Friday, July 10

Unschooling?

Oh, how schooling is so different now.  I recall my childhood and the schools I attended in South Australia.  I did go to a small private school for a short time, a school that was set up by two sisters at Brighton.   I don't recall much about it.  I subsequently went to a state primary school right next door to Hopetoun, and later attended

I recall the regimentation of school in those days, and the exercise every morning of spelling and mental arithmetic. We also learned our tables by repeating them over and over again.  I know these tasks have fallen out of favour with "modern" teaching methods, but I can't help but reflect that they stood us in good stead.

Nowadays even teachers have trouble spelling, and few students appear to know their tables.

I certainly accept that modern technology has made a lot of things easier, and I am very comfortable with students even at primary level learning to use the awesome technology available to them, but I feel sad that students don't learn some basics like spelling and tables.

It is not yet safe to rely on various spellcheck programs for spelling - you do have to know when and how to use certain words - and you need to make the right choice, especially when your writing is of importance.  You also need to know the rules of English literature or your writing will not always make sense.

Often I laugh when I purchase items and have the exact cash ready for the staff member in charge of the cash register.  The young ones in particular often express surprise that I have the exact amount of money to pay (if I am paying by cash), as they have to rely on the cash register/computer to know what amount has to be paid.  I often get compliments, which I find amusing.

Even my grandchildren are impressed as I am often the "go to" person for information.  Sure, if I don't know the answer, I can quickly find the solution on my "smart phone".

There are times when I ponder the wisdom of home schooling or unschooling as it is often referred to, and I saw the recent program on 60 Minutes on the topic. It was interesting and the family they interviewed from the US added great insight into the popular method of teaching.

There are times when I think that I would have liked to do that for my own children - but it wasn't really an option when they were school children, but if I had lived distant from a school it would have been a good option for me/us.

However, as you can imagine, I do have some concerns about it.  One is about socialising - I do think it is important for children to experience a range of socialising opportunities.  Be it with a sporting club, a community organisation (church group, Guides, Scouts) or similar programs.

Another concern is about courtesy, manners and rules - if I can lump it into one "category".  My experience with home schooled or unschooled students is that they are "different" and sometimes a bit crazy.

Some experience is that at times they are "uncontrollable" when away from home.  They have so much freedom at home that when in public places some of them go a bit wild.  Sometimes the parents lack the control over them in public places that see them doing crazy and often unsafe things, as if they have enormous freedom at home, and expect such freedoms when out in public.

Of course school students can be wild in public too - but in a school group particularly the teachers/parents in charge are concerned about "workplace health and safety" and the repercussions if a child is injured.  This issue does not appear to be of concern to home schooled/unschool students I have noted.

I do like it that there are choices - each one coming with its own challenges.


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