Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Human Development and Learning

This was posted to an unschooling list. The same principles holds throughout life!

In the course of researching an article about crawling (of all things), I can across some absolutely beautiful words by Dr. Alan Green, pediatrician:

"This is our goal: to provide a nurturing environment where a child can develop at his optimum pace. We don't want to hurry him; we do want to encourage him. We also want to identify anything that may be an obstacle in his path."

He then advises a concerned grandmother to "observe your grandson's spontaneous play. This will give you the best clues to the developmental tasks that are important for him to learn next. Children tend to be most excited about skills they are on the brink of mastering. If you try to engage him in an activity that is beneath his developmental level, he will quickly get bored. If you try to interest him in something that he is not yet ready for, he will become upset. (Note: babies don't tend to cry when they fail, but rather when the activity isn't at the right developmental level)...Provide situations where he can teach himself through playful exploration. Forced teaching hinders development."

(source: www.drgreene.org/body.cfm?id=21&action=detail&ref=354)

I know he wasn't talking about unschooling, but the words seem so, so applicable!


Monday, October 08, 2007

New article on Fraser Insitute Report

The Fraser Institute: Home Schooling Improves Academic Performance and Reduces Impact of Socio-Economic Factors

Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.

This is my favorite part, though there are lots of good parts:
"Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels."

The report is from 2001 and can be dowloaded free or for $5 here:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Un-School Days," in Tulsa KIds


Un-School Days
by Cindy Webb

For a kid who never went to school, Matt Moyer is doing pretty well. Matt is currently a junior at the University of Tulsa on a full academic scholarship (a result of earning a 33 on the ACT) and has already received an offer from TU for a scholarship to complete his master’s degree. His future plans include moving to Washington D.C. so he can pursue a career in computer security with an intelligence agency. “I’ll also finish a Ph.D. in computer science somewhere down the line,” says Matt.

What makes Matt’s story even more interesting is that, unlike other traditionally home-schooled children, Matt had no formal schooling at all until he was 16 years old and requested it. He then attended TCC taking algebra and calculus through a concurrent enrollment program offered to high school age students.

But just because Matt wasn’t formally schooled doesn’t mean he wasn’t educated. Matt’s parents chose a different educational approach known as “unschooling.” . . .

The article is thorough and interesting (seems to have been written by someone who really cared and understood), and there's an extensive book list and link to resources.

Great article; worth saving a link, and I hope they keep it there for a long time.

Added on Friday:
Here's a longer-term version with working links on all the resources and booklist. zamozo, thanks!! http://liberatedlearning.wordpress.com/2007/10/03/featuring-leslie-moyer/

Friday, September 07, 2007

Radio Free School

Radio Free School's blog is worth a bookmark of its own.

This week's news is an interview of Grace Llwellyn, by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko who does some great interviews!


And here's an older piece, in which someone else interviewed Beatrice herself. It's really great:


The beginning....

How long have you been doing Radio Free School? How did you start doing it?

We're into our fifth consecutive year of Radio Free School. I had done a social justice and environmental spoken word show on campus/community radio for a few years, and love the medium; we thought that it would be fun to do a show with our kids. There isn't much radio featuring children, especially shows that have kids as primary agents; we applied for a half hour spot on CFMU and got accepted.

How many people are involve with each episode?

Sometimes as few as two people, interviewer and interviewee, sometimes more, like when we go to visit a science lab we take along some friends, there might be ten people or more. The way the show developed over time is that producing it became a family project primarily.

Could you talk about the distinction between Free/Un schooling and homeschooling, and I guess what the show is about; why you do it?

We started radio free school as a way to follow our childrens' interests and give them a forum to be heard. Since we weren't sending them to school, the show was a way to pursue anything and everything we wanted, very free form,while enhancing their experience of the world. This nicely aligned itself with the philosophy of unschooling which doesn't impose set courses to follow, but follows naturally the child's interest. It is a challenge as people like myself who grew up with schooling (my dad was a public school principal) to realize that we don't need schools as the model for learning,in fact, the way schools are structured they actually kill initiative and the joy of learning in many many children. My permanent record at highschool probably reflects my innate rebelliousness against arbitrary authority, and I really don't expect my kids to be forced into such a position.

Read the rest to learn more about this wonderful and long-running project.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trashing Teens

Although this isn't a homeschooling article, it discusses schools and school-related problems in ways that will be very revealing and freeing for homeschoolers.

Psychologist Robert Epstein spoke to Psychology Today's Hara Estroff Marano about the legal and emotional constraints on American youth.

HEM (Hara Estroff Marano): Why do you believe that adolescence is an artificial extension of childhood?

RE: In every mammalian species, immediately upon reaching puberty, animals function as adults, often having offspring. We call our offspring "children" well past puberty. The trend started a hundred years ago and now extends childhood well into the 20s. The age at which Americans reach adulthood is increasing—30 is the new 20—and most Americans now believe a person isn't an adult until age 26.

The whole culture collaborates in artificially extending childhood, primarily through the school system and restrictions on labor. The two systems evolved together in the late 19th-century; the advocates of compulsory-education laws also pushed for child-labor laws, restricting the ways young people could work, in part to protect them from the abuses of the new factories. The juvenile justice system came into being at the same time. All of these systems isolate teens from adults, often in problematic ways.

Our current education system was created in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was modeled after the new factories of the industrial revolution. Public schools, set up to supply the factories with a skilled labor force, crammed education into a relatively small number of years. We have tried to pack more and more in while extending schooling up to age 24 or 25, for some segments of the population. In general, such an approach still reflects factory thinking—get your education now and get it efficiently, in classrooms in lockstep fashion. Unfortunately, most people learn in those classrooms to hate education for the rest of their lives.

The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date. We need education spread over a lifetime, not jammed into the early years—except for such basics as reading, writing, and perhaps citizenship. Past puberty, education needs to be combined in interesting and creative ways with work. The factory school system no longer makes sense.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dependence Nurtures Independence

A researcher at Carnegie-Mellon University has shown that attachment theory (referred to in La Leche League and among Unschoolers as "attachment parenting") works with married couples too. Things we've been discussing among unschoolers for years has research now! How cool. Part of my purpose in posting this here now is so I can find it again more easily when my world finally settles from this upcoming conference and Kirby's move to Austin (he's going to Sacramento with me; we get back Monday afternoon; he leaves town Wednesday morning).

The Thinkers: CMU prof shows benefits of emotional support

By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Monday, June 04, 2007

Brooke Feeney has discovered that the same thing that works for
crying babies also works for adult couples and for parents and their
teenage children.


There are audio files at that site too, as described below:

Carnegie Mellon relationship researcher Brooke Feeney says parents'
emotional support of children is more important than giving them things.

Ms. Feeney explains why people's behavioral patterns are hard to

Ms. Feeney talks about why people who avoid emotional involvement
often pair with those who are anxious about relationships.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Minnesota Public Radio interviews the Traaseth Family

The latest trend in education: Unschooling
Minnesota Public Radio Thu, 17 May 2007 11:02 PM PDT
Unschooling is an unstructured approach to education. Children don't have classes, text books or teachers. Instead they pick their own areas to study. They learn about the world by living in it.


Roya Sorooshian is quoted there too.

The obligatory naysaying "expert" is particularly irritating in this one, but it seems to be what all reporters think they MUST do to "be fair," which is ask someone who has no real idea about unschooling.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sarah Sobonya says unschooling led to creativity

"When I look back on our eight years of unschooling, what strikes me most is how much fun we’ve had. I never expected unschooling to be so much fun. In a way, it’s been a kind of an endless summer: eight years of watching Rain follow her whims and her dreams and of learning and growing alongside her.

"With unschooling, no two days are the same. Some days we rise late and spend the day puttering around the house, maybe baking pancakes and reading together, gardening or watching movies. Other days we’re up early and off to museums or classes or berry-picking or visits with friends."

(the article continues... http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/may/13/first_person_sarah_sobonya/>)

Lawrence Journal World
May 13, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pittsburgh City Paper

SEPTEMBER 28, 2006
Learning Curves
Education is no longer a simple line from "A" to "B." How do students feel about the dizzying array of choices their parents can make?


"In his 2005 book It Takes a Family, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum argues that home-schooling, and not mass education, is really the norm.

"Santorum has a point. While it seems as if school buses and back-to-school shopping have been with us for eternity, our public education system is relatively new ... about 150 years old. And while mass education is hardly on death's door, it does appear that families are increasingly choosing alternatives to traditional public and private schools: from "cyber-schools" and charter schools to parent-led home-schooling. The National Home Education Research Institute reported this July that there were between 1.9 and 2.4 million children home-schooled nationwide during the past school year, an increase of about 10 percent from the year before. Home-schooling is growing even more quickly among non-white families; about 15 percent of all home-schooled families are non-white.

"In Pennsylvania, about 15,000 students were home-schooled in 1995; today more than 23,000 kids are being home-schooled, about 1.2 percent of the state's student population. ...."

The article has a section of questions and answers with teens, the intro to which is

"In late August, City Paper sat down with five Pittsburgh-area students who have participated in at least one of these forms of alternative schooling: charter-schooling, cyber-schooling, home-schooling and "un-schooling." If the students in our discussion group are representative, we may be witnessing the birth of a new fluidity between traditional and alternative forms of education."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Laurie Chancey and Valerie Fitzenreiter


Podcast and links.

From their intro:

Valerie Fitzenreiter's daughter Laurie never spent a day of of her childhood in a traditional classroom. When she was pregnant with Laurie, Valerie read a book called "Summerhill," about a progressive school in England where students were given such a vast amount of freedom they weren't even obligated to go to class. It changed her philosophy on parenting forever.

If Laurie wanted to spend the entire day reading a book or playing computer games, Valerie allowed it.

I remember growing up feeling like I could try school if I wanted to. But I never remember wanting to.
- Laurie Chancey

Dick talks to Valerie and Laurie about life in an un-schooled household.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Unschooling Article in the Tennesean

FINALLY a reporter asked the "expert" whether she actually knew anything about unschooling AND published the fact that she did not.



And there's a companion article: http://www.fairviewobserver.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070128/


sparkly, expansive natural learning

There's an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the writer's surprising and intense interest in Barbaro the racehorse.


As I read how this woman's interest in a horse propelled her to follow all sorts of paths the'd never have taken otherwise, I was reminded of unschooling.

Imagine if your whole life could be like this--pursuing whatever you're interested in. I think this article might explain unschooling better than all those others that have been in the news lately.

- Meg
(posted on Unschooling.info/forum)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Unschooling" Appeals to Some


I think this is probably the calmest, cleanest article on unschooling I've ever seen (that wasn't by and for unschoolers, I mean).

This might be a good one for some people to send to relatives, I think.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sacramento Bee article

"No core subjects, no imposed curricula? You must be unschooled."

The sidebar is pretty good. The last quote shown on page 1 unfortunately could make it seem that Pam Sorooshian thinks it's neglect. The sidebar disputes that. I couldn't get to page 2.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007, and one great article

-=-Isabel, who was listening as her mother explained the philosophy, turned and asked her, "What's a marine biologist?" Pozos answered, teaching her child without her daughter ever knowing she was being lectured.-=-

Uh.... She WASn't being lectured. Her mom was answering a question, just as she would've answered for a reporter or a neighbor. But anyway...

That's from the most positive unschooling article I've seen, maybe ever.

There's only ONE quote from an "expert," and not two. That makes it twice as good as the others even if the rest weren't great (which it is).