A reader sent us the article by Kate Hammer, education reporter for The Globe and Mail , entitled The Deschooling and Unschooling Movement Is Growing. Her article begins thus: “A small but growing movement known as deschooling, life learning, unschooling, and edu-punk is home-schooling returned to its postwar progressive roots, far from the Bible-thumping mould that has come to dominate the modern image of home-schoolers.” Hammer continues, “Unschooling takes children out of schools, but, unlike a lot of home-school approaches, it doesn’t import the classroom into the home. It does away altogether with educational clutter such as curricula and grades. Unschoolers maintain that a child’s learning should be curiosity-driven rather than dictated by teachers and textbooks, and that forcing kids to adhere to curricula quashes their natural inclination to explore and ask questions.” The reader asked if we have an opinion on this trend. As one who was student teaching in an “open classroom” in the early 1970s, I experienced this unschooling experiment firsthand. Here’s what I wrote this reader:
Yes, I have an opinion about unschooling: proponents of this theory ought to be “shot”... for the damage they do to the next generation. This theory has been around since the Garden of Eden. Basically, it is academic lawlessness. In the 1960s-80s I saw whole generations fall through the cracks, as products of their educated parents’ experimentation. The children paid the price of aimless years, growing in nothing but indulged willfulness. Whole school districts even adopted these theories within their classrooms and the results were chaos. The “new math” was all experimentation. The “no–phonics, only-sight-words” approach left the child dependent upon those limited sight words. PE instructors allowed children to lie all over the gym floor together to throw temper tantrums…’cause it worked their lungs….rather than acquire better aim throwing a ball. If you throw out curriculum and choose not to acquire the basics of a general education, coursework becomes any hippie’s immediate whim.
Even within the current biblically-based homeschooling movement, we have seen the results of children who have been raised under this theory, and they tend to turn out sorry adults…taking low-end jobs and playing video games. Most anything they write or say is loaded with mistakes, and they don’t know how to think beyond going to the counter to purchase a candy bar.
The public school system was awful, but homeschooling solved all those problems. Lots of parental attention, and no labeling/ comparisons, etc., produced outstanding results for the past several decades. To take it further and throw out the content (line upon line acquisition of mental skill, sequentially gained) is a disease of modern thinking.
This mental lawlessness has invaded all of modern thought. A woman’s body now is no indication of meaning (enroll her for hand to hand combat in the military; give her a pill to get rid of the bother of having children). Language is no indication of meaning (“the author didn’t really mean this or that…it means what you want it to”). Drinking and robbery are a disease…they have no meaning and the person who does them is not held accountable for his actions. Currency doesn’t need to be backed by gold; instead, it is the instrument of derivatives that no one will ever require you to pay…you just pass the leverage on down the line. And on and on it goes. Unschooling is basically anything goes, it is godlessness.
There is a reason why European royalty acquired tutors for their children from infancy onward and pulled them out of any public education—to be unschooled?...hardly – to train those future kings and queens more rigorously—not to sit at home and stare at the walls and wait for their curiosities to shift. Nearly all of our U.S. Presidents have done the same with their own children; watch what they do, hiring expensive tutors and sending them to exclusive private schools. There is a reason why Jewish people and internationals have come to America for decades to get the most detailed academic edge they can find on the planet. (Of course the modern university is in an absolute meltdown and this is no longer true for the humanities departments, but the engineering, science, and math programs march on.) There is a reason why the forefathers of our country, many of them homeschooled, were able to frame a constitution that didn’t fall apart for 200 years. Because they were so well educated, their thinking was seasoned and mature. They understood how to limit the evils of history because they had studied history, as well as the ordered grammar with which to write the document. And there is a reason why Asian parents start their children on instruments and science when they are three, building neuron-networks through disciplined, line upon line development.
If you are desiring a more comprehensive treatment of this topic visit our homeschoolhowtos.com website and order our hefty booklet, The Two Most Common Pitfalls in Homeschooling. You could order it as an eBook, if you are wanting it quickly. In it I attack every core tenet of these sloppy and devastating “alternatives”. Because a parent trains her children sequentially in the morning doesn’t mean she shuts down their curiosities for the remainder of the day. The two are by no means exclusive, as unschoolers claim. Look at the Biblical injunction in Deuteronomy 6:7: train them in the basics first when you walk and talk. By the age of 12, boys thoroughly learned the Torah, and then later. “When they ask you in time to come…” The questions then stem from a developed curiosity with a language to express itself in and some facts to fling around. To fling around “hot air” gets nobody anywhere. This truly emanates from the pit…and our culture is saturated with it. In every area of life, if you let go of absolutes and disciplined cores, chaos is the guaranteed result, and there will be a debt to pay.