrong reasons to homeschool' - imo, the best reason is to honor your child for the person they are. I dont think spending time with them in and of itself is the best reason, unless they feel the same way. I think the biggest mistake is in imposing your vision of education on your children instead of learning what their style/vision is and helping them learn in their own way.

DragonFaerie
08-14-2011, 02:35 PM
I have been looking at these curriculum "task cards" that are very open-ended and meant to be student directed (the cards will say what to study but leave the methods and materials up to the student). Sounds somewhat "unschool"-ish to me but interesting. I asked DD if she would like something like that. She considered for a minute and then said "Ummm... no. I wouldn't know what to do." She said she prefers me giving her specific assignments for school (read this, answer those questions, write about this, etc.). I KNEW we weren't cut out to be unschoolers. LOL

coloradoalice
08-14-2011, 05:31 PM
I agree. Or not even necessarily pressure, but structure and guidance. We're not unschooling, but in certain areas we're taking an unschooling approach. My daughter is exploring science and history on her own this year, but I'm guiding her in her literature choices and we're doing math in a structured way. With her personality, she might actually respond well to RUUP but that wouldn't be OK for me or the rest of our family. I don't agree at all with the idea that the entire household should be held hostage to the whims of one of the members. Especially a member with no life experience or understanding of long-term consequences. I don't care if anyone calls me conventional, to be honest. My needs matter too, and the last thing I want to teach my daughters is that they should be subjugating their own needs and desires for their families. Balance is important in families and in life.

I totally agree. Taking the pressure off to follow your bliss is one thing, letting children become tyrants is entirely another. Not that I'm saying all unschooled kids are tyrants, because I know some and they definitely aren't. From my wanderings around the internet though, there are definitely RU parents who are slaves to the whims of their kids and I just don't get it. And they complain about it too, sometimes endlessly. I just don't think the martyr thing is healthy, I've been surprised how much I've run into it, especially since joining certain online social sites and following RU families. Some of those people seem downright miserable, but if they are questioned or offered advice they get very defensive. *shrug*

albeto
08-15-2011, 12:25 AM
Then I read this:
http://familyrun.ning.com/forum/topics/9yr-old-yearning-to-read

Is this what radical homeschooling is really all about? Teach nothing and your child will figure it all out on their own, even reading?

Your summary is a bit of a misrepresentation. The idea of radical unschooling really is a completely different way of interpreting and responding to life. You can think of it this way: Before your children reached their 5th birthday and you had plans to teach them kindergarten skills, do you feel like you didn't teach them anything? Or would you interpret it as teaching them all kinds of important things, only through their natural play within your relationship rather than through a curriculum schedule? You didn't need a curriculum to teach them how to tie their shoes or to eat with a fork and spoon because you saw when they were ready for these skills. You saw they were ready by noticing them watching you, imitating you, asking for help. You also knew when to offer your advice and teach them new skills they could use before they knew to ask.

Unschooling is like that.

Radical unschooling applies this ideal to social and life skills like unschooling applies it to educational skills.


I just don't fully understand letting your child have all the say in everything they do-eating, sleeping, learning. While I believe in developmentally appropriate practice, this seems to be beyond that. Also, is there no steering towards anything? My daughter did not want to do chorus this summer. I had her go and now she loves it and has made new friends. If I didn't push her, she never would have had this worthwhile experience. But as I understand it, rad. unschooling would say that she should have come to this herself; that this would be true for everything. So when she refuses to drink in the heat, that's her decision and I should just let her get sick and that will be her consequence? I've even read on that board that a child should not be forced to change eating habits even if it for health reasons because it was not his decision. It also seems like those who ask questions are raked over the coals for "conventional parenting" which to me is just common sense.

Keep in mind that radical unschooling is an ideal and people apply that ideal differently. They do so because of their own personal experiences, their relationships, their opportunities, etc. You need not think that what one family does is "typical" in RU any more than homeschooling is typical from one family to the next.

Having said that, my understanding of the ideal is to put relationships first. Absolutely first. Now, spoiled children do not have particularly effective, functional relationships so spoiling is not a part of the ideal. It's true that some families that can spoil their children do, but so do families in every demographic group. In any case, when that relationship is healthy, the child can completely trust the parent. Because there is no hidden agenda to capitulate to, no emotional coercion to solidify the parents' desires, a parent's advice is unconditional, without strings, and understood to be offered in sincerity for the good of the child. There is a trust there that can lead to enormously rewarding consequences.


I would love it if anyone had more insights into this. It just isn't anything I'd be willing to try, but it definatley has goetten me curious.

I enjoy our experiences and for a while now we've been completely deschooling (putting RU ideals into effect in this home). Interestingly, just last night my 11 told me for school he wants to practice his penmanship and work on spelling. I don't know any other kid who would ask for help like that, but of course I will offer what I can in a way that honors his individuality (read, is fun for him without applying pressure). The link in my sig has some insight into the idea of learning through play, and we tend to forget that people play long after elementary school. That means there's lots of opportunities for learning going on. One of the RU ideals is that parents are completely immersed in their children's interests. So in that way, the parent is intimately involved with the child's interests, academic needs, and developmental needs, all by being aware of what this play reveals. The ideals that inspire RU are not founded on laziness or lack of parental involvement. In fact, I've found quite the opposite. It is more work and requires more effort on my part to make it work well.

Stella M
08-15-2011, 12:39 AM
Unschooling well is a heap of work; I deeply admire those who have the energy to do it well. I'm so glad you came to add to the conversation, albeto.

I have a pretty good handle on the theory but I truly don't understand how it is possible to completely immerse oneself in a child's interests. Support, encourage, facilitate, assist -yes. But for me to completely immerse myself in my child's interests, when they do not intersect with mine, would feel like a relinquishment of my person and dishonest to boot.

Do RU families feel that you cannot be aware and involved without immersion ? How does this work when children are older and no longer wish for immersion to take place ? Does RU allow for the fact that prioritising relationships can take place in non-RU families also ? Hope you can come back and explain further.

Eileen
08-15-2011, 08:43 AM
Unschooling well is a heap of work; I deeply admire those who have the energy to do it well. I'm so glad you came to add to the conversation, albeto.

I have a pretty good handle on the theory but I truly don't understand how it is possible to completely immerse oneself in a child's interests. Support, encourage, facilitate, assist -yes. But for me to completely immerse myself in my child's interests, when they do not intersect with mine, would feel like a relinquishment of my person and dishonest to boot.

Do RU families feel that you cannot be aware and involved without immersion ? How does this work when children are older and no longer wish for immersion to take place ? Does RU allow for the fact that prioritising relationships can take place in non-RU families also ? Hope you can come back and explain further.

Those are great questions, things I was wondering as well. And I also appreciate your input albeto.

I agree that spoiling can take place with any parenting style, and in any financial demographic. It's not just about what you buy or give to your kid, but more to do with your motivations for doing that, and what's missing that you're trying to replace with material goods.

The things you say about RU all sound reasonable, even if I don't agree with all of them. When you say that you don't have to think that what one family does is necessarily "typical" makes sense, and seems obvious. But it does seem like RUers in general will defend pretty much any actions (or non-actions) in the name of RU. At least, on unschooling boards. I sort of understand it, and I don't think it's cool to troll unschooling boards just to pick fights about how irresponsible they are. It's easy to get defensive when you feel like people are attacking you (which I know people do).

So, I'm interested in hearing your opinion about the blog post that the OP posted. The one about the girl who wanted to be given help with reading, but her mom insisted that she learn on her own. Is that something that makes sense to you in the context of that family's unschooling style? Because honestly, I really can't find my way to understanding that decision.

albeto
08-15-2011, 11:06 AM
Unschooling well is a heap of work; I deeply admire those who have the energy to do it well. I'm so glad you came to add to the conversation, albeto.

I have a pretty good handle on the theory but I truly don't understand how it is possible to completely immerse oneself in a child's interests. Support, encourage, facilitate, assist -yes. But for me to completely immerse myself in my child's interests, when they do not intersect with mine, would feel like a relinquishment of my person and dishonest to boot.

Do RU families feel that you cannot be aware and involved without immersion ? How does this work when children are older and no longer wish for immersion to take place ? Does RU allow for the fact that prioritising relationships can take place in non-RU families also ? Hope you can come back and explain further.

Giving my answer before coffee...

As far as immersing yourself in your child's interests without attention to yours - I'll use "you" as a general "you" here. This idea has different purposes. On the surface your child will see that their interests are interesting to you - their parent, the one they naturally look to for information and safety. That's pretty validating for a child to see the parent respects and honors something they do/create/enjoy. Not only is that validating, it strengthens those family bonds which are good for lots of reasons. It's also helpful for a child's growing sense of self-identity. A child who matures in confidence can master so many challenges, seeing failure as part of the learning experience rather than a value statement on their character.

Also consider that motivation come from different places. The most effective kind of motivation is the naturally internal motivation. We are all motivated by certain things naturally. We just gravitate towards them and we can see that in our kids really easily. They gravitate towards doing things that are developmentally appropriate in some way. Sensory seekers find sports and physical activity to be motivating. Sensory avoiders tend to like those interests that don't overwhelm them. And then there are different kinds of sensory input to seek - speed, tumbling, gross motor action, pressure (wrestling), and fine motor sensory like painting, singing, working with clay, etc. Watching your kids do what they want in their down time will give you an idea of what they seek. Giving your kids lots and lots of down time gives you and them the opportunity to really see this well.

Another motivating factor is the interest in a respected person's interest. This explains why we found our best friend's and boyfriend's interest so interesting when we were teens. Who knew that bugs could be so cool? Who knew that Metallica had such talented musicians? ;-) When you spend time with your kids, you are elevated in their minds as being so very awesome because you'reon e person they can trust to be themselves around and not have to please. They know you'll never embarrass them or get mad because they do things their way when you prefer your way. Your interests become interesting as a result because these are things you spend your free time with and they watch you and want to get involved.

The idea that non RU families can put relationships first is apparent, imo. My dh comes from such a family, but being an Italian Catholic family, RU was certainly NOT in anyone's mind! So yes, I know it can and does happen. I also know that there is a need to use coercion in some way in conventional parenting. That's the third, and least effective means of motivating a person - correlate what you want them to do with something that does motivate them. Schoolwork before basketball practice. Chores before friends. Drop below a B- and your allowance is cut back. Sass back to Dad and get whatever physical or emotional negative consequence is usual.

In RU families, otoh, schoolwork is replaced by learning in the natural setting. For kids of all ages (even adults), play is learning in the natural setting. Basketball practice is part of learning. Being with friends is part of learning. There are no grades because lessons are determined as necessary skills for solving real life problems. If you want your child to learn how to obey random and irrational rules and regulations so they know that if they don't comply bad things will happen, teach them religion. If you want them to know how to solve problems and avoid bigger problems, teach them how to learn.

Greenmother
08-15-2011, 11:38 AM
Albeto, your description is more like the descriptions of Unschooling that I am used to, opposed to what some of us sometimes see or read about.

I will say, I did work with my kids on their kindergarten skills. But some kids want to do that and some kids are not interested. My five yr old loves doing workbooks and flashcards. And her sister did at that age too. But I have read here on this list that some of the younger kids hate coloring or sitting still at all and that's okay too. Parents have to figure out how best to stimulate their children and help them learn useful things.

I don't care for religion on the whole, but have you ever explored the rules that some religions have in the context of their cultural beginnings? They are not necessarily irrational if considered in that light. Although I don't care for those rules and they are often driven by politics and misogyny or ownership issues. If you teach children that people who are religious are nonsensical and irrational, then the children will have difficulties learning how to communicate with religious people, or decipher their behaviors. That will not serve them well in a country where religion has such a powerful presence. It will teach them to underestimate religious people, and that could put your children at a tactical disadvantage in the future.

Rules are all about politics and crowd control. And religion is just another word for politics, a glove slipped over politics for crowd control.

albeto
08-15-2011, 11:41 AM
So, I'm interested in hearing your opinion about the blog post that the OP posted. The one about the girl who wanted to be given help with reading, but her mom insisted that she learn on her own. Is that something that makes sense to you in the context of that family's unschooling style? Because honestly, I really can't find my way to understanding that decision.


Okay, I have to say last night when I came upon this thread I just skimmed the post in the link. Now that I've read it, I see a mother who is so very in tune with her child's development and her desire to give her child the positive experience of learning rather than the negative experience of having to perform. I wonder if you can see how I interpret this post.

This is what I gather about the child:


She can articulate many reasons she doesn't want to be at school...


Effie dislikes almost all direction and is a very private, personal, internal kind of learner.


she has an extremely low frustration tolerance for most things


During a dormant stage, if we ask her to read a word in a story or something, even one she knows by heart, she will get very annoyed and refuse


she just isn't at all interested in reading simple books


The gap between her ability and her desire is still too big and it frustrates her no end to be in this place of waiting.

This is what I interpret to be the mother's insight and respons:



I listen, I validate, I send out waves of complete and utter confidence


we talk about how everybody learns things (to walk, to talk) on the schedule of their own brains and bodies


It is uncanny, she keeps it all in her head. We talk about all these things.



She doesn't want us to push her, would hate that. She just wants to be able to read, right now.

The mother knows the child wants to know how to read, but the learning process is painful if done in a conventional way. To sit her down and give her instruction would be frustrating for the child and that would put the mother in the position of having to manipulate the child in some way to remain on task - something that is developmentally not appropriate for this child at this time in this context.

This child is learning how to be patient when you really want something but can't have it (how many adults do we know who haven't mastered this skill yet?). This child is learning how to make connections through auditory channels and her creative abilities are "uncanny". To take the time away from that kind of learning to insist she learn how to decode letters and sounds would be detrimental to her creative development as well as her relationship with her mother because her mother would have to find ways to "motivate" her into some kind of submission until the lesson time is over. That's not respectful to another person because this kind of motivation is really coercion, and this other person (the child) has already let her mother know she doesn't want that.

When she has the maturity to sit through a frustrating challenge without needing a break, then she'll be ready to decode letters and sounds. It may happen little by little and it may happen in one or two days. But the point is, it will happen on her developmental time line and no sooner. In the meantime, this child is learning that life doesn't work by just wanting something badly enough. She'll figure out how to put the necessary effort in when she's motivated to put the necessary effort in. She's also learning that sometimes our brains and bodies don't comply with our desires. People have dyslexia against their wills. No one asks for autism. No one rejoices in a diagnosis of MS. Life is messy and we don't always get what we want and she's learning this at an age where most people are spared (spoiled?) from this reality.

I hope that makes sense.

albeto
08-15-2011, 11:44 AM
If you teach children that people who are religious are nonsensical and irrational, then the children will have difficulties learning how to communicate with religious people, or decipher their behaviors. That will not serve them well in a country where religion has such a powerful presence. It will teach them to underestimate religious people, and that could put your children at a tactical disadvantage in the future.

Agreed. I save my ranting for adult conversations. ;)

Stella M
08-15-2011, 05:37 PM
It makes sense, albeto, but to me that's just good parenting - staying aware of your child - with a dash of unschooling thrown in. That is exactly what I did with my dd but as soon as she came to me and said 'That's it. I want you to teach me.' with the attitude that her desire to read was greater than her resistance to being taught, I taught her. I truly don't think she has less ownership of her reading life because I stepped in and guided her at that point upon request and without coercion. Well, only the coercion of a world brimming with books to which she had no independent access.

And I still don't understand the difference in effect between support and interest in a child's interests and immersion. I can listen to ds talk about Mario, I can help him design card games, board games, respect and facilitate his choice to earn money to pay for Mario games, accept that he wants to call me Mama Yoshi etc etc etc, without myself becoming immersed in Mario. Just because I respect my child's interest and find him interesting, doesn't mean I find Mario something I personally wish to immerse myself in.

I wouldn't do this with an adult - immerse myself in AFL football because my dh is a football nut, for example - so why would I do this for a child ? I have a hard time grappling with the idea of immersion as a goal, and the only path to a non-coercive and deep relationship with one's child.

Immersing oneself in one's own interests is also of value to a child, imo, modelling the ability to truly participate in one's own life. Maybe it's a temperament thing, but love of and interest in my child and their processes doesn't automatically mean I have the ability to immerse myself, without deceit, in all they do.

Well, it's good to mull over. I guess this issue has always been my RU stumbling block. They kicked me out for a reason!

Eileen
08-15-2011, 07:01 PM
Thanks for the interpretation! I can see where she's coming from, since you put it that way. I guess, for me, I don't see a little bit of "pain" or frustration as being a bad thing to experience, or harmful to the parent-child relationship. Or teacher-child relationship. But, obviously, I'm not entirely down with the unschooling scene, so that's my thing. I appreciate you taking the time to break it down.

hreneeh
08-15-2011, 07:13 PM
What is wrong with frustration? Isn't learning how to deal with frustration part of growing up. part of growing up is learning that there are others besides you and sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. I don't particularly want to do the laundry (I hate it) but I do it anyway. Science concepts may not come easily to a child, heck playing a video game may not come easy, but there is a sense of accomplishment when you stick through something and do it even if maybe you didn't want to. I don't understand why helping a child with something they find difficult, or coaxing them to continue to try is a bad thing.

Stella M
08-15-2011, 07:14 PM
Hmm. That's weird. I posted here a few hours ago but it's been gobbled up by the internet monster.

I think there is a disconnect between the theory of immersion and total non-coercion and the reality, including the cost on the primary carer's mental health which is not taken into account by many of those who have written/advised on RU in my experience.

Immersion in one's own interests, rather than one's child's, seems to me psychologically healthy and doesn't prevent support for and interest in what that child's interests are. Nor does it prevent the joyfulness experienced when there is a natural connect between what preoccupies a child and her parent and the discovery of interests in common.

albeto
08-15-2011, 07:58 PM
It makes sense, albeto, but to me that's just good parenting - staying aware of your child - with a dash of unschooling thrown in.

I quite agree with you. I might even say it's like good parenting without any dash of schooling thrown in. ;-)


That is exactly what I did with my dd but as soon as she came to me and said 'That's it. I want you to teach me.' with the attitude that her desire to read was greater than her resistance to being taught, I taught her. I truly don't think she has less ownership of her reading life because I stepped in and guided her at that point upon request and without coercion. Well, only the coercion of a world brimming with books to which she had no independent access.

This isn't what the OP on the RU forum experienced with her dd, though. Her daughter didn't want to be taught, she wanted to *know.*


And I still don't understand the difference in effect between support and interest in a child's interests and immersion. I can listen to ds talk about Mario, I can help him design card games, board games, respect and facilitate his choice to earn money to pay for Mario games, accept that he wants to call me Mama Yoshi etc etc etc, without myself becoming immersed in Mario. Just because I respect my child's interest and find him interesting, doesn't mean I find Mario something I personally wish to immerse myself in.

All this sounds awesome.


I wouldn't do this with an adult - immerse myself in AFL football because my dh is a football nut, for example - so why would I do this for a child ? I have a hard time grappling with the idea of immersion as a goal, and the only path to a non-coercive and deep relationship with one's child.

Immersing oneself in one's own interests is also of value to a child, imo, modelling the ability to truly participate in one's own life. Maybe it's a temperament thing, but love of and interest in my child and their processes doesn't automatically mean I have the ability to immerse myself, without deceit, in all they do.

As your child grows and matures and his/her play develops into more independent play, your interaction with him matures as well, right? He can ask you questions on the fly rather than play with you on the floor for 45 min. Kids naturally desire to gain independence and knowing their parent will offer them a secure landing pad to come back to gives them even more confidence to be independent. I don't think artificial, unnatural dependency is an ideal to RU in anyone's opinion.


Well, it's good to mull over. I guess this issue has always been my RU stumbling block. They kicked me out for a reason!

Hey, mulling is what I do best.

albeto
08-15-2011, 08:04 PM
Thanks for the interpretation! I can see where she's coming from, since you put it that way. I guess, for me, I don't see a little bit of "pain" or frustration as being a bad thing to experience, or harmful to the parent-child relationship. Or teacher-child relationship. But, obviously, I'm not entirely down with the unschooling scene, so that's my thing. I appreciate you taking the time to break it down.

Keep in mind, from a RU perspective, the child is experiencing frustration. She wants something right now and she doesn't know how to get it. She wants to read but the methodology of learning to read is, for some reason, abrasive to her emotionally. She's learning that she's got choices here - she can suck it up and take the time and effort and gain the skill sooner, or she can be patient and continue learning other things in the mean time (including how not to compare herself with others based on single skills).

The relationship might not be damaged, but it would be changed, and the mother likely recognizes this change would be damaging for them.

Stella M
08-15-2011, 08:07 PM
So, when you talk about immersion, you're talking about younger children ? I think there is a natural sense of immersion with infants and young children, even in the way we play with littlies - as you say, close contact, down on the floor, time spent focusing on their play, whether that's building endless Thomas train tracks or being the wicked Ms Hannigan in their game of Annie, or staying with them in their bed as they unwind the day in chat and song until they fall asleep.

What I missed, personally, in dialogue with RU people, was an acceptance that we are not always up to the energy and self-discipline that immersion on this level takes, especially if we are the sole provider of that immersion. There was a significant amount of guilt-tripping involved in stating that your own needs were going unmet due to the time and energy immersion requires and a distinct lack of gentleness in exploring how those needs could be met or even prioritised at times.

albeto
08-15-2011, 08:21 PM
What is wrong with frustration? Isn't learning how to deal with frustration part of growing up. part of growing up is learning that there are others besides you and sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. I don't particularly want to do the laundry (I hate it) but I do it anyway. Science concepts may not come easily to a child, heck playing a video game may not come easy, but there is a sense of accomplishment when you stick through something and do it even if maybe you didn't want to. I don't understand why helping a child with something they find difficult, or coaxing them to continue to try is a bad thing.


RU doesn't deny the child the opportunity to learn these lessons. RU offers the child the opportunity to choose which frustrations are worthy of their attention and effort. We all do the same thing. You don't like doing laundry but it's worth it for you to get it done. I suck at laundry. My clothes line in the back yard just broke this morning and I still have clothes on my couch yet to be folded. Instead I took my youngest son to do something he really enjoys - rock climbing. He's learning these very lessons about overcoming frustrations for a valuable goal. Rock climbing as a sport is quite cerebral, imo. He has to plan his strategy and then make his 11 yo muscles comply. He'd like very much to get stronger so that's a longer term goal he's setting for himself. He's also experiencing there are certain skills he doesn't have (like spelling) that he'd like to have and so that's worth his attention and effort, too. Spelling isn't fun for him but he would like to be able to spell words easily when he writes.

Let's be honest. Most of us can't navigate the responsibilities of a family and home on the fly. There's an advantage to having supper at a similar time every night and lights out by a certain hour. There's a reason we put our dirty clothes in the hamper and keep the bathroom clean. Schedules make these responsibilities easy to attend to. Learning real-life lessons such as how to respond to frustrating events doesn't get learned because of a particular academic schedule, but are learned in between scheduled events.

Helping a child with something that is difficult isn't bad at all. It's a loving and compassionate thing to do. Coaxing, otoh, or maintaining a schedule of academics and keeping the child on schedule functions to serve the desires of the person offering a new skill, not the person seeking a new skill. It's a way to help the parent make sure a skill is learned before it's "too late" or maybe, "embarrassing." RU ideals consider the needs of the child and seeks to abandon the idea that something is too late or embarrassing just because it's not typical to peers.

albeto
08-15-2011, 08:40 PM
So, when you talk about immersion, you're talking about younger children ? I think there is a natural sense of immersion with infants and young children, even in the way we play with littlies - as you say, close contact, down on the floor, time spent focusing on their play, whether that's building endless Thomas train tracks or being the wicked Ms Hannigan in their game of Annie, or staying with them in their bed as they unwind the day in chat and song until they fall asleep.

Yes. And just now, this very minute, I finally looked at the ages of your kids. So much for attention to detail. :rolleyes:


What I missed, personally, in dialogue with RU people, was an acceptance that we are not always up to the energy and self-discipline that immersion on this level takes, especially if we are the sole provider of that immersion. There was a significant amount of guilt-tripping involved in stating that your own needs were going unmet due to the time and energy immersion requires and a distinct lack of gentleness in exploring how those needs could be met or even prioritised at times.

I think there's a reason RU tend to have fewer children than say, your average conservative Christian family that teaches First Time Obedience. It's just inconvenient in a practical sense to expect to attend to the needs of nine children, and one or two children can afford to explore the whys and wherefores of the concept of compliance.

I can see how there would be a certain lack of sympathy for desiring down time because it does affect the child's development (for better or worse). I will only suggest from experience that putting RU ideals into play in our home changed my needs. I no longer need "down time" because I have more time to regenerate. Without the stress of academic schedules, learning is fun and far more relaxing, and they learn what I'm exploring as I learn what they're exploring. As they get older I can leave them alone (we haven't had a babysitter in years and years and years so I'm relishing this time). So my needs are fewer because they're not being denied like they once were.

albeto
08-15-2011, 09:09 PM
Hmm. That's weird. I posted here a few hours ago but it's been gobbled up by the internet monster.

I think there is a disconnect between the theory of immersion and total non-coercion and the reality, including the cost on the primary carer's mental health which is not taken into account by many of those who have written/advised on RU in my experience.

Immersion in one's own interests, rather than one's child's, seems to me psychologically healthy and doesn't prevent support for and interest in what that child's interests are. Nor does it prevent the joyfulness experienced when there is a natural connect between what preoccupies a child and her parent and the discovery of interests in common.

I would agree with this. Did you ever read the short essay by Erma Bombeck where she describes all the perfect mothers in the neighborhood? Each mother was a professional stay-at-home mother/housewife who always so busy and productive. The had the sparkling clean floor, made homemade dinners from scratch, met dh with a smile to pamper him at the end of the day, was involved with the PTA, church and local voting league, blah blah blah. After pages and pages of all these perfect mothers she wraps it up by mentioning where all the neighborhood kids are - at the chaotic, messy, loud house where Mrs. Jones has store bought cookies and lets the kids have a good time.

What I'm trying to say is that we can try to live up to someone else's ideal, but when we are relaxed and enjoy life, I think our kids know that and they appreciate being where they are sincerely enjoyed. They don't know what the ideal is supposed to be, they just know that they're enjoying life too and I think a parent that budgets her mental reserves for this purpose invests wisely.

Stella M
08-15-2011, 09:14 PM
Hmm. It does all get easier with older children. My experience of trying to live a RU life with 3 children 6 and under was far from idyllic. And I fail to see how getting regular amounts of sleep at a time when my body needed it - something actively discouraged by RU advocates in favour of immersing myself in my children's sleep cycles - could have affected my children negatively. I am a much nicer mother when I sleep!

I'm glad you came by, albeto, to give another viewpoint in the discussion. i think I'll bow out for now though - discussing it I realise I still have a lot of hurt from my experiences with the RU community, which won't add to the 'public interest' nature of this thread.

jessica14
08-17-2011, 02:04 PM
Thank you albeto for adding to this conversation! You really helped me to understand the perspective a lot better. Many things I have read are quite hostile to others with different ideas and I don't think its a fair representation of everyone. It seems to me that, like anything in life, everyone preceives the philosophy in their own way, one that works for their family. Your interpretations for the question the Mom was asking was very informative although as someone who is probably considered "conventional, " some of it is hard for me to process.

Thanks also MelissiainOz for yor imput as well. I understand you bowing out. I myself needed time to mull things over before responding. Because I taught for 12 years (K and 2nd), worked at several daycare centers (two of which very much were in the unschooling philosophy), taught preschool, and subbed for 5 years, I most definately come from a different POV.

Since my original post, I have done more research on the subject. I have learned a lot of positive things, and I'm trying several things at home. Just a couple of minutes ago I said to DS who didn't want to brush his teeth to know that he did smell "beany and cheesy". He thought this was very funny, but didn't brush his teeth. I'm not so hung up on bedtime. Being home, DS takes a nap if he is tired. I didn't care if no one else his age naps. It works for him. I'm trying to be more open about eating, although my DD does not like to drink anything(by anything means that she has been offered many things thoughout a day, rejects all of them, sweats for 3hrs of gymnastics and then feels faint) and has made herself sick on several occassions because of it. She knows the consequences but is not self regulating, so I do walk a fine line with protecting her health and not making food a control issue. I'm really taking in all the RU info on eating and seeing how it fits in with our family.

There are, of course, some things I disagree with, but again, it just means a different way a family preceives the learning process. In the case of the girl who couldn't read yet (and those who answered that sometimes 12 or 13 year olds don't either), I agree that the child's brain isn't ready to teach herself how to read. However, since I have taught a hundreds of kids over the years, I know that their brains are capable of learning to read if taught. There is variance on how well they read based on their individual development, but everyone could or learn letters, sounds or numbers, and eventually read, usually by seven. I just personally don't think a child who has the desire should be told to wait until they can learn it themselves when they are entirely capable of learning if someone would show her how. Again, difference in philosophy, but I see a distinct difference between being having the capability to learn if taught and having the capability to learn if self-taught.

I also wouldn't want my child to endure cavities or BO just because they decide when they clean themselves. I have known young children who have BO or are unclean(clothes, hair, body). I'm having a hard time distinguishing between parents who have children like this because they don't really care and those who do so because its part of a life philosophy. The results are the same. It's not to say RU parents are neglectful, because I think the opposite is entirely true. They are probably more on top of being a parent than a lot of people. But why is one child considered neglected and the other considered a natural learner? Just a question really, not a judgement.

Thanks again for such a great discussion! It was so much more than I ever imagined!

Stella M
08-17-2011, 04:56 PM
And Jess, despite having the potential to go haywire, the conversation stayed more civil than many I've been in. Credit to all!

jessica14
08-18-2011, 07:47 AM
I agree Melissa! I was so hesitant to reply, because I really appreciate everyone's input. But its OK to agree to disagree!

Greenmother
08-18-2011, 11:21 AM
My kids get really dirty all the time. Depending on what kind of dirty--I send them to the shower! Or the waterhose. We work with livestock and sometimes with wildlife, so washing is also about avoiding making other animals sick by being a carrier, as much as it is for our personal hygiene.

I wrote something funny about hygiene and parental judgements. It's not an easy call to make. I think a kid would have to smell seriously long-term-unwashed for me to say something. Or cavities would have to be visible or biofilm must be visible on the teeth.

There is a distinct difference between someone dirty today, and someone who hasn't washed or changed their clothes in a week. Completely different odor. And anyone can get stinky breath, but that is not the same as a seriously thick case of biofilm on the teeth from not brushing for days.

MissyinSLC
08-18-2011, 11:30 AM
Coming in late :)

I have been reading a lot of Sandra Dodd and Joyce Federoll (sp?) and listening to the werhumansbeing.com podcasts (they call RU Whole Life Unschooling) and I have to say I can't imagine any other those gurus (and John Holt, for that matter) not helping their children learn to do things that they want to learn (especially if they specifically ask to learn to read, etc.). I'm wondering if these poor examples of RUs mentioned in this thread are just not very good representations of the philosophy. We are planning to be RUish in our style (although I really do prefer the WLU tag).

As far as food, bed, and teeth go - to me they are safety issues. My girls have a shelf at their level where I keep food they can help themselves to. But I would never, ever put things with HFCS or hydrogenated oils on their shelf (or in my house, for that matter). Those substances are not natural and highly addictive. I do have some candy on their shelf, which they pick at from time to time. Brushing teeth just what we do - we may struggle with how much mom and dad help, but they've never fought us not to. And as for bed - during typical days I will herd them along a bit to bed because they look sleepy. However, when we go camping (and we camp a lot) they more or less put themselves to bed and I have to say those nights are so peaceful.

Does that make me a poor candidate for RU? I really don't care :) I like the philosophy in general but am willing to give and take as I see what works for my family. Being ridged and unyielding is the biggest problem with any parenting style or lifestyle choice. I can tell when I am being too ridged in any direction because things start to fall apart.

Homeschooling and parenting in general seem to involve constant assessment and reassessment - checking in to make sure things are working and people are healthy and happy.

Anyway, just my thoughts. My girls are young (5 and 3 tomorrow) so we'll see where we're at in a year or so :)

MissyinSLC
08-18-2011, 11:43 AM
Oh, and one more thing~ I do belong to a couple of the yahoo groups and I have seen how judgemental and harsh some of the members can be. I can competely understand the bad taste that some posters here refer too - that turns me off as well.

HWALTERS
08-18-2011, 01:08 PM
The relationship might not be damaged, but it would be changed, and the mother likely recognizes this change would be damaging for them.

For me it just seems that not being able to read keeps a child's world so small it would be worth a change.

If a child does not want antibiotics for a serious infection, they still have to take them, even if it changes that relationship and even if it that change is damaging.

Reading is not like learning state capitals, it is the building block of so much learning.

jessica14
08-18-2011, 07:23 PM
My kids get really dirty all the time. Depending on what kind of dirty--I send them to the shower! Or the waterhose. We work with livestock and sometimes with wildlife, so washing is also about avoiding making other animals sick by being a carrier, as much as it is for our personal hygiene.

I wrote something funny about hygiene and parental judgements. It's not an easy call to make. I think a kid would have to smell seriously long-term-unwashed for me to say something. Or cavities would have to be visible or biofilm must be visible on the teeth.

There is a distinct difference between someone dirty today, and someone who hasn't washed or changed their clothes in a week. Completely different odor. And anyone can get stinky breath, but that is not the same as a seriously thick case of biofilm on the teeth from not brushing for days.

I never thought of it that way. You are right. I was thinking of some other blog I read where the Mom said the child had nine cavities, didn't brush all that often, chose his food, but she thought he was just prone to cavities (which I think is partially true) instead of the lack of brushing.

And your kids are so lucky to be having those kind of life experiences!

Greenmother
08-18-2011, 08:04 PM
I would be willing to bet that most of the children associated with the members of this site are really lucky to have all sorts of fabulous experiences.

lakshmi
08-20-2011, 01:37 AM
If anyone reading is a radical unschooler, can you join in, because right now the OP is getting a 'they speak as a single voice' view ?

This just struck me as very very funny. Most radical unschoolers would avoid this site with all its discussion of curriculums and schedules. LOL. Luckily there is Albeto

[QUOTE=MelissainOz;50087]Well, only the coercion of a world brimming with books to which she had no independent access./QUOTE]

lol.. see that is the TRICKINESS of an unschooler right there!

Radical unschooling is so interesting to me. And I love how much it pisses everyone off. Like ALL things, there are those who do it well and those who don't. I totally saw the point in the link that OP posted. And I kept getting confused and had to return to it to figure out what people were talking about when saying, "she wouldn't teach her."

My guess is that with MelissainOZ's child, she knew that her child was like.... Mom, I wanna read, let's sit down and get 'er done. So she did. And my sense with this other child Effie, that the mom knew she was just being a friggen baby about the whole thing. I mean come on, my child, whom I love dearly, can be a real brat when she wants something that she can't have or isn't old enough to accomplish (like a ballet leap). SOME Radical unschoolers can see this behavior for what it is... a kid wanting something she can't have, she has to earn it. Effie wasn't willing to go to her mom and say, Teach me to friggen read before I freak out on not knowing what is going on in these books!!!

Would you give your child his screen time before he finished his schoolwork? No, so why should she give her child the gift of reading before she is ready.

Radical Unschoolers work toward a wholeness that a lot of us just simply cannot understand. It just won't work in our worlds.

That being said, I've never had a radical unschooler jump down my throat for using MBTP. Or a stupid handwriting book. Yes, I force them. I love handwriting and I love worksheets. My kids, not so much.

As for the immersion aspect of RU... that my friends makes sense too, in the RU world. If you like someone you find out about them and what they like, akin to getting to know a lover. If the cute boy down the hall liked the Ramones, then I would be pretty sure to be shouting Gabba Gabba at regular intervals. EVEN though, my favorite might be Slash and Axl.

Same goes for the kids.

My step-son likes airsoft guns. Hello sounds stupid to me... but so does baseball for chrissakes, (can I even say chrissakes on a secular site?) How stupid is it to stand out in the sun, watching a ball and running around and wearing a cup and short pants. BUT....there I was watching with my opinions firmly tucked under my ass while I was shouting, "go, go, go" when it was his turn to run. I dutifully learned that on the third strike if the ump drops the ball the batter can run to first.

Gawd did it kill me...I felt like it would but it didn't. So immerse yourself away with the supposed pay off of your kids actually wanting to hang out with you. And ultimately it comes back to the whole question of why did we have kids in the first place. Just because? Maybe we should just send them to school then.

Oh I know someone will say, My kids want to hang out with me now... okay, so they do, and that works for you. And that is what pisses us off about RU, they ultimately do not care about what we do.

albeto
08-20-2011, 02:51 AM
There are, of course, some things I disagree with, but again, it just means a different way a family preceives the learning process. In the case of the girl who couldn't read yet (and those who answered that sometimes 12 or 13 year olds don't either), I agree that the child's brain isn't ready to teach herself how to read. However, since I have taught a hundreds of kids over the years, I know that their brains are capable of learning to read if taught. There is variance on how well they read based on their individual development, but everyone could or learn letters, sounds or numbers, and eventually read, usually by seven. I just personally don't think a child who has the desire should be told to wait until they can learn it themselves when they are entirely capable of learning if someone would show her how. Again, difference in philosophy, but I see a distinct difference between being having the capability to learn if taught and having the capability to learn if self-taught.

I think there's also a matter of asking for advice because a parent isn't sure of the best way to solve a problem. I have a question on an unschooling group now and every comment I get is so helpful but I have a big red welt on my forehead from my palm where I keep slapping it while exclaiming, "of COURSE! Duh." It's hard to think outside the box when you're not sure how to think outside the box. That's the impression I got from the mother asking the question in your OP. She knew she wanted to help her child to read but didn't know how and the only two options she knew - teach her, leave it alone - weren't working.

Thanks for the kind words everyone. They were good timing for me. And Lakshmi, you made me laugh. I do sometimes feel like a traveler in a foreign country here with all the talk of schedules and curricula and organizing reading times!

Stella M
08-20-2011, 03:02 AM
No, what pisses me off about RU people - Sandra Dodd and co - is that, in my experience, they are emotional bullies towards those who have valid questions about putting RU theory into practice and would like to engage in civil and kind debate - albeto excluded, who has been the most civil RU poster I've ever come across ( the only one ?! ) It doesn't piss me off that they do things differently to me.

I think the immersion thing is a semantics problem for me. Immersion implies losing yourself in another. I don't want to lose myself within my children's ( or a husband's or lover's or friend's ) lives. I do want to stay interested, supportive, enthusiastic, helpful and respectful and in practice, that seems be what 'immersion' is being used to communicate.

Reading, imo , isn't a gift. It's a right; the right to literacy instruction when ready.

I pretty much understand the supposed wholeness which RU aims to provide. But it's kinda hard to claim wholeness for yourself, your family or your children when you lack kindness towards others - a trait which takes flexibility of mind, empathy for other's pov, capacities and situations and a willingness to be non-dogmatic. I'm not saying all RU's lack care for the other. But the public and dogmatic face of the RU 'movement' most certainly does. Ironically, I personally came across a bunch of people who had a lot invested in control of others outside their families, in creating and enforcing the RU 'rules'. Curiosity and questioning may have been hallmarks of their own parenting but it wasn't a courtesy extended to others. maybe things have changed in the past little while. I hope so.

Give me a textbook-teaching, exam-conscious, reward -giving, mama who has the capacity and a preference for thoughtful dialogue over a non coercive manifesto any day of the week!

Oh bugger, I was supposed to be done with this thread, wasn't I ? Oh well.

Eta because I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, up until the point in the article where the mother describes telling her child 'one day you will just explode into reading' this was my experience with dd12. Quite valuable. However, the problem is not all children do explode into reading. Illiteracy isn't caused by coercive methods of teaching disabling a child's innate ability to read. That's a simplistic and inaccurate idea of what illiteracy is and the factors that cause it.

Wild~Iris
08-20-2011, 11:21 AM
I came across this blog that is better than the average blog devoted to eclectic/unschooling. The Spotty Banana (http://spottybanana.net/category/eclectic-homeschooling/)

lakshmi
08-20-2011, 04:45 PM
oooo, i love fiesty, thanks MinOz!! ::licks finger and touches screen::: **sizzle***

albeto, you're welcome.

The funny thing about niceness, and I do agree that they kick some serious ass over there with Sandra and the Big Heads (once I accidently said heads instead of wigs and it has stuck) BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT.... Sandra herself states it over and over and over that it is about the LIST.... THE LIST... Sounds so ominous. Maybe it is semantic as well, but from what I understand about SD, is that if you're on that list you are there for one purpose.. to discuss the (dramatic music) THE LIST!!

When I first joined that group, my friend said, "Sandra [and the big heads] can be mean." I see what she meant, but I do not think of it as being mean. I think of it as cooly, calmly and calculating fu**ing with people to get them to see that their lives are all about the word. (Sounds sorta xtian, no?)

Ultimately she doesn't really care if you get it or not, which amuses me to NO end. I love that band (Sandra and The Big Heads) because reading those discussions brought me around to being a better person and parent, not just a better school at homer. Which might be the ultimate goal of Radical Unschooling.

My guess is that if you were bombarded by stupid people asking you stupid questions every single time you got online you'd get to the point where you'd be like...um, you're stupid. (but in a cool, calm way.) (okay so maybe I am talking about me and not you.) Oh and you might also say, don't think that you can get outta being made a fool by emailing me cuz then I call attention even more to how much you're buggin.

Maybe immersion does mean to get totally into it, and I am just skimmingly immersed. I still understand it as giving it some attention and being respectful rather than, saying something like I would like to say. "baseball is stupid, I will drop you off but you can forget me sitting and watching that shite, and make sure to save your birthday money from gramps cuz I ain't gonna buy you none a that gear!" Then speeding off to go do something "worthwhile" like plein air painting.

Love love love this thread. For months and months now I've been thinking about all of this stuff and it is so good to hear from everyone. :cool:

Also, not sure what "hung for a sheep as a lamb" means, but it did make me hungry...

Stella M
08-20-2011, 06:16 PM
Yeah, well, I guess it's all in what you value in life, community and education. And f***ing with people and their 'stupid' questions isn't my idea of admirable; it's my idea of lacking some serious social skills and engaging in bullying. It also smacks of arrogance. If it's so wearisome for them to deal with the brainwashed masses, they need to get out of the public forum business.

Yes, there are useful things to learn from the extreme end of the parenting/education debate. The RU movement could only become more nuanced if they didn't shy away from discussing how theory can negatively impact lives in practice, in particular, the mental health of the primary carer, physical health impacts on the RU child and recognizing and dealing with learning disabilities in a timely manner. The middle isn't nearly as exciting, but it's a hell of lot more functional when it comes to dealing with actual people.

Hung for a sheep as a lamb ? I've gotten back into the debate again, so I may as well get it all off my chest. At this point, I would move in with the Duggars before I'd go near the 'Big Heads' again.

dbmamaz
08-20-2011, 10:37 PM
Hahaha f'ing with people to try to teach them something? that reminds me of the first marriage counselor we tried. She yelled at me, several times, would randomly turn to me and ask me in a very aggressive tone "did you cheat on your husband?!" (NO!) Dh said he liked her because he didnt have to argue with me since she did it for him. he also said she asked me at least twice as many questions as she asked him. He also said he realized one more session with her would end our marriage for good, so he agreed to stop going. And he admitted to me that he lied to her just to get her to shut up.

people really think this is helpful . . . i dont get it.

lakshmi
08-21-2011, 01:44 AM
Yes, there are useful things to learn from the extreme end of the parenting/education debate. The RU movement could only become more nuanced if they didn't shy away from discussing how theory can negatively impact lives in practice, in particular, the mental health of the primary carer, physical health impacts on the RU child and recognizing and dealing with learning disabilities in a timely manner. The middle isn't nearly as exciting, but it's a hell of lot more functional when it comes to dealing with actual people.

Of course, but then that doesn't really sell does it? Ultimately making money off of having not taught your kids is a friggen great way to make a living! And then to have your not-taught-child making money on it too. The marketing must continue, and without that bullying there would be very little interest. Even though I don't agree with everything that goes on in RU world, the commentaries have helped me form my own opinions. For some, less wishy washy than me, who have their own personalities fairly well figured out I can see where it would not be of any benefit. BUT, I am continually trying to shape who and what I believe. To me, I don't see it what I have read as bullying. Definitely arrogant, and it feels so odd to be defending RU when I think a lot of is stupid. The way I use it is more like an AA meeting, take what I need and leave the rest. And I am just sort of waiting until something I write over there gets dissected. And I still think they're funny, funny like piranhas in bloody water, but still funny. I thought Serial Mom was funny too. oh and Cry baby... And Polyester.... Harold and Maude...Heathers..


The issues you're pointing out are huge questions in any path, but the kooky (dare I say unstable?) seem to be drawn to RU. Besides, Xtians like the Duggars are way easier anyway, they're so nice. So very very nice. The co-op I belong to has many many many folks who like them. As in their beliefs etc... I just like them because they seem so very nice. And their kids are so rowdy and funny and getting into trouble. But then again, they have a coke machine in their kitchen.



dbmamaz wow what a crazy therapy session. Interesting how your husband said that it would have ruined your marriage to stay so he left.

MinOz, I am guessing when you say go near the big heads again, that you were in fact near them and likely got something you or a friend wrote dissected? then I can see why you'd be so vehemently against them. So I will put away my salt container now, and apologize for pouring and rubbing.

To OP, hopefully you got what you needed from this thread. RU itself may not be an exact controversy but a few in the HS world have taken it upon themselves to set up an almost pedantic insistence on what is or isn't (radical) unschooling.

Stella M
08-21-2011, 03:06 AM
Thanks, 'cos the salt stings and it makes me cranky...yeah, I was a (failed) RU for about 18 months, from when I had a newborn, a 4.5yr old and a 6yr old.

They make money out the the whole RU thing now ? Oh my.

dbmamaz
08-21-2011, 10:42 AM
Of course, but then that doesn't really sell does it? Ultimately making money off of having not taught your kids is a friggen great way to make a living! And then to have your not-taught-child making money on it too. The marketing must continue,
Ok, i know we shouldnt bite the hand that feeds us . . .but that just made me unable to resist any longer . . the give away this month is a 5 dvd set on how to unschool your teen. Um, how can you need 5 dvds to tell you to let your teen determine their own life?

Eileen
08-21-2011, 10:46 AM
:_laugh: I guess they don't believe that unschooling continues into adult life?

lakshmi
08-22-2011, 12:08 AM
@MinOz.... newborns make women crazy. or maybe it is just the lack of sleep. RU is tough, very tough, especially so when tired. But RU also pushes, no wait, it punches buttons. It is like a complete overhaul of everything you've thought to be true. Much more comfy in the middle.

@dbmamaz....lol. see. I suppose that could be for ppl who have just gotten fed up with their teens buggin?


Still wish there was a way I could monetize homeschooling. Why can't we be paid some ungodly (he he get it, ungodly) amount of money per post or something.

Stella M
08-22-2011, 01:11 AM
It's sane in the middle, never mind comfy :( I'm pretty sure you don't mean to keep pushing my buttons, Lakshmi - I gave up on that particular group of RU's because they refused to dialogue and engage in a process of self-questioning, not because I was unwilling to overhaul my truth. Anyway, ideas are good, nothing wrong with ideas! It's all in the delivery.

Awesome unschooling blog here (http://respectlovelearning.blogspot.com) which proves no-one needs to be strident to communicate their discoveries and the way they educate, and to challenge the reader.

dbmamaz
08-22-2011, 09:25 AM
Yeah, it is ESP frustrating as the parent of a special needs child to be told that all you have to do is love them and accept them as they are and they will be happy . . . I was bending myself in pretzels to try to keep my son calm and happy and not evening realizing how far off from normal we were . . . and he was still suicidal at age 9. People like to believe the world is simpler than it is. What's frustrating to me, Corrigan, i think like you, is that I have worked hard to consider every single option, and have come, over time, to what works best for me and my kids. So what kind of person comes along and insists that they, who know nothing of me and my child, know better than I do what he needs? Homeschooling and parenting shouldn't be a cult with only one right way . . .it should be a celebration of the diversity of relationships and of ways to learn. IMO.

Eileen
08-22-2011, 10:03 AM
I have noticed that people who have less challenging kids are often much more judgmental of other people's parenting styles, and much more sure that they themselves are doing everything right. Sadly, I'm pretty sure I would have been somewhat that way (hopefully only inside my own head) if my younger daughter had been my first. She's very sweet-natured and fun, has an easygoing temperament, everyone loves her. I think I might have thought it was all my doing for being such a great parent, when in fact I can see that it really has little to do with me. It's just her personality. I feel lucky to have had my older daughter first. It's made me much more understanding of other people's kids and other parents' styles. At first I thought her personality was all my fault, and I was a terrible parent, so I'm glad I had my younger daughter too. They both have taught me some very valuable lessons.

blueheadlights
08-22-2011, 03:10 PM
I understand a lot of the theory behind unschooling but no one has been able to explain to me where equality comes into it. I can see respecting that your child is their own person and has the right to choose things for themselves but what happens to my right as an individual is everyone is just doing what they please. My 11 year old could choose to stay up til 3 am making noise but I want to go to bed at 10 and her little sister wants falls asleep at 8, how does that work. My child wants to eat expensive packaged food but I've earned the money and have the right not to piss it down the drain. I am a firm believer in live and let live. Do what ever you want as long as it doesn't hurt another, I can't see how unschooling fits into that. And I'm honestly asking because I really would like to know!

albeto
08-22-2011, 03:56 PM
I understand a lot of the theory behind unschooling but no one has been able to explain to me where equality comes into it. I can see respecting that your child is their own person and has the right to choose things for themselves but what happens to my right as an individual is everyone is just doing what they please. My 11 year old could choose to stay up til 3 am making noise but I want to go to bed at 10 and her little sister wants falls asleep at 8, how does that work. My child wants to eat expensive packaged food but I've earned the money and have the right not to piss it down the drain. I am a firm believer in live and let live. Do what ever you want as long as it doesn't hurt another, I can't see how unschooling fits into that. And I'm honestly asking because I really would like to know!

Unschooling strives to achieve functional, effective, problem solving skills and healthy relationships, and a spoiled child is not conducive to this goal. Children who stay up late would do well to learn common courtesy of keeping quiet. Children who need to get up in the morning for whatever reason, would do well to learn to get to bed early enough to prevent over tired grouchiness the next day. Children who would like nothing but prepackaged food would do well to learn how to tolerate food made at home without complaining.

Conventional parenting styles teach these skills through a system of rewards or threats of punishment of some kind (earning dessert or losing tv privileges for example). Unschooling operates on the ideal that a child is respected for making their own decision and will not be treated according to how well they comply to the adult's wishes. They would learn these lessons naturally without the added component of interpreting the training as manipulative.

How these lessons are learned are harder to discuss because each child is different, each temperament is unique, and each child responds to events according to internal (internal like ADHD or Asperger's or naturally quiet, etc) and external things (like how compelling it is to follow Mom and Dad's schedule). A child staying up late would likely require adult supervision until that child is trusted to be capable of staying up late alone. Sometimes that isn't practical so ideally a compromise would be worked out to the mutual satisfaction of both child and parent.

Food is another issue that has to be worked out within the confines of the family. I hate to cook and no one likes my cooking (even me). So we do convenience foods often. However, when that's not convenient, we help our picky eater tolerate eating undesirable foods until snacks can be had. When my picky eater is hungry from being very active, he's likely to eat more, but this is something that we've picked up along the way. Again, the solutions are as varied as the people involved, the unschooling ideology is based only in the idea that the adult doesn't manipulate the child's behavior in any way but allows the child to learn these important lessons naturally and with the security of knowing poor choices will be responded to with tolerance and help.

albeto
08-22-2011, 04:02 PM
But, despite the glowing review you give of the radical unschooling philosophy of parenting, it still does not work for every child. The highlighted statements in particular simply are not achievable for all children. It's easy to insist that they are, but it shows a very, very basic misunderstanding of the intricacies of human psychology.

This is where I start to get incredibly frustrated by the dogmatism of consensual living folks, so please bear with me as I attempt not to do that.

Oh man, I am sorry to have been the source of irritation in this way. I have a child on the spectrum who had years of ABA therapy at home and at school so I am intimately familiar with the benefits of formal behavior modification for some of our kids. In our case, behavior modification was helpful only so long, as tangible rewards were replaced with intangible demands (generally, control, regardless of how impractical or dangerous it might be). So I don't mean to sound like unschooling is the ultimate in parenting or educational styles. I also think that because the ideals are really general, application of these goals can be difficult (if not impractical) to work out, especially with our kids with executive functioning challenges. I'm simply trying to explain the ideals of unschooling, not advocate any kind of idea of universal superiority. I hope that makes sense.

albeto
08-22-2011, 04:09 PM
Yeah, it is ESP frustrating as the parent of a special needs child to be told that all you have to do is love them and accept them as they are and they will be happy . . .

I don't blame you. I got enough of that to last me a lifetime as well. Just as a matter of clarification, however, unschooling doesn't advocate "all you have to do is love them and accept them as they are and they will be happy." It does, however, advocate actively and creatively helping a child learn those skills that they need in life in an unconventional way.


So what kind of person comes along and insists that they, who know nothing of me and my child, know better than I do what he needs? Homeschooling and parenting shouldn't be a cult with only one right way . . .it should be a celebration of the diversity of relationships and of ways to learn. IMO.

I can't tell from this comment if this "kind of person" who comes along is me or not, but I don't suggest I know anyone's child or relationship with their child better than they do.

blueheadlights
08-22-2011, 04:40 PM
Is a natural consequence that their mother will eat their faces if I don't get enough sleep? hahaha.

I guess I already parent this way for the most part, we don't use rewards/or punishment beyond natural consequences. But I do have rules and I guess that's where the unschoolers I know and I part ways. It sounds like there is a whole spectrum in the unschooling world just like the homeschool world, or in fact the world. I love hearing about how other people do things. I like this board because it seems like it's generally done really respectfully, or at least without the hysterics I've seen elsewhere.

Stella M
08-22-2011, 05:24 PM
Albeto, I really like the job you are doing of explaining RU from your perspective :)

I just really, really, really want a RU to explain to me exactly how I could have negotiated with three children, all needing supervision and all on different sleeping 'rhythms' to find an acceptable way to all of us getting any sleep at all! People were seriously suggesting that I a. fed the baby on demand. No problem, already doing that b. allow the 4 year old to stay up until midnight. It couldn't be without supervision b/c she was..um...4, so I was supposed to stay up with her or buy a dog who could supervise her at night! however c. I should also respect the sleep cycle of my 6 year old who liked to get up early, as did my baby who woke every day at 5. Without the help of dh who worked nights at that time.

Or - because it's not possible and I tried for rather a long time - agree that, yes, there are times when it isn't possible to apply RU principles in real life without causing harm. And that in limited situations, a degree of coercion - not the use of punishment or reward, unless you call a mother who can function a reward - after serious thought and multiple attempts to do otherwise, in the desire for it not to become the default position, is sometimes the only option available. RU isn't very multiple infant friendly.

Ain't never gonna happen, but a girl can dream!

lakshmi
08-22-2011, 05:39 PM
woot woot woot

This discussion is a big part of why I like this forum.

Greenmother
08-22-2011, 06:14 PM
Conventional, unconventional --that doesn't matter to me as much as teaching a child how to undergo the process of learning. Once they have that down, they can teach themselves just about anything. But to each his or her own.

Some kids prefer or do well with lots of structure and instruction, and others not so much.

As for screwing with people who are legitimately asking questions, that is just mean.

I had to work for people like that and their "help" I could have done without. All that sort of treatment does is create insecurity and resentment. And usually those two issues have nothing to do with the answers the querent is seeking.

I am all for being nice to each other, having room in my mind for people to live their lives and be the kind of families that they are, without having to impose my viewpoints on them, regarding the kind of family or parents or children I think they should be.

For me to go in that direction, things must be abusive or otherwise terribly dysfunctional.

Laura Blair
08-23-2011, 12:13 PM
ru here! woot!

here's how i see it:

first off, sandra and her cronies are jerks. they are mean to who ever go on their board to try to figure out a solution to a bad situation they are having. it's really sad.

someone said way earlier said us's "strew" and ru's do not. sandra actually coined the term. ru's DO strew. :) i learned this in her book that i bought for $25. which is a printed and bound version of her website. O.o

what works for MY family:

reading - my 5 year old can read. he's known the letters since before he was 2. he would bring me books and i would read them. some of them were alphabet books and he memorized them. then he learned letter sounds from pbs. at the time, i felt really guilty about it. *i* should be the one teaching him! but then i realized that it was more important that he learn it than for me to teach him. he put the letter sounds together by playing starfall. recently, my retired english professor sent us all her phonics textbooks. he thought it was awesome and wanted to do tons of phonics. now he can read.

math - the same as letters, he knew them before he was 2 because he wanted me to read to him. he's learning addition everyday. yesterday was 3 cantaloupes on the counter and 5 on the floor. "mommy! look! we have 8 cantaloupe! how can we eat all these??" or playing with his toys 8 transformers and 3 non-transformers in a box "did you know 8 plus 3 is 11?!" he does simple multiplication all the time without knowing it. "can i have 6 clementines? 2 each for me, daddy and noah."

science - he's OBSESSED with the human body. we are thinking about getting him a hanging skeleton model for christmas. yesterday he learn about sinuses when he couldn't understand why i felt like crap and didn't want to get off the couch. i picked up an awesome anatomy book from a thrift store. we look at it ALL the time.

leaving when you don't want to - let's say we're at the beach and it's getting late. everyone is cold and wet and just wants to go home except the 2 year old. we're going to leave. just like if everyone wanted to go and *i* wanted to stay. we are part of a family. i'll tell him i'm sorry. because i am. but it's not fair that everyone else should be miserable because you feel like playing more. i don't WANT him to be upset but, dude, it's time to go.

eating - we are doing GAPS right now (don't know what it is? look it up! it worth looking into, for real). it's EXTREMELY strict. no sugar, bread, starches among other things. we are doing it for tooth pain. the 5yo knows that if he eats food on the bad list, his teeth will hurt so he doesn't want to eat them. he trusts me to choose good foods for them to eat. personally, i'm enjoying the challenge of learning new recipes for their favorite foods that are within the diet's restrictions.

sleep - they can stay up as late as they want. my only rule is that they stay upstairs if they are going to jump around (our bedroom is in the basement). some nights are better than others. :/

tv - they can watch as much as they want. we have netflix through the xbox set up in the livingroom. no cable. i hate commercials directed at kids. >:( we have cable in the bedroom (my husband is a cable man, actually) but they don't really watch it. only when there is something specific that they want to watch and that's almost never kids stuff. we've been really into deadliest warrior and top shot lately.

picking up messes - this is a bone of contention at our house. no one likes cleaning. everyone likes making messes. we're still working on how to make this go more smoothly. sometimes they pick up without my asking. sometimes they pick up when i ask them to do simple thing "can you put these blocks in that box?" they almost never pick up when my stress level is high and i say "will you pick up this pigsty!?" that, obviously, is my fault. no one would want to listen to someone yelling at them. we're still working it out :/



so, yeah, somethings work out easily, other things don't. but i think that's how it is with most families. <3

bcnlvr
08-23-2011, 01:30 PM
I wouldn't say I am a RU, but our household is very democratic. We meet every Thursday night for Family Meeting and there is Old Business, New Business, Voting, etc. We coordinate schedules, calendars, etc at that time. There is a list of things that need to be done that make a house run smoothly and we all chip in to help. There is a list of chores that need to be done. We go around and each person picks chores each month. Some of them are not rotated...like cleaning toilets. That is for ds9. He LOVES to clean toilets (really). The rest of us don't, so he keeps that one. And I am the only one who likes to weed, so I keep the "weeding the yard" chore. Anyway, there are things that need to be followed, like state and federal laws, so the over-18 folks have some extra duties (provide food, bring home $$$, provide housing, etc). My state mandates that we do certain subjects for school and that the parent is the teacher (who also must have a GED or =valent) but sometimes ds9 or ds6 puts together and does a lesson. We don't have a television. Rules are such that they are guidelines for living with others. If you can't be quiet, you can't stay up and keep others from resting. If you can't have clean dental checks, you can't eat what you want as that effects others negatively (mom has to drive you to get fillings, pay for fillings, etc). So my kids have as much personal freedom and decision-making ability as they can without compromising others....that just wouldn't be just. We are completely open with finances...the kids help with bill-paying and budgeting of the money. We all mediate in each others disagreements. It's not just a parent. Sometimes ds6 comes and helps ds9 and me figure something out or get through a tough discussion. Through all of this we have really learned personal boundaries, attunement to others, responsibility, and socialization. Sometimes I marvel at it all. My almost 10-year-old holds my hand wherever we go and wants to play cards with me (what?!). He didn't do that before all this. It is SO COOL.

FWIW, it was not always like this. We used to practice the SAD model (standard american dictatorship)...two working parents, kids in ps, parents boss/kids not....we were miserable. I never realized how disjointed and apart we were until we weren't.

Wow. I just REALLY rambled about something VERY PERSONAL. Okay, I'm off to track the hurricane.

Bcn :)

Laura Blair
08-23-2011, 01:53 PM
that sounds pretty awesome, bcnlvr!

bcnlvr
08-23-2011, 03:46 PM
I think balance has been the buzzword for our family, too. I do have a RU friend and although we are similar in our "parenting", we are very different in some respects. I don't "feel" my way through things. I am a scientist. I like data. I also ask a lot of questions. Common sense tells me that animals TEACH their young, whether it be active or passive modeling. My friend won't teach her kids anything and lets them do whatever they want, even if it encroaches on others' boundaries. I have seen first-hand what happens to some kids when they have NO guidance or structure. Mine THRIVE on democratically contrived structure and use us (mom and dad) as resources. It also depends, IMO, on the personalities of the children in that framework. Oops, there I go again...blah, blah, blah! :)

bcn

lakshmi
08-26-2011, 01:14 AM
Best comments on this thread.. and the winners are.....bcnlv and Laura Blair!! (who I actually want to call linda blair....)

Great way of putting it, and you know, ultimately unschooling or radical unschooling still contain a word that to me would be eliminated if you were truly an RU .... uhm, hello, school....

bcnlvr love how you described your meetings and the family, and the boundaries. It works like it has to work, as a unit with parents as resources.

And linda. I never thought that Sandra was that mean, but I have recently seen a different side of her. It is such that it isn't even really meanness, but just pure and simple not listening and making assumptions.

Interesting to see what happens at times on the site. I still think that the ideas are interesting when applied to myself, but any specific problem that someone is having forget about it... no answers, attacks and diversions back to....you guessed it, a link to a site that sells books and conferences... interesting social experiment.

My husband suggested a group called the unD***schoolers which is sort of like undeadschoolers... lol..

jessica14
08-26-2011, 12:48 PM
Thank you Laura and bnclvr! This all sounds great and a really common sense approach to RU! I realize that I do some unschooly and even RU things. But like has been said, it can't encroach on other people's rights. I always have told kids in school that you have no right to ruin anyone elses learning. Sure, don't work, that's your choice, but as soon as you disturb someone else's ability to learn, you will have to have a consequence (maybe moving away from said interupted person, not to isolate, but to give everyone space to learn respectively).

And I have also found Sandra Dodd mean to those who I would answer with much sympathy and a tip or too, albiet, not in RU fashion. It tends to be that the parent is just so totally wrong and has no rights. One of my favorite suggestions is that if your child wants to be on the computer all the time, let him and if it means you have less computer time, buy another computer. You have more than one chair? Have more than one computer! Also, the suggestion that Monopoly is not a good game and that video war games are far more appropriate rubs me the wrong way. I have to say though that she did not berate the parent who after weeks finally washed her child's hair after his hair and scalp got crusty and started to smell. The kid then looked at Mom with distrust and fear. Perhaps, if the hair had been washed regularly, the fear would have resided naturally. It worked with my daughter!

But you know, if your child is bullying its because they are angry (possible) because they are forced to brush, wash, eat certain foods, turn off the TV. I've dealt with a lot of angry kids. It tends to be that they don'thave structure in their lives-jailed parents, drugs, grandparents raising kids because Mom took off, etc. I'm sure they would love it if someone insisted they turn off the TV and cuddled up for a book and a bedtime.

I really have loved this thread! It's exactly what I was looking for. Thanks to all of the radical homeschoolers who shared their stories and tips!

lakshmi
08-26-2011, 11:19 PM
jessica14, you won't even know how close and wonderful your post just now was for me.

It has been a crazy day. LOl @melinoz might like this one too.

Okay, remember how i was like, she as in SD ain't so bad. I still sort of think that, BUT... holy shite, I do understand. I decided to jump into the lions den with a handful of meat and damn near lost my whole friggen arm... It was a RIOT>>>>>

The list is like going into her living room,it makes sense tht you could end up getting asked to leave or made fun of or whatever.... BUT Facebook to me is different. Different platform, for chrissakes it is social media, not a discussion forum like this one. it can be light or heady whatever... anyway... if you want to see some of what happened go to radical unschooling info and look. If you want to join message me and I'll add you...

Also, please play along with me on a game, if you will for lack of a better word. I created the Radical Unschooling Group on FB. Anyway, I cordially invite everyone here to become a member of the Closed group. It is basically just like my living room, but a little less cram packed with stuff. So come hang out, post some notes, quick photos whatever... and chat. See you there I hope. If you have any problems finding it you can message [email protected]

I am so serious about seeing you all there. So far no one is there just me and a couple of friends.

SEE YOU SOON!!

Thanks again Jessica for your well timed post!

Stella M
08-26-2011, 11:29 PM
Well, I'm genuinely sorry you had a bad experience with her/them. I'm not on Facebook, so I'll just have to imagine what happened!

lakshmi
08-27-2011, 12:40 AM
not on FB.... no wonder you actually get stuff done.

Not really a bad experience, actually quite entertaining. But, I do very very very much sympathize with what you might have gone through for those 18 months you were an RU. WOW..... In a fragile, not sleeping, new baby state they could easily go in and rip out parts that you could use later. Wow, just Wow. As Mr. Slinger said.

Seriously... I can't apologize to you enough because I really had never seen this side of them. So, not only am I taking the salt and going home, I am going to rub in into a cut that i self inflict. Totally redonkulous!

Stella M
08-27-2011, 02:29 AM
Lily's Purple Plastic Purse ? That's Mr Slinger, isn't it ? Are your girls liking Lily atm ? I like it when he does interpretive dance with Lily :)

It's OK. I should have just walked away the first time they got snarky and moved on. My bad for staying so long and getting so invested in an unhealthy dynamic. You have the right attitude, watch learn and laugh from a distance...

Laura Blair
08-27-2011, 12:24 PM
holy moly! i commented on that thread early on and started ignoring it because it was blowing up my little red flag. i went back to see what the hub bub was about and, jeez, people are crazy.

it's like they LOOK to disagree.

the whole "i already said that. why haven't you already read every word i've written?" thing annoys the crap out of me.

lakshmi
08-29-2011, 02:09 AM
Laura.... exactly.

laundrycrisis
08-29-2011, 05:24 AM
What ended up annoying me the MOST about both unschooling and RU, more than the wild, out of control, mean kids, more than the kids not getting any basic academic foundation, more than the judgemental mommies who criticized anyone who didn't reach for the same ideal they were going for was this....(sorry, but this WAS my experience)......I end up feeling sorry for well-intentioned moms who are constantly doubting themselves, looking back over their shoulder, micro-analyzing every. single. interaction. with their child, agonizing over whether "is this unschooling" or not, or that they might have accidentally "coerced" the poor darling, which came from their own internalized dictator, from their own unenlightened parents, and have likely scarred the child for life...etc. Really. I have have seen attempts to follow US and RU rip all confidence away from perfectly good moms. And when they ask for help understanding and how to get their US exactly right, they are told over and over to suspend their common sense, to forget everything they thought they ever believed about children and parents, etc. I have seen exhausted moms spiral into very bad mental states because they were trying so hard to make US or RU fit their family....but it's a mean trick, because it is often a puzzle that has no solution.

US and RU sound lovely and full of freedom at the start. But then, my own experience was, when you get into the forums and email groups and IRL groups, there is a dark underside full of strict rules, harsh judgements, criticism, attacks, horrible self-doubt, and really messed up behavior that is cheered as "free" while normal functional behavior and guidance of children is looked down on as unevolved.

The best thing I did for my own mental health as a parent was to decide that I am the parent and it is natural for me to be in a leadership position, run the household, and have authority over the children so that we can all live together with enough order that everyone has a fair chance to have needs met. It is also my responsibility to teach (yes, I said teach, the evil word, TEACH ! TEACH ! TEACH !) the children what I have learned regarding how to get along with others. If I choose not to teach these lessons, IMO I am skipping out on part of my responsibilities as a parent.

There are some aspects of US that I admire, and I hope to be able to work some of those into our school life and our home life (and yes, those are separate things here. It is healthier for all of us to have some boundaries around them.) But I think the whole US concept is something that is only beneficial if parents feel the freedom to pick out the parts that work for them and leave the rest. When it is put onto a pedestal as anything more than that, it becomes dogma.

lakshmi
08-29-2011, 01:25 PM
um, yes! what she said.

And when the parents show up at the sites, and lists in an already open and vulnerable state, they get abused so badly that it reinforces the doubt that sent them there in the first place. A group of people who have taken a philosophy and put it into action. Didn't the communists do this to China in the middle 20th c?

Has anyone talked about the Sudbury Valley School model here yet?

Laura Blair
08-29-2011, 05:49 PM
US and RU sound lovely and full of freedom at the start. But then, my own experience was, when you get into the forums and email groups and IRL groups, there is a dark underside full of strict rules, harsh judgements, criticism, attacks, horrible self-doubt, and really messed up behavior that is cheered as "free" while normal functional behavior and guidance of children is looked down on as unevolved.

so don't join the forums?

it's this way with anything, really.

like if you are vegan and join a vegan forum for support. you will never be vegan enough. "how could you eat honey and DARE call yourself vegan?!"

i don't give a shizz if someone thinks the things we do are unschooly or not. the ultimate goal isn't to impress jerks online. it's to make sure your family is healthy, happy, etc..

Stella M
08-29-2011, 11:26 PM
Laura, it isn't really about impressing people. It's more about going looking for information and support at the beginning of a RU journey and being told to p*** off.

Some people are probably very together and don't need info/support. If you do though, it'd be nice to be treated civilly by the people who set themselves up as the RU gurus. That's all.

lakshmi
08-29-2011, 11:28 PM
i don't give a shizz if someone thinks the things we do are unschooly or not. the ultimate goal isn't to impress jerks online. it's to make sure your family is healthy, happy, etc..

Good attitude. Some don't have that, as we well know.

And lol about the vegan comment.