Friday, September 30, 2011

Survey needs homeschoolers' responses, please

Roya is Pam Sorooshian's daughter. Please help her out with this! Pass it on. (The photo is Roya and her mom.)

Note: The survey is set up for U.S. families only. Sorry to the many others who will come by here!

Dear Homeschooler,

My name is Roya Dedeaux. I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Counseling at California State University, Long Beach to meet my goal of becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). I was homeschooled from the age of ten, when my mother removed me from the public school system. From that time, I have been interested in how our alternative education has impacted us as a culture.

As I began my studies in the Counseling field, I became more and more aware of how many therapists are unaware of the diversity that the homeschooling population includes. I also heard many anecdotal stories of homeschoolers who felt they could not go to therapy because they were afraid that the therapist would not understand their lifestyle.

I decided to use my current studies to benefit the homeschooling culture that I grew up with. The purpose of my study is to measure adult homeschooler’s mental health needs, and their attitude towards seeking therapy. The results of my thesis will hopefully be used to benefit the homeschooling population by providing much needed information to the mental health profession. If there are any significant barriers for homeschoolers to seek therapy, this survey will isolate those as well.

I found your homeschooling organization’s email address from an online search. To qualify to take this survey, you need to be over the age of 18. Additionally, you need to have EITHER been homeschooled yourself, OR homeschooled your own children. Any types of homeschooling methods, religious affiliations, or mental health needs are welcome. It should take approximately 25 minutes, is completely anonymous, and at the end you are qualified to win one of 2 $50.00 electronic gift certificates to!

Please feel free to pass this survey along to any other adult homeschoolers you know. I have two goals: 1st, to get 1000 responses, and 2nd, to get responses from every state!

Thank you in advance for your help and support of a fellow homeschooler.

--Roya Dedeaux


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Unschooling — Is This A Cure For Our Failing Education System?

Unschooling — Is This A Cure For Our Failing Education System?,0,3987396.column

The beginning of the article:

If we were to start from scratch, how would we create the best possible learning environment for our children? Would we organize children in neat rows of uncomfortable desks and chairs, segregated by age and alphabetized? Would we try to squeeze seven diverse subjects into a six-hour day? Would every child be forced to learn the same information at the same time and then get tested immediately to make sure it stuck?

Obviously, no. But the factory-style school system is the system currently in place, and many families are deciding that they want something different, something more natural for their children. A few leaps beyond homeschooling is unschooling, a concept with a definition that is different for every unschooled child. Perhaps one-third of the thousands of homeschooled children in Connecticut are unschooled.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pat Farenga posted this moments ago:

Today is the official opening of the revised site. All the back of issues of Growing Without Schooling are online for free, as well as many articles, videos, and recordings by and about John Holt. I've also added lots of books, research and support for unschooling teens (including college admissions) and children.

HoltGWS Home
Growing Without Schooling magazine, unschooling and homeschooling information, and the learning advocacy work of John Holt and his associates are here. Documentation and support for self-directed learning.

St. Louis Kids Magazine, February 2011

This article isn't new, but it seems I didn't link it here or on my site, so today I'm adding links. Michelle Cox wrote the articles (is credited for the third one, but I think she designed them all).

In February 2011, St Louis Kids Magazine (online and I'm not sure whether on paper) did a three-part series. Their local featured-family mom was Valorie Helt. In the bottom of the first part, Ren Allen was interviewed. The second section was an interview with me (Sandra Dodd), and the third was about state law, Valorie's family, and the opinion of an expert (who was largely supportive, and they let me respond to the dismissive ideas).
Unschooling in St. Louis

Why a Former Teacher Kept Her Own Kids Out of the Classroom

Debating How Kids Learn

The end of the third part of the series:

Basically, it is a method of education that doesn’t use curriculum or formal lesson plans, but rather lets children learn based on what interests them. (Read more about what unschooling is in Part 2 of our series.)

Not surprisingly, the method has its critics.

Dr. Keith Sawyer is a professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a well-published author and leader in the field of learning sciences and a regular speaker on school reform and how people learn.

Sawyer said that some of ideas behind unschooling have merit. “It’s true that most students are bored in school, don’t like it and don’t find it motivating. Even talented students - not just drop-out students - report being pretty bored in school,” he said.

“One of the unschooling premises is that children shouldn’t be made to learn something they don’t want to learn, and research does support the idea that kids learn far better when they are intrinsically motivated (motived by the love of doing it) versus being externally motivated (by grades or money).”

Additionally, Sawyer said that research supports the idea that more effective learning occurs in authentic and situated learning environments - environments in which individuals are learning to use knowledge in a real world setting.

“Classrooms are detached from a real world context, so I can understand how unschooling has the benefits of learning in a project-based, real-world settings,” he said.

However, he said that while there is research to support some elements of unschooling, the fundamentals are misguided.

“The whole purpose of schooling is to create a learning environment which will accelerate and support the most optimal kinds of learning. It is true that people can learn by themselves, but they will learn more effectively where the goal of the learning environment is to help them learn in the most effective and efficient way.”

Sawyer said that is why societies developed structured learning environments, which have been around since the onset of reading, writing and literacy. “Even before we had formal schools, we had apprenticeships and religious instruction so that people could learn to read and teach the Bible,” he said. “The notion that people will learn best when completely removed from any designed learning environment isn’t valid.”

Sawyer acknowledged that there are significant issues with school settings today and that reform is necessary. “I have no problem with parents who are working to find alternative designed learning environments, but to say we don’t need ANY kind of designed learning environment is ridiculous,” he said.

Dodd disagreed, saying, “Our entire life created a learning environment for our children, every day, at home or out in the world.”

She added that there was a time when only scholars had access to tablets and writing, so a student needed a scholar to share those materials in order to learn. “In 2011, access to the written word is everywhere,” she said. “In a family with books, magazines, a library card and the Internet, that is a world of literacy unprecedented in any time before this.”

On the practice of “radical unschooling,” where the methods of unschooling are more of a lifestyle and are also applied to parenting practices, meaning no bedtimes or limits on access to media, Sawyer said that’s a completely different topic. “That’s not just unschooling, it’s unparenting,” he said. “It’s a huge leap from unschooling to unparenting.”

Dodd countered that it takes more parenting to be with a child directly as he lives and learns, no matter what time it is, than it does to parent by the clock and tell a child to go to bed regardless of what he’s doing.

“I understand that it’s difficult to understand unschooling,” she said. “Even for those who want to understand it, it takes awhile. I would never speak of something I had never seen, nor write about a country I had never visited, nor review a food I had never tasted.”