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Welcome to Education Alternative's Series on Homeschooling!

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Just got through reading Wendy Priesnitz piece, “Unschooling as a feminist act” that was republished in the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) Education Revolution magazine.  Wendy is a fellow comrade in the large circle of activists for education alternatives where AERO functions as part of the connective tissue among us.  Within that larger group, Wendy and I share a focus as unschooling (what she refers to as “life learning”) activists.  So I was intrigued by the title of her piece given the fact that I consider myself both a feminist and unschooling activist.

My take on Wendy's thinking here, is that she sees a connection between feminism and unschooling because both challenge our society's remaining patriarchal traditions and values that see men (particularly adult men) in the superior position to women and children in societal hierarchies of control, where “father knows best”.

Certainly our state-run public school systems in the U.S. can be viewed as hierarchical organizations with students (young people of both genders) under the authority and control of teachers (mostly adult women) who are then subject to a controlling hierarchy of authority above them.  A controlling hierarchy that becomes more male-dominated, the higher you work your way up the levels of that hierarchy to the state legislators, ed secretaries and boards at the top of the pyramid.  This is not unlike our society's political, economic and religious institutions which continue to be male-dominated (though trending in a more egalitarian direction).

Writes Wendy in her piece...

It had never occurred to me that unschooling and feminism were mutually exclusive. In fact, I am quite certain that it, in all its label-defying glory, is the ultimate feminist act, for a variety of reasons on which I’ll elaborate in this article.
In my reading of her article I would summarize those reasons as follows...

1. Our male-dominated society devalues the child-rearing function including mostly relegating it to mothers and not paying the female-dominated childcare and teaching professions comparably to more male-dominated professions

2. Feminism took a great step forward empowering women to work outside the home, but if women are to be fully empowered, they should equally be empowered to choose to focus their lives within the home raising children

3. As empowered mothers, women should not play second fiddle to the conventional wisdom of mostly male societal experts who claim to know better than those mothers what is best for their children

Addressing that first reason Wendy notes her brief experience as a teacher and later working at a daycare center...

I trained to be a teacher in 1969 but realized after just a few months that neither I nor most of the students wanted to be in the classroom. So I quit teaching. Researching a more suitable career and curious about how children learn (something that hadn’t been a major part of the teachers’ college curriculum), I spent some time working at a daycare center... But I was astonished at how undervalued and underpaid the entirely female staff was, especially for work that was so stressful and so important... and at what uninspiring places the centers were. I am a questioner by nature, and that experience inspired a lot of questions: Why was our society apparently undervaluing this work? Was it because women were doing it? Or did we value the care of the next generation so little?
Focusing on how children really learn was the great leap that humanist educator John Holt took that led him to conceive and embrace the radical concept of “unschooling” in the first place.  Weaving in her feminist consciousness, Wendy witnessed the marginalization of child development and the women who were expected to manage it.

Writing to her second reason she recalls her own parental experience...

Motherhood focused my early political consciousness. It helped me understand how the choices I make in my personal life are linked to those I make on a larger scale. I remember thinking that a mother’s body is the first environment for human life, so I’d better ensure I was providing a clean, nurturing place for my unborn child to grow, as well as ensuring a safe, respectful world for her to live in after birth. And that’s when I began to weave change-making into my life... If we reject the idea that success is only about money, we can forge new attitudes toward what’s important in life. Challenging the notion that feminism relates only to equal opportunity within the workplace and can only be obtained by a full-time paying career is controversial, but there is a growing movement that questions the tradition that well-being is based totally on economics.
I recall my own humbling experience as a parent, a male parent in my case, fathoming my responsibility to my child, a unique and complex human soul proceeding with its own development, which could be helped or hindered by my actions.  How much should I trust conventional wisdom, versus my own intuition as a separate unique soul, versus the messages my kid was giving me regarding their own take on things?  Conventional wisdom led to keeping him in school, until my own intuition based on the negative messages he was giving me overruled convention and we pulled him out.

And to her third reason she writes...

Our public school systems perpetuate social hierarchies, disempower children, coerce them – supposedly for their own good – and encourage a destructive level of consumerism and consumption. Furthermore, they are not democratic because they don’t allow children and young people to control their choices and their daily lives. School teaches submission to power based on size, age, intellect and sometimes ability to bully, and there are race, gender and class biases, and even sexual harassment. The very structure of schools delivers a hidden socioeconomic curriculum of standardization, competition and top-down management by experts.
I too made the progression from being a feminist activist to that of a youth rights activist.  The same patriarchal “us and them” thinking that has led society to disempower and marginalize women can be seen to be disempowering and marginalizing young human beings as well.  Democracy and egalitarianism does not need to end at the boundary between adulthood and youth.  A teen was not a “child” in any sense other than that of progeny and by the formalities of legal definition.

Given my own shift, surrendering the paradigm of managing my kids' lives to one of facilitating their self-management, I began to see the more conventional parenting practices along with those of conventional public schools my kids were attending as inconsistent with that facilitative paradigm.  So I resonate with Wendy when she writes...

Schools – and society in general – treat children the way women don’t want to be treated. They don’t trust children to control their own lives, to keep themselves safe and to make their own decisions. In this way, feminism and life learning are one and the same because they trust people to take the paths that suit them best.
And as Wendy sums up at the end of her piece...
It has been said that feminism is the radical notion that women are people. Even more radical, I would suggest, is the notion that was printed on a t-shirt my young daughters once shared: “Kids are people too.” At this point in history, allowing them to live and learn in the real world, unfettered by the discrimination inherent in compulsory schooling, is the best way to honor that idea. We need to find ways to make that possible without diminishing anyone else’s rights. Then we will truly be on the way to creating a more egalitarian society.
I certainly second this statement.  Even though I understand why people support compulsory schooling as a bureaucratic tool to try and ensure universal educational equality, I agree with Wendy that that compulsion diminishes our rights as individuals to control our own development.  I also agree that we all will be well served by treating our children in a more egalitarian way that more fully honors their inherent worth and dignity.  There is a lot of synergy between challenging women's “place” as second-class citizens to men and challenging young people's “place” as second-class to adults.  That said, I do acknowledge that adults have a legitimate and crucial role to play in kids' lives providing a stewardship that should not be confused with complete authority and control.

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Sexism and Patriarchy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This piece resonates with me in so many ways. (5+ / 0-)

    I didn't realize that our choice to homeschool had been an act of feminism until many years after the decision was made. But I have felt much of what Wendy and you write about - the empowerment of my children, the empowerment of myself as a mother and of my husband as a father, the strength of the family unit overall and how our strength then adds to that of any community where we live.

    My youngest son (13), my husband, and I spoke about this topic last night. I don't think my son would have ever thought to call me a feminist before the conversation (I mean, I am his mom after all and labels tend not to come alongside that definition) but I think now he will. And I also think he is beginning to realize that he is a feminist as well though the label will be a longtime coming.

  •  It really boils down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosabw

    to the "me" generation and greed.  In the past, leaders thought of the future of the Country and leaving a legacy for the next generation.  Today's leaders can't think past their next buck.  They don't care what kind of Country they are leaving, they don't care what the future leaders will be left with, they certainly don't care about young people - they only care about their bigger house and what elite party they will be attending on the weekend.

  •  I have said in other forums that Home Schooling (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, rosabw, Renee, FloridaSNMOM

    was an innately political act, and that in our household a facet of our Feminism. A few got that, but most didn't want to or just didn't.

    I have worked Feminism into our Humanities and History, so that they get a dose of the usual, and then they get, as Paul Harvey might say, "The Rest of the Story."

  •  i have a couple questions (0+ / 0-)

    is your objection to heirarchy or just to those who dominate the top?

    Do you believe young people should be equal to adults despite the fact that young people are entirely dependant on adults and adults are legally responsible for the young?

    •  I can't answer for Lefty, but this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reconnected, angelajean, gramofsam1
      That said, I do acknowledge that adults have a legitimate and crucial role to play in kids' lives providing a stewardship that should not be confused with complete authority and control.
      I think we do have a responsibility to steward, not control out children. The end of autocratic controlling is often "kicking the damn kid out of the house".  That's NOT taking responsibility.  The grown up has to be just that.

      If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

      by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 07:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  rosabw... Can you unpack your last couple lines? (0+ / 0-)

        And elaborate on your thoughts here a bit more.  I was not clear what you are trying to say!

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 08:29:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

          I read your piece about taking your son out of school.  I have a very similar story, so far as my own son is concerned.  I took him out of school for love of him, against all the advice of the experts, especially the prick psychiatrist who believed in tough love.  I wasn't raised that way, and I couldn't do it to my kid.

          I grew up in a very democratic household, although I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.  Still, at the time, I knew kids whose parents were using "tough love", beating their kids, or kicking them out of the house for digressions.  I knew I was lucky.  I never wanted to run away from home.  Hell, I didn't want to leave home, but  I felt like I had to, eventually.  All these kids had one thing in common.  Their parents saw them as "bad kids".  With my super adult powers of observation, I can see that the parents had a pretty big denial system intact.  They couldn't admit they were failures as parents.

          Schools fail kids.  It's a double, possibly triple entendre.  Are they any different than the parents who refused to deal with their difficult kids?  

          I'm pretty scatterbrained.  I hope that makes sense.  

          If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

          by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 09:27:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That does make sense! Thanks for clarifying... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean

            I sensed some emotion between the lines in your terse initial comment.  It sounds like your experience and mine were similar in many ways, including how we were raised by our parents, and not fully appreciating how unique that was until much later.

            I keep saying it is the students, parents and teachers that should be running the schools, but your comment speaks to parents who maybe are more part of the problem than part of the solution.  I'll have to ponder that one!

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 10:01:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I would offer however that our culture sets many (4+ / 0-)

            parents up for failure, just as the schools set children up for failure.

            Without a living wage, or affordable housing or healthcare, there will always be parents who are going to have to choose feeding their child over direct *stewardship.

            There are only so many hours in a day, and they have to sleep some time.

            So until this culture addresses time poverty, and how it perpetuates the cycle of poverty, I doubt that there will be a lot of improvement within what passes for our conventional school system now.

            So much of success or failure not on rests upon the child's ability to conform with peer and systemic expectations, but also on the parent's access to resources and a trustworthy, and capable support system.

            •  Time poverty... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, Renee

              that is an excellent comment and something that I think we need to write about further.

            •  I hear a lot of teachers lately talking about how (0+ / 0-)

              they can't do everything and how parents are supposed to be responsible for helping the kids with school. I sympathize with them because they are in the hot spot for the failures of the system, many of which aren't their fault.

              But I keep thinking about the struggles of many parents just to keep kids fed and with shelter and I see them stretched to the breaking point.

              Personally I would love it if both groups just stopped trying to hard. Then we would see a more realistic view of the problems inherent in the way we are doing things. It is to the credit of both groups that they are taking up so much slack that we can't see the clear picture now.

              Poverty = politics.

              by Renee on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 04:47:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Good questions yours... here are my thoughts... (4+ / 0-)

      My objection to hierarchy is regardless of who dominates the top.  "Power corrupts", which is a bit of conventional wisdom that I happen to agree with.  Hierarchies are generally about control from the top down, and I believe they are increasingly be found to be an outmoded form of governance.  What we are learning to be more effective is what they often refer to in the business world of "flattening the org chart", which generally include empowering the people at the bottom to be real decision-makers rather than relying in "bosses" up the "food chain" for all key decisions.

      I believe young people can be much closer to equal with adults than many adults currently engage with them.  You rightly point out the legal issue or responsibility, but I would not agree with you that kids are "entirely dependent" on adults.  I think that is a conventional wisdom in our culture that I do not agree with.  From my experience, by say age 5, most kids can begin to control aspects of their lives, and that control can broaden as they approach our society's designated somewhat artificial age of majority.

      Thanks for you comment and your questions and I would love to continue this discussion thread with your further thoughts, if you are interested in sharing more!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 08:26:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This isn't about legal responsibility, (6+ / 0-)

      it's about trusting kids instead of trying to control them. Or coercing with threats of punishments. That thread runs through all of Wendy's writing and the writings of many others in this space.

      It's also about listening. Kids - and all humans - act out because they are confused, hurt, frustrated, but lack the skills or the right words at the right time to express themselves in better ways.

      Once you start listening and trusting, you will find yourself faced with creative and responsible human beings that really don't need the sort of governance we assume they do.

      Many parents and schools in general operate on the belief that kids will misbehave, so set rules accordingly -- or they take the few worst examples and set rules to avoid the unwanted behavior from anyone else without looking into the backgrounds of the worst examples (maybe these kids come from abusive families, etc and need more help and compassion).

      We have a couple of programs where I live for kids who have been let down by the system -- one where kids work together to run a CSA garden and build backyard gardens for low-income families. The results of this program are amazing - and the results come from fostering mutual respect and a belief that these kids are capable of succeeding.

      Mutual respect is key in a good relationship with kids and it's key to allowing them to flourish. Unfortunately, it's one of the hardest things for many to put into practice.

      Mutual respect is what is missing when you get into conversations about kids rights, women's rights -- any "radical" notion that we are all -- regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnic origin, etc, etc, etc -- people.

  •  I must say I'm relieved at Wendy's feminism ideals (4+ / 0-)

    I might be included, for once.  I'm not typical.  I guess I'm more of a humanist.

    I read your son's story, about the negative messages he was giving you, and your shame at falling for the advice of "experts" and not listening to what your child (or your heart) were trying to tell you.  Your  child will be your child, long after the "experts" have collected their fee and moved on.

    If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

    by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 07:20:48 AM PDT

    •  Feminism is applying humanism to women too... (5+ / 0-)

      IMO at least.  There is a lot in Wendy's piece that I did not focus on in my diary about challenging feminist "orthodoxy" by being a stay-at-home mom, I was more interested in exploring the feminism to unschooling connection.

      As to my son Eric, it was a very difficult and stressful time for me, feeling more like a truant agent for the state of California than his parent.  But it was important developmentally for me that Eric never "knuckled under" and I was force to apply my critical activist eye to this institution I was  "committing" my son to.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 08:16:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You did do her piece justice. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

        I've got to go back and read it.

        The things about "institutions'" is that the administration like things to run smoothly.  With NCLB and zero-tolerance, kids being raised by drugs and psychiatrists...all meant to make things better, have just tightened the demands on kids.  It's kind of a hostile territory for them now.

        My son would love you.  He thinks kids should be taught to think for themselves in school so they can take part in a democracy as adults.  No wonder he had to go...

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 09:57:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have been ranting about the patriarchy since (0+ / 0-)

        I was 9. I was shocked when I discovered the concept of women's studies. And yet, I was a stay at home mom all the way through my kid's childhood. And it bit me in the ass in the typical earning money is power in this culture way.

        But I would do it again. Now I am learning to find multiple income streams and work in small projects that teach me skills and give me an idea of which financial direction I want to go. Of course my kids are hearing about this journey. I hope for them (although I am not telling them this) that they figure out how to have income streams that allow them to parent in a more present way than a traditional job will allow.

        It has made me laugh hollowly a time or two though. Now that I'm going through with the divorce I am classified as a "displaced homemaker" on official forms. It's like I'm living in the 70's. I guess I need to read more of Wendy's work.

        Poverty = politics.

        by Renee on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 04:57:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great homage to Wendy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosabw, angelajean, Renee

    and her wisdom. I look to her writing and the writings of others that she collects for inspiration and support all the time.

  •  It's all of a piece. (6+ / 0-)

    One topic today on a unschooling discussion list is what to do when the 5-year-old uses less-than-kind words. The Mom is struggling to let go of the old top-down punish-and-demand routine and evolve into a respectful and loving approach with her child and his siblings. It takes a while to see how all of this is connected, how the Moms can be feminists, expecting to be valued and respected and, in turn, how the Moms can respect and love and value and support their children. And how that will, eventually, lead to a kinder and more peaceful household.

  •  a few thoughts. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosabw, angelajean

    The straw man built about public school education here is insulting. For the record, I'm a male elementary school teacher. Last I checked, punishment isn't my first choice to get a kid to do what I want them to. The first choice is to give them reasons by making an activity intrinsically rewarding. The next is to give them respect. The next is encouragement. I have to go super far down the list before I get to punishment, and that's maybe happened twice all year, not that it works, but with some families' kids it's the only thing that gets their attention.

    Also, commentators in this thread have suggested the problem is that we don't listen to the children. What an asinine and insulting thing to say. Having a set curriculum doesn't mean we're teaching machines who ignore children - the curriculum is something that's been researched, repeatedly refined, and always consults best practices and current research. We do that because we're freaking experts. We revise it constantly - I'm on a committee to do that for my district this summer.

    I can listen to kids and cajole and persuade them - that's my job - but at the end I'm going to give them a framework so they can understand the wealth of knowledge that previous generations have left them and build that knowledge for themselves.

    Re: patriarchy - are you kidding me? The head of a classroom (although my classroom is pretty collaborative) is the teacher - predominantly female especially at the elementary level. Her boss as elementary principal is also likely to be female. You think second graders in this system are sitting around saying to themselves, "sure, I'm being led by females at every level here, but just wait for high school when the men are in charge?" What? If anything, K-8 students are being taught that society, or at least education is female-dominated. Also, some here are claiming that the curriculum is being generated by male experts - again, this is total crap. Education researchers generally come from teaching. Teaching is a profession that skews female. Thus, most education research and publishing is currently being done by women. We base our conclusions for curriculum and teaching off research. Where is the patriarchy here?

    Last, democracy in education - I see the most extreme statements in regard to this. Most people that think we're fascists don't realize that we often work by giving kids choices. That we teach how to make choices. That we provide group projects so they have to make choices together. That the entire school system is designed to nuture independence in children.

     This contrasts with those who say "unschooling" is going to let their little darlings chose exactly what they want. It's like you don't understand that children largely believe whatever their parent believe until their late teens to twenties. They're simply choosing whatever you want them to, or making limited choices from within whatever is in your sphere, and you marvel at how independent they are - because you can't see past yourselves. You know what makes independent thought? Being confronted with ideas you reject AS WELL as ideas you like.  This isn't even addressing the issue that kids may not know what they want to need to learn because they've not yet constructed for themselves a sufficient framework of knowledge. Because you have, you can't always see that they don't have that yet.

    But by all means - assume that I have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, because I'm been studying it for decades. I'll just be over here.

    •  Want to acknowledge your comprehensive critique... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reenactor, Renee, angelajean

      of these ideas that Wendy and I share and that you take strong issue with.  I think each one of your thoughts is the starting point of an important discussion about these issues of engagement between youth and adults.  I hope I have time today to reply myself and I hope others will do so in the spirit of open discussion.

      Thanks for your comment!  I am pondering a reply.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 10:29:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My husband and I were both teachers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      My husband wrote an 8th grade Social Studies curriculum for the state of South Carolina.

      He was  middle school  Science/social studies/history teacher in Kansas for 10 years, and had a lot of success.  Other than parenting...teaching has to be among the most difficult jobs there is.  I heard it put the other day...

      teaching isn't rocket science, it's more difficult.
      The thing that some of us have in common here is:  we have kids who learn outside the lines...our precious little "special" darlings.  You know, the ones they put on drugs and into special ed classes sometimes?  Well, it was that way for my son, so I'll speak for myself.  We saw things exactly the same way you do.  But then something happened.  We became one of the "others".  We sat in on the other side of an IEP meeting.

      With all of your sanctimonious bloviating tell me now...how do you treat the kids who aren't a cap in your feather?

      If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

      by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 10:31:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jesus, that's what I get for letting my blood (0+ / 0-)

        pressure rise up.  Gonna be kinda hard for you to take me seriously now....a cap in your feather...heh, heh,...uhm...I'll go wait in the corner....

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 10:34:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right. (0+ / 0-)

          It is going to be hard for me to take you seriously. I'd like to, but you didn't really address anything of substance that I wrote. In fact, you made a number of unwarranted assumptions about who I'm interested in teaching. It's okay - if you have something to say about something specific I wrote, I'd be happy to respond to anything you have to say.

          •  school isn't for everyone (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, FloridaSNMOM, Renee

            I made no unwarranted assumptions about who you are interested in teaching.  I just made observations of my own path, just as you did yours.  The school rejected my son, as they have many boys. It's only getting worse.  Something has to change.  

            Maybe it's my own parenting.  I'm doing the best I can, just as you are.  I've no doubt you are dedicated. So am I.

            I will address this:

            This contrasts with those who say "unschooling" is going to let their little darlings chose exactly what they want.
            Now, that's possibly addressed by my post.

            I would have LOVED for my son to complete his schooling at the public school.  He would have graduated this week.  

            He had a label, he took drugs....he felt "bullied by the curriculum"  Just couldn't give any more.  It's a wonderful system for you, but not for everybody.

            Tell me about the kids you are interested in teaching.  Because if it's kids like my son, maybe we can work something out...but he's doing okay now, finished his first year of tech college studying industrial electronics and getting his GED this summer.  So, my little darling is still moving forward.

            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

            by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 11:42:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Near the end... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rosabw, Renee

              You wondered what I did about the students who weren't a "feather in my cap".  What did you mean by that? I think in that you're reading some assumptions of yours into my teaching. I'm personally there much more for the kids that don't immediately take to school than the "star" students. I'm a music specialist, and I see those kids all the time. Some of my kids this year went to conservatory, some went to college for other things, one left a semester early, got her GED, and is now touring. One is off to the Army. I'm equally proud of all of them. Often times, classes like mine (arts) will keep some kids in school where other classes won't. Of course, some kids just show up for science - we don't have a monopoly on motivation here.

              What did it take to get that confrontational about public schools? I'm looking at some of your other language. "Labeled".  We use "identified", for kids that are struggling or excelling at various aspects of school, because it's an indicator that we should look as using a wide variety of strategies and resources to help. "Labeled" to me sounds like something that's had a sticker put on it and is put on a shelf someplace. That's totally not our approach. What happened?

              Industrial electronics huh? He would have loved our robotics program. Computer programming is in middle school now here. I bet he would have ran across a lot of kids much like him.  Hopefully he's doing well.
               

              •  He did love the robotics program. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, Renee

                He had lots of labels.  He was in a special class  for the behaviorally disordered for a mod a day, and went there to take tests, etc.

                He had an IEP, took ritalin.  We quit because when we went to the patch, he started hallucinating and it scared the hell out of us.  We took him off everything, cold turkey.  He got suspended 2 times, a third in the works the last month of 8th grade.  Once for calling a kid who  called him a "retard" trailer trash.  (I know I'm sick, but I was proud of him.  It was his Dad's fault.  He had referred to a singer he thought was a bimbo as that just a few days earlier.)  School had always been difficult.  We couldn't give him ritalin at night because it would have meant giving him a drug to go to sleep, so we worked 4 or 5 hours a night some times, on homework, in grade school.  When in 5th grade he had a teacher I suspected of being Dyslexic herself, he brought home homework 10 days the whole year, tops. (I call it the year I could breathe.  Even just thinking of it now, I sigh...)

                Dear reenactor, thanks for your post, thanks for your interest.  See, the thing is, since we left that oppressive system...although I'm sure nobody did it on purpose or had any idea how hard it was...since we've left, there has been no ritalin, no IEPs...no trouble.

                If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

                by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 12:48:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  "oppressive system" (0+ / 0-)

                  from earlier on, "only getting worse". How do you know the latter? Your kid's not there anymore. "Oppressive system". How many schools did you try? I bet one, and that's okay, it's hard to switch districts and not everyone can afford Montessori or Waldorf schools or a commute for their kid. Did you try computer based curriculum from home? Possibly not offered in your district, right? We do those things. Not all districts are the same. Not all teachers are the same. Just like not all parents are the same. You know that districts are moving toward no homework or no graded homework, right? You got a bad deal, sure, but to parley those experiences into "public school and public school teachers are oppressive, callous and controlling" as so many in this thread are is hardly fair - and not informed.

                  •  Computer-based (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    FloridaSNMOM

                    -- either full-time following the ps curric or part-time as a supplement to the other things they are doing -- programs have been available for a while here (FL).

                    Many hsers and unschoolers use these options, for one class, several or their whole curric. They are another option in the world for hsers and can be discarded if they don't fit a particular child.

                    Many things are more palatable if you are doing them as a real choice so even unschoolers, who don't follow a set curric, may be comfortable using the tools of an online course if they are interested and making the choice freely.

    •  I'm sorry you feel insulted (6+ / 0-)

      and I suspected that some people might.  It is not my intention to be insulting when advocating for unschooling or agreeing with pieces such as this.

      To be honest, the paradigms and points of views are so different that I've wondered how those of us with these differing views can really understand each other.

      As I read what you wrote what jumps out at me is your saying you are the expert and that drives what you do.  This is a very basic disagreement in how we approach young people.  I believe that each individual is the expert on themselves...that human beings are born with the innate drive and curiosity to learn, to explore their environment and to strive to become effective adults.  That the job of adults is to provide a resource rich environment (and then get out of the way) in which youth can continue to develop and unfold according to that innate map, in an environment that is supportive and respectful and loving.

      I don't believe you can make an activity intrinsically rewarding...it either is or isn't to any particular individual.  You say you are trying to get kids to do what you want them to do.  I take issue with that.  To me that sounds manipulative and controlling.

      I also take issue with referring to researched curriculum and best practices.  I feel that a lot of this research is done according to assumptions and biases that get results that fit those assumptions...assumptions that kids have to be taught by an expert, that they have to be grouped by ages, that they have to learn in pieces day by day, that they have to artificially stop activities to go on to others, etc. etc. Also, I did a quick search and I think male principals still outnumber female.  

      I also find it hard to believe that 'Thus, most education research and publishing is currently being done by women."  Most teachers are female but that doesn't mean that the people who run schools of education, that the people who become professors who do research are women.  But also, many of the women in the profession have bought into the patriarchal paradigm themselves, in fact that is typical of how oppressive systems work.  And it is a system we are looking at, one that is built on the foundation of patriarchy's command and control.

      I don't agree that our focus should be on giving "... them a framework so they can understand the wealth of knowledge that previous generations have left them and build that knowledge for themselves."  We are in an information age where they can access that knowledge.  I think our focus should be on promoting the unfolding of the uniqueness of each individual and the development of agency that happens through true intrinsic motivation.

      I will choose not to feel insulted by you calling my children "little darlings" (they are now young adults...we frequently get unsolicited feedback about how thoughtful, knowledgeable, considerate, intelligent, poised, etc. they are and we enjoy them immensely).  It is true that our kids believe a lot of what we believe but that doesn't mean we led them into limited choices.  

      What I think makes independent thought, is being independent.  You say that your school nurtures independence but isn't it true that you are the one calling the shots?  That you and the school tell your students where to be at what times, what to be doing when, what the consequences are of breaking your rules, what they should be studying and how to be studying, etc?  In my mind that is not nurturing independence.  To me, the choice of which required project to do or which book to read of a preset list is not true choice.  What if the student doesn't want to read any of the books on the list?  Or doesn't want to read right now at all?

      I do appreciate your spending the time to respond to what you see as disrespectful to you.  I disagree with so much of how education is done that when I talk about it I can see how it could be perceived as putting down the people involved in it.  I do believe you are doing what you think is not only best, but also beneficial for students.  I've had a paradigm shift where I just no longer believe those delivery methods are best or beneficial.  It doesn't mean I think you are a bad person.

      •  it's a parent's job (0+ / 0-)

        to set boundaries.if you had a 6 year old who wanted to have sex would you let them?

        •  If I have a 6 year old (7+ / 0-)

          who wants to have sex, my problems are bigger than setting boundaries.  Unless a child has been sexually abused, they probably aren't going to even be aware of those "desires".

          If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

          by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:37:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed, it is a parent's job to set boundaries... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, rosabw, Renee

          But as an unschooler I try to set as few boundaries as possible and make those I set define as large a space as possible within those boundaries.  My goal is to give the kid, as much as is possible, as much room to maneuver, opportunity to direct their own path, and the opportunity to fail, within the constraints of resources and safety.  

          Sometimes there is some risk involved in that, but there is also great reward.  I remember when we first let our 16-year-old daughter navigate three freeways to drive herself to her best friend's house a half hour away.  We had been with her several times when she had driven the route, but being able to do it herself was a big thing in her own mind towards being responsible for her own life, and you could see her development go up into a higher gear after that.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:55:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  So what you're saying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rosabw, AaronInSanDiego

        Is that studying and practicing something for decades, with accompanying academic work, research, and collaboration with other expert practitioners - that doesn't make someone's opinion weightier on some subjects than others? Cool - next time, be sure and have a banker do your heart surgery for you. Or is it just the teaching profession that you have singled out for your scorn?

        I do consider a framework of knowledge rooted in logic, reason, rhetoric, and the sciences important for everybody, yes. Maybe that's why I may not be swayed by your feelings and "Internet  searches" as much as research. For example, this study http://www.naesp.org/...

        That clearly points out not only a majority of elementary principals are female, but that this reality is steadily trending.

        Also, check this out: it's a list of biographies of recent speakers at an Ed conference. You'll surely notice the gender balance. http://ies.ed.gov/...

        I think if your first argument about the lack of independence in a school is that is has a schedule, like many things in life, that you may not have many more developed ones. I'm guessing in reference to reading, that personally I would often rather do other things than my job requirements - but if I want to do well by my students, I suck it up and do them. Also, while I may not want to read a particular book, I may become a better person through reading it - and I might even enjoy it by the end. Even though call of duty might seem a better choice on the face of it, I may learn something and even benefit from the completion of an unpleasant task.

        Last, what causes independent thought is thinking. There's this guy named Bloom that did a little research on it. He made a taxonomy of learning that places synthesis of ideas at the top. You get synthesis of ideas through taking the ideas of others, accepting some parts, rejecting others, and combining what's left. Without other people's ideas, no synthesis. So I reject your argument.

        •  We generally consult "experts" as adults... (6+ / 0-)

          when there is particular information they have that we are interested in, some of which we may agree or disagree with.  That said, we generally don't consult experts to tell us what we should be interested in or what we should be spending our time doing.  We are generally given the respect and dignity to figure that out for ourselves.

          As an unschooler, I would say that that process of figuring out for yourself what is important to you to learn about and freely launching into that pursuit is the single most important part of the educational process, and is something that is intrinsic to human nature and cannot be taught.  It just needs to be practiced and perfected.

          We are not dissing you as a teacher or your wisdom in the areas of your expertise!  We are dissing a system that pushes kids in front of you that may not be interested in your expertise and are likely to disrespect it with their indifference.  As they say, "when the student is ready the teacher will come".

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:22:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did you go to college? (0+ / 0-)

            Do you ever read encyclopedia articles? Summaries of a field in a book? A synopsis or a time period? A history book?

            Any time you do, you're trusting an expert to tell you what you should be interested in about a particular subject. If you've taken any technical training or courses, you've let that expert tell you what you should spend your time doing. Have you really found no use in this activity, or are you perhaps being a bit hypocritical?

            Do you choose which books are in your home? Do you ever stop your child from watching inappropriate things on the internet? Wait, then, aren't you violating the respect and dignity of your unschooled learner? Forgive me, I'm just trying to understand here.

            I give my students plenty of respect and dignity to figure out conclusions for themselves. I just think there's some value in them learning about and within the context of the knowledge produced by the culture they grew up in. You don't, then?

            •  College? Yes & I consult experts all the time... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected, angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

              I went to college and I chose to take a range of classes in subjects that interested me.  In fact college is generally a better model for formal learning because the learner generally decides what to learn, and generally when, where and from whom. If I didn't connect with a teacher I could drop their class and take it taught be someone else.

              What college did not do was force me to cede control of my learning to educational authority figures on the grounds that they knew better than I what my appropriate developmental path was.

              That said, I have not been in a formal classroom as a student in about 27 year, but I have done more learning, particularly in the past six or seven years on my own informally than I ever did in college, where I would still tend to fall into the bad habit, learned in K-12 schools, to learn something only as far as the instructor required to get a good grade in the class.  I got into a very bad habit of focusing on performing rather than maximum learning.

              I don't recall in their school years my own kids being exposed much to a range of views and opinions in school.  There was generally one sanitized view of things in the textbooks they had to read, and that was pretty much it.  They had to get their "second opinions" outside of school from their parents and other adults that they dialogued with.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 08:54:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  in those classes... (0+ / 0-)

                Professors controlled curriculum. They determined what you would learn and often what conclusions you would draw from it. Those evil people. You also have some general university requirements. Did those harm you? Did they help you? I'm curious.

                If you let your learning be limited by grades, you missed the point as a kid. That's not my fault as a teacher. It's not even the system's fault.

                •  Intrinsic motivation (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  Again, if you are the one truly choosing your goal, and to get to that goal you have to put up with general university requirements you might not like, and put up with some professors you might not like, you do it because it gets you to your goal!  That is what intrinsic motivation is all about.

                  My kids decided they didn't want to put up with it and it wouldn't serve their goals so they chose not to go to college.  My son started a business with a couple of close friends (that unfortunately tanked in the the Great Recession) but what he learned from it, in his eyes, amounted to college.  My daughter spent the time learning about the work world and becoming a writer.  She is finishing the first book in a trilogy and aiming to start looking for an agent and publisher soon.

                  I have two master's degrees because I jumped through all those hoops and knew how to be a good student, but that doesn't mean I learned what I truly wanted.

                  If you let your learning be limited by grades, you missed the point as a kid. That's not my fault as a teacher. It's not even the system's fault.
                  Have to run but would like to talk about this later if I have time...I truly can't see how it's not the system's fault.  Grades are the system.
                •  So a child motivated (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  by gold stars and grades is some sort of exception and not the usual product of the system?

                  Maybe you live and work in fortunate circumstances. Maybe the children who come to you genuinely want to learn the standards covered in your class. Count yourself lucky.

            •  I hope you really are trying to understand. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              This is a mind-bending area for many people.

              Books -- who chooses? A good topic. My preference is to give a child a library card and let them choose books. Many parents freak out at this idea. They have some idea that the kids will choose the "wrong" books. My idea is that I am right there with the child and can help him without forcing him into some preconceived idea I have about what he should like.

              I don't think anyone here is suggesting that children shouldn't grow up aware of the world around them, that we don't value learning, that prior knowledge isn't a good thing. I believe the quibble is with the standards committee deciding which jot or tittle should be deemed "right" for each child at each moment of his life.

              The next argument you should bring up is that schools teach a common base of knowledge for a community.

            •  You don't sound like you're trying to understand (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected, FloridaSNMOM

              anything. It does sounds like you're an expert that already knows everything and doesn't have much interest in learning anything new.

        •  Scorn? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, Renee

          "to treat or regard with contempt or disdain"...  So my disagreement with a lot of how education is delivered is interpreted by you as scorn.  I don't think I'm being disdainful or contemptuous but I agree that it could be seen that way...apparently you see it that way.

          I had looked at an earlier naesp study that showed mostly more male principals through 1998.  From the later one you reference I see that it is now reversed...but was male dominant for almost 80 years.  In the list of speakers at the Ed conference I count 33 speakers, 9 of them women.

          About schedule, having to suck it up, becoming a better person by being forced to do what you don't want to do, etc.  I no longer believe that being compelled to do things against our will is the best way for humans to develop.  We are so adaptable that most of us get through that process in fairly good shape, but many don't at all.  And why settle for fairly good.  When our learning happens through our free will, through true choice and interest and passion, then we not only learn the content, we learn the process of learning...and we often, through that intrinsic process, learn to impose schedules on ourselves because it serves our ends, we learn to evaluate how well we're doing because we genuinely want to be good at it, we dive deep and work hard...because we want to!  No one has to cajole us when we follow that path.  We learn for ourselves the value of what might be an unpleasant task, because we freely choose to.

          We were talking about both independent thought and independence.  From what you wrote, I focused on independence.  But about independent thought, are you suggesting that synthesis of ideas occurs only in a formal instructional setting?  "You get synthesis of ideas through taking the ideas of others, accepting some parts, rejecting others, and combining what's left. Without other people's ideas, no synthesis. "  Are you saying that in unschooling there is no exposure to other people's ideas?  I'm kind of speechless at that.  I'm not sure you are familiar with how unschooling works?

          •  independent thought (0+ / 0-)

            No, synthesis does not occur only in a formal setting; what reasonable person would claim that? However, learning with others is more conducive to confronting alien ideas than learning by one's self in the context of one's family.

            So learning shouldn't include any sort of acculturation? Learning shouldn't include learning how to be responsible to others for product and timelines? Really?

            Are you living 80 years in the past, then, or are you living now? Is only a 50/50 gender balance acceptable? What precise percentage do you require?

            •  Unschooling is also called "life learning".... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected, angelajean

              by some, because it is all about leading a life out in the real world and being exposed to all those real world elements.  For my own kids much of their version of the "real world" was foreign to me (though not anymore since here I am on DKos) because it included various online communities on the Internet, usually around massive multiplayer role-playing games.  It also involved participating in the leadership of a Unitarian-Universalist older youth community, which included setting up and running conferences and camps.

              I document my kids major "life learning" projects in the following pieces... http://www.leftyparent.com/... and http://www.leftyparent.com/...

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:01:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This is something (0+ / 0-)

                that can't happen to kids when they go to school? Something that can't happen after school?  And, you missed more of my questions. Hard to have a conversation when direct questions are ignored.

                •  It can happen in school & after school... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean

                  if school does not monopolize too much of the after school time.  A good class that you want to take can always be a good thing.  As they say, "when the student is ready the teacher will come".  I just don't think it should be "when the teacher is ready the student must come".  That's the wrong person behind the developmental wheel IMO.

                  I would not advocate unschooling for everybody all the time.  Sometimes it is easier  and more effective to give the keys to your developmental vehicle to someone else to take you for a "wild ride", but again on your schedule, not theirs.

                  Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                  by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:19:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  erm (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosabw

                    Still missed the questions from earlier. Not really interested in dialogue, then? Would rather just make your points?

                    Most districts are now moving away from homework altogether or as a graded activity. We do this because that's what the research says is a good idea. Sounds like you don't really have any problems with a modern public school.

                    •  I am always interested in dialog!... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angelajean
                      So learning shouldn't include any sort of acculturation?
                      I think it does when you learning out in the real world out where culture is actually playing out.  Reading about culture is one thing, being involved out in the culture is another.
                      Learning shouldn't include learning how to be responsible to others for product and timelines? Really?
                      Life involves time lines at times, so "life learning" can easily include time lines as well.

                      I was involved in a youth theater group during my late teen and young adult years where we put on ten or so plays a year and where we worked collaboratively and put on shows that were scheduled months in advance.  We acted, directed, built the sets, built the costumes and had to have it all come together by show time.  There were only two "adults" in the whole company, 99% of the work was done by kids. http://www.leftyparent.com/...

                      Are you living 80 years in the past, then, or are you living now?

                      I am living now, immersed in our amazing new electronic media juiced culture. http://www.leftyparent.com/...

                       Is only a 50/50 gender balance acceptable? What precise percentage do you require?

                      I am looking for institutions that facilitate a "circle of equals" and a full partnership between men and women, adults and youth.

                      http://www.leftyparent.com/...

                      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                      by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:48:13 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  still dodging. (0+ / 0-)

                        1/3 female isn't enough. How much? Or are you dropping the charge that ed research is male-dominated? Because you're pivoting to a different issue.

                        The 80 years was in reference to your idea that there was a dearth of female elementary principals. Elementary principals are in fact majority female now. Are you still asserting that education practice is male dominated at the elementary level? You're using my words to pivot to a different issue.

                        My statement about timelines and responsibility was is reference to a curriculum and work assigned by a teacher or in a collaborative environment. You told me about a theatre show. That's great, sounds like a good thing. Do you want to address my point or pivot away again?

                        •  You may be write about the female principals... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          angelajean

                          I'll stand corrected on that!

                          Honestly, when you write...

                          My statement about timelines and responsibility was is reference to a curriculum and work assigned by a teacher or in a collaborative environment. You told me about a theatre show. That's great, sounds like a good thing. Do you want to address my point or pivot away again?
                          I feel like you continue to accuse me of bad faith and being disingenuous in this discussion.  That frustrates me!

                          I bring up the theater experience because that was my venue, rather than school, to learn to collaborate with my peers on projects where we shared an interest in the goal.  In that venue, we set natural deadlines for ourselves and worked our butts off to meet those deadlines!

                          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                          by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 10:16:31 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, so you don't know much about unschooling (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean, moira977, FloridaSNMOM

              Otherwise you would know that at it's best it's about living life now, fully, not waiting and practicing for some later future as an adult.  You would know that it's not simply "learning by one's self in the context of one's family."  In fact that statement is one of the stereotypes we often hear and along with other stereotypes is one of the reasons we started this Saturday morning series, to help people more fully understand what it is all about.  We're working on better organizing the pieces written to date so people can access them by subject...such as socialization, or personal stories of why people are doing it.

              That living fully includes all kinds of experiences, both at home and out in the world, sometimes by oneself but also very much with others in all kinds of contexts whether classes, lessons, camps, projects, and on and on.

              I'm not sure from what I've said why you would think it's about not including any sort of acculturation.  I understand that most people don't know what that might look like out side of the a classroom but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen in different ways.

              Learning shouldn't include learning how to be responsible to others for product and timelines? Really?
              Here's where we're continuing to not understand each other.  I never said or meant to imply that learning shouldn't include being responsible to others for product or timelines.  I'm saying that I think there are two main ways of learning that...one through extrinsic motivation and one through intrinsic motivation.  

              School is all about extrinsic motivation.  I object to students being told what and how and when they have to deliver and defining responsibility as complying with doing what others are saying they have to do...if they don't comply they are defined as irresponsible.

              To me, intrinsic motivation is more supportive of genuine human development (have you read Alfe Kohn?).  When people are immersed in activities and learning of their choosing, that they deeply care about, they have ownership of it and they experience through their own agency the results of that.  When they accomplish something they know the feeling of it through their own direction.  If they fail to accomplish what they wanted, they learn from that as well...they own the learning and all the related process learning that comes from it.  In my view that is very powerful.

              They learn the process of learning, which then applies to everything they do.  As to questions about the necessity of learning things they might not choose to: when people learn this process of learning and truly develop their own agency, they usually don't develop the resistance to doing/learning things that people who are made to things against their will do (in other words, they don't need to rebel or resist).  So they are much more open.  If they decide much later that they want to go to college and study something they haven't had the preparation for, they find a way to do it because now they are motivated to, they are choosing to and they know they can do it.

              Reenactor, I'm sorry if I'm explaining this poorly.  I need to work on getting better at it.  But I've lived it with my two kids who went to public school and then unschooled and it's just a whole different way of being in the world.  Read John Holt's How Children Fail.  Read any of the myriad of unschooling sites that define it and give personal stories.

              The main difference is the perspective...who owns the learning?  And it's all about trust and respect...not that we as the all knowing adults choose to bestow or not on young people, but that which is naturally owed to each other, no matter the age, simply as humans.

        •  Expertise (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, leftyparent, Renee
          So what you're saying

          Is that studying and practicing something for decades, with accompanying academic work, research, and collaboration with other expert practitioners - that doesn't make someone's opinion weightier on some subjects than others? Cool - next time, be sure and have a banker do your heart surgery for you. Or is it just the teaching profession that you have singled out for your scorn?

          What I'm saying is that I think it's more nuanced than what you are saying.

          Did your decades of studying include the works of people such as those listed in the following Wikipedia entry?:

          While pedagogical controversy is very old, "alternative education" presupposes some kind of orthodoxy to which the alternative is opposed. In general, this limits the term to the last two or perhaps three centuries, with the rise of standardized and, later, compulsory education at the primary and secondary levels. Many critics in this period have suggested that the education of young people should be undertaken in radically different ways than ones in practice. In the 19th century, the Swiss humanitarian Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi; the American transcendentalists Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau; the founders of progressive education, John Dewey and Francis Parker; and educational pioneers, such as Friedrich Fröbel, Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner (founder of the Waldorf schools); among others, all insisted that education should be understood as the art of cultivating the moral, emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the developing child. Anarchists such as Leo Tolstoy and Francisco Ferrer y Guardia emphasized education as a force for political liberation, secularism, and elimination of class distinctions. After World War II alternative approaches to early childhood education were developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy; this is known as the Reggio Emilia approach.

          More recently, social critics such as John Caldwell Holt, Paul Goodman, Frederick Mayer, George Dennison and Ivan Illich have examined education from more individualist, anarchist, and libertarian perspectives, that is, critiques of the ways that they feel conventional education subverts democracy by molding young people's understandings[citation needed]. Other writers, from the revolutionary Paulo Freire to American educators like Herbert Kohl and Jonathan Kozol, have criticized mainstream Western education from the viewpoint of their varied left-liberal and radical politics. The argument for an approach that caters more to the personal interest and learning style of each individual is supported by recent research that suggest that learner-responsible models prove to be more effective than the traditional teacher-responsible models.[1] Ron Miller has identified five core elements common to many contemporary educational alternatives:[2]

              Respect for every person
              Balance
              Decentralization of authority
              Noninterference between political, economic, and cultural spheres of society
              A holistic worldview

          I haven't yet read them all but I've read many and it's greatly broadened my perspective around the possibilities in the word "education."  We don't know what we don't know.  But life happens and we begin to suspect something is off...that's what happened to me and I allowed myself to follow where it led and then paradigm shift happened and there's no going back.

          If I have a blocked artery I don't want a banker operating.  But I want surgery to be my choice.  I know some people who against all medical advice declined surgery and followed a program (as developed by doctors and written about in a book) of reversing heart disease with what they ate.  It worked, much to the astonishment of their cardiologists.  The doctors who wrote that book also have many years of study and have developed expertise, but it's an expertise not yet accepted by the predominant expertise.  In fact, it's still pretty much dismissed by them.

          There are many times I seek out expertise...a yoga instructor, a language instructor.  The point is, I'm the one making the decision that I want to avail myself of that expertise at that point in time.  As it stands now, students in public school do not have that decision making choice.  

          Again, I do not agree that learning by compulsion is the best way for humans to develop.

          •  Reconnected... this is such a blog piece to be! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, Renee, angelajean

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 03:24:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  please. (0+ / 0-)

            What you've just asked is if I've read 1) some of the historic philosophers in my profession and 2) some philosophers/literary folks that any educated person should have read. The answer is yes. Also, I've read many other folks you'd probably like, like Bordieu and Friere, and some people who would likely drive you nuts, like Apple. Also, are you assuming that I don't incorporate any ideas from these folks in my teaching? If you are, well, that's another false assumption you can stack up with the others. If you're wondering why I interpret your position as scornful, it's because asking an American educator if he's heard of Dewey is like asking a rocket scientist if he has a passing familiarity with Newton. It's our bread and butter.

            You totally have the option to refuse medical care for yourself or to have a banker do it. Do you think that a parent has the right to refuse basic medical care for her child? Lifesaving care, perhaps? Care that might keep a child from being crippled? That's the question I'm interested in you answering.

            •  So in that range of alternative educators... (0+ / 0-)

              are there any in particular whose ideas have influenced your own teaching or your own advocacy for the evolution of our education system?  From reading your comments I don't get a sense of any of those sorts of influences, that have been very significant to many of us on this list.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:05:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think it boils down to (0+ / 0-)

                You have some notions about public education from decades ago that are different now. My teaching is very influenced by Freire in particular, but because I'm human, my teaching is influenced by everything I've read, everyone I learned from, and everyone I'm taught. Got something specific you want to know? And okay, you ARE assuming that stuff's not in my teaching. Do you want me to pretend to be that guy so you can argue more effectively, or is there something specific you want to talk about?

                I think you sidestepped a question. It didn't seem important?

                •  I want to have a dialog in these comments... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

                  that others can follow and see different points of view argued out so they can make their own thoughtful conclusions.  I think you are too, so I appreciate your continuing comments.

                  I suspect, since we seem to be butting heads a lot, that you and I might do better sitting down for an evening over a few beers and just talking all this stuff out.  I think we could find our common ground and agree to differ where we differ.  I would enjoy that discussion!

                  Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                  by leftyparent on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:53:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Influenced by Friere? (0+ / 0-)
                  “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
                  ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
                  What is it you do in your teaching practice that facilitates the latter in the above sentence, rather than the former?

                  When you talked about making an activity intrinsically rewarding I did begin to assume that you do not get what unschooling is and what we are talking about with the locus of learning control being with the learner.

                  I gradually learned that you follow practices around homework, choice, respect, etc. that are research-based and more student centered than teaching has been in the past.  I'm glad to hear it.  But the institution of public school itself is structured so that the learners do not have control of their learning other than what the particular teacher in a particular classroom grants them to a degree.  And that is what we are talking about.

    •  I'm glad you decided to leave a comment today... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reconnected, FloridaSNMOM, rosabw, Renee

      It's only by talking with each other that we will move forward... and education will always move forward. It can't be a static thing; methods, philosophies, etc. will come and go and, at the end of the day, we as a community still need an educated populace in order to thrive.

      I know there are folks who say that public schools are not failing. And that is true for a great many schools. It sounds like you might even be working at a school that is a great success for the vast majority of your students.

      We homeschoolers and unschoolers are in an interesting place because we meet the kids that don't succeed in public schools - the ones that have dropped out or were removed by their parents or never even started in the first place because their parents had a clue that their education was best served at home.

      Just as you are an expert in education, we are experts on our own children. We may not know how to teach all children, but we can certainly know how to teach our own. And most of us did it by educating ourselves first - about learning styles and methods of education; about empowerment and power struggles; about child centered learning and about curriculum centered learning. It's a process that I highly recommend for all parents, even those whose kids are attending public schools. It has been an eye-opening process and it made me realize that as great as public school teachers are, they cannot and should not be an expert on every child in their classroom. It helped me see where my own public education was a great success and where it failed me. Yes - it did both at the same time, if you can imagine that.

      But where it succeeded is the clue to it all - I think the best we can expect of our public school teachers is that they share their own love of learning, that excitement of discovery, and hope that the children in their classes sense it, see it, feel it and want it for themselves.

      •  Best of luck and it sounds like you're on... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftyparent

        the right track. Many parents that do homeschooling and unschooling are not so responsible or competent, and we see that when we get those kids right back or when those kids continue to have issues. I would submit that in the vast majority of kids, a partnership between teacher, school and parent is going to get them the best possible experience. Sorry you didn't get the opportunity to explore that partnership.

        •  That partnership is important. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM

          Please remember that just because kids are homeschooled or unschooled doesn't mean they don't have teachers other than their parents. We have explored that partnership and we have used it to great effect many times. In fact, two of my most pleasant homeschool years were spent using a public charter homestudy system where a teacher and I shared many great hours together. I wish more families and teachers could experience that - once a month meetings in a relaxed atmosphere where the teacher and parent discuss what the child loves, what the child needs, and the resources to help in the learning process. It was an excellent example of how a public school system can support child directed learning.

    •  A few thoughts back (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosabw, angelajean, Renee

      I don't think anyone here believes you don't know what you're talking about. Public school just doesn't work for all kids, it never has, and unless there are huge changes in how the system works, it never will. Not all kids are capable of thriving in that environment or that curriculum. Just as not all kids thrive well being completely unschooled, some need more framework than others, some need none, some need somewhere in between.
      For my high functioning autistic son (with a lot of sensory issues), the framework was getting in his way, and he was incapable of functioning and focusing in a  classroom because there were too many distractions and too much noise. Even his smaller self contained classroom in elementary was a problem, and when the framework had to change, due to testing or assembly or a substitute teacher, he was unable to change with it and it caused huge problems both at school and at home. Then there was the bullying, mostly by students, but sometimes by teachers as well.
      My son falls on the "in between" so far as framework goes. There are a few things I require him to take, like algebra, because I know with his goals he'll need it, and he doesn't always see the 'big picture'. But on other things we're more malleable. We didn't start chemistry until this year (tenth grade), because until now he wasn't able to associate chemical symbols with chemicals, and he wasn't ready to understand many other concepts (like moles). However, since we waited, this year we were using a lot of college level materials and concepts, so I don't feel he lost anything by waiting until he was ready.
      He also gets to choose what books he wants to read (often I'll give him one or two choices), what part of history he wants to study, etc. That's where the democratic concept comes in. I know we studied the Civil War this year in MUCH more depth than I ever did in public school. I can let him follow his interests here as well, we went into the physics of aiming cannons for example.
      My expertise is my child, what he can and cannot do and how best to help him achieve what he cannot do yet. In many ways that takes precedence over other forms of expertise. You may know more about how to manage a classroom, and how to get a group of kids to get things done , but I know more about how to help my son learn, and what compensation techniques he needs to do so.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 12:33:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know...with my training in Special ED (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, Renee

        I remember using the child's own interests to teach them to read, to spell, to do math.  I never did it in the public school system, but I had been taught to do it that way.

        Frankly, I would think the system is happy to be rid of our "round pegs".  (Ben says it's not square pegs because they aren't cool, obviously.)  Their differences are really difficult to get your head around.  Often, as a parent, you are demanded to get your head around what they need for love.  

        I know public school teachers love their kids, but they don't have the responsibility that parents do.  I pray I've done right by my son, and he enjoys success one day, but it's not a given for any child.

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:05:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Client centered (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rosabw, angelajean, Renee

          is a concept that's at the forefront of Occupational therapy training as well. I wish schools used it more, it's also a very effective and scientifically proven approach. If it works to teach people how to dress themselves, how to function after a tragedy or illness why wouldn't it work well with kids' educations also?
          I find it sad that though you were taught that it was a good approach to use you never were able to use it in a public school setting. I used to use it as a reading tutor in Americorp, even before I went to school for OT.
          Yes, at some point we all have to read something or do something we don't like, why should that process start as a child is trying to learn how to read or gain fluency in reading? To encourage learning, it's better to start with something they like, especially if they are struggling, that's only common sense.
          Heck, I'm a widely read and avid reader, and there were a couple of books I bought cliff notes for in high school because I just couldn't read them. Literally every time I tried I went to sleep. Did I learn anything from those books? Nope, other than I don't want to read them again. I passed the tests on them, but then the information left me. I can, however, remember a lot from other books I read in high school, some for classes and others, many many others that I read for pleasure on my own.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:34:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Now this is insulting. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not happy to "get rid of" any kids, and none of the teachers I know would feel that way. Also, I feel intense personal and professional responsibility toward my students, thanks.

          •  Then your students are lucky to have you. (0+ / 0-)

            I've been in the teacher lounge when I was in Americorp, I heard the teachers talking about the difficult and disabled kids. I've also been on many chat rooms and worked with teachers in my OTA externship who saw the disabled kids as something they shouldn't have to deal with, a lot of them would have been quite happy to have 'gotten rid of' those kids. Parents of disabled kids deal with these situations all the time, unfortunately.  Teachers like you may not be in the minority, but you're a quiet majority.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 01:54:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm glad you honor your students. (0+ / 0-)

            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

            by rosabw on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 04:20:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  if you read some of the other folks in this convo (0+ / 0-)

        You'll see that it's clear many assert I have no idea what I'm talking about.

        What I think is interesting here is the assumption that he couldn't, or wouldn't, have explored more civil war reading after school. Why hold that?

        What classroom adaptations were made for your autistic son? I'm curious.

        Thank you for having your son study some important things he doesn't see a use for now. There are those in this conversation who find that unnecessary.

        •  Adaptations (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reconnected, moira977

          In elementary he was in a self enclosed behavioral class, partly because of his sensory issues and melt downs, and partly because if school got to be overwhelming he would leave and walk home if you let him off by himself. He did this as early as Kindergarten (3/4 of a mile along a major highway).
          He had a cubicle type set up, but it didn't help too much, and his IEP goals were usually pretty much the same from year to year. They also had him convinced he had no reading comprehension despite the fact that he could read Sherlock Holmes at home over the summer and compare it a year later with a tv version.
          The middle school insisted that because he wasn't academically behind and they didn't have the appropriate class for him, that they were mainstreaming him and that was that. No resource teacher, no accomodations, no IEP no nothing. I couldn't afford to miss more work or school myself to fight with them, and we were tired of him coming home in tears every day, so we pulled him out.
          Since then, he's on NO meds, he's now working more independently, though that took a while, he's catching up in math(they never got past division every year), his behaviors have improved 150% (no more physical melt downs and few verbal), he's gaining by leaps and bounds in social skills and even has a girl friend.
          As to why he wouldn't have explore the civil war more after school, by the time he got home from school every day he was too overwhelmed to get much of anything done. He spent the evenings shut in his room or having screaming thrashing melt downs every day. We had to teach him to enjoy learning again. It took us about 2 years. And if high school home work is anything like mine was, there's no way he'd have time after school for his own interests, not in the depth he does now.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 01:51:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Want to make a more extensive reply... (4+ / 0-)
      The straw man built about public school education here is insulting.
      I'm not sure what specifically you are referring to, but I can see a lot in what I quoted from Wendy's piece and my own words that can be seen as a universal criticism of schooling.  That said, I acknowledge that we all have different experiences in schools and every school is different just as every human being is different.  I certainly try, not always successfully, to use “I” statements when I write so as not to be insulting to others.
      For the record, I'm a male elementary school teacher.
      So you are the exception.  A male in a female-dominated profession.  Do you think there is any credence to my assertion that your profession is taken less seriously by society, and compensated less, because it is in fact female-dominated?
      Last I checked, punishment isn't my first choice to get a kid to do what I want them to.
      That's good to hear!  But what I also hear you saying is that it is all about getting a kid to do what you want.  That sounds like exercising control to me.
      The first choice is to give them reasons by making an activity intrinsically rewarding.
      My first thought is that you can't make something intrinsically rewarding, it either is or it isn't.  But then maybe you can illuminate some aspect that is rewarding that the student hadn't thought of before, so maybe you have something there.  But I would think you would acknowledge that you are the exception in trying to do this, most teachers are otherwise versed in a range of extrinsic rewards instead.
      The next is to give them respect. The next is encouragement. I have to go super far down the list before I get to punishment, and that's maybe happened twice all year, not that it works, but with some families' kids it's the only thing that gets their attention.
      But from my experience in school as a kid, and bearing witness to my own kids experience in school, that punishment, that coercion is always lurking back there backing up any friendlier persuasion that might proceed it.  Bottom line IMO it is still all about control, with the velvet hand if possible, but the bare hand if not.
      Also, commentators in this thread have suggested the problem is that we don't listen to the children. What an asinine and insulting thing to say.
      Your use of “asinine” and “insulting” here sounds to me like you're getting your buttons pushed.  I'm trying not to get my own buttons pushed thinking we are being accused of saying asinine things.  Do you really think there is no merit to this unschooling line of thought, though your thinking is very different?  Is there any room to agree that there can be many educational paths?
      Having a set curriculum doesn't mean we're teaching machines who ignore children - the curriculum is something that's been researched, repeatedly refined, and always consults best practices and current research.
      Anything that is standardized to try and be appropriate for a million unique young souls is a bureaucratic exercise, which generally involves politics and disagreements which are accommodated by compromises that tend to blur the clarity and point of view of the information presented.  I don't think there are a lot of right answers out there, but standardized curriculum and the standardized testing that back it up works better if it is assumed there are right answers that students should remember and acknowledge on the tests.

      As to teachers as machines, I don't think we unschoolers feel that at all!  We instead tend to feel that you are often constrained by preset curricula and scripted teaching methodologies that push against your unique personal take on things.

      We do that because we're freaking experts. We revise it constantly - I'm on a committee to do that for my district this summer.
      So are we pushing your buttons feeling like your expertise is in doubt?  What I'm more concerned about is the learning paradigm.  The fact that the kids is pushed in front of you, told that you are their authority and they must learn what you are telling them, whether they are comfortable with that or not.  We generally don't do that to other adults, but we seem to have the hubris to think it is okay to do that with kids.  I know from my experience working with kids, probably less extensive than yours, that it is a much better environment when I'm interacting with kids who are actually there because they want to be and are interested in what I have to say, not because they are required to do so.
      I can listen to kids and cajole and persuade them - that's my job - but at the end I'm going to give them a framework so they can understand the wealth of knowledge that previous generations have left them and build that knowledge for themselves.
      And I'm sure for some kids, that framework you have to give them can be a revelation for them, and that sounds like a good learning experience.  But if it is trending to be more about cajoling, then that's that control model with the velvet glove thing that we unschoolers are very uncomfortable with.  So when it comes to material we are required to learn in school that we are not really interested in, I think John Holt said it best, that the “good students forget the material after the test”.
      Re: patriarchy - are you kidding me? The head of a classroom (although my classroom is pretty collaborative) is the teacher - predominantly female especially at the elementary level. Her boss as elementary principal is also likely to be female. You think second graders in this system are sitting around saying to themselves, "sure, I'm being led by females at every level here, but just wait for high school when the men are in charge?" What? If anything, K-8 students are being taught that society, or at least education is female-dominated.
      I hear you talking about an approach to education that is all about instruction with the teacher as the “sage on the stage” stage-managing the learning process.  Most of us unschoolers reject this as the primary learning process.  It would be another thing if a kid comes to you and says, “I hear you are an expert on ABC, tell me what you know about it?”  We unschoolers believe that the essence of the learning process is the the learners decision to pursue a particular set of knowledge, not the learner being pursued by a certain set of knowledge that others would have them learn.
      Also, some here are claiming that the curriculum is being generated by male experts - again, this is total crap. Education researchers generally come from teaching. Teaching is a profession that skews female. Thus, most education research and publishing is currently being done by women. We base our conclusions for curriculum and teaching off research. Where is the patriarchy here?
      I must admit I don't have statistics on the gender breakdown of the legislators, state boards of education, state superintendents that are the real decision-makers in standardized state-controlled public education systems.  But if you think our assertion of male dominance is “total crap” then I'm assuming you have statistics you can cite.  I did a quick look at the California state education board and it is majority female, though the superintendent is male and the legislature majority male.  I would say the patriarchy is in the voices that are featured in the education debate that plays out in the media.  Most of those voices tend to be male, but point taken.
      Last, democracy in education - I see the most extreme statements in regard to this. Most people that think we're fascists don't realize that we often work by giving kids choices. That we teach how to make choices. That we provide group projects so they have to make choices together. That the entire school system is designed to nuture independence in children.
      The monarch giving you a range of choices that suit the monarch's agenda for you as one of their subjects is not the same thing as democracy, where we are governed by representatives that we choose ourselves.  I totally disagree with your statement that the entire school system is designed to nurture independence, when it mandates for the most part what kids must learn, when, where, how and from whom.  From my point of view, kids are consuming the education the state puts up in front of them by means of you as the teacher.  Some kids are enriched by that consumption, others are not.
      This contrasts with those who say "unschooling" is going to let their little darlings chose exactly what they want.
      This is where your tone indicates to me that you are getting your buttons pushed again and you feel that perhaps we are permissive parents who believe our kids are “little darlings” when in fact we have helped create “little devils” that make your life miserable at times in your classroom.  But you can speak for yourself on that.
      It's like you don't understand that children largely believe whatever their parent believe until their late teens to twenties. They're simply choosing whatever you want them to, or making limited choices from within whatever is in your sphere, and you marvel at how independent they are - because you can't see past yourselves.
      So in your take on human development, when do human beings develop free will to have their own views separate from authority figures?  Obviously later than we unschoolers think!
      You know what makes independent thought? Being confronted with ideas you reject AS WELL as ideas you like.  
      But in the conventional school environment where you are evaluated based on demonstrating what you have been told (at least as the path of least resistance), rejecting an idea presented to you by an authority figure is a very problematic action, and goes against that paradigm of authority.  I think it becomes easier just to be quiet, do what you are told, and provide what seems like the expected answer on the test.

      I also think the reality is more that in school you are confronted with ideas you are not interested in as well as ones that might be of interest to you.

      This isn't even addressing the issue that kids may not know what they want to need to learn because they've not yet constructed for themselves a sufficient framework of knowledge. Because you have, you can't always see that they don't have that yet.
      Your statement goes to IMO a basic view of human beings as flawed and minimally capable until they have been properly trained.  I don't share that worldview.
      But by all means - assume that I have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, because I'm been studying it for decades. I'll just be over here.
      Do you really want me to assume you have no fucking idea what you are talking about?  Did I waste my time replying so extensively?

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 12:42:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  lots of words here (0+ / 0-)

        Teaching is underpaid, largely because there are women in the profession and it's child centered. I agree. The point someone above was making was that teaching was patriarchal. I disagree with that.

        You made a leap that I support standardized testing. I do not support high stakes testing, and assessment and curriculum are different things (although they do drive each other).

        Please blame the media for hiring male talking heads about education, not the teaching profession.

        You're assuming experts are automatically "sage-on-the-stage". Because research shows that doesn't work, no real expert would teach like that.

        Pretty much everything else you wrote seems to be supporting that flawed thesis, so I won't go into detail there. If you feel I missed something, I'm happy to answer. Some other ideas - that you think there shouldn't be a curriculum to act as a framework for knowledge - you haven't really backed up with research or an argument I can understand, so I don't really have a response. I recognize you disagree.

        I'm not really getting my buttons pushed here. "Am I bovvered"?

        •  Rather than wondering (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, reconnected

          who can push whose buttons. . . .

          I would love to invite reenactor to write a post for the Education Alternatives group/page.

          It might not fit in the homeschooling series but I think it would be interesting to read about a typical day for reenactor or how he includes some of the reading he does agree with (Friere, etc.) in a system that requires a set curriculum and high-stakes testing.

          What do you think of that idea, reenactor? Explain how you bring your reading, choosing the ideas about respect and kindness, trust and autonomy, whatever you think you are bringing to the classroom that an unschooler might applaud, and how you balance that with the restrictions you work under as a public school teacher. Touch on the topics that keep coming up here -- coercion, independence, customization, parent/child v. child/teacher relationships, etc. -- whatever topics seem important to you. Explain how you (and the school you work in?) manage to incorporate what unschoolers would suggest are the correct ideas about how to think about children with the standard curriculum and annual testing schemes.

          You have a point of view. You have defended it well. Testiness on both sides not withstanding. How about continuing that thinking with a post on what makes you an excellent teacher in our current public school system? (Excellent by unschooling standards. :) ) With the idea of allowing all of the bright people here to continue learning from one another.

          I'm not in charge around here so I don't know who you would send such a piece to or if you would just join the Education Alternatives group and post away but I'm sure all that could be worked out.

          Nance
           

        •  Sage on the stage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftyparent
          You're assuming experts are automatically "sage-on-the-stage". Because research shows that doesn't work, no real expert would teach like that.
          This wasn't directed at me specifically but I'm assuming that most teachers are sage-on-the-stage, not most experts.

          Of the over 3 million public school teachers how many do you think are experts?

          I'm glad to hear you are not a sage-on-the stage.  Given my unschooling perspective though, putting 30 young people in a classroom with one main teacher who is mandated to follow a set curriculum (even though lesson plans can vary in carrying out that curriculum) with high stakes testing makes it difficult to be a "guide-on-the-side" and almost impossible for the locus of control to be the learner.

    •  Are you ready for summer, reenactor? (5+ / 0-)

      I hope you enjoy yours. It sounds like you work hard.

      I think it is natural to be insulted when someone says your professional services are not what they, after much thought and research, have chosen for their child.

      It's easy to be insulted. There are many times when one parent is insulted that another parent chooses anything different for their child. It is an attack -- a statement that your parenting choice may not be the right one. We all have a lot invested in these decisions.

      You raise so many points. Let's take punishment. I don't think anyone here was imagining you beating a child to get them to learn their times tables. Right? But what sort of tools do you have when a child is simply not interested in what you have to teach them? It comes down to coercion, one way or the other. Punishment with a failing grade is still punishment.

      Switch to a different topic, make it a game, come back to it another day, dress it up however you want, that child will either learn the times tables to your satisfaction or will be marked down. And will be punished by getting a bad grade, being told they failed, being forced to repeat the lesson this year or next. You get their attention and their family's attention and focus on that failure -- in polite and respectful and interesting ways -- but still, the goal must be met. Or it is a failure. On the child's part. And their punishment is to be assured that they are at fault, they must do it again, they are the problem, that there may be kindly help but there is no out. Because it is oh so very important that all children of a certain age learn their times tables. (Or whatever your grade level sets as its hurdles.)

      This is not to suggest that multiplication is not a handy tool. Just that a teacher who has to follow a state's curriculum can be as loving and kind about it as he wants but, at the end of the day, the tests loom and the child passes and goes on to do more work imposed from on high -- graded and ranked and compared -- or fails and is punished. It's not a good deal even for the kids who pass easily -- they still labor on the school's timetable whether it means anything to them or not, whether they retain the information, whether it is connected to anything in their lives now or in the future. At least they aren't punished with anything more than having their time used up. And being taught that this is the way the world works and they have no choice.

      It is your job. It is your profession. And you make it as palatable as you possibly can for the children who are privileged to have a teacher who does more than just drill. But that doesn't soften the message a child may well receive as their punishment -- that they are a failure if they don't master a set task at a certain time.

      •  encouragement is coercion. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rosabw

        Making things fun is coercion. Giving reasons is coercion. Inspiring others is coercion.  Praise is coercion. Rewards are coercion. Being responsible to a group is coercion. For your job, pay is coercion.

        What happens when you're kid won't eat healthy food, won't put down the ps3, or won't go to bed? What do you do?

        •  Coercion is not just (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reconnected, FloridaSNMOM

          the action you take. I may praise my child. I do. :) I explain. I hope I inspire.

          But I don't praise to get them to jump through hoops. I don't explain to get them to do something someone else has decided they need to do this semester. Coercion is about the motivation behind the action.

          My children are offered a variety of foods and have been for a long while. They choose for themselves and usually choose wisely. I am responsible for keeping the kitchen stocked with healthy choices -- and some cookies.

          I don't need my son to put down his XBox. He can figure out that when he is busy doing other things he wants to do, the XBox has to wait.

          I am usually in bed long before my kids these days. But when they were younger, they slept when they were tired and that wasn't always a set time but they got plenty of sleep just following their own clocks. Or knowing that they had something coming up the next day they needed to be rested for.

          Knowing that they had so much control over their lives, they have become young people who get up and out when they need to. Without my having to have had set bedtimes all their lives. They eat healthy because they feel better that way. Etc.

          Control over your own life, and what goes into your own head, is a wonderful, freeing thing.  (Have you read Washington Square by Henry James? I just finished it and it is all about people controlling one another. . .among other things . . . a good book, if you get the chance.)

          Nance

    •  As an adult male authority figure, are you (4+ / 0-)

      sure, that you would be completely aware of the privileges you benefit from, while in a Patriarchal System or Society?

      Because the right to birth control, to abortion, the advent of battered women's shelters, head of household status for women on taxes--

      those are all accomplishments that have only just happened in the last 30 or 40 years, tops.

      So FYI, some of us are old enough to remember the bad old days, and most are only one or 2 generations from them, meaning all we have to do is pick up a phone and call a female relative, a mother, older sister, aunt and ask them if this looks familiar.

      What do you suppose their answer would be?

  •  You write about this well. (4+ / 0-)

    Homeschooling my kids has given me the perspective to assess the assumptions I picked up in my primary and secondary schooling. I believed lots of things about learning and about socialization that I now think were instilled in me instead of being positions I arrived at through inquiry.

    And that is what it comes down to for me. I wanted my kids to have the ability to determine their speed and direction of learning. There is a Da Vinci quotation I have heard a few different translations of, here is the one I just found: “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”

    I don't think we are turning out adults who are passionate about knowledge and citizen responsibility. I don't think we are having an honest discussion of that. If we did, I think we would be talking about the topics you raise here.

    It is a difficult thing to talk about though. I believed things about our educational system that I didn't realize were false. Everyone believed them. There were studies backing them up. It is an emperor has no clothes sort of discussion, IMO.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 12:35:17 PM PDT

    •  I have spent much difficult time myself... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, FloridaSNMOM, Nance, angelajean

      reassessing my previous assumptions that learning was something that humans do best in formal settings  where the agenda is controlled by others who teach you to learn.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jun 02, 2012 at 01:26:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It generates anxiety, because you are breaking (5+ / 0-)

        away from condition--perhaps I should make that an *I statement ;)

        On one hand, I want my kids to be intellectually competitive with their peers.

        But on the other, I want them to be who they are, as individuals, fearlessly.

        We do a lot of readings and discussion. We have workbooks too, but the readings and discussions. I remember being in class as a child, and if you asked what others considered a stupid question, or if you followed a forbidden thought, even if it was on topic, you made yourself a target.

        If you answered too many questions, or asked too many questions, you made yourself a target.

        If you showed any passion at all, for anything that wasn't considered cool, that made you a target, socially. And potentially made you an annoyance to the teacher.

        My kids don't have to hold back out of fear of that happening.

        We can go anywhere in our topics of discussion we want to. Anywhere at all. And there are no hecklers there waiting for the Beavus and Butthead Moment, or whatever passes for that now. There is no one to make fun of them for being too smart or for not getting a concept others consider easy.

        None of that. It's very freeing. The child is free to succeed and to fail and to learn from both experiences, without being judged or bothered.

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