Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'Unschooling' lets children lead their own education


Herald & Review.com
Central Illinois
Saturday, December 4, 2004 11:49 PM CST

'Unschooling' lets children lead their own education

This article isn't new, but it quotes Richard Prystowsky, and because of that I'd like to have it here where others can find it.

Here's that part of the article, but the whole thing is brief and good.

Professor Richard Prystowsky, department chairman of math, science and engineering at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif., has written several articles on homeschooling, and he and his wife homeschooled their two younger children. Because they had chosen a family-centered lifestyle, neither felt comfortable in sending their children to strangers to be educated in what he calls an "impersonal" system.

"I am not opposed to public education," he said. "I am opposed to the systemic nature of public education. That's a crucial difference."

The current system of schooling, he said, developed with the industrial revolution and is too autocratic. If teachers and children had the freedom to be creative, to let students take the initiative, and if standardized tests and curriculum were abolished, public schools could better serve students' needs.

He's especially critical of segregating students by age and expecting small children to sit at desks and all learn the same thing.

"What in the world could be further from the real world?" he said. "People talk about socialization, but is that how you want to train somebody, segregate them by rank and age and pay attention to one thing for 42 minutes at a time? What professional do you know who spends his days like that?"

School reform, he said, must begin with completely changing the current system.

"Reform that does not address the systemic nature of the problem is not going to address the problem," Prystowsky said. "I want to see teachers in public education free and creative to do the work they need to do. I want to see students free to help direct their own learning path."

If all children weren't expected to learn the same material at the same rate and could instead pursue subjects they were truly interested in at their own pace, he said, there would be far fewer discipline problems.

"In my tradition, the Jewish tradition, we have an important teacher, Rabbi Hillel," Prystowsky said. "He used to teach that you begin with the learner, where the learner is. You go to the learner and you start (teaching) from there."