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Some may call it unschooling, I call it educational neglect

Some may call it unschooling, I call it educational neglect | unschooling | Scoop.it
The ninja twins take aim to protect homeschooling
UPDATED Wednesday 6:05pm. It has become apparent that I need to put a disclaim
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

While reading through Sherene Silverberg’s article “Some may call it unschooling, I call it educational neglect.” I was disturbed by some of the opinions that she had. The article starts off with a quote from John Holt, the man who coined the term ‘unschooling.’ “In general, unschooling is a form of homeschooling in which children follow their own interests and direct their own learning. Holt asserted that it is a child's nature to learn and that children learn all the time. He further asserted that coerced learning, as in schooling, inhibits children's curiosity and natural desire to learn. Unschooling is also referred to as free learning, life learning, and child-directed learning.” Silverberg starts off by criticizing Holt, saying that claiming a child is coerced into learning if he/she doesn’t initiate it is “the most ridiculous concept I have ever heard of.” I somewhat agree with what Silverberg’s reaction because I don’t believe sending kids off to traditional school is coercing them into learning. That assumes that kids don’t want to be in classrooms and learn and that parents are forcing them, which isn’t always the case. Silverberg continues to state that she believes that a child, who has no knowledge of the world, has no ability to know what he/she wants to learn. However, what really grabbed my attention and frustrated me was that Silverberg generalized all unschooled kids and judged them very harshly, “If you have a group of homeschoolers, the unschoolers are more often than not, the out of control ones. They tend to be the ones glued to a Gameboy instead of playing with the other kids because they allow their child to play video games morning, noon and night (because to have him do anything else would be coercing him.). They are the ones who are running amok and whose parents are proudly telling you that their children follow their bliss and that their children's inner spirits just shine through (shine through the dishevelment perhaps!  So many of the unschoolers I meet have this vaguely unkempt look about them)…A little bit of external and internal discipline will turn these monsters into children that are a pleasure to be around rather than the children we all pray will skip the get-togethers.” I couldn’t believe that someone could be so judgmental and close-minded. She made assumptions about all unschooled children and bad mouthed them…what kind of mother that has children of her own does that? Last but not least, she ends the article with this negative and critical quote saying, “Homeschooling is providing a systematic and timeous education for your children in the privacy and comfort of your own home. Uschooling is merely a lazy mother's excuse for educational neglect!” Similar to what I said when I read “The Case Against Unschooling,” I don’t respond well to people with such radical one-sided opinions and it only pushes me to support the opposing side. 

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Critiques Of Unschooling

This is a video I have been debating making for several months. It's very important to me to openly and honestly discuss the drawbacks and downsides of unsch...
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 This video was extremely interesting and noteworthy because it features an unschooled girl criticizing the unschooling movement. Vanessa is unschooled and emphasizes at the beginning of the article that she loves unschooling but also wants to give a very honest opinion of it and share some of its downfalls. She feels that the media can portray unschooling in a very negative way so most unschoolers feel like they need to protect their way of learning and don’t feel like they can share their concerns. However, Vanessa goes on to list a few reasons as to why unschooling can be difficult:

  1. There is a constant need to be reevaluated—am I doing the right thing? Am I learning enough? Am I keeping up with my peers? Unfortunately no one else steers for you, you are in charge of your own education and I can see how that can be very concerning and scary at times
  2. Sometimes feeling out of place in the world—Unschooling can leave people feeling disconnected with the outside world and feel isolated from other people
  3. Feeling less knowledgeable than your peers/feeling ignorant—Vanessa gives an example of her schooled friends speaking about geography and South America. She felt that she couldn’t contribute to the conversation and felt dumb that she didn’t know what they were talking about. I can see how this would be frustrating feeling as if you don’t know as many facts as your peers. However, an unschooled child may be extremely knowledgeable about different subjects and may not be interested in the geography of South America
  4. Having difficulty finding friends—She explains that she doesn’t get to see her friends on a regular basis like schooled children do.
  5. Loss of familial or friend support—a lot of people disagree with unschooling and its difficult to keep a relationship with people who don’t agree with the way you live your life
  6. Problems within unschooling/expectations to do great things—because people have such a negative view of unschooling, unschoolers feel like they need to be extremely successful and do great things just to prove that unschooling is successful. Although many unschoolers go on to achieve great things, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be like that for every child. 
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Good Morning America on Unschooling with Pat Farenga and the Biegler family.

Unschooling presented on Good Morning America with Pat Farenga and the Biegler family, April 20, 2010.
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

This video was extremely interesting and featured a family that practices unschooling. The Beigler family believes that unschooling is the best way to prepare their children for their future. The parents allow their kids to find their own interests and don't force them to study or learn anything that they are not interested in. While being interviewed, the family was asked a series of questions from emails that curious viewers had sent into the studio. The mother shares with the audience that her kids are not "missing out" or being deprived of anything because they don’t go to through traditional schooling. She says that they travel, are involved in the community and have plenty of friends that they regularly socialize with. 

This video gave me an excellent insight into a family that is involved in the unschooling movement. It was extremely interesting to hear the parent’s point of views and their confidence in the trend. Unschooling, although not very well known, is not new. Unschooling has been successful for decades and will hopefully continue to attract more attention over the years to come.  

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Unschooled kids 'learn from games' - NEWS.com.au

Unschooled kids 'learn from games' - NEWS.com.au | unschooling | Scoop.it
Unschooled kids 'learn from games' NEWS.com.au Maryanna Jacobs, from Gorebridge, Scotland, is raising her daughter Rio, nine, and Bryden, eight, as part of the 'unschooling' trend, which rejects traditional education in favour of letting children...
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

I have always found unschooling to be extremely interesting and perplexing. In this article Maryanna Jacobs, a mother who is part of the unschooling movement, says “her children don’t need to go to school and are learning by playing video games and visiting the park.” Ms. Jacobs is raising her nine year old daughter and her eight year old son as part of this unschooling trend which rejects traditional education. She feels it is more important to allow her children to follow their own interests and set their own schedules. Ms. Jacobs believes that because of unschooloing, her children are more advanced than other kids their age who attend regular school. She adds that her children have learned numbers, words, and how to type through their computer games and shopping. Her son Brydan is fascinated with numbers so he is interested in clocks and timetables. Her daughter Rio, plays scrabble and monopoly because she is more of a words person. Ms, Jacob adds that her daughter tried school once but only lasted eight days in a classroom before she decided she wanted to be unschooled. Lastly, she believes that she is bringing her kids up to be free-thinking entrepreneurs and thinks that their untraditional lifestyle has made them closer as a family. 

Unschooling is fascinating and has always struck my interest. Although I have never experienced it first hand, I think it is a way of learning that can be extremely successful. When learning about unschooling in my EDCI280 class, a guest speaker came in and shared her thoughts on the subject and why she felt it was successful. I was captivated by her confidence and certainty that unschooling is the most beneficial way for human beings to learn. She told us that when you teach a child to read, you rob them of that sacred experience. Human beings are built to learn and take in knowledge about the world around them. They don’t need to sit in a desk and listen to a teacher talk about geometry for an hour. I think conventional schooling ways have made children dislike school. Learning should be fun and interesting, it shouldn’t feel like a chore.  

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I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.: New to this blog? New to Unschooling? Read this!

I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.: New to this blog? New to Unschooling? Read this! | unschooling | Scoop.it
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

“I’m unschooled. Yes, I can write” is a fascinating blog in which a 22 year old girl named Idzie publishes her experiences about unschooling. She answers commonly asked questions on her home page (ones that I have been asking myself), and informs her readers about different aspects of unschooling. Some of the frequently asked questions that Idzie answers on her blog include: What about socialization? What about structure? How will you ever learn to do things you don’t like? Will kids learn if you don’t make them? Won’t unschoolers have gaps in their education?

                  “The whole idea of going to school to avoid being ‘socially awkward’ makes my skin crawl. Besides, where did we get the idea that school is a place for socialization, or the socialization received there was a good thing?” she says. I think there is a stigma that unschoolers stay in all day, are socially awkward and don’t interact with other kids. However, they can meet people in a more authentic way than kids in school can. Unfortunately at most schools there are always hierarchies, cliques, mean girls, bullying and much more; socializing in that kind of environment isn’t the most healthy way either.

                  “Unschooling isn’t about a lack of structure. What it is about is choice.” Unschoolers get to decide what kind of structure they want. Whether they want more or less structure, they have the freedom to choose. Unschoolers don’t need external imposed structure because freely chosen structure is an entirely different thing.

                  The answer Idzie provided for “How will you ever learn to do things you don’t like? was extremely interesting to me. She explains that through unschooling, kids are simply removing a lot of unnecessary obstacles and pointless exercises found in schooling. It gives the individual the power to choose which unpleasant things they feel are worthwhile to do.

                  To continue, the question “will kids ever learn if you don’t make them?” seems just as silly to me as it did to Idzie. The only reason anyone dislikes learning is because it was made into a chore since we were very little. “As unschoolers, we realize that learning is as innate as breathing.” If learning is made into something fun at a young age, then it continues to be something enjoyable throughout life.

                  One of the most commonly asked question asked about unschoolers is “wont unschoolers have gaps in their education? Idzie responds saying that everyone has gaps in their education. Just because we are forced to learn certain things in school doesn’t mean we will remember them or even use them in the future. 

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The Case against Unschooling by C. M. Erickson | Education Space 360

The Case against Unschooling by C. M. Erickson | Education Space 360 | unschooling | Scoop.it
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

This article completely took me by surprise. I am in support of unschooling and find it to be fascinating. However, I wanted to explore a different perspective and came across this article. The first quote that caught my attention was in the first paragraph, “'Unschooling' your child sets him or her up for a painful reality check later on in life. The idea that children profit from a completely unstructured time stems from the Utopian world-view, and has done more to destroy our modern culture than terrorism or Hollywood combined.” The fact that the article compares unschooling to terrorism is absurd to me. The author C.M. Erickson has a very strong opinion and isn’t afraid to express exactly what he is thinking. He explains that unschooling originated from the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his idea of a completely unfettered childhood with no responsibilities. After criticizing Rousseau for another couple of paragraphs he continues to say, “ The parent who does not prepare their child does not love their child, for they know what is coming but lets it hit him or her like a ton of bricks anyway.” I was taken aback when I read this and couldn’t understand how someone forms such a strong opinion of something without being truly exposed to it. There are many different ways to raise a child and prepare them for the future and one doesn’t need to go through traditional schooling to succeed in life. This article is completely one-sided and didn’t give me a different perspective but just turned me off from the author and the side against unschooling. 

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Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling : zenhabits

Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

Leo Babauta writes a blog centered around the idea of unschooling. Among several of his postings is one called “Why unschooling is the best incubator for young entrepreneurs.” Babauta encourages all of his kids to become entrepreneurs when they grow up because he believes it is “the most empowering, passionate, kick-ass way to live your life as an adult." He also believes that unschooling is the best way to give them the foundations for becoming an entrepreneur one day. He gives six reasons as to why he thinks this way:

1. You learn to deal with uncertainty

2. You become your own authority

3. You learn how to learn anything, and that learning is fun

4. You do experiments and see the results

5. Your creativity is encouraged, not stifled

6. You decide what to learn based on what you’re passionate about

 

I found it interesting that Babauta went through traditional schooling but still decided to follow the unschooling trend with his children. Many unschooling children have grown up to become extremely successful and I agree that unschooling can be an “incubator” for young entrepreneurs.To be an entrepreneur, one needs to be open-minded, highly self-motivated, and have abounding curiosity and creativity. I believe that unschooling fosters all of those characteristics and really emphasizes the importance of following your passions. I believe the successful, but more importantly happy individuals are the ones who embrace and love learning/what they do. Unfortunately, traditional schooling can discourage kids from wanting to learn and make learning a chore instead of something they enjoy. 

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