Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unschooling Might Ruin the World!

There's an article today about unschooling in Australia that I find to be incredibly annoying...and somewhat amusing.

It states all these fears without anything to back up the fears.

First of all. There's the headline. Unschooling could leave Australian children without numeracy or literary skills.  I'm assuming they mean some children, and some children meaning the unschooled children. But it sort of sounds like they're saying that by some Aussie families unschooling, it's going to leave ALL Australian children unable to read and unable to count the grapes in their lunch box.  

But yeah. Unschooling COULD leave some Australian children unable to read or do math. It could also lead to super, scary, smart, creepy, genius kids building robots who end up taking over Australia.

We really don't know what could happen.

There are so many possibilities.

I am sure unschooling fails some children...at least in terms of learning their literacy and math skills. But from what I've witnessed and read, school fails some children too. 

There's more stuff from the article that I find a bit ridiculous.

This line: A NSW Parliamentary inquiry into home schooling has urged the NSW Board of Studies to investigate unschooling amid claims some parents use the "pretence of unschooling" to shun education.

Yeah. Uh...they might be on to something there. If someone did their research correctly, they might realize that yes, unschooling is partly about shunning education. That's why it's called unschooling. School is education, and some of us aren't big fans of the education process.

What is education? The definition I get from Googling is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

I'm not really for all that, and that's one of the reasons we're unschooling. Now in terms of shunning, we've shunned it for our family, at least temporarily. It doesn't mean I shun schools in general or the families who choose to use them.

I think what the article should have said is that there's a worry parents may shun LEARNING. I seriously doubt that's true. And if there are a few awful parents who shun learning, their children will likely still find a way to learn.  Learning comes naturally because human beings are naturally curious about their world.  Now there may be a few children locked away in tiny rooms with white walls—no toys, no books. Nothing.  But that's not a story about unschooling. That's child abuse.

To be fair, I will say the article has some positive quotes about unschooling.

They interview a woman, Karleen Mercer, from the Home Education Association. She says, Many families who home educate would also do some sort of unschooling or natural learning, which is about providing a rich environment in which learning can occur. It is about recognising when learning is happening and allowing it to occur."

I think it's also about parents who love learning so much, they fail to swallow the idea that schools are needed in order to force children to learn.

Then the article has an ignorant quote from a guy from the Parliamentary committee that's been formed to freak out about unschooling. John Kaye says, Letting children skate across whatever topic takes at their momentary fancy will leave many with debilitating deficits in essential skills and poorly developed self-control.

I wonder if he's read any studies to back these claims up. Or is he just being imaginative?  

I'm going to use my imagination now. Yes. I can picture some unschooling children who have not yet mastered certain skills.  And yes. Some might lack self-control.  Unlike school children who are always perfectly in control, well-behaved, and have all the essential skills needed for life. (I apologize for my sarcasm...feeling a bit snarky right now)

I'll also use MY imagination and experience memories to say this. Forcing children to learn about topics that are completely boring to them will lead to some children being very bored, and they won't listen to the lesson. If they don't listen, they won't learn the lesson.  If we're lucky, the bored child will use the time to daydream and they'll exercise their brain that way. If we're not lucky, their boredom will compel the child to act out and disrupt the teacher and other students.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that yes, sometimes unschooling children will fail to learn enough. But I think usually it works out quite well.  And until schools become the magical places that lead all children into being happy, successful, knowledgable, wise, and helpful adults, there's no need to insist that all families follow that path.

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