Hey George*, You Know What I Think Is “Crazy”?

I think it’s crazy that so much of the fallout from the unschooling report on GMA has centered on how important schools are for exposing kids to things they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Uh, that was probably true in the 1800’s, when news from overseas took 2 months to get here by ship, there were no phones, and the only books that were available were in schools.

It was probably marginally true in the early 1900’s, before telegraph wires and TV’s.

Hell, I’ll even say it was a little true in the 1970’s. I remember the only exposure I had to information was either in school, the library, or through the encyclopedia set my parents bought so I could do school reports. And yes, even in middle school in the 80’s, the first time I learned about India was in my Middle School history class.

So I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the people saying school is important for exposure, because for them it probably was.

But something happened between the 80’s and 2000’s. A little something called “the internet”. And a little something else called “4930580394850 channels on cable television”. Additionally, these cool things called ‘apps’ for itouches and iphones. Furthermore, interactive book platforms like Kindle and the new ipad. Google search is something else, as well as Netflix–a place where you can order any kind of documentary/movie about just about anything.

So, with the choice of staying at a desk for approximately 7 hours a day where NONE of that is allowed and the learning is primarily out of textbooks and library books….or, being somewhere that has access to that 24/7….which is offering more exposure? This is a no brainer for me.

I could sit my kids in front of the TV for the same amount of time that they’d spend in school and they could switch between the Discovery channel, National Geographic Channel, History Channel, and 25 other ‘educational’ programs. And some days we do. But most days we’re too busy going out into the world exposing ourselves to culture, people, nature, and everyday learning experiences.
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Colorado update:
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I might see a light at the end of the tunnel. Most of my furniture is sold, and most of the things I want to keep are now in storage. Sure, it’s rainy and cold. Sure, I feel like I’m losing my mind (again). I think I’ll have this whole house moving thing wrapped up in a few days!!! Yeah!!!

Photo on 2010-04-21 at 19
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*Stephanopolous, who led off the unschooling news segment with “I’m biased, but I think this is just crazy”. Really ?! FYI George, it’s your job to report and investigate, leaving the job of judging to your viewers.

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17 Responses

  1. Right?!?! I was just thinking this too. How is it possible that the majority of people in this country rely on and take advantage of technology, yet when it comes to education they think of the same old shit?

  2. I think it is sad that so many in our society think that kids who spend much of their year in 1 room, with 1 adult teacher, learning only “approved curriculum”, with kids only their age (and most often only their socio-economic demographic) are being “introduced to the big wide world”. In my own kids’ case, they know far more about dinosaurs and prehistoric life than they ever would have been introduced to in school, and similarly for bugs and birds and a variety of natural life. This is their interest and passion, and I think something would be missing in their lives if they did not have the time to pursue these interests. School certainly wouldn’t teach them how to hand-feed a black-capped chickadee, or how to identify different species in the field, a hobby that can lead to lifelong exercise, learning and enjoyment. Not to mention many careers! My 7-year-old has recently developed an interest in comparative embryology, and with my help we’ve looked online, comparing early embryos of a variety of species. I can guarantee he wouldn’t get that in school in grade 2. So exactly how much is he missing by not having a teacher “introduce” him to a variety of topics, only some of which will catch his interest, and the rest be covered with busywork until some kind of test, after which the material will be promptly forgotten?

    The way my children are learning about the world is to spend most of their time in the world. Not by spending most of it in one room of a brick-and-mortar building, and much of the rest completing busywork (aka homework).

    And how have we come to the idea that it is primarily the schools / teachers job to introduce our kids to the “wide wonders of the world”, and not our job as parents (with the schools as, at most, one helpful resource among many)? I’ll stop ranting now; I know I am preaching to the converted on this blog. 🙂

    • I love what you said here! And I know it will help others who stumble onto the blog looking for help or answers 🙂

  3. is there a like a button? because i am hitting it repeatedly.

  4. I do not have an opinion about unschooling, I am sure it could be great sometimes and not so great other times, but I am curious about the social challenges?

    I am confident that you would find all information you need online, but what about the social interaction for your kids? The situations where they are dealing with people very unlike themselves, and situation that one would actually like to avoid (such as bullying, group pressure, teasing etc) but that one – unfortunately – learn a lot from?

    I guess my basic point is that your lifestyle seems very free and good, but how do you prepare/teach the kids about the harsher parts of life?

    (Just curious, I am not criticizing!)

    • That’s a really good question, with an answer too long for a reply here–but I’ll think about it and make it it’s own post. Being out in the world means we have social interactions with a wide variety of people in all ranges–positive and not so positive!

      Sent from my iPhone

    • I think there is a misconception about the “value” of bullying, teasing, and other cruelties. It may be true that a small minority of children use the opportunity to stand up for themselves but in general, this kind of treatment either tears children down or turns them into bullies themselves to fight back.

      In the real world, if someone physical threatens me, I have the opportunity to call the police. If someone teases me, I can confront or remove myself from the situation. There are not many people I must have in my life. I do not, usually, have to deal with that person. My children will learn to deal with such behavior by first observing myself and my husband in similiar situations. They can then utilize those lessons in their own dealings. They are not going to be shut off from society.

      • While I totally get your point, I am not sure I agree. I think there are many people in my life that I have to interact with even though I would rather not.

        There is of course always the possibility of choosing another kind of life (for example a job that demands less of me), but then not being used to different kinds of persons would be a limitation that had real impact on my life.

        I am not saying that school is the best option, but I know that in my early days in school (in quite a heterogeneous class) I came in contact with kids from totally different social groups than myself, and I saw things that I have not even been close to seeing when I grew up. I did give me a greater understanding of life that I think was very valuable.

        Bullying is of course never a good thing, but there is a point in learning how to deal with a very difficult and unfair situation, because that is something one needs.

        Maybe my real question is: How do you let the kids learn that the world is not fair?

    • I have to chime in here…it is a good question, one that comes up all the time. I can only tell you our story. We unschool our 13-year old son who has Aspergers. I feel it’s more important that he learn to be social in the real world, than in school (which some think is a microcosm of the real world, yes, but which I don’t think looks much like my world at all). Some things I do to this end are: every week we go to Barnes and Noble and sit and read and eat in the coffee shop. It is very, very hard for my son to go up and order his own food, but to varying degrees I make him do it and to varying degrees he’s willing to do it. We give him an allowance, part of which is to be used when we go out to places like Barnes and Noble (yes, I feel bad not “treating him” every time, but we do GIVE him the allowance and he needs to learn this life skill, lol). So, he orders, he pays, he enjoys his time at the bookstore. Also, we care for two infants in our home. No 7th grader in school has the experience helping to take care of babies every day like mine does. Etc. He interacts with all ages from infants up to elderly. That’s what MY real world looks like–last I looked I’ve not been living in a neighborhood of only 39-year olds. I don’t mean that to be snarky…just the truth.

  5. I feel your pain. In the United Kingdom we have recently undergone I serious review of Elective Home Education and the press have accused home educators of using HE as a cover for child abuse, peadophilia and forced marriage. It’s been a really tough year, and many, many HE parents have joined together over this in a huge campaign.

    One of the most exciting things was when HE made history as being the largest petition ever presented to parliament.
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/8848073)

    I think that the majority will always fear the minority. Sadly.

  6. it just amazes me that people think we are so radical for choosing to live in freedom! that’s what a friend said to me a couple months ago when i was trying to explain to her just what it is that we’re doing, including the fact that i never want to work for someone else, ‘wow, yeah, you really are taking this whole freedom thing pretty far! you are pretty radical artis.’ yeah, RAD!!! lol, but, it was said in sort of a puzzled way. and this is someone that i don’t think of as conservative at all.
    anyway, my point is, yes, it’s *totally crazy* how small-minded some people are, how the mass population behaves as though the way things are done now is the way they’ve *always* been done and humanity cannot function any other way (true in many areas besides ‘school’ – birth, medicine, etc.). it’s like they can’t think beyond the past 100-200 years, or discount anything beyond that because we were ‘primitive’, but we’re so ‘advanced’ now. it also stuns me that some people react with such a vehement negative reaction, and i believe it’s because they are threatened in some way by our choices. which is unfortunate. no, it’s not for everyone, but it’s a *choice*. i wrote about that here (http://boundlessvoice.blogspot.com/2010/03/return-to-freedom.html) when we returned to freedom after my daughter’s brief foray into public school (i had just found your blog and quoted you in this post, btw). that’s the beautiful thing about blogging and communication via internet is that when we share our experiences, in part we give others ‘permission’ to take the leap if they feel the inkling, and we find encouragement, and inspiration, and ideas, and new ways to do this thing called life, and living with our loved ones. even now, looking back at that post, things have changed for me with the kids, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer what unschooling really is, how awesome it is, how many beautiful gems of real-life learning happen every week. i love your blog and come here often for inspiration. thanks for being a radical human being and an awesome mom! would love to meet you and yours if you ever mozy on over to the east coast, or we to the west. good luck with wrapping up the move! ❤

    artis
    boundlessvoice.com (blog)
    BOUNDLESSphotoarts.com
    artismooney.com

  7. I have been thinking so much about your posts this week and wondering why it is so important for some people to judge and malign unschoolers and homeschooling in general. It must be based in fear I guess… fear of anything new, fear of change, fear of being responsible for keeping your child in a broken system that fails to meet his/her needs.

    It takes a fair amount of courage to reject the norm, pull your child out of public school and ssume the responsibility for their education. Buck the majority, field the criticism, and keep on keepin’ on….. We are pioneers in a way – partnering our children with all the resources available to us in the 21st century and honoring their interests and strengths in the process.

  8. Love you, Tiffani !!! ;D Just sayin’ !! ;D

  9. gah! I think your kids (and so many other unschoolering families who blog about their experiences) have had SO SO SO much more exposure to the world than most kids will have in their entire lives. It makes me so sad to think that people wouldn’t be excited about taking their kids out into the world, to national and state parks, to concerts, science/art/children’s museums to learn about things that are happening outside of the walls of a school/class room.

    I instantly thought of you and your family when I caught this segment on GMA and how sad it was that what was being portrayed was so one sided. I almost felt like I was watching a spoof it was so bad!! It also made me sad because, from what I have read, unschooling has been nothing but a blessing for Naturalist…

    hang in there Tiffani (and all you other unschoolers) We believe in you and what you are doing!

  10. My thoughts exactly!! We are in the process of relocating our family to RV life on the road and I KNOW my kids will get to experience more traveling our country than they would sitting in a desk trying to study facts from out of a textbook!

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