Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm Bad?

Today someone insinuated I was a bad homeschooler.  Actually more than one person did on this way out 'unschooling' group on Yahoo. 

Unschooling has many definitions.  Online I found this list of definitions;

Definitions of Unschooling on the Web:
  • Unschooling refers to a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, and social interaction, rather than through the confines of a conventional ...
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling
  • A set of educational philosophies which champion education outside the standard school environment. They include, but are not limited to, homeschooling
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/unschooling
  • unschooled - lacking in schooling; "untaught people whose verbal skills are grossly deficient"; "an untutored genius"; "uneducated children"
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • unschooled - Not schooled; not having been to school; inexperienced in something
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/unschooled
So as you can see I was a bit taken back by being called a bad homeschooler.  To me unschooling means one of two things; either you're letting your child get out of the habit of being on the conveyor belt of education.  You're homeschooling your child(ren) and you're getting away from the standing in line to go here, standing in line to go there, having 55 minutes of math, then science, and so on.  I also think it means, for those people who do it, just letting their child(ren) roam free and hope they are learning something. Unfortunately I do not share the philosophy of letting my child roam free and 'hope' they learn something.

One could argue we have teachable moments all day and I believe we do but I am not one to just let my child sleep in until ten, go online and play World of Witchcraft or whatever the latest greatest game is, eat lunch that I make for them to their specifications, take a nap, and then get up and watch tv until 2am.  I'm much too sensible or maybe rigid to let learning go that way, especially with a preteen.

When I think of the type of unschooling where your kids can do what they want when they want I often wonder "how will these kids get and keep jobs"?  Seriously, can you just go to work when you want and do what you want?  I want to raise a child who knows that you can't be lazy to get through life and she is well aware she is not living in our house when she's an adult so we can support her while she lounges around deciding what she'll learn today. 

I believe my philosphy is somewhat in the middle.  I believe there are teachable moments all the time.  I do think there is a way to learn by cooking, cleaning, and even watching television.  But I also believe learning what a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective, are is important.  I believe that knowing your multiplication tables is important.  So is how to use a dictionary both online and the paper one in your hands.  You need to know how to look things up in the library card catalog regardless if it's computerized or in a file box.  Can you use a phonebook?  Can you manage your time and meet multiple deadlines?  Can you turn old newspapers into great writing paper?  I know that Issac Newton did not invent Fig Newton's and I believe my child should know that too.

So call me a bad homeschooler because we sit at a desk and work on academics in the morning while you pick the lint from your toes and watch cartoons because you're letting your children decide how to learn. Yes children are naturally inquisitive but left to their own devices they only will learn what they need to learn to survive - for some kids this will be when it's time to head to the kitchen for dinner. 

I think being Bad might be the new Good.

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