Sunday, August 19, 2007

The cat's out of the bag.....

So, in our 7 years of unschooling, I have NEVER used the "u" word around my family. My mother completely would freak out, she is turned off enough by homeschooling, there is no way she could grasp the concept of just what we are doing all day if it doesn't involve "school at home". She pesters me each May about the kids "test results" and I smile and tell her that our annual evluation went well and that all of the kids are progressing at an acceptable rate, and sometimes even throw in that each of them is the smartest kid in their class (she has just never figured out that they are the ONLY kid in their class!). I never elaborate at just what that means and she happily accepts my answer.

Anyhow, back to the point of the brother has taken a job that has him overseas working. He is bored so he emails me (I have talked to him more in the 4 months that he has been gone than I did in the 34 years he lived here!). So the other day he sent me an email, and I mentioned unschooling.....I think he may "get" was our exchange.

From Steve:

So, how are things going back there in the States? Everything over here is just fine and boring. I have sent a few postcards from here and there. I hear you are getting a little taste of our weather. 96-102 would absolutely suck with that midwest humidity. I hear that all the grass in Ohio is dead (or near dead). Over here I don't even notice the heat anymore. But it's not humid either. Did the canoe rental place there in Loveland recently change hands? A friend of mine bought an canoe business on the Little Miami and I was wondering if it was the one in Loveland. Water...I can't wait to see that again.

I truly wish I could report on all the interesting things going on over here, but there are none. Everyday is Monday and everyday is Groundhog's Day. Nothing really ever changes.

Oh well, I'll write again soon.


My reply:
Not sure about the canoe place down here changing hands, I will have to ask around and see....the river is SO LOW I can't believe that it would be any fun to canoe right now.

Our grass is still green, but just barely. It is really the ballfields, the grass cuts your feet if you where sandals!

Mom is driving me NUTS......I keep trying to keep my promise to dad to "take care of her" but man does she make it hard.....and if my dumbass brother wasn't half way around the world, she might have a little bit less to bitch about! Em, Sophie, Will, Luke and I went out to dinner with her a couple weeks ago (the other kids managed to come up with excuses!)...she wants to make it a regular thing....dear God help me! Will did drive her nuts, so maybe he will be my saving grace!

We have been keeping busy at the beach waterpark and the YMCA.....anything to stay cool!

Grant's baseball team finished 4th in the city tournament (teams from cincy, sw indiana and northern KY) and 2nd in the Clermont County tournament. That boy has some ball skills....luckily he is about a 1/2 a step quicker than my turtle brother!

County fair was a few weeks ago. Hannah took 1st place with her anti-smoking project and 3rd for her scrapbooking project, Emily 2nd place with her art (although she didn't get a ribbon because of a judging mistake), Grant 4th in collectibles. Sophia won 3rd place in the baking competition with her cupcakes decorated like little lambs! We had a blast out at the fairgrounds every day. Since Hannah took first place with her project, we had to go up to the state fair for her to present it. Talk about HOT, what idiot decides to have a fair the beginning of August and then builds the fairgrounds on BLACKTOP?

The kids and I will be heading to NC here in a couple of weeks to attend an unschooling conference. We are really looking forward to it. Jay is looking forward to a week alone, well except for the dog!

I am attaching a few pictures of the kids, not sure about the firewalls and filters you have if you will be able to see them! If they don't come through and you want to see them, let me know, I will make an online album someplace that maybe you can access.

Steve reponds:

Yeah, I got an email from mom a couple days ago. She sounds kind of dispondent. She was talking about killing chipmunks. Anger with the wildlife will not be tolerated. I think she may have finally lost it. That means our plan is almost complete!

The pictures came through great. Once I get my new computer from the States, I'll download them. That picture of Sophie is PRICELESS! They're all going on my wall if I can find a way to print them. You must have really made "friends" at the fair...with all your kids winning everything.

If baseball season is over, what's next? Basketball probably doesn't pick-up until later in the fall.

Okay, just what is an "unschooling conference"? You'll have to educate me on that.

Training folks over here is kind of like herding cats. Trying to get them all to do the same thing at the same time is near impossible. It is a good thing that I do more "advising" than anything. I have probably done about 10 days of "work" since I've been here.

Well, I'll see you when I go on vacation. I can't say when that will be exactly...we can't talk about travel.

C-Ya Soon!

And I respond:
Football season is in full swing. Cade, Jacob and Grant all play. practice every Mon, Tues, and Thurs night, games Sat or Sunday! Cade's coach is fairly anal retentive about the team website, not sure if you will be able to access it or not, but here is the link he usually updates it at least a couple of times a week.....Cade is #7! Jay is the one in the back row looking rather serious! The other two coaches aren't nearly as good at updating the websites! Grant's team is really good....undefeated the last 3 seasons, defending conference champs. Jacob's team, well, we just hope they might win a game or two! Football runs through the end of October.....Basketball practice will start Nov. 1.

Since you asked....well, Unschooling is a word I will NEVER use in our mother's presence, but I figure you know how far gone I already am, is the belief that life and learning can't be seperated and that true knowledge of anything is only obtained when it can be linked to some relevant way to living. In short in means we aren't pouring over textbooks or taking tests, we are following our passions! Here is a link to one of the sites of one of the "gurus" although I find her a bit abrasive(we talk often by email) , I embrace and live a lot of what she advocates Two writers that I feel really get the whole thing are John Holt (short easy books to read) who although he didn't have children gets the whole idea that learning needs to be connected to living. Another one who is very interesting is John Taylor Gatto, former NY teacher of the year, who now writes and promotes why school isn't what most people think it is! , linked on that page is his essay Against School it is a quick read, two others I really like are "Why Schools Don't Educate" and "The six lesson teacher". Yes, if you were ever in doubt of how far I have gotten from the mainstream, you will be no longer! Now don't freak out, the kids aren't going to be lazy slackers sitting at home at 25, they are each passionate about things and the older set are mapping out plans to take them into adulthood. College is on the horizon for at least some of them!

Here is a link to the conference we are attending, I am even going to teach a funshop. The kids are really excited. Our best friends (Deanne and her two children Sarah and Chris) are going with us!

If you need better copies of the pictures to print, let me know, some of them I have larger copies of, I try to email them in the smallest format so to not slow down anyone's internet connection

Attached is a picture of Grant catching!

Herding that is a phrase I use all the time....applies really well to HOMESCHOOLERS...especially when you are trying to get a group of the kids to do ANYTHING!

LOOK HE GETS IT>>>>> Here is his response:
Having just scrathed the surface of this idea from the article links you provided, I think I can say that I can support the concept of what is being presented. I think it has to do with the availability of life experinces from which to learn. I also think that the vast wealth of knowledge that is available immediately in this age, makes the need for formal learning near obsolete. I can equate this to simple things in everyday life. If you want to "learn" something, then you need to do that "something". Without interest in a topic, there will be no learning of that topic. That seems so simple. I think the problem is that many do not have the resources to explore this option. It would take an entire re-construction of the "school system" to give this option to everyone. Then we would end up traveling down this well-worn road of "institutionalizing" this new system into something that may be no better than what we have today.

That being said, on an individual basis, I think it is a wonderful concept and applaud anyone who is willing to do it. I think Gatto hit the nail on the head when he stated that people as "individuals" used to seek knowledge from "individuals" who specialized in the area of knowledge that they were interested in (gurus, etc.). This is by far the best way to learn. It is proven over time as the "apprentice/master" relationship. Anyway, schools as institutions of learning using the "assembly line" approach are an utter failure. Again, I applaud anyone who attempts something different and takes personal education upon themselves, or in your situation, assists other in individualized education.

Stepping down from my soapbox...

1 comment:

Deanne said...

What a great response from your brother! It's nice to have someone in your family who "gets it".
BTW, Emily and my daughter, Angelica have struck up a friendship through the L&L kids list, and then Myspace, so I'm looking forward to meeting you all next week! :)