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Schooling, Homeschooling, and Now, "Unschooling"

ScuttleMonkey posted about 5 years ago | from the everything-i-need-to-know-i-learned-from-quake dept.

1345

ciaohound writes "The Baltimore Sun has a story about 'unschooling,' which is like homeschooling except, well, without the schooling. '...unschooling incorporates every facet of a child's life into the education process, allowing a child to follow his passions and learn at his own pace, year-round. And it assumes that an outing at the park — or even hours spent playing a video game — can be just as valuable a teaching resource as Hooked on Phonics.' If you have ever been forced to sit in a classroom where no learning was taking place, you may understand the appeal. A driving force behind the movement is parents' dissatisfaction with regular schools, and presumably with homeschooling as well. Yet few researchers are even aware of unschooling and little research exists on its effectiveness. Any Slashdotters who have experience with 'unschooling?'"

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So it's a fnacy nmae (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#29313165)

Sounds like a fancy name for goofing off, skiving and truancy.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313239)

Sounds like a fancy name for goofing off, skiving and truancy.

So... from your ability to spell, all of these apply to you.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (5, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 5 years ago | (#29313383)

Disagree completely.

Learning doesn't have to occur in a classroom. What little learning does occur in classrooms could be achieved in a fraction of the time it takes in formal schooling.

Here's a hypothetical for you:

Child A is taught to be inquisitive about everything around him. As he encounters things in his daily life he figures out how they work, rather than accepting them as magical black boxes.

Child B sits in a classroom with 40 other students doing multiplication tables until he has them all memorized.

Who do you think is going to be a better engineer someday?

Obviously, Child A needs to learn his multiplication tables too.

But I seem remember that about 80%-90% of my time spent in public school I was bored out my mind to damn near the point of insanity after 15 years of it. Granted, I am in the top 1 percentile intelligence-wise. But a school system that sacrifices the very best students in an effort to cater to the very worst - that isn't a good strategy for any society.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (5, Insightful)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 5 years ago | (#29313575)

Child C, the one who took apart the toaster when he was 4.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#29313595)

"But I seem remember..."
"I was bored out my mind..."

Yet you claim to be in the top percentile intelligence-wise.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (1)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | about 5 years ago | (#29313621)

Here's a hypothetical for you:

Child A is taught to be inquisitive about everything around him. As he encounters things in his daily life he figures out how they work, rather than accepting them as magical black boxes.

Child B sits in a classroom with 40 other students doing multiplication tables until he has them all memorized.

Who do you think is going to be a better engineer someday?

You appear to have presented these as mutually exclusive options. This is a false dichotomy; they are clearly not, as you even admit later on in your comment.

IMHO, the problem with boring classes has more to do with the teaching methods, rather than with what's being taught. If the lessons are boring for most students in a class, find better ways to engage them and get them interested in the topics.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (3, Funny)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#29313465)

Sounds like a fancy name for goofing off, skiving and truancy.

Naw, we're jus teachin' the kids to run the farm an read the Bible, thas all they need!

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (2, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 years ago | (#29313611)

The Dallas Observer had an article about "NoSchooling", which is a better name, IMO. The kids ended up learning to read so they could figure out cheat codes for their video games. So in practice it can work. Their parents (and resulting so were their kids) were above average in intelligence, so they were able to get away with this. I think the problem with no-schooling children of average intelligence (really, think about this, most slashdotters don't come in contact with truly average intelligence children) end up either doing manual labor or working in the service industry. At least with some formal education, children have a chance at going to college and breaking out of more mundane jobs.

Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (1)

Kwelstr (114389) | about 5 years ago | (#29313613)

Hurry, someone tell the Baltimore Sun that The Onion stories are satire!.

What would these kids grow up to be? (2, Insightful)

dave-tx (684169) | about 5 years ago | (#29313177)

"Unschooling: For those kids who aspire to be the dish washers of the future"

But seriously, is there any less way to be prepared for higher education (higher, meaning anything from 3rd grade on up)?

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (5, Funny)

candeoastrum (1262256) | about 5 years ago | (#29313203)

Once they graduate from unschooling then they can master unworking so they can earn their unhome that goes with their unspouse.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313359)

Those are all new rights that we'll soon be entitled to in America. So don't worry it's all good.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313389)

yeeeah livin' the dream!

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313439)

Damn, that sounds like a nice life....

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29313269)

"Unschooling: for kids who prefer to get schooled when they enter the workforce"

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (4, Insightful)

caladine (1290184) | about 5 years ago | (#29313281)

"Unschooling: For those kids who aspire to be the dish washers of the future"

But seriously, is there any less way to be prepared for higher education (higher, meaning anything from 3rd grade on up)?

Given the number of children in the current system that aren't remotely prepared...?

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (1)

dave-tx (684169) | about 5 years ago | (#29313355)

Given the number of children in the current system that aren't remotely prepared...?

A fair comment, but is taking them out of the system entirely going to somehow prepare them?

Science (1)

NoYob (1630681) | about 5 years ago | (#29313317)

Considering the dismal state of science education in public schools, if you have kids and they have an interest or aptitude in science, home schooling or tutoring would be the only way for them to be prepared for college. Otherwise, they'll be spending their first couple of years taking remedial math and science.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (3, Interesting)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | about 5 years ago | (#29313333)

No, but it might be great for actually learning something. I don't know about the majority of people here, but I learned despite my school, not because of it - every skill I now use professionally is a skill that my school took great effort to teach glacially, incorrectly, and uselessly.

On the other hand, the year in which I basically dropped out of high school, I learned a huge amount.

I don't know if this will be better than conventional education, but, honestly? It'd be hard for it to be worse.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313345)

GWB

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313353)

I home school my kids and find it great to be able to give them the immediate attention to their questions. Regarding going the direction of their most interest, I let them have more time but still make them learn all subjects. There is nothing more boring than a person that only knows one thing.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 5 years ago | (#29313357)

"Unschooling: For those kids who aspire to be the dish washers of the future"

I know plenty of dishwashers who graduated high school and several, in this economy, have college degrees. At what point do we say that no matter how you progress through school, there may come a time when you are at the bottom rung for one reason or another?

Do I think that "unschooling" is a good idea? Not particularly, especially after watching a documentary entitled Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa [snagfilms.com] (you can watch it there free). This particular documentary had a portion where a father was raising his family on the Mesa in a camper. Their education included all the things that were supposedly important like measuring things, shooting shit, and watching the others on the Mesa smoke lots of pot. I'm sure that "unschooling" done properly and with the right child could be successful--unfortunately I have a feeling that the majority of those that think it would be the best option, are probably better off going back to school themselves.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (4, Interesting)

dave-tx (684169) | about 5 years ago | (#29313419)

I know plenty of dishwashers who graduated high school and several, in this economy, have college degrees. At what point do we say that no matter how you progress through school, there may come a time when you are at the bottom rung for one reason or another?

I should have added the disclaimer that I was a dishwasher for years in my teens. I was also damned good at it, and I think that part of the reason was the learned discipline to focus on a boring and unpleasant task. And while that's a backhanded compliment at formal education, it's a real and tangible benefit.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313487)

I spent most of my HS AP Calculus AB class ignoring the teacher and proceeding through the textbook at my own pace. At first he didn't care much and would actually ask for assistance on occasion. I'm no math genius or anything, I was just bored out of my mind.

The only time he got a bit annoyed was when the AP test was coming up and a third of the class was circled around my desk getting help in preparation.

I wouldn't quite place that as the same as the "unlearning" concept as described, but more "learning at your own pace". While learning at the appropriate pace to truly learn a subject, whether it be faster or slower, should be a target, there is still something to be said for an actual organized, thorough, and methodical approach.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 5 years ago | (#29313509)

Why should this necessarily be worse than regular schooling? If this technique teaches that every moment is a learning opportunity, and it does not teach children that learning is a chore, children who learn in this fashion may grow up to be more knowledgeable and curious than their peers. The only important thing that I see lacking in this technique is teaching children how to jump through the arbitrary hoops that life will expect them to jump through. If the parents make this lesson a part of the learning process, by teaching the children why delayment of gratification is important, and how to do it, then I see no inherent reason why children who learn this way should be any less successful.

Of course, the technique also seems tailor made for lazy parents, and it seems easy to do wrong, but I ask, if done right, and the proper 'jumping through hoops' techniques are taught, what is inherently inferior about this technique?

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#29313539)

"Unschooling: For those kids who aspire to be the dish washers of the future"

But seriously, is there any less way to be prepared for higher education (higher, meaning anything from 3rd grade on up)?

Seriously? Yes. Certain public schools, probably including many in Baltimore City.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313587)

  "Unschooling: For those kids who aspire to be the dish washers of the future"

But seriously, is there any less way to be prepared for higher education (higher, meaning anything from 3rd grade on up)?

Is there any reason for higher education, other than making the school a profit? Many of history's greatest doers and thinkers achieved little more than the equivalent of today's elementary and high schools.

Re:What would these kids grow up to be? (1)

Ardaen (1099611) | about 5 years ago | (#29313609)

I was unprepared for higher education by the current system. I had to re-learn howto be creative and independant.

I guess what we really need is a more balanced approach. Something between schooling and "unschooling". Some children raised with 'unschooling' may end up having problems, but hopefully the influence of and knowledge gained from those experiments will help society in general.

unschooling (0)

alexdt100 (1500241) | about 5 years ago | (#29313179)

everyday of my life. lol

The Master says (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | about 5 years ago | (#29313623)

You must unlearn what you know, before you can, uh, know what, uhm, you've unlearned? No, wait. When you unlearn what you think you know, you unthink what... crap, that's even worse. Give me a minute here...

Bah... (1)

nebaz (453974) | about 5 years ago | (#29313187)

Sounds like 'uneducation' to me. The problem with learning at your own pace is that not all students are naturally curious, and even those who are are most likely not naturally curious about every subject that needs to be taught in the world. Learning should be fun whenever possible, but not all things are pleasant, and children need to learn that some things require work and discipline. Outside of research labs, very few individuals in life are able to do or think about just what they want to do.

Re:Bah... (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29313293)

Learning should be fun whenever possible, but not all things are pleasant, and children need to learn that some things require work and discipline.

Even work and discipline can be made fun. It just takes a little imagination. The trick is to make them want to, not force them to. My ex-wife hates reading, and that's because her parents forced her to. I love reading, and that's because my parents read to me and stimulated my imagination. I wanted to learn to read, and that made the learning fun.

No child fails, the teacher fails the child.

Home distractions are not the teacher fault. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313459)

You mean the parents fail the child... In my experience - Given that I live in a big city with all the wealth and greed that adult have. Parent assume and expected their children to just soak up information like a sponge, and it may be possible for some children to gain some knowledge from experience... No amount of teaching in the world can make a kid (or adult) the idea student in any subject if you distract them with toys.
i.e. XBox, Playstation, cable/sat tv, etc.

Re:Bah... (1)

Ardaen (1099611) | about 5 years ago | (#29313489)

No child fails, the teacher fails the child

A dangerous thing to say, as that not every child will necessarily have the ability to learn the subject matter in a reasonable period of time no matter how you present it. You may not mean it in that way, but easy phrases like that are easy to take out of context or misinterpret.

Re:Bah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313495)

As a son of a teacher I would say your an idiot.

The majority of the problems with education these days stems from kids growing up with parents who DO NOTHING to teach them morals and how to function in society. Aside from that, the rules and lack of money makes it a horrible job because you cant do it right.

I mean how the hell can you teach in a class of 40 students where half dont have text books, and all of them have the attitude whereby they think its fine to physicaly abuse the teacher, and to top it off if she fights back she will be charged.

The only ones who blame the teachers are those too ignorant to blame the parents and the parents themselves. Makes me sick to see how little respect teachers are getting.

Re:Bah... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#29313555)

The problem is we have a society that thinks that every subject needs to be taught. To be perfectly honest, there are probably lots of classes we took in high school that have little to no benefit. Some students figure out that the class will have no benefit to them and as such do bad in that class. On the other hand they might be great at another subject. I know some really great authors who are terrible at mathematics, it doesn't affect their writing much, similarly I know some really great mathematicians with terrible English skills, yet they still accomplish great things.

Sounds like... (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29313191)

Old fashioned good parenting. At dinner time, I'd make a game of learning, with Q&A, and they loved it. It's taking the time to answer your kids' questions and satisfy their innate curiosity, rather than stifling it like the public school system does. A walk in the park CAN be a learning experience.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Shagg (99693) | about 5 years ago | (#29313339)

That's nice in theory, but many parents think they know a lot more about a subject than they really do. It doesn't do anybody any good when they try to teach their kids something that they don't really understand either. I've seen quite a few examples where a home schooled child had an idiot for a teacher.

Re:Sounds like... (5, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | about 5 years ago | (#29313453)

Not only do you get the Calvin's Dad effect [elise.com] , but your children also lose out on learning to deal with structure. It doesn't matter how academically advanced you are if you have never had any real authority to deal with (not necessarily to obey, but at least to learn how to manipulate) or discipline in your life. And let's face it, parents who think they are the best combined teachers and child psychologists their children will have an opportunity to learn from tend not to be the greatest at being authority figures or disciplining their children. This is a Bad Idea(TM).

Re:Sounds like... (1, Funny)

dhermann (648219) | about 5 years ago | (#29313475)

Totally agree. All those eastern ivy league elitists with their "degrees" and "applicable training". I can take my kid to the park and teach him about biology. "See that butterfly, son? That's a mollusk! Or is that a moth? Or a bat? I can never tell." Of course, if I want to raise my kids that way, that's my American right! Schools are run by egghead communists who have some semblance of a chance of identifying my kid's talents and aptitudes, and fostering them to their full potential.

...

Please send your children to school. If you don't like your public school, do what everyone else does and move until you find one you like. You, I, and 99% of all parents are ridiculously underequipped to educate their children independently of trained professionals. Your kid could cure cancer. Please?

Re:Sounds like... (1)

syphax (189065) | about 5 years ago | (#29313535)

Hi,

My kids' public school doesn't stifle my kids' curiosity. Their teachers encourage their curiosity. And I play learning games with my kids, too. Public schooling does not preclude informal education.

My best friends family did this (2, Insightful)

tach315 (223127) | about 5 years ago | (#29313199)

It worked great for him, not so hot for his brother. my take on it is, it depends on the kid.

Good luck in university (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29313201)

These parents are in for a nasty shock when their precious snowflakes head off to university and can't get in. What you will discover, and many homeschooling parents have already found out, is that they don't care how good a job you think you did or how proud you are. You pass their various admissions tests, or you go somewhere else. They are not at all interested in your ideas of how education should be. Your reading comprehension, writing, and math skills had better be up to spec or you are sent packing.

Re:Good luck in university (3, Insightful)

IcyNeko (891749) | about 5 years ago | (#29313299)

I'd mod this up if I could. Too many parents think they're better than "the system" and they raise social retards. I know one in particular whom was so bad, he dropped out of college his second year of music school.... after his parents OK'd him to bring his underaged girlfriend from Romania to the US. There are just some things you can't teach no matter how much mommy and daddy love you and want to waddle you in their wuv. Like test pressure. And cramming. And the experience of studying in groups competitively. And learning with a directed objective. This isn't the friggin middle ages anymore. And even then, there were trade schools and mentorships where you were taught a pretty specific thing.

Re:Good luck in university (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 5 years ago | (#29313531)

...taught a pretty specific thing, and disciplined if you fouled it up. If the only teacher a kid ever has is the same coddling parent who praises his drawing of a purple, fuzzy potato labeled "Kow," he's basically fucked for life. You can't succeed in life if nobody has ever taught you the difference between success and failure in any context.

Re:Good luck in university (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29313329)

Good homeschoolers can pass those tests just fine, often better the class taught kids.

Home schooling isn't about goofing off.

Re:Good luck in university (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 5 years ago | (#29313599)

No its also about making sure Johnny and Suzy dont have to take classes with those nasty Abduls and Shanequas. Sorry every person in college I ever met who had been homeschooled had 2 things in common. They didnt know half of what they thought they knew, and all where blatantly racist to other cultures, even African American and Spanish homeschooled students.

Re:Good luck in university (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | about 5 years ago | (#29313343)

What you will discover, and many homeschooling parents have already found out... Your reading comprehension, writing, and math skills had better be up to spec or you are sent packing.

Got a citation to support this? From what I see, homeschooled kids tend to be better-prepared academically than their public-schooled counterparts.

Re:Good luck in university (1, Troll)

twosmokes (704364) | about 5 years ago | (#29313429)

You need a citation to prove that you need to pass certain criteria to get in? Go look at any college's admission requirements.

Re:Good luck in university (3, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | about 5 years ago | (#29313573)

I don't know if you were home-schooled or not. He didn't say that home-schooled students are necessarily lacking in those areas. He only said that you must not be lacking in those areas, regardless of your background, if you want to go on to higher learning. The implication is that this "unschooling" (itself not a word, so you're off to a bad start right there) concept is likely to fail to teach those areas as effectively as a structured classroom can.

Re:Good luck in university (1)

garcia (6573) | about 5 years ago | (#29313579)

Got a citation to support this? From what I see, homeschooled kids tend to be better-prepared academically than their public-schooled counterparts.

Thank you for mentionally academically and not just leaving it out. Being academically prepared is very important for college-aged kids, no doubt but what's even more important--especially as they leave college and enter the workforce, is being socially prepared. Unfortunately, many home schooled individuals are severely lacking in this department.

I work in higher ed and when I was still working at a brick and mortar school I watched in amazement at the number of homeschooled teenagers who would be dragged to the admissions counter while their parents attempted to do everything for them. While this wasn't unique to home schooled kids, it was disproportionate. I will go on to give an extreme example: a young man, home schooled, had his mother attend all the same classes with him and would even eat lunch with her. For whatever reason she was not there one day and he stared blankly up at the cafeteria menu, frozen in indecision at his 5 choices for lunch.

Helicopter parents are bad. Home schoolers coupled with them are really bad.

Re:Good luck in university (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#29313363)

But that's SO UNFAIR!!!!! [stamps feet and pouts]

Re:Good luck in university (2, Insightful)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | about 5 years ago | (#29313421)

These parents are in for a nasty shock when their precious snowflakes head off to university and can't get in. What you will discover, and many homeschooling parents have already found out, is that they don't care how good a job you think you did or how proud you are. You pass their various admissions tests, or you go somewhere else. They are not at all interested in your ideas of how education should be. Your reading comprehension, writing, and math skills had better be up to spec or you are sent packing.

Even if they succeed in insilling the knowledge necessary to pass the admissions tests (homeschoolers are required, at least in my state, to pass regular competency tests, just like public school students) any child educated in this way will be woefully unprepared for the regimented world of the higher-level instruction. All of a sudden, they'll be expected to shut up, sit still, and listen for hours to a boring instructor with his whiteboard and PowerPoint slides.

Apparently they do just fine at MIT (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313513)

It seems they are as well adjusted and engaged in their communities and prepared as those "socially promoted" from some of our lesser public no-choice schools.

http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/apply/homeschooled_applicants_helpful_tips/homeschooled_applicants.shtml [mitadmissions.org]

Re:Good luck in university (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313607)

I suppose. I mean I was home schooled and only managed to graduate with a Computer Engineering Bachelors and only have a 4.0 in my CIS masters that is almost complete...

Unschooling will help my kid. (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | about 5 years ago | (#29313215)

After my kid goes to school and finishes university, graduates of unschooling can rake up the leaves in the back of my kid's nice big house.

Re:Unschooling will help my kid. (1)

imgod2u (812837) | about 5 years ago | (#29313395)

And they'll be fuck his wife while he's at work hating every second of it.

Re:Unschooling will help my kid. (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29313523)

And don't forget the $200,000 school loan debts and that the fact many college graduates cannot find jobs right now.

Just do Montessori instead (3, Interesting)

fmita (517041) | about 5 years ago | (#29313231)

This is sort of an interesting idea, but it's obviously a bit too unstructured, I think. What you need is intervals of self-directed learning punctuated by short periods of guidance from a teacher with a reasonably broad range of knowledge. In sum, I'd bet on Montessori over this any day.

Been there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313241)

Me's was unskooled and its did me a lots of good.

Doon't nock it.

Great idea! (1)

mc1138 (718275) | about 5 years ago | (#29313249)

Seriously, no sarcasm there. As long as there is some sort of underpinning to the whole thing ensuring that kids are in fact learning what they need to, this sort of structure can be really good. I know I had tons more fun, and probably learned more building houses with lego, putting together erector sets, going out camping, not to mention trips to the library and the local museum than I did most days in school. In fact, even as far as college is concerned I learned more in my internships than I ever did in a lab environment. So long as kids are doing, and there again is some guidance I think this is a great idea.

Re:Great idea! (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29313593)

The trouble is "guidance". I agree that a committed, competent, organized parent could probably pull this off, and end up with a very well-rounded and well-educated child. After all, the parent-teacher ratio is fantastic, and there are no discipline problems with "you're not my Mom, I don't have to do what you tell me to".

But, to succeed (at either college admissions or finding a desirable non-college job), a student has to have a balance of useful skills. If the parent lacks those skills, lacks the tools, or lacks the commitment to teach and promote those skills within their child, this could turn out really badly for the child.

There are lots of parents who are smart and organized enough to do this. There are a bunch who are ambitious enough to do it. There are some that are even committed enough to see it through. There are a few that have the time to do it. Unfortunately, there are just a small number with all four traits. We pay for Waldorf school for our daughter because I feel the method of education is worth the cost. I don't think we could take on this kind of task ourselves, though, which is why we chose what we feel is the best method then "hired experts" to do the heavy lifting.

I'm not saying home/non-schooling should be disallowed, but it's in society's best interests to educate as many kids as we can to the highest level we can reasonably achieve. So if a parent wants to do this, I'd say they should have to demonstrate the skills and commitment, then they can receive support, assistance, and above all constructive progress monitoring and feedback.

After all, if a parent succeeds, they've saved the school district a significant amount of money. It's well worth taking the parents who are willing and able to do this and supporting them as a volunteer force to take care of their own kids.

But if they fail, they cost society an even more significant sum. So the overarching priority is - is the parent accomplishing the task they have taken on? If they start faltering, intervene with assistance and constructive advice. If they start having real trouble, then the child should go to school.

But, I guess if there is a state-established guideline and monitoring, it becomes "home schooling" again, doesn't it?

It's called "Evenings" (5, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | about 5 years ago | (#29313251)

The kid is only in school for 6 hours in the day. Use the other 8-10 of their non-sleep hours to do this stuff. School isn't a substitute for parenting, and it shouldn't be their only source of learning.

A fancy term for autodidactism (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 5 years ago | (#29313253)

Except that the passion for learning needs a base to build on, which means parental support and inborn natural curiosity.

The level of knowledge we're talking about in homeschooling isn't a good avenue for autodidactism anyway, as it should be about basic, general knowledge. Kids are learning too little in primary/high school in the first place.

Qualified authoritative response? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313255)

I am sure G. W. Bush would have an opionion... if only he were a slashdotter.

News for nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313265)

How is this in any way appropriate for a technology news site?!?!?!?

Re:News for nerds? (1)

pz (113803) | about 5 years ago | (#29313361)

How is this in any way appropriate for a technology news site?!?!?!?

Haven't you noticed the increased number of child-themed posts recently? The editors are getting to the age where they are married and having kids.

No preparation (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#29313271)

If children don't spend hour after endless hour sitting behind a desk in the classroom, how are they going to adapt to spending hour after endless hour sitting behind a desk in the cubicle?

Depends on the parents (3, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 5 years ago | (#29313287)

Good parents would do well with this, poor parents terribly. If only there were a way to decide who gets to do this.... but then who gets to decide? We can't, that's who.

I've taught before, I know there are both kinds of parents out there. If you're pessimistic about this you probably had the bad parents, optimistic you probably had the good ones.

Think of how the kid feels - learning what's needed and being interested in what's being learned. The only fear I have is that lots of kids are forced to take certain classes, learn that they actually like it, and have a happy and successful career. We just need a guarantee that the students will be exposed to more than just their interests, and then I won't have a problem with this.

Re:Depends on the parents (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#29313467)

If you're pessimistic about this you probably had the bad parents, optimistic you probably had the good ones.

That would certainly be true if were all so thick that we couldn't understand that our own family != all families.

But don't beat yourself up for making such a ridiculous comment, it's probably you parents' fault.

A fantastic and Horrible Idea (1)

thinktech (1278026) | about 5 years ago | (#29313291)

This is a great idea for kids who are curious, inquisitive and have a passion for learning...and a horrible idea for those that don't. No system of education is a one size/fits all. The educational system will never work well until we realize that kids are different and we need parallel programs for how each individual learns.

Value (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | about 5 years ago | (#29313297)

And it assumes that an outing at the park -- or even hours spent playing a video game -- can be just as valuable a teaching resource as Hooked on Phonics.

That's veree well sed. I jest don't think it had the meening the awthor intended.

If the parents (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29313303)

actively use everything as a teaching tool, then fine, otherwise it's just creating a steaming pile of ignorant burger flippers.

Of course, if they were already doing that, then the school system would be fine.
Most homeschoolers I know are people who aren't sociable and just don't want to deal with the daily social 'grind' of dealing with people. Also they ahve some fear the child will be exposed to something outside there own beliefs. Political or theological.

Sure, let's have more unschooling... (1, Troll)

SupplyMission (1005737) | about 5 years ago | (#29313309)

Sounds like a another way to continue the trend of child-proofing the world, so that "everyone can learn at their own pace." Right. What these people are unable, or unwilling, to recognize is that the world meets nobody half-way. We either work hard at learning how to succeed and survive, or we fail hard.

"Unschooling" is just another way for lazy, stupid parents to coddle their children toward a lifetime of failure, mediocrity and narcissism. In 20 years, when these kids turn out to be useless tools who are unable to work for what they want or even support themselves, they will turn around and blame the government and you and me, for not doing enough to help them. (And no doubt they will do the complaining in a petulant, entitled tone that makes you want to punch them hard in the mouth.) Is this what we, as a society, want?

Yes, let's have more unschooling! Looks like a winning strategy to me.

A very good book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313311)

goes over this, actually. It's a translation of a book written by a famous TV icon in Japan about her childhood growing up, titled "Totto-chan: The Little Girl By The Window." It takes place pre-WWII in a school that does things very differently even by today's standards - kids in each grade level were given assignments for each subject, but were allowed to work on them in any order they pleased for as long as they pleased, just so much that all assignments were done by the end of the day. The teacher in the class was there to help any student struggling in a subject.

Not quite unschooling, but along similar lines, and a very good read.

Unhealthy (1)

imgod2u (812837) | about 5 years ago | (#29313321)

While many are arguing against this from the point of view of economic and social success, I really question whether this is at all healthy for the development of a human being. I mean, to never be told "no". To never be made to do something you don't want to? That sounds like it'll raise one hell of a whiny, never-satisfied child.

Then again, I'm typing this from the work even though I'd rather be at home with a beer in my hand....

Don't experiment on your kids! (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 5 years ago | (#29313331)

This sounds like new age BS to me. Most parents know nothing about the world around them. Kids will ask questions such as "why is the sky blue", "how does the sun heat us", and "how can a bird fly?" and most parents won't have any idea how to respond. Even when looking at the humanities most people fall flat on basic knowledge. In fact, I would suggest that most parents lack the creativity and understanding of the world to really challenge their children to grow. Feynman might be able to pull it off but I know that most people wouldn't be able to pass a grade 4 science class. We have to get kids to sit down and read books, memorize times tables, and learn how to socialize. The school playground is a very important part of the process that home schooled kids seem to miss out on.

Re:Don't experiment on your kids! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#29313441)

You are forgetting one big thing, the internet. When a kid learns how to read and use the computer, any question can be answered. Same thing with parents. To be perfectly honest, other than reading (socializing can be done online too) most students won't need much more than a computer and a net connection. Especially 3-5 years down the line.

No experience with it... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 5 years ago | (#29313341)

But I can see the appeal. Basic math can be taught in just about ANYTHING. The problem with schools is that they either teach you A) Just the numbers and its boring as hell, or B) They choose scenarios that are boring as hell so you don't want to learn it. However if little jimmy likes WoW and the teacher simply makes him do the Math with all his stats... There you go he knows his math.

Things like social studies and literature are what I'm wondering about. If a kid doesn't find the French Revolution interesting, how on Earth do you plan on teaching him about it? He can learn to read by using the internet and other worldly things like signs, but things like Resumes and Cover Letters can't be taught on the fly.

There are things in school that you think "I didn't learn Jack all" but they DID come in handy later.

Sounds familiar... (1)

Yuan-Lung (582630) | about 5 years ago | (#29313385)

Doesn't sound so bad... as long as the kid has had the essential basic such as reading and arithmetic. It's actually what I did my entire junior high period where I self studied computer science during the nights and slept in school during the days.. pretty much in protest in the teaching method and some useless content of the regular classes.

My teachers back then pretty much referred to as 'a failure that will never amount to anything'. Then the Internet boom came....


Although, the child's own drive to learn would be paramount to this method of education. Some guidance and support from the parents whenever needed would probably be nice too.

The pre-1800s elite called.... (4, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29313387)

And they want their personal tutors back.

No seriously... Throughout history, back before established private schools and universities, the well to do would hire a educated person to basically follow their child around and given them instructions pretty much all the time.

You know... Socrates and Alexader the Great

I'm trying unworking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313401)

This visit to Slashdot right now is an experiment. Will I get paid for following my passions?

Post-modern parenting (1)

xclay (924789) | about 5 years ago | (#29313405)

Sounds like a laissez-faire parenting (or schooling) on steroids.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313425)

This is not new, Unschooling has been around for years (since the 70's).

I have three unschooled kids, 7, 10 & 13 and combined they've read way more books than I have in my whole life (I'm 48 and have been an avid reader since 9).

These kids of mine devour books at an astonishing rate. Don't kid yourself, unschooling does not equal lazy.

I've also done my own share of unschooling by quitting public school in grade 9 to get a full-time job. I'm now a independent Contract ASP.NET/SQL Server developer (completely self-taught) and I make over 200k a year.

Performance Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313443)

If you believe that learning is "performance art," to be enjoyed and appreciated for the act of doing it, then that's great. The problem here is that it took millennia of great minds to reach the point at which we find ourselves now. There is no way that a rich exploratory learning environment can replicate this entire history. Yes, it is a wonderful, possibly necessary thing to supplement the more mundane aspects of learning; however, there is no substitute for learning by absorption and critical analysis. The cure for boring classrooms is simple: smaller classes, engaged (not enraged) parents, and better teachers.

I did unschooling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313461)

and I are totally fine.

Worked for me! (5, Funny)

digitalderbs (718388) | about 5 years ago | (#29313493)

And my sister! And our daughter!

frist 57op (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313499)

My sister did something like this. (1)

aclarke (307017) | about 5 years ago | (#29313505)

My sister did something like this with her daughter. My niece is smart and naturally curious, and it worked fine for a few years. This year my niece is in regular school fir the first time, in, I believe, Grade 4. She was behind most of her classmates when it came to reading and writing, but spent some time with a tutor at the end of the spring and into the summer and I believe she's about caught up now. My niece was ready to go to school this fall and last I talked to her was really looking forward to it.

We have an 18 month old girl and depending on the quality of schools where we live at the time, we're considering not sending her to school until maybe second grade. Almost certainly not for junior kindergarten if they have that wherever we are. We'll see where we are, and how much our daughter wants to go to school, what her peer situation looks like outside of school, and make a decision from there. We can teach ABCs, recess and naptime as well as a teacher can, I think.

I recall a friend of mine in high school. He said he got horrible grades until around 5th grade because someone had told him grades didn't matter until then. He made a point of learning but didn't worry about his marks. Everybody thought he was a dumb kid but once 5th grade kicked in he went to straight As. From an academic standpoint, I don't know that school offers any advantages up to maybe Grade 4-5 over a household where at least one parent is home all the time.

Unschooling sounds like College (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313527)

The freedom to learn what you like, when you like, how you like it is probably best granted after you've learned how those decisions can affect your future. Most of us learned that before/early in college, though a few (like me) learned that many years into college while trying to get a doctorate. The point is, unschool your kid (particularly in B-more) at an early age when they can't conceptualize the future beyond what they want for dinner tomorrow, and those kids are probably going to be on the corner in 5 years.

Highlights from the article (1)

vivaoporto (1064484) | about 5 years ago | (#29313529)

Highlights from the article:

(...)added Conner, an unschooling parent. "We cannot know beyond the shadow of a doubt precisely what our children will need when they are 10, 20, 30 or 80. We do all want what is 'best' for our children and we want our children, now and when grown, to be poised to accomplish whatever they may decide is important. This is where unschoolers excel."

Joyce L. Epstein, director of the National Network of Partnership Schools at the Johns Hopkins University, had never heard of it. She knew of no research on the topic, "and research would be needed in order to justify it."

"I'm reading e-mail from unschooling parents who think having their kids remodel their house with them is 'school.' I'm sorry, but it's not," Flemal said. "Painting, hammering, measuring - hey, that was great in primary school. I love that stuff.

"We don't punish our children. We don't have bedtimes," Martin said. "We don't live by rules; we live by principles. Our philosophy is respect for children's equality in the home."

"We stayed there until sunrise, then went home and shared the experience with mom, who was just getting up," he [Greer from Pasadena] said. "Finally, as the excitement wound down and exhaustion set in, we went back to bed for a nap just as most kids were getting ready to leave for school."

I wonder what will this generation of kids achieve when they are finally exposed to the mean, harsh and unforgiving world of the job market, menial work and personal relationships. Another generation of "flower children"?

Sounds good to me (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 years ago | (#29313553)

As long as you learn everything you need to learn, pretty much anything would most likely work better then High School at teaching.

Its going to take a lot of parental involvement. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 5 years ago | (#29313559)

For most kids, its going to take a huge investment of time and energy from a parent who is knowledgeable and eager to teach and nurture.

I have first hand experience with something not entirely unlike this. I was very ill and was able to attend school less than half the time. my father was out of the picture due to extreme violence. My mother was out of the picture due to college and working to try to support us on her own. I was not a normal child, I had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, I would watch education TV and read textbooks for fun. When all the other kids were watching cartoons or sleeping, I remember waking up one saturday morning and flipping over to the shuttle launch instead of cartoons and I got to watch Challenger blow up live. My mother once had to make a rule that I had to check out at least one non-fiction book from the library because she was worried I was to analytical. I didn't learn anything at all in any of the time I spent in a classroom until I went to college. I absolutely rejected home schooling because the only home schooling available was more than 50% religious brainwashing material. By my mid to late teens, my health had improved. But I missed so many credits from "truancy" in middle school, despite being officially handicapped, that I could not graduate HS until I was 21, so I had to get a GED and entered college at 17.

Most children faced with that? It would never work. Their desire to socialize with their peers would far outstrip their desire to self educate

"Unschooling" the hard way. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#29313567)

There are some famous examples of this working. But only because the parents had time, money, and high standards.

One of the Rockefellers, the son of John D., wrote that when he was a kid, his father gave him an allowance. He was required to keep a proper set of double-entry books on how he spent it, and the books were audited by an accountant. He didn't get the next allowance payment until the books balanced.

Henry Ford II was promised a car for some birthday. On the appointed day, he was taken out to a garage, and there was the car - totally dissembled with all the component parts laid out. A full set of tools was supplied. Eventually, he did get the car assembled and running.

If you have the resources, it can work.

Oo! Oo! Oo! (1)

pudge (3605) | about 5 years ago | (#29313569)

I have experience with unschooling. We looked into it for awhile. It's perfectly normal and natural, and EVERYONE does it. You learn doing everything you do, especially as a kid.

The problem is that some things -- as a parent -- you think your kids should learn, they won't want to learn on their own, probably. Whether it's fractions or Spanish or botany, you're going to run into things they won't learn unless you sit them down and teach it to them.

When you can teach via unschooling, it's great. But it's, for most people, not going to be a very effective way to teach kids all that parents want their kids to learn.

I cannort fend ore Jerb case thus! (0)

Cult of Creativity (1548333) | about 5 years ago | (#29313571)

For serious, my momma, a bit OCD/MPD/ADD/GAD/as well ass hooked one lesbionics, well, she sorta did thus to me, an when I finally DID muck inn sckool, wells, I sorta got booted from the arts department,... Only cause I was tyring to form a lil alliance twixt the sculpting dept. an teh roboticks dept. BUt she dint like what she saw, too much passion, she puttered that on ice reel quickness... an booted me. and such is lyfe. Putter round now, trying to keep afloat integers to inegral structural analysis, wherever and whatevr keeps me intuit... Also faierie into the freeflow of words ATT thymes.. ifn' ya couldn't tell, well, ya/...J.MB.(Unpapered/not-yet-paupered jack-ass off all trades/trax/trix/skools...


Let's here the cry aloud folkn'!! SKOOL FER LYFE!!!!!
Who wants to be teh 40 y/o still keepin teh record length in kegstand times, the one who can outfunnel the frat pressy??? Me? Hmmm
*thinks aside to self and wonders if that click/send/submit/preview button is a good idea.....* **it glows!!** Maybe the trix toy fund teh wright unskool... Hmmmmmm Need to find fone.... *sighs* -- "There'll be no smoking in the gas chamber." - Jimi Hendrix

I've seen this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313581)

I was homeschooled and I know we stretched the definition of school work by claiming nearly any activity was educational. But my mom was at one time a public school teacher. We still had to hit the books and learn things comparable to other kids our age. I honestly didn't know how I would compare with public schooled kids until I applied to go to college. It turns out that my education was more than adequate in most areas.

Another family I know had the "unschooling" approach. Farm work, housework and canning were typical examples of their education. My friend can read and write and do simple math, but that's about it. Now in his 30's, he finds his employment options limited and feels shorted by his parents' choice to keep him out of school.

Unschooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29313583)

I knew somebody who was unschooled. It was more of her mom's excuse to not do any schoolwork at all. This family lived in the middle of nowhere--no water, electricity, or internet! Unschooling is exactly how it sounds, no school.

Sounded good ... never tried it (5, Informative)

Oswald (235719) | about 5 years ago | (#29313591)

When my wife and prepared to homeschool our kids back in 2001, we both talked a lot about unschooling (yes, the term was in use that far back and longer). It intrigued us. At one point we may even have convinced ourselves that we were going to give it a try. But a funny thing happened on the way to unschool. By the time our kids were done with their reading and writing and arithmetic lessons, they didn't have much more time for learning through play than any other kids did.

Apparently our common sense was stronger than we gave it credit for. No way were we going to let our kids not learn the three R's. In time, we added the usual history and geography and science and so on, and though we never did subscribe to anybody else's curriculum, ours ended up looking pretty standard.

We did eventually join a homeschool group to give our kids a way to meet other kids, and that group included a few unschooled children. We saw nothing to make us think we had erred in actually educating our kids. The unschoolers weren't unpleasant to be around; they just didn't know much, and even the other kids could see it.

[This is all in the past tense because our kids started public school this year -- eighth grade. They're on par with the kids in the AP classes in English (excuse me, Language Arts), and algebra. The other classes aren't tracked (grouped, stratified, whatever), so kids of all abilities are in the same classes, and ours are ahead of many of their classmates in those areas. They're experiencing a bit of culture shock, but overall we're pleased with how it's going. FYI.]

Homeschooling (4, Interesting)

TrippTDF (513419) | about 5 years ago | (#29313633)

I like to call myself a homeschooling survivor. My mother chose to educate my brother and I for reasons that I've never gotten a clear answer on- it was not for religious or political reasons. On the one hand, I actually had an interesting free-form education and I did learn some things better than I would have in a school setting (we did lots of science experiments).

The thing that I missed was the day to day social interaction with peers. I saw kids my own age just a couple times a week and it was normally at my house or theirs. They were always friends. I never had to deal with a conflict with peers because I simply never had them.

The social aspects of school are just as important as sitting in a classroom- you need to learn how to deal with others. I'm 30 and I still struggle when i have disagreements with co-workers.

We need serious school reform in this country, and although there are advantages to homeschooling or unschooling, I think there is still something to be said for classroom learning.
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