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Learning versus teaching

I have naturally schooled my kids since the moment they were born except when they are at school.


I think part of the problem is that you've kept the concepts of teaching and learning in the same box for so long that they seem like the same idea to you.


But in order to get what unschoolers are saying you'll need to take them (and many other concepts) out and examine their differences so that you can put them in separate boxes.


I think you'll catch on to what we're saying a lot faster if you let go of what you know and start fresh. Just read as though you knew nothing. Because basically that's true. Many teachers have said they had to unlearn so much in order to get unschooling.


Schooling and teaching all evoke a force from the outside pushing "necessary information" into the child.


Unschooling is all about the child drawing what the child wants inward. There's no outside pressure. There are no expectations that the child will take anything in particular in.


Perhaps you're so used to thinking in terms of motivating the child to take in what they "need" that you're thinking that's the same as the child's own uninfluenced motivation and needs.


But those are totally different concepts. And if you picture someone trying to motivate you to do something you don't want to, you'll see it's nothing at all like waking up in the morning eager to get back to doing something you love to do that you had to reluctantly set aside for sleep the night before.


Unschooling is basically forgetting that there's anything academic in the outside world that's "supposed" to be inside the child.


Unschooling is trusting that what's important will get into the child because it's what the child will use and need as they explore the world.


Unschooling is the way they learn to speak. English is all around them. It's a tool. But their goal isn't learning English. Their goal is getting what they want. English is the tool they use to get what they want. And the more they use English to get what they want, the better they get at English -- as a side effect.


Even though there's a huge body of knowledge about English that kids need to know to function as adults, we don't give acquiring it a second thought. We know it will get absorbed as a side effect of living.


I don't understand why a set reading and writing time is any different than a set (not necessarily by the clock, but every so often) bath, eating, or playdate time.


It depends why it's being done and who is doing it. (And not universally wrong. But wrong like wrong directions. If someone is trying to get to unschooling it will lead them further away.)


Unschoolers do have some sort of structure in their life. But the structure we're talking about is the same structure that summer days have: it helps us do the things we plan to do, and get where we want to be on time.


So to get what unschoolers are saying, you'll have to examine the differences between structuring someone's life so they can do what you want them to, and organizing time to help someone can get what they want done.


If a child wants to write and the child thinks it would be a good idea to set aside an hour a day for writing -- as many writers do -- then it's unschooling to respect and support that in whatever way the child would like us to. It's unschooling to suggest setting aside an hour a day along with lots of other ways a child could accomplish what the child wants to do.


The focus should be on helping the child figure out what he wants to do. Then help him figure out ways he could do it. Then help him implement one of those ways. Then help him analyze how it's working and whether the goal is still the same. Then either tweak it to get it working better or revise the goal and start fresh.


But if it's the parent's goal that the child write more, and the parent wants to set time aside for the child to write, that's not unschooling.


I don't understand why a set reading and writing time is any different than a set (not necessarily by the clock, but every so often) bath, eating, or playdate time.


It would probably help you to examine the differences between those.


Presumably a child wants to play so setting up a playdate is facilitating the child's interests.


Presumably a child doesn't want to take a bath so having a set bath time -- even if it's only once a week -- isn't facilitating the child's interests. It's meeting mom's needs and making life more convenient for mom.


Presumably a child does want to eat. But taking time out to eat when they're hungry is a totally separate idea from mom making a meal when she feels it's a convenient time for her and the family.


If you can examine how those are different rather than how they're the same, it will help. The difference centers on whose needs are being met and why.



Joyfully Rejoycing
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