I don’t know if Geraldo’s ‘deciders’ got the idea from MSN, or if unschooling is just coming to the notice of those in the news business.
ThisÂ article from MSNBCÂ is ‘middle of the road,’ and includes the obligatory nose-counting, and counter-opinion from an expert, with the extras,
- “Others have called unschooling ambient learning or child-led learning. Some call it bunk.”
- “Homeschooling itself is controversial.”
The idea that the earth revolves around the sun was once controversial, too.
MSNBC, Redmond, Washington, 2 October 2006,Â A new chapter in education: unschooling Controversial home-taught approach lets kids take the lead in learning
Mom, Heather Cushman-Dowdee, keeps the younger girls, Fiona, 5, and Gwyneth, 2, busy drawing pictures. For Isobel, sheâ€™s made a large grid with numbers down the side and across the top so her daughter can fill in the multiplication answers. Not that Cushman-Dowdee cares if Isobel does the chart. Itâ€™s just that the girl actually wants to do it. Occasionally they play math games or sing counting songs.
Shana Ronayne Hickman of Cedar Park, Texas, says unschooling has worked well for her son, Kenzie, 8.
She first learned of unschooling when her son was 3. “It made more sense than anything I had ever read in my life,” says Hickman, who now publishes an unschooling support magazine called Live Free Learn Free. “Of course, people learn best when theyâ€™re interested in something. Of course, we retain information much better when we actively seek it out. Of course, learning through life is ideal.”
ThoseÂ less-or-moreÂ positive mentions are offset by an outsider’s opinion.
Dembo, the author of “Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success,” (sic) agrees that the best education comes when children are self-motivated, but he says without formal matriculation some kids risk simply being left out.
And this,Â from a review of Mr. Dembo’s book: “Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success teaches college students how to become more self-directed learners.”
Unschoolers probably show up at college already self-directing.
I alsoÂ don’t know why the reporter asked a person in the mainstream educational business how unschoolers get into college.Â Wouldn’t someone likeÂ Peter Kowalke have more inside information than a person with the opinion thatÂ children of upscale parents won’t be “harmed as much” by unschooling as their less well-to-do peers?
They may not master basic skills, they wonâ€™t receive so much as a high school diploma, and their chances for productive futures could become nonexistent.
Yes, but …Â Â Children in regularÂ schools don’t all master basic skills, and even if they do receive high school diplomas sometimes theÂ peer pressure within high schoolsÂ makes their productive futures nonexistent as well.
If we’re going to have mainstream counter-opinions in articles about homeschooling, we ought to haveÂ homeschooling counter-opinionsÂ in the human interestÂ articles about schools as well.Â
Yet he acknowledges there are alternative ways to gain college acceptance â€” such as taking the GED or writing an essay. And unschoolers may enroll in school, or even community college, long enough to develop something of a transcript.
” … something of a transcript?”Â UnschooledÂ teensÂ are able toÂ enumerate and quantify their activities as well as anyone else, and if the family wants, they can even use a school such as Clonlara.Â Unschooling activities canÂ fitÂ nicely into a transcript-generating format.
Still, I’m cautiously glad to see unschooling getting mainstream attention.Â Greater awareness of the richness within homeschooling can help more people understand that homeschoolers and unschoolers are ‘just folks,’ like everyone else.