Friday, April 13, 2007

Textbooks, teachers, and unschooling

Things have been really busy the past couple of months and the IndianaHomeschoolers list has taken most of the time and energy that I have for writing about homeschooling. Mostly it has been rather mundane hand holding and question answering for newish homeschoolers.

I enjoy it when subjects come up that I can really sink my teeth into. Unschooling is usually good for that. Today someone on the list said that unschooling was using real world learning and that unschoolers don't use textbooks.

I can quite confidently state that unschoolers--in fact lots of them--use textbooks. My unschooled-until-college daughter had textbooks for algebra and geometry because she felt that she needed to study them for college admission and a textbook is the simplest way to do that. We have loads of textbooks in our house. The big difference between us and more structured homeschoolers is that the textbooks are treated more as resources. They are here to use if someone wants them.

Every once in a while I find myself starting to doubt our unschooling. It will seem that the boys are just spending too much time being boys. These are the times that I will "suggest" that they work on some particular thing. It never fails that instead one of them blows me away with something that he is learning pursuing his own agenda. We're better off when I stay out of the way.

The other supposed unschooling no-no is teachers. We like teachers. We have used piano teachers, spanish teachers and voice teachers. The boys take Greek and our pastor is the teacher. Unschoolers can use teachers and still be unschoolers if they are pursuing something that the child wants to learn.

(I almost lost my unschooler cred when it comes to Greek. Our youngest wasn't too keen on it after he started. You see, it was hard. But I had told them all that if I bought them the books they were finishing the class. He chose to have me buy the book. So he was in. Now he likes it.)

And really, truly, I don't care if anyone thinks I'm an unschooler or not. I am sure that there are radical unschoolers who would call what I do by a different name. But there are also those school-in-a-box folks who find my way of doing things worrisome. So I'll just keep on doing what works for us, which is at least pretty darn close to unschooling.


Barb the Evil Genius said...

I guess we're just not cut out to be unschoolers. My daughters wouldn't learn anything on their own; they'd just play outside and with their toys.

Jane said...

Unschooling is definitely not a good fit for every family. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We can all do what works for us. :)

Meg_L said...

I always find people's answers to that question interesting.

I find the whole idea interesting and the longer I'm doing this the more value I see in it. But it would never fly with my Hubby, so it isn't even on my horizon.

Oh well.