08 September 2009


I suppose there are two perspectives to every news story, but I'm looking at this one and thinking there are probably way more than two. In the video, the newscaster does the usual "pit one side against the other" thing for the entertainment of the viewer.

Unschooling. And what do you think of unschooling? Here's some guy who unschools his kids and some lady who looks like she's eaten a lemon during the introduction who somehow knows what's best for everyone else's child. What her qualifications were, I never clearly grasped.

Here's my question: Whyyyyyy are they introducing a man who "unschools" his kids? If he's truly "unschooling," then HE isn't really "unschooling" the children; they are unschooling themselves. I'm thinking that, anyway, but the video is not clear on anything, other than the fact that little kids seem to be able to pick apples and play computer games.

Unschoolers are also the same as dropouts. I'm not sure why this comparison is made in the video, but whatever. I'm thinking you can't "drop out" of something you weren't participating in, true? It would be as though I said to you, "I'm not going to school at all! Never!" and you said, "Ohhh... You're in danger of dropping out if you do that, though."


And finally... the clincher. What on earth do you think of all sides agreeing about knowledge getting absorbed into your psyche and stuff while you're sleeping? That has to be the weirdest, most wacky occult idea I've heard in a while... and yet all sides seem to be agreeing on it. If we have to agree on something, does it have to be that?


  1. Unschooling has always fascinated me. I love the philosophy behind it, but couldn't quite let go of the reins. There are unpopular subjects which are vital to kids education that you cannot leave to them to pick up. Three of my four dislike math. The one loves it (Daniel) dislikes reading. I couldn't be okay with just hoping they'd decide at some point that it mattered.

    We have incorporated aspects of this approach into our approach to education--history, geography, and science are all great "unschooling" subjects. All four of the boys have a great grasp of them.

    The woman they interviewed might be a specialist on how the brain works but she clearly doesn't understand unschooling (as evidenced by her talk about drop outs) and isn't interested in learning about it. Her comment about sleep etc, was simply a clumsy misdirection to cover her lack of real information. Yes, that is how the brain works (which is one of the reasons enough sleep is so vital), but it had nothing--NOTHING-- to do with the topic at hand and she knew it. In the end, she just sounded foolish.

  2. Well, the word "psyche" just kinda threw me. I suppose that some scientists figure this is how our brain "regroups" at the end of the day and processes information, but "psyche?" And I'm with you. What does that have to do with math? :p

    PS. I like the unschooling idea, too, and let my kids take little rabbit trails pretty often. But they also learn their math from a book. :]

  3. I just happened to watch that on another blog before popping over here, and was cracking up while reading your commentary. The lemon-eating lady came off sounding really strange, and I was wondering why in the world they didn't let the guy who actually knows something about unschooling to say more than a few sentences! The whole interview just ended up being totally pointless. ARG!

  4. I like the idea of unschooling, but my type a personality makes it so hard to let go completely. But if something else interests them in certain subjects then we go more in-depth.

  5. I don't understand unschooling because if my kids had it their way, they'd be running around and playing with legos instead all day or playing games. Or the fact that they'd never want to do math or other boring subjects. Maybe I don't know enough about unschooling. I'm new to the term. I guess as long as they learn all the important subjects by the time their grown, then it works.

  6. We've unschooled for about seven years. We are now moving into a more structured schooling, because at least one of them is college-bound, and she has to be prepared.

    Unschooling doesn't mean letting your kids run amok for most parents. It means letting your kids guide the learning. Although I did that, I also guided them towards certain things, like math. At the grocery store, I made them weigh produce, and calculate sale price percentages from the time they were very young. Those were their early math lessons.

    I think the beauty of homeschooling is tailoring the education to the child, no matter which method you choose.

  7. The whole interview irritated me. The lemon lady was condescending and kept interrupting the unschooling dad, and he kept rocking back and forth and wouldn't look into the camera. That comment about the dropouts was COMPLETELY irrelevent. And it's ridiculous to say that if you don't learn calculus in high school you can't learn it later in life. I sucked at math in high school (I was home schooled from 8th grade on, with a terrible curriculum and a non-participating mom), but I went to college, took one remedial math course and went on to graduate with a degree in Engineering. I worked in that field until I was in my mid-thirties and quit to have babies. Life does not begin and end at 18.

    Furthermore, WHY can't they find people to interview who are knowledgeable and articulate about the subject matter? And why don't they give a complex topic more than 2 minutes?

    It reminds me of a Dr. Phil episode I saw a couple of years ago on homeschooling. He had ONE family who "unschooled" by letting "nature teach the kids everything they needed to know", and telling them math was useless. And everyone else was an "expert" (read - public school teacher) who disagreed.

    These types of interviews are nothing more irritating, useless, twaddle.

    Blech. Now I'm all grouchy!

  8. Deb... you know... I didn't want to say anything, but he struck me as kinda Aspie, too! Not that that's a bad thing. I'm just immersed in the "culture" of it and hardly expect eye contact. :]

  9. Well, I have heard that when regular people are doing those remote broadcasts, they don't have a monitor or anything to look at but the camera and they don't hear anything but a voice in their ear, and it's hard for unprofessionals to look right into the camera.

  10. I'm sure the second the camera gets switched on for me I'd have a terrible nose itch, or a bra strap will be showing, or something will be in my hair. Oh, and those are only my publishable fears LOL!

  11. I think this man's kids will probably turn out all right. What he's actually doing here is not providing a drop-out approach, but a Montessori approach (let the learner explore his own interests).

    The problem with this from society's viewpoint is that the purpose of schooling is making sure that children know what SOCIETY considers it important for them to know. He didn't answer the question about learning American History well. Walking around in America with kids is NOT going to teach them what went on in the past, for example. Reinacting a Civil War battle (as you did with your own boys) WOULD teach them far mor about the past, and get them to understand the challenges people in the past had to deal with, as well as get them to think about how those people might have felt.

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)