Unschooling: Homeschooling without the school

Among the ever expanding lexicon of alternative education is the trend toward unschooling.

Unschooling might best be defined as homeschooling without the school. It eschews standardization of education in favor of customization. Unschoolers don’t turn their kitchen tables into de facto classrooms, piled high with math textbooks, reading lists and maps of Asia.

Among the unschooling rules in Clark Aldrich's new book: Outdoors beats indoors. (AJC file)

Among the unschooling rules in Clark Aldrich's new book: Outdoors beats indoors. (AJC file)

Instead, unschoolers let their children take the lead, allowing them to decide whether they want to study algebra or Civil War history. The children determine whether they prefer to spend a day or a month playing chess or building a catapult.

Unschoolers shun tests, homework and work sheets, believing that a day spent skipping rocks and running barefoot in a meadow yields more science exploration than growing a plant on a windowsill.

Often described as “natural learning” or “independent learning,” unschooling and its belief in following children’s passions have something to teach traditional schools, says Clark Aldrich, author of “Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know about Schools and Rediscover Education.”

An e-learning guru and co-founder of SimuLearn, Aldrich believes that rather than raising their eyebrows at home schoolers and unschoolers, conventional classrooms ought to be borrowing from them.

In a telephone interview, Aldrich concedes that many parents have neither the will nor the ability to unschool, which requires an adult at home. (Aldrich prefers parents as the primary teachers, saying, “Parents care more about their children than some institution.”)

But Aldrich says unschooling offers a blueprint for meaningful and relevant education, helping children learn to be — who they are and who they want to be — and learn to do, developing skills through practice and passion.

At conventional schools children learn neither to be nor to do. Instead, schools focus almost entirely on learning to know, cramming kids full of facts that most of them will be able summon on their smart phones in seconds.

Nothing of value can be measured by multiple choice tests, says Aldrich. “They emphasize the memorization of massive amounts of facts that neurologically have a half-life of about 12 hours,” he says.
Students ought to be judged not by transcripts, but by portfolios that reveal their capabilities and their accomplishments over time.

After three decades of education reforms in this country, Aldrich says, “The argument can be made that we have made schools worse and we have to start over.

“The notion of parents dropping off their kids at school, organizing the kids into large groups, having those large groups sitting in classrooms being lectured to and taking tests to reach these weird standards set by a third party has no standing in real life,” he says.

“If traditional schools are the thesis and unschooling and home schooling are the antithesis, perhaps we can reach more synthesis,” he says. “For me, the question is how do we create as much diversity as we can in education because the more diversity, the healthier the eco system.

“Most new ideas die in the traditional school structure,” says Aldrich. “Our schools are monopolies. When you have monopolies of ideas, the problems you start seeing are standardization, rising costs and lack of creativity.

“If home schoolers and unschoolers can be incubators for new ideas, we may be able to introduce some of these new ideas back into traditional schools,” he says.

His 55 unschooling rules offer points of unanimity — “Animals are better than books about animals,” and “Have a well stocked library.”

But there are other more contentious rules, such as “Teaching is leadership. Most teaching is bad leadership,” and “Homework helps school systems, not students.”

“We have built a reward structure to praise those students who can sit in classrooms better than anyone else,” he says. “We let them run our planet.”

Schools are teaching too many children too many things that don’t excite them and have no relevance to what they need or love, including accelerated math, says Aldrich.

While he understands the need for more science and math talent, Aldrich says we are going about it in a hamfisted way.

“We need 5 percent of our citizens to be really good at this,” he says. “What is our solution? Let’s have every single kid spend a lot more time learning stuff they will never use to find the 5 percent who are exceptionally good at it.”

In one passage bound to cheer math-weary high school students, he writes, “For most students, calculus should be covered in history classes, if at all. It is a towering invention in the same vein as the potter’s wheel or the loom.”

As someone who traffics in new media, gaming and e-learning, Aldrich says traditional math curriculums overemphasize long division, calculus and geometry, while slighting discrete math, logic and programming —the skills that are more applicable now.

Aldrich understands that few may be ready to heed his call to dismantle the “education industrial complex.”

But he says, change is urgently needed. “If we spend more time on one standardized curriculum and trying to force everyone down that one path — which fits for some but not for most — we will have this problem of kids constantly checking out.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

151 comments Add your comment

www.honeyfern.org

April 22nd, 2011
5:50 am

Watch out, unschoolers. Let the flogging begin.

Unschooling is actually not “new” as the first line suggests; this article just introduces a new book. Another book to read on the subject is “College Without HIgh School” by Blake Boles, and here is a link for more on the subject of unschooling in general: http://www.unschooling.com/index.shtml

ScienceTeacher671

April 22nd, 2011
6:20 am

Not new at all. Dates back to at least the mid-1700’s, when Rousseau published Emile.

teacher&mom

April 22nd, 2011
6:35 am

I’ve meet a couple of families who unschool. Their children were bright, well read, and highly inquisitive. There is something to be said for slowing down and giving a child plenty of time to learn without any pressure to follow a certain schedule to learn x number of concepts in 180 days.

I regret not trying homeschooling with my children. Looking back, I think it would have made a difference for my struggling learner. He is a great example of how standardized testing is not helpful and in some cases can cause more harm than good.

drew (former teacher)

April 22nd, 2011
6:40 am

Learning is fun. School, not so fun. Unschooling has it’s merits. Young people naturally want to learn, but schools, obsessed with test scores and indifferent to discipline, have managed to squash students’ natural desire to learn. And with teacher evaluations and pay becoming dependent on students test scores, it’s about to get even worse.

But this idea of unschooling has reminded me of a book I read when I was a naive and inspired and student teacher:

http://www.amazon.com/Watershed-Successful-Voyage-Integrative-Learning/dp/1560900881

Unfortunately, the concept of an integrated, learner-cented, approach to education doesn’t stand a chance in this “data-driven” age of education. But at least one public school has successfully implemented such a program for almost 25 years.

Here’s an excerpt from the schools website:

WATERSHED is an Integrated Learning Program for Seventh Graders at the Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Mark Springer and Ed Silcox created the nationally and internationally recognized Watershed Program in 1987. For twenty- four years, Watershed has been a yearlong full day program, which has replaced the traditional 7th grade curriculum. Skills and concepts are integrated around the comprehensive study of a local watershed through a combination of classroom activities and site visits. A heterogeneous mix of twenty boys and twenty girls are admitted each year through a lottery process. Students are encouraged to gather, retain, interrelate, apply and communicate first hand information about watersheds with special emphasis on what it means to live sustainably in the 21st century.

Here’s a link to the schools website with additional information on the program:

http://www.rtsd.org/Page/4725

Of course, I cannot recommend this book to teachers. Being exposed to this method of learning will only lead to frustration, then depression over how school factories do “learning”, and eventually cynicism, as they realize that this type of integrated, student-centered, holistic approach has no place in our current educational environment.

ABC

April 22nd, 2011
6:49 am

Hey, I’m all for it. The less competition my kids have when they grow up for college and jobs, the better.

Mift

April 22nd, 2011
6:59 am

This is great if the conditions are right- smart parents and curious kids. I just see so many kids ill prepared by homeschooled parents (not all) that I worry the popularity of this will give some an excuse to produce illiterate children.

DeborahinAthens

April 22nd, 2011
7:14 am

I have known a few children that were home schooled. They were all very poorly behaved, and pretty ignorant–especially in history and math. They were taught only subjects and issues that the parents wanted them to know–and they had a religious bias. In public schools children are exposed to different ideas, different types of people–things that will make them better as adults. As to the “unschooled”–it sounds lovely on paper, but, I believe most children need structure. It isn’t human nature to want to work, and learning is work. Most kids will choose to do what they like. I would have chosen to study French literature, and never, ever touch math. Thank God, I was forced to learn math–It’s the bedrock of my career, and guess what? I learned to love it! I do wish the public schools would teach less to the test, because the kids aren’t always learning to think. But, by and large, I think most kids get a much better education in public school than they do in homes.

catlady

April 22nd, 2011
7:21 am

I agree with Mfft. It might work in some exceptional cases, but so does most anything (see the girl who was kept prisoner in the man’s backyard, by whom he fathered several children. We wouldn’t recommend THAT.)

Many “homeschooled” children I have seen are not “schooled” at all. Some go on to be successful. Some do not. I have seen a few “homeschooled” who were “unschooled” as well, although that is not what their parents were aiming for.

If these parents wish to do this, fine. Just don’t expect the rest of us to “make up the difference” when they become adults. Be sure you teach them a craft or skill so they can support themselves.

I am thankful for the education of my children, which includes all kinds of “schooling.”

Tad Jackson

April 22nd, 2011
7:26 am

For certain kids … it’s perfect.

http://www.adixiediary.com

atlmom

April 22nd, 2011
7:30 am

I have been exploring the idea of homeschooling the last week or two – I figure that I have until mid August to see if we can do it.
I have read a little about the ‘unschooling’ and it seems very montessori like to me. I know montessori has worked for many, but for me, I definitely would like to ensure that my children do learn certain things. I like the idea of unschooling – but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to do it all the time.
Math is very important, not like what this gentleman says. It’s important for everyone. Not just some kids. ALL kids should have a good mathematics foundation and MOST kids should learn calculus. It helps with critical thinking, which all people need more of these days.

Interested Participant

April 22nd, 2011
7:42 am

For the record, NOTHING in education is ever new. It’s the same tired old ideas being recycled every 30-40 years.

Dr NO

April 22nd, 2011
7:44 am

These unschooler children are probably more intelligent than the majority of the parents of APS and Clayton County children

SGaDawgette

April 22nd, 2011
7:45 am

I would love to be able to incorporate elements of this practice into my classroom. Unfortunately, that will never happen as long as my boss (the system) crams 30+ kids in with wildly disparate accommodation needs while expecting me to prepare them to score well on a standardized test. Give me a smaller group (even with the range of learning styles) and free me from test tyranny. Then we’ll see what we can really do. Until then (or retirement), this is just a pipe dream.

atlmom

April 22nd, 2011
8:03 am

sgadawgette: hopefully this testing stuff will go the way of the dodo bird. I don’t have a problem with testing kids once or twice, but every year is awful. we know where the good schools are – I don’t need to test the kids to know it.

FBT

April 22nd, 2011
8:23 am

I know families who unschool and their children are doing very well. The parens aren’t allowing the children to run wild all day, they run their schools very similar to a Montessori school. My children have a framework and we spend more time on the topics they are really interested in, but we keep moving.
All children aren’t the same and not every form of school works for every child. Choices are good!

Flibbity

April 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

I remember being in school and being told that school prepared you for the working world. In my many years in the work force, not once have I taken a multiple choice test that pertained to my job. That’s why I personally liked college more than high school. I preferred to write papers than take tests that I knew would serve no purpose later in life.

Philosopher

April 22nd, 2011
8:27 am

I really appreciate the principles espoused here-but unfortunately, I can only see it be successful if educated adults guide/teach the kids. You can’t teach if you don’t know how. What I’ve seen with most homeschooled kids here is not-very-well-educated religious zealots teaching their kids only what they want the kids to hear. Most do not speak well, much less teach well….their kids are way behind public school-educated kids. And you can’t teach science if you think the world was created 5000 years ago by magic. While I would have loved to homeschool my kids, I know my limits and so I simply support, supplement, and unteach the occasional nonsense they learn in school. I hate that education is the way it is…cattle all pushed in the same direction…but until we are willing and economically able to make extreme changes, I guess we’ll have to live with the status quo.

East Cobb Parent

April 22nd, 2011
8:31 am

Catlady, I often agree with you, but not so much this time. I have a bit of a bias, I do home school one of my children. The children that we know via field trips are very well behaved. Matter of fact, I always feel I’m not doing enough after speaking to other home school moms. My son does math via John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth so he is learning and understanding math. We use a variety of different curriculum for different subjects. I’ve never found one publisher that I loved for everything. My son can diagram sentences and understands the parts of speech. He doesn’t love writing, but does it daily. I do not accept papers with basic grammar mistakes or misspellings. FYI, one of the 8th grade writing assessments on the GADOE website, my son’s 3rd grade assignment was to correct the grammar; the paper was given full marks by the state, but would have failed in our home school :-)

For those thinking they may want to home school or just supplement I recommend reading “The Well Trained Mind”, it’s a wonderful place to start.

jd

April 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

Wait a minute! Our current system of treating children as mere units moving along an assembly line was created as a result of the best minds business offered at the turn of the 20th century. Don’t tell me that running schools like a business is wrong! (Btw, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to change the model — and perhaps the one-room school model is a good place to start).

Tom

April 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

….and yet we continue to wonder why the educational systems in so many other countries far surpass ours! It’s dumb ideas like this one that will eventually carry us deep into the pit of ignorance.

atlmom

April 22nd, 2011
8:58 am

@jd: but there are so many people who are so invested in the way things are it’s like trying to turn the titanic. like some parents I have spoken with who think that things are fine the way that they are and we need more government intervention.
Because it’s worked so well so far.

Teacher's Husband

April 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

My greatest concern with homeschooling and unschooling is that there are sooooooooo many parents out there that are not qualified in the least to educate a child.

WAR

April 22nd, 2011
9:00 am

Teacher Reader

April 22nd, 2011
9:10 am

@ Teacher’s Husband: There are so many children in a public school not being educated and graduating barely able to read and do math. I would say that many of our public schools aren’t doing too hot of a job educating our children. I know many homeschooled children who are better educated than those at the same grade level in public school.

As with any thing there are positive and negative examples. I believe that homeschooling will become a more popular choice with parents wanting to ensure that their children learn and have skills to make it in the world as an adult.

Wendy Priesnitz

April 22nd, 2011
9:21 am

Good article but definitely not a new topic/word/concept. I’ve been writing about it since the the 1970s and John Holt coined the term in the late 70s.For anyone interested, there are many good articles on this in the archives of Life Learning Magazine – http://www.LifeLearningMagazine.com

Teacher's Husband

April 22nd, 2011
9:22 am

@Teacher Reader

That doesn’t change the fact that MANY home school parents are NOT qualified to educate a child. I’ve seen many home schooled kids that are below grade level, socially awkward, religious nuts! Many home schooling parents don’t make the efforts to socialize their kids either. I know this all too well from running into these kids when I was in college. Nobody wants to be the weird, social outcast but some of these kids will live with the stigma their whole lives.

Yes I am generalizing…but so are you. As you said, there are positives and negatives abound. But if someone is going to take on the job of a professionally trained educator, they better d@mn well know what the he11 they are doing.

drew (former teacher)

April 22nd, 2011
9:25 am

Seems like quite a few posters are concerned that the adults doing the “schooling” might not be qualified. And while I respect your opinions, and have some of the same concerns, I also respect the right of adults to educate their own children, be it home-school or unschool. And the parent’s “qualifications” are none of my business, your business, or the government’s business. How about a little respect for the autonomy of the family?

And the more education continues down the exalted data-driven path, the more sense home/unschooling makes. Schools are great at squeezing the “joy of learning” out of their captured audiences. And don’t even think that education can be “reformed”, like atlmom said: “…it’s like trying to turn the titanic.”

Lisa B.

April 22nd, 2011
9:26 am

I think many of us can agree that the same educational format does not work for all students.

The Truth

April 22nd, 2011
9:34 am

I have an idea, unschool all of the Atlanta Public Schools struggling learners, AYP will be met and according to your theories on this board, the needs of the “Did Not Meet” students will be met. Alright, any volunteers to get started? Anyone? Anyone? (sound of crickets chirping in the background)

Here is THE TRUTH, unschooling should take place every day when a child comes home FROM SCHOOL and is off for summer break, spring break, or fall break. Take the time to develop an understanding of standards at home, take the standards they are learning AT THE BIG BAD PUBLIC SCHOOL and apply them to the home environment. Unschooling principles can and should be applied everyday with public school kids.

THE TRUTH is that parenting has become a job instead of a passion; our schools are failing because parents are failing. Teachers are now filling the role of mother and father, counselor, friend, and mentor; instead of their purpose, to educate.

UNSCHOOLING works because the parent cares about their child’s education.

Our state needs to make it as hard to become a teacher as it is a lawyer or doctor, pay the great teachers and content experts more, and weed out the teachers who are not affective. Make it hard but rewarding, see then what happens to education in this state.

HS Public Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
9:36 am

Isn’t “unschooling” just another word for “life experiences?”

Many think that an increase in life experiences results in a better educated person. I don’t think that this is a new concept. Poorer families do not have the finances to afford the life experiences compared to wealthy families. They cannot take trips throughout Europe. They cannot hike through the Grand Canyon. Without those experiences, the child will have to resort to books, pictures, the internet, etc. So, this is something that only a fortunate few can really do well.

Also, these life experiences simply will never go into the depth of knowledge of high school courses. How can life experiences even explain the parts of the atom? What type of life experiences teach Calculus? Can someone really learn about an earthquake in Japan without reading or at least listening to the news?

Every approach to education has its merits. However, there are also limitations.

The problem is that too many people want to ’sell’ their preferred type of educational approach.

HS Public Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

@The Truth – You realize that no one every really wants “the truth.”

BehindEnemyLines

April 22nd, 2011
9:39 am

I’ll save time & just echo the “nothing new about this” comments above.

Also, re: “And the parent’s “qualifications” are none of my business, your business, or the government’s business. ” — as long as we’re determined to redistribute wealth under penalty of law, it’s the business of every taxpayer.

marie354

April 22nd, 2011
9:42 am

Interesting idea for a family where the children will not need to have conventional jobs to support themselves, but reality being what it is, this type of educational approach would put these children at a competitive disadvantage in our conventional society. I would not want to see any child’s future hampered by well-meaning, but unrealistic choices made by the parent. Are there relevant studies that show how the majority of children taught under this method fair later in life? It would be good to have that resource.

Gary

April 22nd, 2011
9:48 am

This could be the dumbest thing I have ever read. I am all for home schooling. I love the idea of kids being able to travel more and learn more by seeing and being that canot be acheived in a classroom. However, to ignore the proven studies of childhood brain development requiring the kind of memorization and problem solving that must be a part of any home school program is idiotic. He acts as though they want the kinds to memorize things so they will know how to do them later in life. It is designed to develop the brian so the brain itself is capable of remembering, problem solving, and understanding. You skip math, memorization, and reading. You might as well give your kid a paddle, because he will be working his summers as a raft guide making 50 bucks a day with no health insurance or retirement, and spending his winters working whatever odd jobs he can get. SOunds exactly like the kind of hippie success story the parents would spout who teach this way. The battle for success in the workplace will only get harder.

Jack

April 22nd, 2011
9:49 am

@HS Public Teacher – Why did I just have a mental image of Jack Nicholson in a Marine colonel’s uniform screaming at Tom Cruise in a Navy lieutenant’s uniform? :-)

Troglodyke

April 22nd, 2011
9:51 am

How much of “traditional” schooling is teaching kids to learn self-control and delay of gratification, how to interact well with peers, good time management, respect of authority (in a healthy way) and that hard work pays off?

It’s not just about rote facts. The experience of attending school is part of the benefit. Obviously, the education system is broken in many ways, but to me, the above traits are necessary for children to learn.

The idea that children should be able to choose what they want to learn means that most will not choose the above skills. I’m all for choice, but shouldn’t it be earned (at least when it comes to what to study)?

We are raising a generation who can hardly read, write, or spell. How many children will choose to do work that perfects these skills? What about handwriting? It’s not as important as it used to be, but people still have to write occasionally by hand.

I agree that it would be great to get kids more specialized early; the ones who have a knack for science should do more of it, etc. But then what happens if one’s career choice falls through? People work multiple types of jobs from high school through retirement these days. Being flexible in what you can do will be more beneficial if you fall on hard times.

What about this?

April 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/24/parents-picket-girl-with-peanut-allergy-ask-her-to-withdraw-from-school/?iref=obnetwork

This is interesting story about parents picketing a school and wanting the classmate of their children withdrawn from school because of the accomodations they have to make so she can attend. This is a catch 22 situation but I wonder if homeschooling paid for by the school district may be the best solution.

NY Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
9:54 am

@The Truth- I wish individuals would stop thinking educators aren’t qualified. I endured three exams in NY to become a teacher. I hold numerous degrees as well.

Education is horrible in GA because politians and citizens do not have a vested interest in reforming education. Let’s start by banning CRCT tests for small children!

Dr NO

April 22nd, 2011
9:58 am

What about this?

April 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

Thats all well and good, however the only reasonable solution is possibly twofold.

1. Eradication of the Peanut.

OR

2. Eradication of the student in question.

Georgia Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
10:04 am

This has its merits in creating students who can think critically and geniuinely learn because of curiosity. This could be accomplished in a school environment… but not cheaply.

I, for one, would love to have a few students who are not waiting for me to tell them how to do something, but rather working to figure out what must be done on their own.

HS Public Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
10:06 am

@NY Teacher – People here in Georgia do not want to hear or believe about qualified teachers. Everything is always the teachers fault here. Teachers here have the “easiest” degrees and a “locked-in” government job where we do nothing.

Just ask Dr NO.

Gary

April 22nd, 2011
10:07 am

I recently met an a family from India. There daughter is brilliant. Works for a major company doing crazy hardcore science stuff (don’t want to give to much info). Part of her family resposibility is to pay for some of her siblings to get the same opportunities the family provided to her. She is helping to pay for several of them to go to college in the US. In return those kids will support the family as well. almost all of them are attaining extremely technical degrees at major universities that will lead to successful careers. No english majors allowed. The lazy kids are not given the chance because of the needs of the family being to great. They will go to work in India. Over time the family will continue to move up the economic ladder. Each generation will live better than the last. That is the kind of education we should be giving our children. They developed a structure to create improved prosperity. The whole family lives by these expecations. It really is amazing. It also makes me realize why our culture is falling behind. I have seen this model in other third worlds as well.

CobbParent

April 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

“Aldrich says traditional math curriculums overemphasize long division, calculus and geometry, while slighting discrete math, logic and programming —the skills that are more applicable now.”

I love math….but….yes.

student

April 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

This isn’t school.

HS Public Teacher

April 22nd, 2011
10:13 am

@Gary – I agree 100%. However, here it seems to be the opposite. I teach in a high socio-economic area. The children are ‘given’ Lexus, Hummers, Mercedes, etc. to drive as soon as they get their license. The parents complain when homework is assigned – it is just too much work for their darlings!

I had one mother take her daughter out of school to go to a day spa for mother-daughter “bonding time.”

These children are being taught that they are priviledged and do not have to work (or do anything at all) for a very easy life. I fear for these kids.

Ann

April 22nd, 2011
10:14 am

There are about four homeschooling families on my street. I have had many conversations with these parents and they are all very bright, well-read, and they are not religious nuts. There are many homeschooling families these days doing so because of the deficiencies in the test driven school system, not because of religion. For those that think homeschooled kids are socially awkward, I would ask, during what time period did you know them, recent or a few years back? And, what size town?. Nowadays, there are so many social and community programs, especially in Metro Atlanta area, that the majority of these kids are not isolated. Perhaps if you are homeschooled in rural Montana, that might be the case. But, the kids I know are out and about in the community socializing, and not just with “other homeschoolers”. My son’s music class has a mixture of public school, private school and homeschooled kids.

@catlady You mention that some homeschooled children go on to be successful and some do not. And, you said, “Be sure you teach them a craft or skill so they can support themselves.” Wouldn’t you say the same exact thing about “public or private schooled children”? That some are successful and some not, and to make sure and teach them a skill. The assumption that the majority of children who attend public or private schools are successful and have jobs after school is a big fallacy. The problems with the current economy are putting a few notches in that “house of cards”, as more families realize that, after spending $100,000 or more on college, that their kids are not able to find a decent job.

There are real, historical documents throughout our nation’s history that reveal the intended purpose of school was to create a docile, work force that would “not” think for themselves, but follow orders mindlessly. Many parents and teachers don’t want to face that history and truth because it would make them feel bad about their choice to place their kids in public or private school. They have to hang on to the view that the goal is a loftier education idea, because the truth is too depressing. I encourage all parents and teachers to read some of the books that document this history, and the influence of corporate American giants on the early structure and development of the U.S. school system.

Regardless of your views on schooling or homeschooling, these books are fascinating topics of discussion, as we consider various reforms. One example: read “Weapons of Mass Instruction” to learn about the celebration of the shift from parents being the major influence over their kids to “community professionals” being predominant. And, how extra hours of school homework were intended to extend this influence into families evening time. We hang on to the belief that this “busy work” is necessary for our kids’ education and success, when the hidden motive was to keep us from having time to veer into our own independent thinking. The author thoroughly discusses various official educational and corporate documents and programs that created and influenced our current school structure. Families, teachers, principals and other administrators are often not aware of this history of the education system, but there are numerous, factual documents still out there that have been forgotten about or hidden, or dropped from the “history of education” classes. We will not have any meaningful reform of our school system without shedding a bright light on our entire history of schooling, both the good and the bad.

Gary

April 22nd, 2011
10:15 am

If you want to make public school work its starts with the parent being much more involved in their kids lives and schooling. Half the parents consider the public school system a free baby sitter for their kid. That ruins it for the other half who are there to acheive. The teachers must deal with the under acheivers and trouble makers ignoring the development needs of the better students. We teach to the lowest common denominator in the classrooom. Parents need to be involved, but most come home from work cook dinner and watch Idol. “How was school today” is not involvement. The two working parent model is killing the country and the family.

Batgirl

April 22nd, 2011
10:27 am

I just don’t know about letting young children entirely take the lead in deciding the direction of their educations. I imagine that many 7-year-olds would want to learn about ocean life from Sponge Bob.

I believe that there should be a base of knowledge that we should all be required to have as citizens of the U. S. In addition to reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, our students should be taught history, American government, world and American literature, comparative religions. These subjects help us to be good citizens. I don’t know that every kid in public or good private schools gets all this information, but at least the attempt is made to provide it. I’m guessing that even more kids who are homeschooled, unschooled or attend any of the many lesser private schools will get even less.

I’m not leaving out science and technology, I just don’t know what all I would include there.

William C Smith

April 22nd, 2011
10:27 am

What’s new about being unschooled. This has been public education for years. It all boils down to if parents want children to be educated, Many now don’t care if children learn or not. My spelling is bad, and my english also. However, our daughter went to public school and made excellent grades. The funny thing about my daughter is she said she ask me questions about her subjects, and not her teachers. She also received a masters in accounting with honors. There was also more discipline in our home than in public schools.

Tad Jackson

April 22nd, 2011
10:29 am

Call it an elite-level baby-sitting service … fine … but emphasis on elite. There are kids who will not go to college or who won’t go to college because they couldn’t survive it because of their learning, behavior, or emotional disorders. Or all three.

So why put them into a college prep program when there’s a unique, although quirky, alernative? Here’s the idea …

1. Win the lottery
2. Build a campus
3. The Quirky Academy is open to all kids equivalent to the ages of 9th to 12th graders who are definitely not going to college
4. No grades
5. No college prep degree/certification
6. But you must learn and work on two big things a day of your choice with the approval of The Quirky Academy, Monday through Friday, with the assistance of your beloved and understanding teachers
7. Fly fishing … reading great books … art … long distance running … whatever
8. Behavior problems prohibited
9. $25,000 a school year

I was recently on a long supply assignment at a school for kids with moderate to profound learning and behavior disorders and I ran that exact idea by another veteran LD teacher. She looked at me and said, “Win the lottery. It’s a great idea because it would work.”

http://www.adixiediary.com