Friday, October 14, 2011

Unschooling in the media

I just finished watching a segment about unschooling on The Today Show. If you missed it, check here for the video clip. All in all it showed unschooling in a positive light, which is a huge departure from how it's been shown in the past.

I love the Bentley family in the video. They are a wonderful example of how unschooling works. You can tell from watching the video that those girls know themselves. They know their passions and what they want out of life. And that's what unschooling is all about. Mrs. Bentley seems to share my view of the parent's role in unschooling as well. She says, "I consider myself their facilitator. Bringing the world to them and them to the world." And that is exactly how I see myself when it comes to my children's education.

They say that travel is a big part of unschooling, which leads host Matt Lauer to speculate that only the wealthy can do it. Not true. You don't have to be wealthy to travel, you just have to make good choices. Also traveling doesn't have to mean going out of the country. It can be as simple as driving an hour away to your state park. People who choose to unschool make the choice that travel is important to them, so they make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen.

It was mentioned that unschooling is not right for every family, and to some extent I would agree with that, but not for the reasons they said. It was stated that only children who are self-motivated and self-propelled can be unschooled. I would argue that all children are self-motivated and self-propelled, and it's only after spending years in a classroom, that they start to lose those qualities.

There were a few points made by the 'experts' and by host Matt Lauer that kind of got my blood boiling. Take their many references to the fundamentals. "Will there be gaps in the fundamentals." People, there's a reason they're called the fundamentals. You can't escape learning about them. No matter what your goals and passions are, the basics are there. You don't need to sit in a classroom, eight hours a day, five days a week, for twelve years, to learn them.

One statement that Matt Lauer made, and one of the so-called experts touched on too, was this gem. "If they aren't assessed, how do we judge and compare them to other kids their own age?" And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what is most wrong with our school system. This idea that you can only know if a child is learning by comparing them to others. It's not good enough to just compare them against themselves. The idea that only tests and assessments can demonstrate learning is ridiculous.

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