Go Unschooling Sorooshians! (go to hell, Old Lady Wheelwright)

31 05 2007

Teacher Magazine online certainly lives up to its “Teacher” persona with this feature story supposedly about the resurgence of unschooling in popular culture. Guess who is still against it though?

Why, the old schoolmarms of course, you can practically hear the snarl and spittle, see this one bodily squeezing diamonds out of coal “behind” her imposing desk and then leaving them in her seat, when she rises to tower over some note-passer or gum-chewer, the better to brandish her pince-nez in their faces! 🙂

“That is the romantic notion,” said Gretchen Wheelwright, a retired high school teacher, principal and professor at Troy University in Alabama. “It was resurrected in the ’60s for the hippies. Go out and everybody make love and the world is going to be a beautiful place. Our experience is that isn’t what happens.”

Wheelwright said unschooling is a disservice to children.

She remembers public schools trying a similar approach in the 1960s and ’70s, when students could choose their own classes they wanted and work on self-directed projects.

“You saw the results five, 10 years later. They didn’t know anything,” Wheelwright said. “They had vast gaps in areas that they should have known.”

P.S. This is my satirical swipe at unexamined prejudice, which I feel this education expert deserves for what she’s dishing out here. Read at the link for the wonderful part, about Pam’s daughter Roya. Way to go, y’all — and I notice the article doesn’t mention that Pam can match Old Lady Wheelwright’s professorship and even trump her, with that oh-so-uptight schoolish subject MATH . . .

(Now watch, someone will find a lovely color photo of Gretchen Wheelwright, and it’ll turn out she’s younger than I am, at which time I will say it’s who she is on the inside that counts.)



11 responses

31 05 2007

The oddest thing about that was that it was written as though this would be the first time any of these teachers had heard of unschooling.

Unschooling message boards and listservs are springing up around the country, some with several hundred members.

Listserves and web resources are springing up? That sentence would have been accurate in 2001, today it’s just silly.

31 05 2007

Odd, out of touch, close-minded. . . but in the face of all that, Pam and family just keep on excelling at life!
Laura Derrick and crew too — although they get taken to task by the schoolish types Chris linked to at Pandagon — http://pandagon.net/2007/05/28/when-youve-not-stopped-looking-at-your-teenager-for-84-hours/ — all concern and no content, this post is out to save me from a life of servitude as a hser.
As a feminist unschooler, living in loving mutual support with DH and kids, I urge all of these folks to go help someone else.
Like the druggist who wants to “help” me into my next pregnancy — http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/30/171611/159 — these folks should take their “help” and shove it!

31 05 2007

Not to mention that what was wrong with School in the 60s and 70s was hardly free love and academic choice!!!!!!
Those were my high school years. What was wrong had little to do with schooling and nothing at all to do with academics. School the Institution was being used as a vast instrument of social warfare between competing political forces over whose agenda would rule everyone else, and whose culture would be trashed in the process, and the kids’ learning (heck, even their safety, comfort, happiness, liberty) was pretty much irrelevant.

Our unschooling never has race riots, bomb threats or sit-ins. Ironically this is because although as unschoolers we have no textbooks, we are nevertheless ALL ON THE SAME PAGE!

31 05 2007

To COD – the image I conjured up of her is pretty amusing when I see it all hunched over, peering at a flat screen to surf what’s online these days, talk about that hippie-era history, what did they call it, oh yeah. . .blowing her mind!

1 06 2007

Yeah, my schooling in the 70’s consisted of quite a bit of mimeographed worksheets and broken yard sticks on students behinds.

2 06 2007


Unlike schoolkids today who entertain the country every so often with the most ridiculous answers to surveys that test their general knowledge. Wish I could remember some examples; they are always very funny, or depressing, or something.

2 06 2007

Hmmm, I do wonder why Teacher Magazine chose to present this image of “teacher” then — with all the education professors and quotes and varied emphasis (this for example?) there’s no need to paint the education profession as so ignorant, out of touch and clinging to old-school authoritarianism. (Even if it’s true, it could be covered up in their own magazine at least!)
So Chris is right, for whatever reason this story’s editorial choices make “teaching” look worse than unschooling.

2 06 2007

Why unschooling beats standardized compulsory public schoolteaching, from elsewhere at Snook:

“• More than half (52%) of the students had not discussed ideas from their readings or classes with a teacher outside of class during the school year. Only 15% had frequently (often or very often) had such conversations.”
Wow, 15%?? That kind of discussion and idea exchange is our LIFE around here. Maybe unschoolers should start thinking of ourselves as “superschoolers” instead . . .

Take THAT, Old Lady Wheelwright!

2 06 2007
Priceless Lesson Old Lady Wheelwright Flunked « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Lesson Old Lady Wheelwright Flunked 2 06 2007 Still grousing mentally over Old Lady Wheelwright’s disapproval of love, choice and relevance for kids in school. So I dug out an opposite perspective from another retired educator, Marion […]

23 08 2007
Real-Life Education Minister Rivals Evil in Harry Potter Movie « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Hey, maybe she should hook up with Old Lady Wheelwright? […]

25 09 2011
Who Is Old Lady Wheelwright, Really? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Continuing with scary-teacher edict versus unschooler discovery debate: […]

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