UNSCHOOLING!

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WORKSHOP #8: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM UNSCHOOLING
A Journal & Project-Based Online Workshop

This is a distance learning workshop, concentrating on uses of the Internet for teaching, learning and professional development. It also is intended to give you enough web sites and leads-in to more web sites to be a continuously useful resource for your learning and doing.

Assessment is based on work you produce in series of essays/listings for topic you "connect with," and with an annotated lists of sites supporting your views and reflecting your web work.

For instance, you might write “The site XXXX [http://www.xxx.com] gave me a different perspective on how to help students learn _____. It also cleared up for me something I was confused about, and that is what educators mean by __________.” Certainly you would want to elaborate more.

This work may be emailed to me at ozpk100@aol.com, or snail-mailed to me at Chad C. Osborne 923 W. Mission St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. If you email the work, you may wish to put it in a Zip file, which compresses text and makes it easier to send over the 'Net.

It may be a very hard task for you as a teacher to envision the merits of students learning from life, without any kind of formal education--at least for an extended period of time.

Journal #1: Consider what some of the famous and not-so famous people have said about Unschooling at Unschooling Quotes and Quotations from Notable Persons Who Saw Problems in Schooling. Which of these quotations "speak" most to your experience? Write about this for a timed ten-minute free-write. Then choosing an interesting idea from this free writing, compose a personal statement on some aspect of Unschooling.

Journal #2: Just what is Unschooling? Read what these two sites have to say, and react in your Journal:

Journal #3: What can we learn from what students who have done unschooling say? A collection of Essays has a lot for you to consider and refect on for this Journal entry.

Project Task #1: Check out these Frequently Asked Questions, and list and annotate material on the questions you are interested in. As a postscript on one of the reprints, note any questions you have that were not addressed.

Journal #4: What philosophy/psychology supports unschooling? Read, react, and formulate a thoughtful response to these seven essays on Unschooling Philsosophy:

  1. Let the Children Play by Jim Muncy
  2. Natural Life A site devoted to several unschooling essays by authors such as Heidi Priesnitz, Wendy Priesnitz, Jan Hunt, and John Taylor Gatto.
  3. Happily Unscathed: A Life Without School Emily, an unschooler, writes of her unschool experiences.
  4. Heather Madrone's Page An unschooling mother's essays and discussions on various unschooling topics.
  5. Essays for Independent Thinkers Essays by Charles D. Hayes, founder of Autodidactic Press and author of several self-learning books.
  6. Ivan Illich Links to much of Illich's books and articles. The entirety of his unschooling pioneer book, Deschooling Society can be found here.
  7. Learning As Living: It Is Not About Fitting In

Journal #5: Why do employers want workers who are capable of self-directed learning, and in what ways might we prepare students for this expectation? Consider, first, this series of links from a management site: Strong Value of Self-Directed Learning in the Workplace and from Self-Directed Learning. Then BRAINSTORM a list of ways charter schools might foster sudent-directed learning.

Project Task #2: Surf and search through links at the following sites, making a collection of annotated site listings on various aspects of Unschooling:

  1. Power To the Youth
  2. Family Unschoolers Network
  3. Suite 101 Unschooling
  4. Home Education Magazine
  5. Unschooling.com
  6. Montessori
  7. Learn in Freedom!
  8. Libertarian Unschooling
  9. Jon's Homeschool Resource Page
  10. Tew's News and Views
  11. Unschooling or Homeschooling?
  12. Unschooling A-Z List
  13. Child-centered `unschooling' fuels doubts, controversy
  14. Notable Quotes for Unschooling
  15. GOOGLE Search On Unschooling Over 10,000 sites!
  16. Homeschooling
  17. John Gatto's Essays

    Excerpt from Why Schools Don’t Educate
    by John Taylor Gatto
    This is from the text of a speech by John Taylor Gatto accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990.

    Here is the calculus of time the children I teach must deal with:

    1. Out of the 168 hours in each week, my children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours a week out of which to fashion a self.
    2. My children watch 55 hours of television a week according to recent reports. That leaves them 57 hours a week in which to grow up.
    3. My children attend school 30 hours a week, use about 6 hours getting ready, going and coming home, and spend an average of 7 hours a week in homework - a total of 45 hours. During that time, they are under constant surveillance, have no private time or private space, and are disciplined if they try to assert individuality in the use of time or space.
    4. That leaves 12 hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness.
    5. Of course, my kids eat, and that takes some time - not much, because they've lost the tradition of family dining, but if we allot 3 hours a week to evening meals,
    6. we arrive at a net amount of private time for each child of 9 hours [per week!].

I want to tell you what the effect is on children of taking all their time from them - time they need to grow up - and forcing them to spend it on abstractions. You need to hear this, because no reform that doesn't attack these specific pathologies will be anything more than a facade.

1. The children I teach are indifferent to the adult world. This defies the experience of thousands of years. A close study of what big people were up to was always the most exciting occupation of youth, but nobody wants to grow up these days and who can blame them? Toys are us.
2. The children I teach have almost no curiosity and what they do have is transitory; they cannot concentrate for very long, even on things they choose to do. Can you see a connection between the bells ringing again and again to change classes and this phenomenon of evanescent attention?
3. The children I teach have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today. As I said before, they have a continuous present, the exact moment they are at is the boundary of their consciousness.
4. The children I teach are ahistorical, they have no sense of how past has predestined their own present, limiting their choices, shaping their values and lives.
5. The children I teach are cruel to each other, they lack compassion for misfortune, they laugh at weakness, and they have contempt for people whose need for help shows too plainly.
6. The children I teach are uneasy with intimacy or candor. My guess is that they are like many adopted people I've known in this respect - they cannot deal with genuine intimacy because of a lifelong habit of preserving a secret inner self inside a larger outer personality made up of artificial bits and pieces of behavior borrowed from television or acquired to manipulate teachers. Because they are not who they represent themselves to be the disguise wears thin in the presence of intimacy so intimate relationships have to be avoided.
7. The children I teach are materialistic, following the lead of schoolteachers who materialistically "grade" everything - and television mentors who offer everything in the world for free.
8. The children I teach are dependent, passive, and timid in the presence of new challenges. This is frequently masked by surface bravado, or by anger or aggressiveness but underneath is a vacuum without fortitude.

I could name a few other conditions that school reform would have to tackle if our national decline is to be arrested, but by now you will have grasped my thesis, whether you agree with it or not. Either schools have caused these pathologies, or television, or both. It's a simple matter [of] arithmetic, between schooling and television all the time the children have is eaten away. That's what has destroyed the American family, it is no longer a factor in the education of its own children. Television and schooling, in those things the fault must lie.

FINAL Journal Question: Compose an "I Learned... list of summary statements, followed by your best direct answer to what you think we can learn from Unschoolers that can be used in charter schools.

If you are doing this Workshop for academic credit, mail/email your completed Journal and Project to:
Chad C. Osborne
923 West Mission St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

CHAD OSBORNE

ozpk100@aol.com