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Posts Tagged ‘unschooling’

I’m relatively new to the blog world (1 week as of this post) so have been browsing blogs to see what they look like, what buttons exist, and what other people are writing about.  I came across an unschooling button, which I had never heard of before, so I followed the link to see what it was about.  Unschooling Blogs

I then turned to Wikipedia for a definition.  It turns out, in brevity, that unschooling is the belief that children possess a natural curiosity for learning, and that by nurturing that curiosity and providing the child the resources to learn they will in turn prepare themselves for life as an adult and become life-long learners; all of which I agree with.

In fact, now that I know the term for it I would say that we, my wife and I, intuitively “unschool” our children when they are not at school.  Outside of the time we spend together at home, we also provide other opportunities for them, from science and environmental camps to creative movement and art courses; all of which take an inordinate amount of time and money to support.  But, they provide an opportunity for our children to learn about the world and pursue their interests and curiosity at a young age.

We hope it will make them grow up to become confident and happy adults.

However, it appears a strong component of unschooling is the education of children at home, exclusive of a public school setting.

And I take issue with this.

Some of our most involved, intelligent, creative and concerned parents are no longer involved in the public school systems.  They are busy teaching their children at home.  Looking at the blogs of some of these parents, they are talented people, putting the education and welfare of their children above their other concerns.

To our society at large, we no longer have the value of these resources involved in our school systems.  They are no longer meeting with teachers, setting up a PTA bake-sale, or organizing field trips.  And to all those children who come from disadvantaged families, or parents who just don’t care, they are no longer reaping the benefits of involved parents of their classmates and friends, or just having the presence of well-rounded children in the classrooms.

I understand fully why parents would choose to keep their children at home.  Every time I drop my daughter off at school, I wait and watch until she is inside the front door.  Jane, my wife, has been a fixture at the school ever since Jolie started.  She not only knows Jolie’s teacher, but the principal, janitors, and everyone else in the building.  And we feel safer knowing that.

It isn’t hard imagining a tragedy happening at the school, we hear of them everyday, fortunately always somewhere else.  For that reason it is easy to keep the child at home, you know they are safe from the random violence or substandard teaching that might take place.  As an involved parent at a school, I can’t prevent the violence if it should occur.  However, my involvement can ensure they are receiving the proper education.

Lack of parent involvement goes beyond the school, to local, state, and national political races.  If a parent home schools, why bother querying the candidates on the position on education.  Vote for the candidate that will lower taxes.  Let the schools fail, it is no skin off of the unschooled family’s nose.

But it is…..

Abandoning the system is paramount to abandoning society.

Believe me; I can sympathize with the idea of bailing out on society.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t consider a small cabin, located at an unknown locale in the wilds of Alaska.  No more job, traffic, TVs, or politics; life at its simplest and most elemental.  (Side bonus- I’ll be able to set up booby-traps for any unwelcome suitors that are lucky enough to locate the cabin once our daughters get older.)

But it doesn’t work.  My future, and my children’s, is tied inextricably to society-at-large.  And so is everybody else’s.  Therein lays the hypocrisy of keeping your children at home to school.  While you provide peace of mind for yourself and safety for your child today, you imperil their future.

A parallel, if you will…

Parents who choose not to immunize their children, not due to some religious belief or medical concern, but because they don’t want to risk their child’s health or cause the child discomfort.  (I held both my babies for their shots, and it isn’t a pleasant experience.  Not to mention I go faint when looking at needles.)

These parents, though they may not realize it, rely on the rest of us to immunize our children.  They expect us to take the risk, on their behalf.  Due to our action the epidemics that were once commonplace are now rare.  But if everyone let their children go without vaccinations we’d still see polio victims in our midst.  Parents who don’t vaccinate their children for no legitimate religious or medical reason are, in short, cowards who rely on the rest of us to risk our loved ones to protect theirs.

Now, I don’t hold unschoolers in the same disregard so the comparison may not be entirely fair.  Still, unschoolers (and homeschoolers) rely on the rest of us to keep the public school system operational.  Without us, our schools fall further down the priority list and the population en masse becomes less educated, less competitive with other economies and countries, and more socially stratified.  In time, we become less sustainable economically and politically.

And that, even in our electronic stay-at-home age, is a danger to us all…….

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