Greetings to the Ricochet Community!
The "national conversation" on education today included the Associated Press's cheerful reporting on the reversal of societal norms by parents who 'unschool' their children(read ultra-progressive homeschooling by 'learning through living'). This generated enough of a buzz that the Washington Post, when printing this article, excitedly proclaimed that 'unschooled' children "take the teacher's seat."
While the Post's strange new respect for homeschooling--no longer solely the provenance of those antisocial know-nothing religious weirdos-- is heartwarming, I was nevertheless skeptical. Unschooling seemed to be the latest product of our obnoxious culture of indulging children's "authentic" desires and drives instead of instilling timeless principles and values, excessively emphasizing that they"question authority," and sacrificing knowledge in exchange for idiotic slogans and buzzwords. Unlike homeschooling, which emphasizes parents' roles as teachers, unschooling emphasizes "facilitation." Which of course means encouraging your children to do whatever they want. If reading is not interesting, no problem. Watch a video instead. If kids are not coming to class "juiced to learn U.S. history," why bother with it at all? Keeping your child satisfied is clearly more important than teaching citizenship or cultivating a love for our country. Uninterested in science? Self-actualize in a redwood grove, though that probably won't help you acquire hard skills that will let you excel as an engineer, doctor, or scientist.
Unschooling forgets two important things. Some things are necessary, even if they are not fun. And children don't know enough to be fully entrusted with their own education. If they did, we would let them vote.
But on the other hand, unschooling doesn't seem as stupid at second glance. Kids don't seem to have trouble keeping up with their classroom peers on standardized tests and evaluations(though that doesn't mean much in the era of dumbed-down standards). And our public schools seem more and more to be 'unschools' devoid of adequate instruction. While California's students fall further and further behind in math, science, and English, our legislature comes up with a brilliant solution. Heretofore, history books in California schools must include "the contributions of LGBTQ individuals" throughout our history. Never mind that no one knows for sure if any meaningful figure of American history before 1950 was gay. Surely the most bizarre 'unschooling' curriculum could do no worse for its student. And there is some merit to gaining practical 'unschooled' experience in business or science as a method of awakening interest.
So, thoughts on 'unschooling'?