February 22, 2016

"We live as if school doesn’t exist. People are really brainwashed into seeing things in school form..."

"... with life breaking down into subjects. This life is about freedom and not having limits. It’s about really trusting your kids. And it’s amazing what they do."

From "Free-range education: Why the unschooling movement is growing/A once-utopian idea – allowing kids to ‘discover’ their own education path while learning at home – goes mainstream" (in The Christian Science Monitor).

The woman quoted above is interviewed by Jeff Probst in video at the link. [ADDED: I watched it and found her robotic and annoying. A 16-year-old boy would know how to look up the answer to the question "What's 8 times 8?"?!]

30 comments:

Rob said...

"no how"?? Some book-larnin' seems to be in order.

richlb said...

I didn't want to pile on to what Rob said. But in an educationally-themed post, double check before going live.

traditionalguy said...

Montessori college. Just what we need.

Sertorius said...

Letting kids read and study what they want doesn't seem too bad, so long as they are forced to study math.

So many careers and professions require at least algebra, and a fair number require a lot more, that if you let kids be mathematically illiterate your are closing the door on large numbers of interests and jobs.

I remember seeing a documentary years ago about a beach bum/surfer/doctor who drove his family from beach town to beach town in a beat up van and he earned enough by working in medical clinics to pay their expenses. The kids were all "unschooled." Of course, when the kids got older, they didn't have the education to succeed in college, much less medical school, and if they had wanted to live like their dad, they couldn't.

Michael K said...

Since kids can't get jobs, it seems that some parents have given up. "Un-schooling" sounds very unlike home-schooling, which I have some familiarity with.

Parents who home school, like some friends of mine, have lesson plans and ensure that kids learn real subjects. One couple I know have three sons and each son was home schooled by his mother for one year, then returned to Catholic school while the next brother stayed home for a year. She did this in rotation until each son went off to college. One has graduated and is a Marine officer. The next is a senior in Petroleum Engineering and the youngest is now a freshman. I believe all are Engineering majors or graduates. The middle son plays classical piano. Every year, the father would take the three boys to help with spring roundup on a ranch owned by the extended family of their mother. They would spend all day on horseback for several days.

The "un-schooling" story sounds like a hippie throwback.

Nonapod said...

While I think there's a good argument to be made about public education being too structured, completely unstructured schooling seems like a horrible idea for about 99% of kids out there.

Sertorius said...

For those who are interested, the documentary was called "Surfwise."

Hagar said...

A 16 year old would be in 10th or 11th grade, and he does not know the multiplication table yet?

CatherineM said...

I can't listen to the video here to see how annoying she is, but I can say her decor is obnoxious. Tells me exactly who she is. "Look at me expressing myself." Yuck.

Agree with Nonapod. It is a bad idea for most. Although so is the not enough exercise during the day to recharge/restart. They need breaks to run off energy and be able to focus when they are young.

I have a friend with a good brilliant kid who has some issues who doesn't function as well in a super regimented environment. He was never pushed (they aren't "those" parents), he is a naturally curious kid that would read Isaac Asimov when he was 8. When he was 10, he was accepted into an alternative school for smart kids where if he wants to write CODE all day long, he can, because when he's really into something, he has a hard time switching to something else. As long as it's productive and learning. He's doing great. So he would do great with a loose environment because he would be learning. His brother would not and I don't see how the kids in the article playing Minecraft are learning.

Jupiter said...

The idea of school as an education factory, like so many of the other horrors of the 20th Century, was invented by German academics, and enthusiastically promoted by Progressives. If you ignore the fact that sending children to school is extremely cruel, and a monumental waste of time they will never get back, you could say it worked tolerably well.

The natural way for humans to learn how to be adults is to interact with adults. The schools used to provide a poor but serviceable alternative to actual apprenticeship. Until feminism came along, and all the smart women started going to Law School instead of teaching. About the same time, Progressives invented Adolescence. The business of children ceased to be becoming adults. Instead, they were allowed and indeed encouraged to form their own, childish society. Predictably, what resulted resembled Lord of the Flies. Now the schools are being used as indoctrination centers for the Progressive War on Civilization. There is no lie so absurd or revolting that it is not taught as truth in the American school system.

Send your kids to school, or when they grow up, they won't know how to put a condom on a banana. Or how to accuse the banana of rape. You won't get into college without those skills.

TerriW said...

We homeschool, but we're of the Classical education variety, complete with the trivium, five canons of rhetoric, the whole shebang. So yes, we diagram sentences and learn Latin, though I suppose we've never argued about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. About as un-unschooling as it gets.

I have many friends who unschool and while we wouldn't do it ourselves, they tend to have decent results. On the other hand, I find that generally the only people I see unschooling are upper middle class white folks. Perhaps they're just helping us prove the adage that it doesn't matter what you do with those students, through the sheer power of demographics, they're going to do well.(Though whether as well as they could have ....)

GAHCindy said...

We homeschool, and we know a lot of homeschoolers. I've never met a true unschooler. Lots of people claim to be, but I see them breaking things into subjects and forcing study, usually after they finally realize that their child is in fact human, and thus lazy and ignorant of his own deficiencies. I love homeschooling because there is a lot of room for self-motivated study, but most kids do need guidance and sometimes force. I'm not saying unschooling can't cover all the bases, just that I have yet to witness it or understand how.

jaydub said...

This "unschooling" has been tried in the inner city ghettos for a few decades now. How's that working out?

n.n said...

Like cogs in a machine, these are the undiversified clumps of cells that are manufactured in our public schools.

tim in vermont said...

There are kids who will do fine "unschooled." Kids who really would take their T-Bird to the library like they told their old man. Most, I am thinking, won't.

coupe said...

Public Schools, like anything made Public, is not a bad thing. Where it goes bad is when you have to hire bureaucrats to manage these welfare programs.

In the end, the bureaucrats are the only winners. Given a lifetime annuity and sucking on the teats of the treasury.

If you are against Public education, then you might as well be against breast milk, and fat rosy-cheeked babies.

In 12 years of Public education, I was taught how to read, write and do arithmetic. Back in the 19th Century, you could do that in about 6 years. So Public education is a very profitable enterprise (for those managing it).

In the 21-st century, the bureaucrats deem to provide free college education. Thus making it 16 years before the child is ready to interface with society.

God bless breast milk and fat rosy-cheeked babies...

tim maguire said...

Home schooling is great in theory, but is a luxury available to only to those who can afford to live on one salary. I'm not sure "unstructured learning" is good even in theory. How are kids, who almost by definition don't know what they don't know and don't know what will be important in life, to responsibly set their own curriculum?

Larry J said...

Sertorius said...
Letting kids read and study what they want doesn't seem too bad, so long as they are forced to study math.

So many careers and professions require at least algebra, and a fair number require a lot more, that if you let kids be mathematically illiterate your are closing the door on large numbers of interests and jobs.


Being innumerate (the math equivalent of illiteracy) also makes you more vulnerable to being swayed by economic ignorance such as socialism. Figures don't lie but liars can figure. They can make convincing arguments about how raising taxes means everyone gets more free stuff. For recent examples, see Venezuela and Sanders, Bernie.

Jupiter said...
The idea of school as an education factory, like so many of the other horrors of the 20th Century, was invented by German academics, and enthusiastically promoted by Progressives. If you ignore the fact that sending children to school is extremely cruel, and a monumental waste of time they will never get back, you could say it worked tolerably well.


The factory model of education treats kids as raw materials. They're fed into the assembly line for 13 years. The education process is applied to them with the goal of having productive citizens roll off the line at the end. For a while, it did seem to work but then the progressives started toying with the process. Education tends to be faddish. Rather than conducting hard experiments on the process, they roll out their theories to millions of kids and use them as guinea pigs. Once the education majors have milked that fad for all it's worth, they come up with a new fad.

Freeman Hunt said...

How do you know what you should know before you know anything?

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel said...

@Freeman Hunt:How do you know what you should know before you know anything?

Right on the head. Letting children decide entirely for themselves what to study, and to what degree, is like letting them decide entirely for themselves what to eat and how much.

In order to master anything, you have to not quit when it gets hard.

@tim maguire:Home schooling is great in theory, but is a luxury available to only to those who can afford to live on one salary.

Factor in two commutes, cost of childcare, and taxes--I don't see how anyone can afford to live on two salaries.

@Nonapod: completely unstructured schooling seems like a horrible idea for about 99% of kids out there.

Totally agree.

@Hagar:A 16 year old would be in 10th or 11th grade, and he does not know the multiplication table yet?

Oh they gave up that in the public schools long ago. I had college seniors who did not know how to multiply or divide by ten, and then were not unusual. I have seen college seniors use a calculator to find the square root of one.

Gabriel said...

@Jupiter:The natural way for humans to learn how to be adults is to interact with adults. The schools used to provide a poor but serviceable alternative to actual apprenticeship... The business of children ceased to be becoming adults. Instead, they were allowed and indeed encouraged to form their own, childish society. Predictably, what resulted resembled Lord of the Flies.

Apprenticeship is a good system and it is too bad we have abandoned it for credentialism. And it is too bad that we have extended childhood by over 50%.

Teenagers have commanded legions and ruled kingdoms, and done a full day's work for man or woman, and were expected to until relatively recently.

The massed ranks could not break the English position, which subjected them to a relentless barrage of arrows, making many of the horses casualties. The Black Prince's division was hard pressed by the French attack, however Edward refused to send help with the comment; "Let the boy win his spurs". The French cavalry made repeated attempts to charge up the slope, however with each successive wave more losses were sustained. In the course of the battle, the blind king John of Bohemia was struck down attacking the Black Prince's position. The struggle continued well into the night when Philip abandoned the field of battle.

The Black Prince was all of 16.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Char Char Binks said...

Who really knows what 8 times 8 is, anyway?

Jupiter said...

Public schools are a lot like public transportation. They are run by unions that despise the customers. They aren't going where you are going, or if they are, they aren't going there when you want to. They are shabby and ugly and frequented by people you would do well to avoid. But some think they are better than nothing. Not a very high standard.

Deirdre Mundy said...

We have a pretty intense curriculum, BUT we also limit screentime. So as a result, by kids have the time to learn what we've decided they must, but also to do the 'unschool' thing and explore their interests.

It works well. One of the big things holding a lot of kids back is 7+ hours of school and homework followed by unlimited screen time.

Our kids spend about 4 hours a day on 'curriculum,' 1/2 hour on the computer, and all the rest is freerange learning.

The best of all worlds, imo.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Our minds work through associative processes, so both inherited knowledge and skills are important to initialize the system. However, it is critical for an individual to learn how he thinks (i.e. processes). This can only be optimally achieved through a struggle, where independence is encouraged, and solutions are not forthcoming.

Humperdink said...

If you permit parents to unschool, who will feed the kiddies their breakfast and lunch?

SJ said...

@Deirdre,

you sound like my mom.

She was not an "unschooler", but she managed to teach her five children in a pattern that left us (the kids) with lots of free time.