Un-Schooling

Esther - posted on 03/27/2010 ( 28 moms have responded )

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I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel the other day about "radical" parenting. One of the families they showed un-schooled their kids. Apparently this is a growing trend. These parents do not believe in telling their kids what to do or when to do it or sending them to school. They also don't homeschool them. They have no hierarchy in the home. Everyone is equal. Nobody can tell anyone to do anything. There is no punishment.



The parents feel that the kids will learn more through "life" than they would in a school or home schooling setting and they teach them things like math by giving them an allowance and letting the kids spend that money as they see fit (so they will have to calculate how much they have to save up to get A, B, or C etc.). They take them to farms, playgrounds, museums and will read books with them, but reading too was only learned when the children expressed an interest and not until then.



The kids get up when they want, go to bed when they want, eat what they want, when they want (whether it be donuts or broccoli), wash themselves if they feel like it and not if they don't, brush their teeth when it suits them, play all day long, watch TV all day long if that's what they choose etc. There are no boundaries, no discipline and there is no curriculum. The idea is to continue to do this until they are college age.



Personally, I think this is crazy and will create self absorbed, spoiled kids who are in no way prepared for the real world where there definitely are boundaries, rules, expectations etc. What do you all think?

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[deleted account]

I think most of you are confusing unschooling with unparenting. Not every unschooling parent lets their children run the house. For some it's just an education choice.



Just because a child doesn't go to school or follow a homeschool curriculum, doesn't mean they're not learning anything. Unschooling is legal in most countries providing the children have a similar standard of education to other children their age.



There are books for unschoolers and life-lesson plans that enable parents to educate their children to a good standard. Some of them are way ahead of other children their age.

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28 Comments

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Sara - posted on 03/29/2010

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Yes, and then I'm sure they'll thrive in the college environment.



Sorry, children need boundaries and thrive on routine...basic child psychology will tell you that. I just cannot see how you would be raising well-adjusted, contributing members of society like that. No one will want to hang out with these kids. That's off the damn deep end.

La - posted on 03/29/2010

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kids need PARENTS not friends. They will have plenty of friends in their lifetime but only one set of parents (who should act the role). Part of being a parent is being friendly, but putting your foot down and setting boundaries takes priority.

Esther - posted on 03/29/2010

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Yeah, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that one too. And the other families they met up with at the park seemed to have a similar live & let live approach to raising their kids. I don't think these parents were lazy though. They seemed very involved with their kids and did lots of activities with them. They just didn't want to "parent", at least not in the traditional sense.

La - posted on 03/29/2010

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I can't believe that mother has her MASTERS in nursing and can't see why her unparenting lifestyle is severely flawed.

[deleted account]

That family sounds like they let their kids do whatever they like and I don't agree with that. I'm against child centered parenting, but I am a fan of child centered learning. I admit that unschooling wouldn't work for most children though. A child needs to have a natural interest in learning about how things work, a passion for gaining knowledge and a love of books for it to be successful.

Esther - posted on 03/28/2010

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Well, I'm specifically referring to the parents on this particular show. I'm sure there are degrees of unschooling, but these parents really did take it to an "un-parenting" level. I was quoting the mom when I said there was no hierarchy in the home, no boundaries, no punishment, nobody telling anyone what to do or when to do it. The kids really did choose to have donuts for breakfast. They said that the daughter usually chose to keep herself clean but that the son would sometimes go for long stretches without washing until they would refuse to cuddle with him because he was smelly. That's when he would choose to take a shower. Of course they do feel they are educating their kids, but they are educating them by letting them take the lead, letting them ask the questions, following their interests. There is no structure at all.

Esther - posted on 03/28/2010

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I think it was called "Radical Parenting". An older episode can be watched on www.discovery.com so maybe this particular episode will be posted in a few weeks.

Iris - posted on 03/28/2010

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I don't even know where to start on this one. The poor kids are handed the perfect recipe of failure in life. How can this can be called parenting? Pick up any parenting book in a bookstore and they all talk about discipline and boundaries in one way or another. I don't even want to think about how hard life is going to be for these poor kids when they become adults. Just really sad.

Esther - posted on 03/28/2010

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Yeah, it seems like such a radical thing to do that I cannot imagine implementing this without both parents full support (which my husband would NEVER have). Not just this, but really any kind of radical, drastic parenting tactic I would think would need both parents buy-in at least.

[deleted account]

@Esther...NO! I would not let my husband unschool my daughter. If he was the type to do something like that, I probably wouldn't have married him...lol. He is such a big believer in discipline. Plus I'm a trained teacher and we have already decided that I would be the one to make all the big educational decisions in our family.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/28/2010

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I think it is bull. Lazy ass parenting, if you can even call it parenting. Children need structure and education just as much as they need independence and fun.

La - posted on 03/28/2010

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I saw this program... The mom said her son "learned to read on his own" at 6.5yrs old from playing his video games....wow...just WOW.

Amanda - posted on 03/28/2010

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Total rubbish, but that being said, how many familys out there whos kids do go to school and at home it is the same theory of unschooling. I can think of at least 2 familys on my street where the child run the house. They decide whats for dinner, they decide bed times, hell they even decide if they go to school or not (just one of the families). I agree 100% its lazy parenting, in both cases, unfor theres no laws against lazy parenting.

Esther - posted on 03/28/2010

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I looked on COMs to see if there were any unschooling forums and there actually are quite a few that are for homeschooling as well as unschooling and a few that are for unschooling moms exclusively. On one of those exclusive unschooling communities I read posts from a few moms who were very happy with their choice to unschool but who had husbands who were not supportive of the idea at all. But apparently they still have agreed to let their wives do this. Would you let your husband unschool even though you don't believe in the concept if he felt that was the way to go?

[deleted account]

I hope Discovery follows this family. I would like to see what kind of teenagers and adults these kids turn into.

And I'm with you ladies. I disagree with what they are doing.

[deleted account]

I saw that documentary too, and I think the network probably sought out THE MOST EXTREME family. I was just shaking my head in disgust at the lack of parenting and htose poor kids who think life is grand! Wish child protective services would step in for truancy! These parents are doing the greatest disservice to their children by not providing even the basic home schooling atmosphere.

Lea - posted on 03/27/2010

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I agree that its in the parents' best interest, not the child's. Even a doctor will tell you your brain doesn't fully mature until you are an adult. A child cognitively cannot make good choices for themselves like that, and they aren't even fully capable of understanding cause and effect or the difference between fantasy and reality. They can't simply make mature choices and learn from their mistakes the way an adult can. They need the guidance and involvement from their parents.

Jess - posted on 03/27/2010

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I think its just an excuss for these parents to simply not be parents. How incrediably lazy they must be. Is it so hard to run your kids a bath, good them a good meal and tuck them into bed ? (amoungst other things)



Children needs boundaries, and I wouldn't be suprised if these kids turn out to be non functioning adults.... Lets see how clever their parents think they are then !

Rosie - posted on 03/27/2010

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who's the fucking idiot that thought of this?!! lol! i agree that you learn more about life by living it than you do by learning about it in school, but you have to have the basics down before anything else. also none of what they are doing is teaching them about life. if you want to teach your child about life, show them what the real world is like instead of your make believe fairy tale that you wish it was like.

Lisamarie - posted on 03/27/2010

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Children definetely need education in every aspect of their lives and schooling is not just about educating children in maths, english, science, etc..School is also educating our children in time keeping, discipline, respect and a lot more. I agree this can be learned at home through proper "home schooling" but to let your child teach themselves??? Honestly, how can a child educate him/herself on a subject they haven't heard of if their parents only introduce them if they show an interest? How can you show an interest if you have never been educated about it in the first place??

I also have to say, leaving school 5 years ago, in the UK, I do think they need to rethink the system here because there are a LOT of subjects that are mandatory and really not needed and efforts could be better spent somewhere else.

But my children will be going to mainstream school! :)

[deleted account]

I think it's obsurd! Children in today's society all ready have this overwhelming sense of entitlement......I can only imagine what would happen!?? Have you ever seen that show " WIFE SWAP " or " TRADING SPOUSES "......I can't remember which one it was but either way, the wives went in to each other homes for a week .......half the week the follow the other house rules and the second half of the week they impliment their house rules! Anyhow, one episode a mom had to go into a house that was managed VERY similar to what ur describing.....it was chaotic and unproductive! That poor mom!



Definitely NOT for me!

Tah - posted on 03/27/2010

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The thing is, alot of what they are teaching them is not how the real world is, you have a boss when you work, with times you need to be in, everything isnt just addition and subtraction.....I agree you can take them to museums and on trips, heck i do that...but they also need to learn there are rules and regulations in the real world, as well as boundaries and bosses.



i mean how offensive will it be to your employer(at the burger king no doubt) when u didnt feel like showering that day...or the 2 days before..I think they are raising children that will be living with them when they are 80..I mean would you want someone who doesnt brush their teeth on a regular basis talking to u with their dragon breath...



I think i watched a little bit about it a while ago, they showed the kids picking flowers and what not...can't they do that...after class....?

LaCi - posted on 03/27/2010

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I agree with some things, I love the idea of letting them learn through activities but I do think there needs to be structure for other things, like keeping them on track in math and reading. I don't agree with the whole idea of it.



My son will definitely go to school, but I will absolutely supplement school with those educational activities and what I feel is important for him to learn/ get a head start on/ get ahead in. Particularly math and reading. I love the idea of assigned reading for home, and I'm a math junkie so I will insist that he should be getting ahead in math. Museums, zoos, farms, etc, thats our normal life anyway ;) it doesn't have to be the primary source of education. I do believe you learn more through life than school, and the internet in particular provides free education if used correctly, but I really do believe school is important in college prep. Lets face it, while universities are usually pretty good about freedom of expression and openness to ideas, sometimes you're going to have a professor who thinks he's an authority figure and you'll have to know how to deal with him/her and maintain your sanity and a passing grade ;)



" I never allowed my schooling to get in the way of my education " - Mark Twain... I may have misquoted but you get the idea. ;D



You gotta find that balance. but hey, whatever works for them. Doesn't effect my kid at all ;)

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