Unschooling

Posted on April 20, 2010

1


Personal freedoms abound in America.  Well, they’re supposed to, and I think they should, and it seems that they do, so I’m going with it.  But at what point should rules exist that restrict these freedoms?  What about raising children, for example?  Parents have the right to teach their children whatever religious beliefs they see fit.  They also have the right to educate their children.  Some states put restrictions on this, others don’t.  But what about home schooling, or a lack thereof?

According to one parent, “unschooling has no rules.  It is all organic.  It really promotes how learning is accomplishing in real life — through experience.”

… What?

Admittedly, I’m not terribly keen on having someone employed by the government teach my children.  But I also know that my rights as a parent include involvement in our local school district.  So if I’m going to use the public schools for my children’s education, I’m going to know what they’re learning and I’m going to contest anything I find unnecessary.

I can understand if there are parents that want to avoid sending their kids to public schools, or even private institutions.  I can understand that some parents want to employ alternative educational approaches.  I cannot fathom what sort of mind would think it acceptable to not give their child any structure or education at all.

Let’s think about this: people in favor of the unschooling movement admit that it’s a system “where children get no education and basically teach themselves what they need to know.”  So if a child decides that they want to play video games all day and all night, that’s okay, because the child knows what’s best for their development.

Bullshit.  Children are smart; they are capable; they have natural talents.  But they need structure and guidance.  Why should I show my daughter how to do anything?  She’ll figure it out on her own.  If she throws a tantrum about eating certain foods, or watching television before bed, or taking a bath, then I should just let her make the decision.  I mean, I’m just the parent — it’s not like I’ve been alive for twenty-eight years or anything.  Sure, I have a college degree, but that doesn’t mean anything because my education is just a bunch of opinions.  That’s what I get for paying thousands of dollars to have a philosophy degree…

Has my point been made?  I’m not sure it has.  Consider this example: I knew this family back in my hometown that was rather… odd.  The children went to school like everyone else, but their parents had the approach of being completely honest and forthright with their kids.  They believed that children are intelligent and can understand whatever you throw at them; there’s no need to “dumb down” anything because a child will eventually figure it out.  This meant that my friends were learning about politics, sex and drugs long before the rest of their peers, because anytime they asked their parents a question, they got the truth (and then some).

Last I knew, all three of these kids were consistently using alcohol, acid and marijuana.  They spent a lot of their time hosting parties and, while each is incredibly intelligent, they had no visible hope for their future.  Maybe I’m wrong, though; maybe they’ve made something with their lives.  Maybe someone will point out this post to them and they’ll comment with their story of success.  Personally, I doubt it, but only because I’ve seen what happens when people are given too much freedom.

Freedom without structure or guidance is not freedom at all.  The human mind is often a slave to the body and its desires.  Raise a child in a “unschooled” environment — no structure, no rules, a do-whatever-you-want attitude — and you’ll produce  a person who is a waste of space, on both the personal and citizenry level.

In closing:

“Ann Pleshette Murphy, the former editor of Parents magazine and the current parenting expert on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is doubtful.  ‘This to me is putting way too much power in the hands of the kids — something that we know kids actually can often find very anxiety producing,’ she tells ABC News.  ‘And it’s also sending a message that they’re the center of the universe, which I do not think is healthy for children.'”

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