Random Notions and Stories of Teaching

February 17, 2006

Unschooling

In a fit of sleeplessness Wednesday night...(Thursday morning?) I found myself watching Anderson Cooper's 360. I'm not usually into news shows, but as I was flipping through the channels the word "Unschooling" caught my eye.

According to Unschooling.com, unschooling is "following your child's lead." One child told the reporter if she wants to learn about politics today then she researches (i.e. googles) politics, if she wants to learn about an author she learns about an author, etc. Basically, the child chooses what they want to learn, when. This got me thinking about the state of schools in the United States.


I went to a school that taught us the Reggio Emilio approach to preschool. Kids determine the curriculum, teachers direct their learning. Most of our professors admitted that once we got into the public school system Reggio would not work anymore.

When I first heard about unschooling, it sounded like a good idea. However, the children they showcased in this article were "smart" children. I wonder what would happen if some of the students I sub for had parents that decided to unschool them.

One mother even said, her son would probably never be a "worker bee", but she felt he would be a good entrepeneur. The only problem is, we need "worker bees"! If all the "worker bees" of the world decided to quit, there would be a huge problem. People who do general labor jobs are just as important as the people who have important careers.

Do I think the public school system in the US is going downhill? Yes. Do I think unschooling is the way to go? No.

Why did we increase testing when the government decided we were way behind Japanese schools?

Did we analyze any of differences such as length of school day, length of school year, condition of schools, etc before implementing these tests?

Why are we implementing a test on information kids have shown they don't know?

Why are teachers expected to leave no child behind, but not given the materials they need to do this?

Why are we forced to teach in schools that are too small, run-down, and otherwise unsuitable?

If I want "extras" for my classroom, I have to buy them myself and goodness knows I get paid more than enough money to do that.

I understand schools are run at the state level, however, how can the teachers of Texas be expected to bring their New Orleans refugee students up to speed enough to pass the TAKS test when the standards in Louisiana are completely different than the standards in Texas?

How can my mother get a 4th grade student from Florida that doesn't know cursive?

I think implementing standards of what children should know and when they should know it is a good idea. However, lets make them nationwide. Then if a state wants to enhance their standards and add to the national standards, that is fine. But at least every student would theoretically have the same base knowledge.

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