Sunday, October 13, 2013

How Easy Was Unschooling?

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post
It is clearly absurd to limit the term 'education' to a person's formal schooling. - Murray Rothbard
It took a while for my brain to slow down the first year of not going to public school. My head was still swimming from the horrors of the earth and the burden to deal with them and "save the world." Environmentalism, disease, slavery, holocaust, cancer, anti-drug/violence campaigns, presidential campaigns, eating disorders and maniacal cops coming in to scare us straight. This was just before school shootings were highly publicized.

Did anything good ever happen in history? Was there ever anything to get happy about? Oh yeah, the teachers got excited with the cloned sheep called Dolly and we were temporarily excited by the Macarena. Then there were the deadlines, the heavy books, peer pressure, following the rules, harsh punishments laced with shame, worrying about clothes, popularity and judgement from teachers and students. There were a lot of troubled students.

For various reasons, my parents were not heavily involved in my unschool. We didn't have curriculum. I want to emphasize this - no guidance, no curriculum. I felt embarrassed at the time because I was still trapped in comparisons and my homeschool friends had curriculum. I didn't know it would turn out awesome. I didn't know that resting from public school would bring peace and true desire for knowledge, understanding and wisdom (Trivium). The institution break served as a sling shot and there was no going back after launch. Seek and ye shall find.

Most of my high school education came from just a few resources that didn't take much time to read. Most of what's in high school is complicated, unnecessary, and wasted time. The rest came from sheer desire of knowledge and reading tons of things I was passionate about. It's amazing what intense interest can do to plow through obstacles - the obstacles being what is considered necessary information for college and adulthood. I was at college level by the time I entered a private high school to finish senior year (not necessary to do but that was one way to finish high school).

Before my reading took off, I tried practicing with SAT and ACT test books. I couldn't answer much and forgot about it. Just by reading tons of classic literature (my main interest) and discussing them with my homeschool friends at our book club, coming back to the test books was completely different. I got a great score and read a couple math books to bring that score up. I found my own learning technique to soar past years of text work. As it turns out, I never had to take those tests to start college. The undue pressure on students is really ridiculous once you see past it.

Here are a few core books I read. The valuable information got me through college as well:

Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

The Elements of Style

The Well Educated Mind (which leads through classical texts)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Math Smart Junior II (advanced levels available)

Writing Smart Junior (advanced levels available)

A book about an unschool family that let their children's interests guide them demonstrated the point of non-force, non-pressure education. The parents did not force reading or math at any point, believing as I believe, that math doesn't really click until about age 12 anyway. Reading, too, was unforced. One of the boys was into dinosaurs - the obstacle for him became getting through the desire to learn more. This propelled him into reading until he was reading college level materials as a pre-teen to get his dinosaur fix. Their children became Harvard graduates.

Public school did nothing to help with life or social skills. It did drill to follow orders, and all students sensed the constant insecurity and fear of a authority. This fear - of authority, even parents - could be the biggest inhibitor toward real lasting education.

I still had and do have a lot to learn about life, communications, where I stand in this world and what my purpose is here. Unschooling catapulted me into a huge leap in that direction. There are some things I would go back and do differently if I could but I didn't know any better. I would have taken even more structure out and stopped going by the "standards." If I could do it, with relatively little guidance and support, I believe anyone can if this is their desire. Either way, no one should have to justify their chosen form of education.

Some resources from Activist Post:

The Homeschooling Revolution

Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan

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Anonymous said...

When I switched my two kids to virtual schooling at home the first year was absolute hell. They were still so caught up in the brick-and-mortar mentality they were incapable of doing anything for themselves. I was APALLED!! It took quite some time for them to find their footing, aka, their brains and common sense.

Every year that passes reinforces why we think homeschooling is best. They're much more mature and capable than their peers in regular public school.

Hide Behind said...

At home a child is partially educated, while but for a minoriy of those in public schools, almost all public facilitys students are at best but partially trained.
There is no actual difference in learning abilitys and contrary to the hype not all home schooled are any better educated than many public school attendees.
Some students no matter if home or public schooled turn out to be assholes and as dumb as a smart well trained dog.
Do we then blame the parent?

Bohemian said...

No one is blaming school. This is simply an article about what it was like to unschool and what she would do differetly. Everyone is different in the way they learn and how they turn out but most importantly people should have the right to educate how they see fit!

No one is fully educated at age 18. We are always learninng and up until the day we die I am not sure anyone could say they know everything! But at least with home or un schooling children feel some control and can avoid all those un necessary pressures and lessons they get in public or private school.


The public school system is designed to digress students from critical thinking, making them perfect little automatons; compliant and complacent tools for exploitation.

Hide Behind said...

There is a major shift happening in education that will have major impact upon all our children's futures, especially of those of "alternative" forms called "Home School.
The System will protect itself and the newer system does not give a damn about who you are or who your kid is nor will it accept those , unless truly exceptional, to gain entrance.
Already we see the shift happening as by the end of 6th or 7th grade students are being diverted into advanced classes and formative ranks.
It is almost a certainty that home school will be "normed" and while you think your spending time with darling is above normal that stage almost certainly condemns them to only a possible training position as low level technical training position in future not college entrance.
That is unless you can afford some private or religious entrance.
In between your educating a child start educating yourself as to just what our educatonal systems real goals are.
You will not find out by asking your normal teacher especially at grade or small podunk high schools; As they are just cogs in the system.
The small town or city schools for last 25 yars have been the escape valvefor parents searching for valued education that they with their higher wages, and mostly higher educational papers than locals giving them a takeover of boards and also more use of the system for grants and federal state programs.
They end up destroying the last vistages of old cultural differences between urban rural and metro rat packs.
Anyways, check on why you may have to place your child into thesystems handsif indeed you want them to hav access to somethingother than just a job.
You will not find the sameeconomic system in the very near future and you could be sending your child into only openings are for cult members .

brad said...

Homeschooled our kids on an unschool basis. Teach people how to learn and they will learn what is needed without the authoritarian overtones.
Remove them from the school sports that promote militarism like Football, etc.
John Taylor Gatto had a student who "couldn't" get math no matter how she tried. (NY State somewhere) Her dad let her have his small yacht and she was sailing when a storm blew her 3DAYS into the Atlantic. She had a sextant and a book on how to use it - about 50 steps which ALL have to be right. She sailed right into NY Harbor 3 days after the storm stopped.
Learning is natural if not squashed.

Hide Behind said...

The first things a child learns in public school is to shut up until questioned and to never ask why.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah, blah. Makes as much sense as what you typed. Fer sure.

Anonymous said...

Let's not overlook the good idea behind teaching the fundamentals, such as reading, math and writing. Having learned these one can educate oneself. Having parents who never learn these or who didn't encourage one to learn these, can handicap one. Ignore the video games and learn the 'fundies'.

Hide Behind said...

LOOK AT what the major employers expect from the new system.
They tell about needing masses of easily trained low level work forces.
Not one mention of college or advanced mathematics but instead basic math and reading skills so that at or about the knowledge of low level 7th grade students but with abilitys o fend for selves in everyday social contacts and contracts.
At that age group they will begin training as low skilled entry level trades and manufacturing serviice industry occupations.
This is from seminars at Hudson , Carnagie, Mellon, Gates and Ford etc. Foundations; education for industrial and national needs.
If I did no attend all I at least read the fucking transcripts and reports of talks.
@anon 7:20 am.
google Woodrow Wilsons talk at new york teachers in 1908 titled; "What Is Meant By A Liberal Education."
What is purpose of educators?
Is it not to train a vast body of students capable of manual is of a necessesityto be far greater in number than the other class of students, those of the liberal arts leanings.
No teacher can teach or train every student for a future the know not of and have not even begun to decide what may happen.
Neither can any single institution by itself train for all future diciplines needs.
The very same reasons used then as an excuse for revising teaching methods but as even Woodro Wilson understood Hobes writings and need to apply them to education.
How do you explain education to those who already know everthing?

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