MSNBC Does Unschooling (What Controversy?)

3 10 2006
So MSNBC is trying to understand and explain unschooling too.What grade do you give to unschooling? * 10931 responses  

The story could have been worse but it’s glib and about a half-inch deep.

“Controversial home-taught approach lets kids take the lead in learning . . .

Unschooling allows youngsters to chart their own educational course. So if they want to doodle on the floor instead of opening a textbook, their parents let them go for it…”

child drawing - MSNBC

If unschooling piques you and your interest, check out Snook’s more “radical” unschooling resources. And consider that force-feeding the child’s body is considered abuse these days. Some of us see it that way for the mind and spirit too.

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5 responses

3 10 2006
misedjj

See more “school is to food” food for thought in the “Well-Versed Gourmet Education” post:

…what makes it work so well for the amateur, is Fry’s belief that poetry, like cooking, “begins with love, an absolute love of eating and of the grain and particularity of food.”

Here, he’s unconsciously echoing John Dewey, who argued that
“craftsmanship … must be loving” and that the form of art “unites the
very same relation of doing and undoing, outgoing and incoming energy,
that makes an experience to be an experience.”

Poetry, then, isn’t a symbol for a type of behavior, it’s an experience
on its own —

3 10 2006
NanceConfer

I’ve only gotten as far as the poll, so far. Just having a poll that grades unschooling shows how much they’ve probably missed the point. 🙂

Off to read the rest. . .

Nance

3 10 2006
misedjj

The NHEN discussion forums are so smart and intellectually voracious. I remember a whole thread on how the culture of schooling is more barrier than bridge for learning, and so it’s not just individual families that need to unschool, but society itself, for example:

“The quiet comment of one student – ‘It’s not a good thing to be wishing you were somewhere else all the time’ – is echoed many times across the schooling spectrum. . .

The project provides us with a rare and significant moment in the endless political and media discussion about education. Now we have the opportunity to listen to what the children have to say – listen and learn.”

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Education-News/Hear-the-voices-of-the-voiceless/2005/05/27/1117129892642.html

May 30, 2005

Children have much to say about their education, writes June Factor.

Some good ideas are catchy and enduring. In 1967, the British newspaper The Observer ran a competition for secondary schoolchildren on the topic “The School That I’d Like.” The response was unexpected: more than 900 entries, with essays, poems, charts, collages and drawings.

Edward Blishen, who edited a book about the competition, wrote that the students’ response “amounted to an enormous, remarkably good-humoured, earnest, frequently passionate and, at best, highly intelligent plea for a new order in our schools”.

The “new order” had myriad facets but its core was an education system that gave the students respect, considerable choice in both subject and manner of learning, a built and natural environment of beauty and diversity, competent, enthusiastic teachers, and less rigidity and hierarchy in school organisation.

Many children wrote in anger or despair. “At last we have been consulted!” remarked 15-year-old Judith.

But even the bitterest entries offered suggestions for improving the shape, content and character of schools. Not surprisingly, Blishen’s book caused a stir, giving voice to the voiceless and undoubtedly contributing to a more responsive, progressive shift in educational practice in the next decade.

Fast forward 34 years, to 2001. Encouraged by the Blishen success and two education academics, The Guardian ran the competition for a new generation of children – both primary and secondary. There were thousands of entries.

The accounts of current educational practice in Britain against which so many of the children cried out seemed disturbingly similar to those that imprisoned students in Blishen’s day.

Now the project has come to Australia courtesy of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. As a judge, I have had the opportunity to explore the thousands of entries, to admire, to wonder, to compare and contrast.

Do the children of the Antipodes speak with one voice? Largely, yes. In NSW there is more discussion of the pros and cons of separate schools or classrooms for boys and girls, probably because that state separates the sexes more, especially at secondary level.

But there appears to be no other educational issue – from toilets to timetables, sport to self-initiated learning – that differentiates the concerns, passions, imagination and vision of youngsters on both sides of the Murray. And similarities between the Australian and British responses are striking.

The essentials of schooling are much the same in city schools and country, inner and outer suburbs.

Not even the material advantages associated with the wealthier private schools protects them from criticism.

The quiet comment of one student – “It’s not a good thing to be wishing you were somewhere else all the time” – is echoed many times across the schooling spectrum. So is the view, encapsulated in a sardonic couplet:

They claim that each student is unique, Yet they teach as if to be different is to be a freak.

There is much joy in these entries, as well as disappointment and rage – joy in the freedom of imagining a school underwater, or in a tree, or just a beautiful building with rounded, colourful walls, comfortable seating, gardens, water, animals, play space.

Children write, draw, model and sing about education that is “daring and caring”. They yearn for “inspiration and imagination”. They are also practical, emphasising essentials such as clean toilets, “forgiving” teachers and a study environment in which they are active partners.

The project provides us with a rare and significant moment in the endless political and media discussion about education. Now we have the opportunity to listen to what the children have to say – listen and learn.

June Factor is an honorary senior fellow at the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.

3 10 2006
misedjj

Looking through my Thinking Parentnotes:

INTUITIVE EATING AND INTUITIVE LEARNING
Saw this in the Miami Herald (From Eat Well/ Sheah Rarback food column, Jan 2006 I think) and thought of unschooling philosophy — the results
of healthy education can’t be measured in the triglycerides or brain mass in the same ways healthy eating is detected and documented, but the
parallel does offer some interesting angles. JJ

Intuitive eaters heed their stomachs, find non-food ways to handle emotions

Q: I just saw something on TV about intuitive eating. Does it really mean you can eat all you want and still lose weight?

A: The short answer is yes and no. You can eat what you want if you are eating to satisfy true hunger. Intuitive eaters do not diet. They learn
to recognize when they are hungry and when they feel full. Instead of using a ”diet plan” to decide what to eat, an intuitive eaters listens
to their stomachs. They also find non-food ways to cope with emotions.

A very small study (30 subjects) at Brigham Young University compared the relationship between intuitive eating and several health indicators.
It found that female college students who were intuitive eaters were leaner, had lower levels of triglycerides and higher levels of good HDL cholesterol.

This philosophy encourages making peace with food and body acceptance. Since intuitive eating responds to a person’s physical needs, exercise
is an important element.

The book Intuitive Eating (2003, St. Martin’s Press), by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is a great guide for those who want to learn more about this natural path to healthier eating.

3 10 2006
“Flex” More Than Simple Spice « Cocking A Snook!

[…] More “school is to food” analogy in response to MSNBC’s unschooling piece. From JJ’s notes – […]

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