Dr. Phil Unschooling Show Today

24 11 2006

Just watched the whole thing with Favorite Daughter , ho-hum anticlimactic I thought, still, here’s the comment I posted:

Radical Unschooler of Mensa Minds

Aside – “BUTT paste” is the sponsoring product for this episode???

Never heard of such a thing and we don’t even use that word in my family, although we love the Broadway smash “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in which one lyric goes “pouring out my ass” — context counts not just in word choice, but in schooling and also unschooling.

I’ve been teacher-certified for 30 years, lots of public school experience and a well-used education doctorate. Yet my own kids have been radically unschooled at home with no regrets (theirs or mine.) There is no one best way, and no one should be able to decide for other people’s children, absent real abuse or criminal endangerment.

An education is something each child creatively constructs, not some standard dose of something inflicted on the child by law or social pressure in one-size-fits-all form. And education freedom is not about unions, political parties, conformity or opinion polls, wild guesses or personal prejudices. I feel for the couple on today’s show who does not agree about education and each so “adamant” about what to require of the children. They are doomed to fail as parents no matter what they do — in my opinion, but then I’m just a professional public school educator, what do I really know about them? 🙂

I wish the show’s producers had chosen to feature older kids who were always unschooled and academically brilliant, like mine (now 16 and 11). Was it intentional that only these very young unschooled children were shown, so results could be debatable? At 15, my always unschooled daughter chose to

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School Play? Oxymoronic

24 11 2006

Pups and Cubs Learn From Play
. . .not from canine curriculum, prepared by commercial contract with puppy mills and sold to some Dog-Eat-Dog Congress as profitable education.

Some kids are that lucky still, to have engaged parents who let them learn from authentic play, rather than doling out bribes alternated with beatings, education as basic training on some schoolish obstacle course.

By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. . .

Surfing classes for spotted hounds, never mind status-signaling doggy dress or kitty strollers seem to be going in in a new but nevertheless ominous direction, not toward developing the next generation in any productive way, or even letting them all play until they grow into their public lives, but instead toward some demeaning dog-as-plaything indulgence of classless and extravagantly stupid human masters.

OTOH – it’s a delightful image all by itself; my children adore it and don’t see any spectre of education politics in it, thank goodness! Never having suffered the loss of self-directed play, everything is fun for them, and they cheerfully bounce along like dogs out for an unleashed stroll (not in a cat stroller!) and are almost never hang-dog–cynical or defeatist– even in the face of disaster.

I do believe this comes from a life of well-protected play and preserved curiosity about the world, and maybe it IS a form of behavioral conditioning – the kind that creates happy do-it-yourself confidence, rather than some counterproductive, passive-aggressive fear response to all trainers, teachers and bosses.

I’d put a high premium on self-reliant yet socially responsible technology, schedules, lifestyles, networking, world views and income generation. The kinds of learning based on intrinsic motivation, privacy and sustainability, learning that doesn’t require or prepare people to live and work in assigned dorms and barracks under constant public supervision and scrutiny.

. . .I think our kids need to learn differently and do differently, SO much better than we did and so far past school. Someday soon they’ll replace us as thinkers, caregivers, problem-solvers, diplomats, designers, and story-tellers. (If they survive!)

If we really expect public education to help save every dog and a happy world for us all to share, then public support of private exploration and play in every pup’s home environment would come much closer to creating the reality, than ridiculous resort surfing lessons for the elite, while the nation’s puppy mill overruns are left to scrounge kibble off the floor of society’s dog-pound schools. . .

How about “No Dog Dragged Outta Bed for Abuse” before we get to “No Dog Left Without a Surfboard?”