ABC’s Good Morning America program ran a segment on unschooling, which I read about here. If you have a few minutes, would you mind reading it? If it makes you as angry as it made me, I hope you’ll add your comments to the piece, as I did.
My problems with what I read are numerous, but here’s a quick rundown:
- A “parenting expert” (Wow! Can I be one of those, too?) states that unschooling is “sending a message [to kids] that they’re the center of the universe.” Excuse me? I believe that one of the greatest benefits of uncontrolled, un-public, free learning is that it promotes the idea that we are all tiny parts of the universe—that the universe is so grand, so awesome, and so full of knowledge, it will take our entire lives to even make a dent in it. Exact opposite concept.
- A psychiatrist feels that, with regard to giving children freedom to set their own bedtimes, eating routines, etc., “if a child was a little adult I think it would be great, but he’s a child.” Excuse me, again? I believe that one of the greatest benefits of giving children freedom to define and pursue their own happiness is that it reinforces the fact that children are people, just as grown-ups are people. Labels like “child” and “adult” don’t serve much purpose, except in situations in which an adult can exert control over a child, and that’s not a situation unschoolers are likely to find themselves in. According to our beliefs, everybody is a person, and people treat each other with kindness and respect. Exact opposite concept, again.
- The reader is told that the children being profiled in the piece do not have “any plans for college.” Dum de dum dum. Well, that nixes this whole unschooling thing, if there was ever any doubt! Of course, one of the kids is quoted as saying, “”If I wanted to go to college, then I would pick up a textbook and learn.” But it seems that no one asked her to expand on that. I suppose the reporter just assumed the educational model in which teachers impart knowledge and kids receive it, making the unschooled girl’s scenario impossible. Excuse me, again, again. Kids can learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it. Period. That’s the truth. Exact opposite concept, again, again.
But, you can’t expect much from people who believe that it’s a parent’s responsibility to “teach his children to do things that they don’t want to do.” To his great credit, the parent in question stated, “they will do what they need to do, whether or not they enjoy it, because they see the purpose in it.” A child leading a personal-purpose-driven life? Hmm, that sounds like something society should discourage . . . it might not include enough consumerism and submission to lowest-common-denominator ideals.
Sorry for all the sarcasm today, but media representations like this one are a knife in the heart of unschooling. And that makes me so mad.