If you’re on the fence about homeschooling, the first thing you worry about is curriculum. And then, it seems,  you write an email to me. Because I get two or three emails every day from people who ask me how I deal with curriculum.

To these people I sound like a crazy person telling them I don’t teach my kids curriculum. I point them to posts:

You don’t need to teach math

You don’t need to teach reading

You don’t need to teach chemistry

You don’t need to teach grammar

You don’t need to do the pre-college curricula to get into college

The research to support these ideas is endless. But it’s hard to convince people that their kids will be fine. So I’m happy to announce that Sparks & Honey, a New York City-based firm of futurists, predicts that one of the top-ten new jobs people will have in 2025 will be unschooling counselor.

Sparks & Honey CEO Terry Young says, “The concept of education as a four-year box-ticking exercise will be over. The future will be more diverse. People will plug in a year of education here and there, a month now and again, and un-schooling counselors will guide them the whole way. We’re seeing the evolution of the traditional counselor to someone who can hack your life together so it’s unique.”

That unschooling will be mainstream in college years by 2025 is especially significant because unschooling travels up, not down. Which is to say that parents are most comfortable with it for early grades, where research is clear that kids—especially boysshould be running around playing, not sitting still trying to learn math and social studies.

But as kids get older, parents push the kids toward a more traditional curricula. Parents are more scared to take risks with their kid’s education as the kids get closer and closer to college.

So if unschooling is mainstream in college by 2025, that means that unschooling for primary grades will be mainstream by 2020. Or earlier. And I’m actually really looking forward to being mainstream. I get tired of being a revolutionary. And when unschooling is mainstream, everyone will see I was right.

 

75 replies
  1. Lisa Swaboda
    Lisa Swaboda says:

    Penelope,

    Love it ! Former rogue educator who was disillusioned with the system, fought the system, and finally is homeschooling her son. I’m looking to support homeschoolers who still feel like they need a curriculum and want to move them to less structure. Tough breaking into a new business, but our kids’ sanity, creativity, and empowerment is worth it. You’ve made a new fan today! Good stuff.

    • Betsy
      Betsy says:

      Lisa, we have similar bios – I am thinking I have found my new career! I actually have already done something similar for some friends. Exciting things ahead for our culture and times.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    Meanwhile, Democratic politicians in Ohio want to restrict homeschooling and HSLDA has their work cut out for them at an increasing rate. I certainly hope this predicition for 2025 is correct, because it will mean the fight will be won.

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I really can’t believe how fast homeschooling has grown in the last year, especially in my city and surrounding areas, including people in my social circle and extended social circle it’s 50/50. These are not people homeschooling for religious reasons, although that is totally cool with me, the people I’m referring to are homeschooling because they see it’s the better option. I am so amazed that we all have the courage to go against the grain, and now it doesn’t seem so crazy, the school at home with boxed curriculum looks crazy.

    I do use curriculum for math, but that’s because my kids are passionate about it, but I’m not even teaching it. I’m teaching them how to start the videos to watch the lessons, they don’t need me to teach a lesson because they get it.

  4. redrock
    redrock says:

    The un-schooling councelor is really a joke, right? Isn’t unschooling about the freedom to choose? The unschooling councelor will become the same thing as the college admissions councelor – it will become an industry which makes its own standards. I think that the reason all college applications look alike (same as grad school applications, in particular those from china where the grad school admissions counseling business is huge) stems from the fact that we have professional college admissions counselors who think they know how the college application has to look like. It is a self perpetuating industry.

    • Apple
      Apple says:

      I honestly can see the benefit of what was called an “Unschooling Councilor”. I also worry about the slippery slope, as it were, into falling right back into the same patterns. However, I also feel that counseling is what teachers would be doing more of if they were free enough to do so. I do not discount teachers. I appreciate them. It cannot be easy to watch children squirm under the constraints of common core curriculum. I unschool my son but my daughter chooses public school. Not at all for the activities or education but for the socialization. I think there is room for unschooling councilors in this world. Why not? We have tutors, mentors, and teachers. I disagree that an unschooling councilor would be doing the same tasks as a college academics councilor. My experience has been that they do not advice you on what classes would enrich you in your individual interests but whether or not you have enough credits and which ones you have yet to fulfill. The concept of an unschooling councilor is to help a student find the resources they need to pursue their interests. Not measure their interests by marketability and completed coursework. Honestly, how many of you went through the motions of becoming career ready at the mercy of some advisor only to find years later that they hadn’t really paid attention to want YOU wanted? I think and interest led facilitator would have been helpful for me. Personally, I’d love the opportunity to do that for others.

  5. Jason Leavitt
    Jason Leavitt says:

    To me, the hardest question is…is the dynamic between a kid and their parents conducive for homeschooling. For some, the answer is no, so home schooling is not an option. The curriculum part is easy…lots of online resources to help there.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        highly restrictive parents, narcissistic parents, parents with substantial emotional problems, parents who are emotionally abusive, parents who clearly do not want to be home with the kid, parents where only their opinion counts, parents with very limited life experience who have no tools to enable their kids, parents who cannot accept kids who are different from them….

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          There are lots of teachers in schools that fit this criteria, but they are not barred from teaching our children in schools.

          • Brynn
            Brynn says:

            There are very few public school teachers I would want homeschooling my son, and I ‘m related to a whole pile of teachers. My husband, a public school teacher, even comments frequently that there is no way he would want my job. Penelope writes frequently about how homeschooling is hardest on the parent. I don’t know many adults that are willing to switch the power dynamic in their lives to move their children higher on the social hierarchy than they are. This is why the “school at home” approach is so popular and unschooling is so scary – it disrupts the social hierarchy and power dynamics our society flourishes on. There are many people who cannot handle that and actually become aggressive when faced with it.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            .. but school is an environment with more choices then home. Please note that I am not saying school is perfect, but being at home with a somewhat emotionally abusive parent can indeed be hell. There are no perfect answers – for some kids school can be a wonderful way out of a crappy family, for others it is much better to be homeschooled. But saying that all kids should be homeschooled and everything will be good is neglecting some unfortunate realities.

        • Kim
          Kim says:

          I think we can rest assured. Narcissistic, emotionally abusive parents would very unlikely be interested in homeschooling, not with society’s pressure on them to conform. Trust me, my mother would have rather chewed her arm off than spend more than two days will me. Actually, she almost did.

        • Jim
          Jim says:

          I’m pretty sure that parents with those traits will self-select themselves out of the homeschooler group. Are kids with parents like that insulated from ill-effects because they go to school?

      • Jason Leavitt
        Jason Leavitt says:

        You live in a fantasy world…or at least a world I’ve never seen. So when it’s time for you kids to brush their teeth, do they stop immediately and do what you say? When you say “we’re leaving in 2 min, get your shoes on” do they stop what they’re doing and get ready to go.

        The most influential person in my life growing up was a basketball coach, not one of my parents. Parents aren’t gods…sometimes someone else is better at performing certain task…educating being one of them.

        • Kim
          Kim says:

          I’m sure your basketball coach was someone who’s positive behavior, you wanted to emulate. You didn’t simply look up to him because he was giving you rules.

          Same way with parents, kids feel motivated to listen to their parents and give respect when mutual respect is given. Parents are most likely the only ones in society who have the incentive to give a child the time of day.

          Besides, kids learn from a variety of different individuals and experiences. In school, they can’t do this easily.

  6. Brynn
    Brynn says:

    RedRock hit the nail on the head with my family. When I threaten to drop out or have my patents allow me to transfer to independent study, they finally agreed. I had an “academic coordinator” who was an unschooled counselor. We met once a week for me to check in and when she felt I could demonstrate knowledge enough for a credit, it was awarded. Her job, and she was straight up about it, was to hack public school. I could not have unschooled with my parents. I had to move out, drop out of main stream education, and separate myself from them. Much of the world doesn’t want individuality or authenticity. They want you to just be different enough to be interesting, rather than uncomfortable.

  7. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    redrock, unfortunately there is no “reply” option on our little convo, but to just make my point. What you are describing is not a homeschool dynamic issue, that’s a parenting issue.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I totally agree. The fact that there are incompetent parents in the world is not an argument for taking kids out of the home to educate them. It’s an argument for taking kids out of the home to rescue them. And, when you say it that way, the bar for incompetence is pretty high. Most parents can parent and that’s all you need to do to homeschool.

      Penelope

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Exactly! Thanks for finishing my thought.

        I think unschool counseling sounds intriguing. I wouldn’t mind paying someone to put together portfolios for me if my kids want to go to college. Maybe I can do this myself with some sort of online start up…. I know some software exists for IEP’s for schools, it would be nice if we had something similar for homeschool/unschool. I keep telling my husband to ask his software engineers to come up with something but they are all too busy to help me.

        • katarina
          katarina says:

          When our goal is to be proven right in the end, we are asking to be served a large piece of humble pie. Education is cultivation…whether one completely un schools or uses a combination of materials or not, unless the student tills the soil, plants the seeds and waters the field, no one will be proven right in the end.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          Husband just told me to draw up plans. Might actually have something to pitch to an investor. If anyone has any ideas of what they would be looking for I’d love some input, especially if your homeschooler definitely wants to go to college. I’m thinking something like an IEP with a portfolio format option. Since most unschoolers won’t have transcripts to go off of in the admissions process.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Shouldn’t these unschoolers be savvy enough to whip up an online portfolio using any of the off-the-shelf web things already in existence…Wordpress…or the like? It’s not rocket science.

  8. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    That top-ten-new-jobs link in the post is 404, but I found this: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3015652/futurist-forum/8-new-jobs-people-will-have-in-2025?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer8c089&utm_medium=twitter#3

    I guess its the same info?

    It sounds like they’re talking about college, though…with the mention of 4-year checking the box?

    So, why the assumption that unschooling travels up not down? I would say that to some extent, yes, because preschool, kinder, most elementary school stuff any one can teach, but my kid is already showing a stronger aptitude for math than I ever had, and they learn math in new ways at school that I didn’t learn (fact families?) and it seems to be working for her. Working well. Whenever I asked my dad for help with my math homework it was a disaster. But, I digress.

    It feels like taking the quote that’s clearly talking about college and applying it to kids is a little self-serving. At the end of the day, nobody is going to be “right” or “wrong” about anything except perhaps they’re own kid. I guess it’s each of our privilege to “experiment” with our children as we see fit. Yikes!

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      the comment this follows is awaiting moderation…I didn’t say anything extraordinary or offensive, I think it must be because there was a link in it

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        :) I was wondering! It seemed like you were correcting grammar but there was nothing else.

  9. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    “And I’m actually really looking forward to being mainstream. I get tired of being a revolutionary. ”

    Man, I am so tired of this too. I really appreciate it when you write these posts that remind me that what we’re doing isn’t weird or unusual or completely ruining my kids’ futures. Being at the forefront is exhausting.

    I don’t know why parents become less confident with taking risks as their kids get closer to college, I’m finding it much easier to let my son specialize the older he gets. That happened for me when I freed myself from the idea that he had to go to college though… and it really was freeing. He’s now doing online courses that he would have had to wait another two years to do if he was still in school. By the time he’s done I’m not sure he’ll even need to go to college. That’s a good place to be.

  10. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I also interpreted the future job of un-schooling counselor in the Fast Company article to be in reference to current four year college degree programs. This may be a new job category in about 10 years but it really shouldn’t be necessary if children become self-aware and develop confidence in themselves. Whether they are in some type of school or are being homeschooled, they need to become self-reliant in all aspects of their life including hacking their education past their teen years. In fact, as life-long learners, they will need to continue to develop, manage, and promote their own personal learning networks.
    Hacking your own education past your teen years is becoming even more imperative as costs in higher education institutions sky rocket. It’s becoming an economic freedom issue to prevent from being crushed in student loan debt. Also, there are many college educated people that are over qualified for the position they fill in the workforce or end up working in a field they didn’t receive their degree for whatever reason. The best education is one that never stops and allows you to adapt to the skills required in the marketplace.

  11. Scott Goode
    Scott Goode says:

    This is a great article. I hope that this firm is right. I work at a Sudbury School called Alpine Valley School (www.alpinevalleyschool.com) which provides a safe place for students ages 5 to 18 to explore free of a quote in quote academic curriculum. That’s not to say academics don’t happen, but the students spend their time the way that works for them. And judging from our graduates and from other Sudbury School graduates, they – as you said – turn out just fine. Trust in your kids and they will do amazing things!

  12. Mark
    Mark says:

    I wonder how learning math on the job would work for a meteorologist. Or how not being strong in math would work for getting into, or succeeding in, a good meteorology program in college. Probably not so well.

    • mom of 5 unschoolers
      mom of 5 unschoolers says:

      Probably someone who wasn’t actively pursuing mastery in math skills will not be pursuing a career in a math heavy profession. They might pursue a career in editing with the reading/writing/ grammar skills that the focused on. Or maybe a chef with competent math to double/triple recipes but more creative aspects than math.

      • Mark
        Mark says:

        You have it backwards. She has a goal toward which she is working. She isn’t floating through school and then picking a goal consistent with what she happens to know.

        She loves weather and currently wants to be a meteorologist. In order to accomplish this, she needs top notch math skills, which will most likely include at least a year of calculus in her first two years of high school. To help with her goal, we’ve accelerated her math studies so that she’s currently over two years ahead of “advanced” students her age in the public or private schools around here.

        The idea that I “don’t need to teach math” to her because she can learn it on the job or that math beyond the basics is useless or that being good at math is something that will come naturally to her if she is “good” at is is over-broad nonsense.

        She’s gone from crying in frustration over how to round numbers to doing quadratic equations in her head in two years. She goes to a math circle with boys, and they *are* all boys, who are math prodigies. She isn’t a math prodigy, and she’ll never be solving any of the great problems of math, but she’s more than smart enough to learn enough math to study and model weather. The idea that advanced math is useless or to that she’d just somehow pick it up on her own is just as pernicious a fallacy as the “socialization” one and others that professional educators try to use against homeschooling.

        And, frankly, your idea that math doesn’t require creativity seems to show a fundamental misunderstanding of math.

        • mom of 5 unschoolers
          mom of 5 unschoolers says:

          I see that pushing to learn a skill that will be needed if the goal is such that the skill is needed. But, if someone doesn’t have the desire to do something like meteorology that needs high level math their math skill does not need to be so high. I loved math and enjoyed learning math when working with a competent instructor. I loved all of the problem solving. I do not think that math does not take creativity, but one does not typically think of math/science as a creative art like one does painting, culinary arts, dance, etc. Perhaps that is a limitation in our language. We tend to call the “arts” creative and don’t call the “sciences” creative but you are right… the sciences are very creative. But, I assumed from your post that you were hypothetically wondering. NOT that you had a kid who had a goal that would require them to work through the math even if it was hard. My kids, too, have goals and have to work hard through things that aren’t so well liked to get to that goal. But, there is a goal that helps them to push on. Sorry – rambling, now.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I would think teaching her math this aggressively, as long as she gets it, will help her if she changes her mind about meteorology down the road. It is transferable to other jobs. And as someone whose family is filled with all sorts of engineers, a lawyer, and a phd professor, if she doesn’t figure out calculus in high school you better have a backup plan or find other resources like jr college courses and tutors or Kahn academy to help. I only use curriculum for math, but I still consider myself an unschooler.

          • Mark
            Mark says:

            I don’t think it’s especially aggressive at this point. Algebra I in the 8th grade (even though she skipped 5th grade) is reasonably common around here, even in the public schools. Next year, she’ll take Algebra II and Geometry so that she can take Precalculus as a sophomore, which *is* a bit more aggressive.

            I think she’ll be able to do calculus just fine and I could teach her that if necessary; I took math through engineering calculus before switching to political science and going to law school. It’s most likely, though, that she’ll spend her junior and senior years taking dual credit classes at a four-year college. That’s one of the reasons we want to get everything up to PreCalc out of the way before then.

            If she starts struggling in math or decides that meteorology isn’t for her after all, she’ll know some extra math. It’s hard to see a down side to that.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      Yes, at 6, there’s not a lot they NEED to know…it’s great if they can read by then and it’s great for them to explore a bunch of stuff. Saying a 6 year old has been unschooled is like the funny thing people say when they say they’re “homeschooling” a preschooler…yeah, OK. Like I said, when it comes time for more serious studies, it’s different. Not saying homeschool can’t work (though I am VERY skeptical of unschooling…) But in Finland, they don’t even have kids go to school for academics til they’re 6 anyway (before this, it’s play-based) and they have the “best” educational system…

      • Jessica
        Jessica says:

        Can’t really compare Finland to say usa equally. Finland only employs teachers with masters degrees. Their teachers are extremely well regarded and it is very hard to become one.
        I just returned from a holiday full of Finnish/Dutch/ Swedish people in the Canary Islands…every family their was multigenerational. Grandparents with parents with children all together all spending time together. For 2 weeks. When do you see that in the USA?

        • Jen
          Jen says:

          Actually, I see it a lot in the USA. In fact, it often happens in my own family. But, we’re getting off-topic…

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          The point was that it’s not a big deal to homeschool a kid til they’re 5 or 6 because heavier duty academic stuff doesn’t really need to happen til a little later… and Finland was an example of that. I think they start kids earlier on those things in America because we’re hyper to “get ahead” but it doesn’t really get kids ahead it just burns them out. Now if you have a kid who shows an interest in reading and writing earlier (mine did) you can answer their questions and coach them, but the idea that you have to teach kids to read before they’re 6 is off…and the point is, if you say you’re homeschooling a 5 or 6 year old and having success, it’s not that big of a deal. Talk to me when they’re doing algebra, calculus, etc.

  13. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    If a los chooses to do eg hard math because she wants to be a meteorologist – then that is unschooling too. My son loves math and I do everything I can to challenge him in that area. Now I have a masters in math so, up untill now – he is 7 – it is really easy. But he does 9th grade algebra, and even I might end up not being able to challenge him. So if his interest continues, we will have to find other resources or other people who can – that is unschooling too.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      How is that unschooling, unless everything is unschooling?

      We sit down with a math curriculum and work through it much the same way as would be done in school, except it goes more at her pace, we focus specifically on where she needs better understanding, and there aren’t 20+ other kids in the class to worry about.

      I don’t see how that is even remotely like unschooling unless, again, everything outside of a formal school is unschooling.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Some things that we learn are linear – like math and music — and some things are nonlinear like reading and writing. So unschooling looks linear sometimes and nonlinear sometimes.

        The core of unschooling is not if it’s linear or nonlinear, the core is that there is no set curriculum. Kids learn what they are interested in. Very few kids are interested equally in creative writing and algebra. Unschooling gives more weight to the kids’ interests. Traditional schooling gives more weight to the material some unknown adult thinks the kid should learn whether or not it is interesting.

        Penelope

        • Mark
          Mark says:

          Well, we use a set curriculum. And we are giving weight to what adults think she needs to learn. She really has no way of knowing what’s required for being a meteorologist. Math, qua math, isn’t especially interesting to her and she’d never push herself for the sake of math. The math is a tool and not something we necessarily do for its own sake.

          If she just wanted to pursue math for its own sake and we just went wherever her interests took her, I could see how that would be called unschooling, with respect to math. However, that’s not what we’re doing. There is a very linear path she needs to take, whether or not each part of that path is interesting to her. She is doing the same math she’d do in a traditional school environment, just under better and more flexible circumstances.

  14. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Just wrote a whole bunch and lost my internet connection …
    The key is that it is what the child want – if she says she wants this and you help her, and she is free to leave any time she wants – then it is unschooling.

        • Jessica
          Jessica says:

          Well I don’t think unschooling means ‘don’t bother helping your child learn values’ or ‘don’t parent’ unschooling doesn’t mean the parent/child relationship is obliterated along with school….

  15. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Actually – math is not linear either. Like I said, my son does 9th grade algebra, but doesn’t know the multiplication tables yet (he is learning them though – I know because he quizzes me in them every day). He understands how to use powers of ten and how to do long multiplication even if he has not learned those tables yet. He jumps in where he is, where his interest is – and it may be that in a traditional math understanding it comes the wrong way around – but then, sometimes he’ll just have to learn he is missing “on the job”. But most often, his lack of knowledge of basic math is no hindrance for going on to more advanced math.

    • Jen M.
      Jen M. says:

      This sounds like he understands the concept of multiplication, he just doesn’t have the lower numbers memorized yet. I think these are two different things. I wouldn’t really call memorizing multiplication tables understanding math, it just makes everyday math situations easier if you have them memorized. That’s great that he is learning in his own way and seeing why memorizing the multiplication tables makes life easier and then wanting to memorize them. I’m sure he will learn them much faster since he is the one initiating rather than you trying to force him to memorize them.

  16. Antonio
    Antonio says:

    I think one thing you have to keep in mind, though, is that there are some kids who have the ability to excel academically in traditional classroom environments, don’t have the slightest clue as to what they want to do for a living, and are just trying to keep all their options open. I didn’t have any well-defined career goals until I went to college, and certainly I would have loved to drop some of my math and science classes in favor of humanities if my parents had put up with that. They did not, and I came out well-rounded but thinking that I wanted to be a doctor. Two years into college, I decided that what I really loved and was best at was language teaching, so I switched my major from biology to French and decided I would get a PhD in French in order to become a college professor. The financial crisis, and an accompanying drastic shrinkage in the academic job market, took place while I was in graduate school, but I felt that I had invested too many years in academia to quit. Now, I am between my thesis defense and my deadline for filing the final copy of the dissertation to get my PhD issued. For a variety of reasons, it has become clear to me over the course of several years of job market nonsense that tenure-track hiring committees do not actually value the kinds of skills that humanities graduate programs emphasize, the job market has become a lottery/pyramid scheme, and being a professor is no longer (or maybe never was) the low-stress, rewarding job that I thought I saw when I watched my Italian and French profs as an undergrad. But you know what? Because I finished my pre-med prerequisites all those years ago while still trying to live “my parents’ dream” I was able to teach and tutor people preparing for the MCAT for five years. Because I did THAT, I can sit down and bang out a 90+ percentile MCAT like it’s no big deal. And because I possess this science knowledge, I can STILL go to medical school and have a way to support my family in style. Sure, it will take some time, but as a doctor with a decent specialization, even if one assumes that I WOULD HAVE gotten a tenure-track professor job AND that my career as a doctor will be ten years shorter than my hypothetical career as a French professor, I’ll make 4 or 5 million dollars more over the course of my career.
    My point is just that people who allow their kids not to be well-rounded because they want to “let the child choose” are playing a dangerous game with the future of young people who are not mature or far-sighted enough to understand why they need to “study all this boring junk.” I thank my lucky stars that I learned a hell of a lot more than the humanities subjects where my primary gifts lay, because now that the bottom has fallen out of the career that I chose on the first go-round, I can pursue a better one. Most of my math- and science-illiterate fellow humanities PhD-holders do not have this option.

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      The point is actually not just to let the child float around on their own – the point is that they actually learn better when they aren’t pushed – and retain the knowledge better. If eg my daughter doesn’t find math interesting, but grows up and wants to be a veterinarian – then having not been pushed to do math when she wasn’t ready – she will most likely be able to complete most of primary school math in a few weeks, and add high school math on top of that in a few months. Because she will learn it when she is motivated to learn it, and at that point her brain will observe much much faster than when presented with the curriculum at an arbitrary time given by an adult. Also life it self will present her with many opportunities to think abstractly and logically – opportunities she will not necessarily have had when presented with these subjects in school. And the rate they learn at is so fast because they learn when they are ready – my son spent the “preschool” years studying animals intensely – and he knows more about animals than most adults – because he has spent those 10.000 hours studying the subject – back then he thought he wanted to be a zoo keeper. He has ten years+ to specialize in what ever subject he wants – and not be pulled away by a grownups who thinks their agenda is more important. He can change major many many times before school kids even reach college – and still be ahead of the game. And maybe he doesn’t even want to go to college – who knows, seeing as your college degree is practically worthless to you, maybe college isn’t the smartest move – or maybe he’ll go to college at 12 – who knows. All I know is, he’ll be able to learn what ever he sets himself up to, and so will other unschoolers like him.

    • Anna M
      Anna M says:

      I find this comment very funny- most likely this man won’t be earning a decent paycheck until he is 40, and he thinks that proves the point that all that schooling wasn’t in vain. I don’t unschool, but I know a big part of what unschooled want for their kids is get to the reality of their lives- how are they going to make their life fit with their goals, ambitions, and dreams (with supporting families being a real goal for lots of these families.) and if they start focusing on that at an early age, maybe they can have a real job before middle age. I guess instead of all the debate about whether unschooling is right or wrong, or will it ruin my child or not we should ask is there any area of my life or my child’s life where they are accomplishing some self directed learning- actually accomplishing some personal goals. I know as a child I did what my teachers said, and the rest of my time of devoted to leisure and friends. Nice life while it lasted, but it didn’t prepare me for adult life when I would be expected to take charge of my own life and progression. P.S. Med school is one of the last places where if you get in you are virtually guaranteed a okay paying job because they limit enrollment severly. No other advanced degree provides that level of security, so the example he used can only be narrowly applied.

  17. katarina
    katarina says:

    Some people are born with a work ethic but most need to be taught. Brains and laziness are more common than brains and diligence. “When I feel like it” is an egocentric mentality. As adults,daily drudgery is a reality we must all face. Now we have a society where everyone is convinced it is a human right to have lots of fun. Gatto, the king of unschooling, says that schools produce immature people. What is maturity? Moving past the egocentric stage. There are plenty of adult looking people who have childish inclinations and expectations about life. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is having the oppprtunity to cultivate a sense of self without encouraging (obviously unintentionally) our kids to become completely self centered. Shedding our egos is unpleasant, and that is part of why it is best to wotk at it among those who love you. Helping someone grow involves more than giving freedom…it is the delicate and indefinite art and science of nurturing. No one will be able to guarantee any outcomes, but one thing is guaranteed,if we don’t teach our children to persevere, to accept drudgery, to realize that life is full of thankless and unappreciated tasks, they won’t be very good at those things.

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      Since most adults today can hardly be said to have been unschooled, unschooling cannot possibly be judged by how society look today. Actually quite the contrary – most adults have been put through a school system where they were forced to do things they din’t want – for their own sakes – and if they have come out self centered maybe giving them time and space to be childish when they are children, will mature them into adults when they are grown up?

      • Mark
        Mark says:

        There are all kinds of things kids are forced to do for their own sakes because it is better for them in the long run. I’m not sure why some academic topics are sufficiently different in kind that the same reasoning wouldn’t apply.

        I don’t have any issue with making sure my kids know how to use objective and nominative case pronouns even if that’s not something they’d choose on their own at this point.

        • Dawn
          Dawn says:

          And most unschoolers try not to force those thing on their kids either. As unschoolers are primarily concerned with their relationship with their kids, most of them try not to use coercion at all. So it doesn’t apt to academics only – it applies to life.

          • Mark
            Mark says:

            Would you coerce your child to brush his teeth if he otherwise wouldn’t? To stay out of the knife drawer?

            I’m primarily concerned with preparing my children to live in the world as it is. If they’re mad at me because they have to brush their teeth when they don’t want to, or clean their rooms when they don’t want to, or wash the dishes when they don’t want to, or learn that “Jane and me went to the store” is grammatically incorrect, I can live with that.

        • Dawn
          Dawn says:

          I would coerce them I to not playing with sharp knives yes – but is has never been necessary, saying that they are dangerous is enough. I haven’t coerced them into brushing their teeth and 9 out of 10 times they brush them willingly, the tenth time we might discuss it they might agree or they might not and I’ll leave it at that. Grammar – I have never corrected their grammar and haven’t run into any problems of the sort. The only place I would use force would be if they used force on others or put them selfies in danger – but I do find that the more I use reason and not force and the less I enforce anything else, the more they listen.

          • Mark
            Mark says:

            Have you never corrected their grammar because you feel it’s acceptable to use words incorrectly, because you figure they’ll figure it out on their own at some point no matter how often they are exposed to incorrect usage, or for some other reason? Or do they just never make grammatical errors?

            I see “leaving it at that” if a kid doesn’t want to brush his teeth as a dereliction of parental responsibility. That’s probably why the whole unschooling mentality is something that would never, ever work for us.

  18. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    I don’t correct their grammar because I do figure that they will figure it out in time – they spend most of their time with adults and the time they spend with other kids, the kid:adult ratio is quite high, so yes I expect them to pick it up.

    Since my kids might end up skipping maybe one out of 20 tooth brushings I actually do think that the damage would be far greater if I forced them than the actual damage they suffer from that. My kids trust me, and they trust me when I say that it is important to brush their teeth – that is far more important, because then I will know that they trust me when I say that drugs are really dangerous too. I can’t control them forever, but their trust in me will hopefully never fail.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Can you explain the advantage of “expecting them to pick it up” at some indeterminate time in the future as opposed to their learning it now?

      My kids spend spend the overwhelming majority of their time with adults, but an appallingly large number of adults use words incorrectly, think “between she and I” is proper usage, and wouldn’t know when to use “who” or “whom” to save their lives.

      • Dawn
        Dawn says:

        That constantly correcting kids makes them feel bad, and people who feel bad don’t learn as well.

        That those adults are doing fine without knowing the difference between who and whom and so would my kids, if it should come to that. If most adults get it wrong, then wrong is the new right :) at least according to the Danish academy of language – that’s how languages develop. My kids speak three languages and my son corrects my Spanish grammar. I think they are doing just fine without being corrected.

        • Mark
          Mark says:

          Yeah, it’s like we don’t even live in the same world.

          My kids feel bad when they don’t know something, not when they learn something.

          “Doing fine” isn’t my hope for my kids, though.

          I’m not sure of the relevance of their being trilingual, but it’s nice that your approach works for y’all. It would be a complete and utter nonstarter here.

          I guess that brings us full circle back to my original comments: much of the stuff here is over-generalization in support of a particular approach.

          • Dawn
            Dawn says:

            Yes my children are a very weak statistical basis for an argument. But with all the blogs (incæuding this one) out there with examples of how well kids learn with unschooling, and all the examples I personally know in real life – I chokolade to trust that it works.

            The reason I mentioned the three languages is that they have pickled up, not one but three, languages just fine and very corrrctly without me corrrcting them. And My kids do not feel bad from learning – they live oearning, bit learning and correcting is not the same thing.

          • Commenter
            Commenter says:

            I’m not sure where Mark lives. It’s lucky for me that I don’t live there because then I wouldn’t have been able to wangle being a polyglot into a rewarding and remunerative career.

            But really I’m logging in just to say that Dawn’s spellchecker is hilarious. I chokolade to trust that it works too.

  19. Children of Eve
    Children of Eve says:

    I think people really are seeing that unschooling is a good and “right” choice. Unfortunately though, most people have no idea how to go about it because they cannot think outside their school box. I can definitely see them giving up their kids to an unschooling “counselor”. They always want a formula, they want someone else to do the work for them, but they want the same good results. It doesn’t work that way, what we’re doing is an organic, flexible, intuitive, 24 hour lifestyle that can’t be entirely duplicated outside this model. But, I do believe it’s better than conventional schooling, so that is a good thing and a step in the right direction.

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