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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#21  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 22, 2010 10:19 pm

Spearthrower wrote:There are numerous topics where an instructor is critical. A language is a good example as you need constant correction to fix the grammar and pronunciation - just reading a set of rules will never permit you to speak that language.

I certainly agree that a human instructor and interaction is critical to learning language. I was just disagreeing with melchior's blanket assertion that a human instructor was critical to all subjects.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#22  Postby Varangian » Apr 23, 2010 12:16 am

locutus7 wrote:Some republicans in the US are pushing for homeschooling to be the norm, and advocating the dismantling of the national education system, which they claim is poisoned by secularism. I guess they want to move america back to the 1800's.


Naaah, just to increase their voter base.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#23  Postby pcCoder » Apr 23, 2010 9:58 pm

A family member of mine has come under a bit of a problem. I don't know if it is due to depression or other issues, but he has missed so much school lately, only in high school now, that he may not pass. He gets good grades and all and understands the material very well. But there is some talk of possibly home schooling him. Now in this situation I see it as a very bad thing for several reasons:

1. His mother seems to be stressed or depressed a lot of the times herself, and spends most of the time asleep. While it would be her job to do the schooling, I simply don't think she will go through with it or be very motivated to do so.
2. The stuff kids learn these days is much more complete than what they have learned. A lot of the stuff would be more complex than what they would be able to teach. Even the classes he is in now are already over their heads, and his older sister can't even help out her child with her maths and her child is only in middle school.
3. It is a bit crazy and high-stressed at his home. If he home schools, he will be around that all the time.

I'd like to strongly advise him not to home school, maybe to see a psychologist or something. Going to public school is a win-win situation for him: he gets a break from home life, the teachers actually know and understand the material, and it won't depend on his mother schooling him whenever she is feeling motivated enough for it.

I am somewhat concerned though, as if things keep going the way they have been, I think he may end up dropping out of school. And if he home schools he still may never graduate because of the above. But having a diploma is rather important, unless he wants to flip burgers all his life, and there isn't any guarantee that in the future such jobs may be phased somehow or start requiring diplomas for them as well.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#24  Postby melchior » Apr 23, 2010 10:01 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
melchior wrote:And as with any 'skill' - be it maths, music, science, art, sport...at some point you need to be 'taught' by someone who knows more than you do about the subject.

No you don't. I learned plenty of math from textbooks without any instructor intervention.


Oh right.

When I did my Maths A-Level and Maths degree I needed intervention from people who knew more than me.

Perhaps I'm a bit thick though.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#25  Postby melchior » Apr 23, 2010 10:04 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:There are numerous topics where an instructor is critical. A language is a good example as you need constant correction to fix the grammar and pronunciation - just reading a set of rules will never permit you to speak that language.

I certainly agree that a human instructor and interaction is critical to learning language. I was just disagreeing with melchior's blanket assertion that a human instructor was critical to all subjects.


Why is an instructor crucial to learning languages and not for other subjects? Especially given your earlier comment regarding maths.

Learning maths is actually the same as learning a language. You need to be taught the syntax and vocabulary - there's no other way really.

What subjects do you consider are 'learnable' without the input of an instructor?
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#26  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 23, 2010 11:57 pm

melchior wrote:Why is an instructor crucial to learning languages and not for other subjects? Especially given your earlier comment regarding maths.

Language is fundamentally about communicating with other human beings, or at least interacting with other human beings. You can't really practice the real thing without having other human beings to practice on. The same is not at all true for math.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#27  Postby campermon » Apr 24, 2010 8:28 am

Warren Dew wrote:
campermon wrote:If you don't teach kids stuff, how do they find out what they want to learn about?

:lol:

They surf the internet, read the books the parents buy them, go on trips the parents take them on, etc.



:rofl:

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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#28  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 25, 2010 1:08 pm

I've got years of teaching experience and a passionate interest in most academic subjects.... but I would never lie to myself that I was capable of providing comprehensive tuition covering all the necessary educational areas children/teenagers need. That's why we have people who specialise in fields. Owing to the way Thai culture works, over the past 7 years I've regularly been offered tutoring positions for rich kids, but I always refuse to teach classes I am not qualified, or not equipped to teach. To do anything else seems like a monumental case of hubris which can only lead to poor educational facilities and support for the growing minds you're supposed to be nurturing.

And I have to say it before anyone else does....

Won't somebody please think of the children? :whine:


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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#29  Postby mmmcheezy » Apr 25, 2010 2:17 pm

pcCoder wrote:A family member of mine has come under a bit of a problem. I don't know if it is due to depression or other issues, but he has missed so much school lately, only in high school now, that he may not pass. He gets good grades and all and understands the material very well. But there is some talk of possibly home schooling him. Now in this situation I see it as a very bad thing for several reasons:

1. His mother seems to be stressed or depressed a lot of the times herself, and spends most of the time asleep. While it would be her job to do the schooling, I simply don't think she will go through with it or be very motivated to do so.
2. The stuff kids learn these days is much more complete than what they have learned. A lot of the stuff would be more complex than what they would be able to teach. Even the classes he is in now are already over their heads, and his older sister can't even help out her child with her maths and her child is only in middle school.
3. It is a bit crazy and high-stressed at his home. If he home schools, he will be around that all the time.

I'd like to strongly advise him not to home school, maybe to see a psychologist or something. Going to public school is a win-win situation for him: he gets a break from home life, the teachers actually know and understand the material, and it won't depend on his mother schooling him whenever she is feeling motivated enough for it.

I am somewhat concerned though, as if things keep going the way they have been, I think he may end up dropping out of school. And if he home schools he still may never graduate because of the above. But having a diploma is rather important, unless he wants to flip burgers all his life, and there isn't any guarantee that in the future such jobs may be phased somehow or start requiring diplomas for them as well.


I don't know how old he is, but I'm inferring on your post that he's a senior in high school? If that's the case, perhaps the school can recommend some online classes? My sister got expelled a week before she would've graduated [long story] and she appealed to the guidance counselors, who recommended a specific website. It's not free, but it's not terribly expensive, either, and it's an alternative to homeschooling.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#30  Postby pcCoder » Apr 25, 2010 2:30 pm

^^ He is still a Sophomore in high school and still has two years left.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#31  Postby mmmcheezy » Apr 25, 2010 2:32 pm

Ah. Well, that changes it a bit. I suppose online classes are still a possibility, but it's quite hard to learn things without direct teacher help...:think:
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#32  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 25, 2010 4:45 pm

Spearthrower wrote:I've got years of teaching experience and a passionate interest in most academic subjects.... but I would never lie to myself that I was capable of providing comprehensive tuition covering all the necessary educational areas children/teenagers need. That's why we have people who specialise in fields.

Subject matter expertise is not all that prevalent in the U.S. public school system. If it were, the homeschooling movement might be weaker.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#33  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 25, 2010 5:48 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:I've got years of teaching experience and a passionate interest in most academic subjects.... but I would never lie to myself that I was capable of providing comprehensive tuition covering all the necessary educational areas children/teenagers need. That's why we have people who specialise in fields.

Subject matter expertise is not all that prevalent in the U.S. public school system. If it were, the homeschooling movement might be weaker.



Well, I can't claim to know anything about American public school systems, but it seems at odds with having some of the best universities in the world. Don't public school kids get placements at these universities? How many home-schoolers get into these institutes?
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#34  Postby Harmless Eccentric » Apr 25, 2010 6:58 pm

Warren Dew wrote:
Subject matter expertise is not all that prevalent in the U.S. public school system. If it were, the homeschooling movement might be weaker.


I'm a US teacher; we're expected to be 'highly qualified' in the subjects we teach, which means, in most cases, at least a bachelor's degree in the subject, plus a teaching license in that subject (which requires passing a test in the subject that I remember being reasonably challenging). The requirements for continuing education to renew a teaching license vary from state to state, but in my state, they're structured in such a way that most teachers get a master's degree either in education or in their academic subject.

Some of this is related to changes in licensing and staffing requirements within the last ten or fifteen years; is it possible that your impression is based on out-of-date information?
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#35  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 25, 2010 11:09 pm

Spearthrower wrote:Well, I can't claim to know anything about American public school systems, but it seems at odds with having some of the best universities in the world. Don't public school kids get placements at these universities? How many home-schoolers get into these institutes?

The fact that one goes to a public school - where "public" means "state funded" in U.S. parlance - does not mean one learns there. I went to public schools for all but three years of my own education, but I did very little of my learning during those nine years in public school. If we take a look at math, for example, I learned only basic algebra during those 9 years. Arithmetic I learned from my mother before starting public school, and everything else from the remainder of high school algebra through calculus, normally 5 years of course work in public school, I learned in two years of private school when I was overseas, from a teacher who was willing to allow me to self pace. I also audited a university analysis course for a year because my private school experience put me so far ahead of the curve when I returned to a public school in the U.S.

In some other subjects, I may have gotten two year's worth of useful instruction rather than just one out of 9 years of public schooling, but that's still not a good percentage - and this was in one of the better public school systems, in a university town. My wife had a similar experience. Of what we learned during those years, the vast majority was learned outside of school, from parents, books, magazines, and other sources.

In my experience, that's a pretty typical story for someone who makes it out of the U.S. public schools into any of the best universities - places like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. We make it despite the public schooling, not because of it. A disproportionate number of the people admitted to top universities seem to come from private high schools rather than public high schools, and a substantial proportion also come from overseas, of course.

A mediocre public school system might seem to be at odds with an excellent university system, but the two don't seem to be closely connected. Primary and secondary schooling from the Pacific rim generally scores better than the U.S. system - or than Europe - but that isn't associated with the best universities. I think there is a big difference between a university environment, where the professors are there as much to learn and do research as to teach, and the high school environment, where teaching is the predominant goal. It's also to be noted that there are plenty of universities in the U.S. that are not as good as the ones you hear about overseas, and that a lot of people go to two year and four year colleges that are not associated with universities.

I haven't been able to find useful statistics on how many home schoolers get admitted to universities, probably because home schooling at the high school level is still very much the exception rather than the rule. I did find one MIT admissions page that said home schoolers make up less than 1% of the applicant pool and less than 1% of the student body, "but these numbers are growing":

http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/app ... ants.shtml

Most of the comments and questions on that page are about advanced placement examinations - examinations to get collegiate level credit while still in high school - and about how to handle classes taken or audited at local universities while home schooling, which rather demonstrates how advanced home schoolers can be.

That isn't to say all home schooled students are great. I'm sure there are also parents who home school to replace things like evolution with religious indoctrination. Given where the parents discussed in the original post are from, though, I suspect they are more likely to be trying to get their children a better education than they could get from the public school system.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#36  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 26, 2010 4:15 am

Harmless Eccentric wrote:I'm a US teacher; we're expected to be 'highly qualified' in the subjects we teach, which means, in most cases, at least a bachelor's degree in the subject, plus a teaching license in that subject (which requires passing a test in the subject that I remember being reasonably challenging).

I think if your district requires that, say, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics must each be taught by teachers with four year university degrees in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics respectively, it's very atypical of the U.S. generally. It would also have to have fairly large schools to support that many different teachers.

The requirements for continuing education to renew a teaching license vary from state to state, but in my state, they're structured in such a way that most teachers get a master's degree either in education or in their academic subject.

In my state continuing education requirements for teachers are often met through correspondence courses. If you believe correspondence courses - which do not involve much if any fact to face interaction with the instructors - work well, it follows that homeschooling can also work well.

Some of this is related to changes in licensing and staffing requirements within the last ten or fifteen years; is it possible that your impression is based on out-of-date information?

While it seems that standards have improved somewhat due to the No Child Left Behind initiative and similar state initiatives from the time period you refer to, I think it's still commonly the case for some classes to be taught by people whose primary education is in other subjects.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#37  Postby cathyincali » Apr 26, 2010 6:04 am

Many of the respondents on this issue seem to think, not that this one particular family isn't doing a good job with their unschooling approach, but that unschooling "can't" work.

But they are advancing this opinion with apparently little or no evidence of any kind. I don't to be pounced on for advancing anecdotal evidence, but my own kids and many others I know essentially unschooled most of their K-12 educations and did great in college (or, in some cases, in the upper grades of high school, in the case of several kids who decided to go to formal school programs after 10 or so years of unschooling.

So those who assume it can't work are simply wrong. Without tests and classes, without assignments, unschooling CAN work.

(One thing in the title I have to throw out. I've never heard of anyone unschooling without any BOOKS at all. We didn't purchase textbooks, other than one great algebra book, but we bought, read, borrowed, and used many, many books of all sorts.)

People assume that, if allowed to choose for themselves, kids won't choose academic stuff or hard stuff. That's simply not true of the kids I know. One of my daughters worked her way through that algebra book because she wanted to. One daughter decided to study geology at age 8 and made flashcards, used lots of reference books, and started a great collection. One daughter spent several years studying marine biology.

Some of the respondents here ask how kids know what they "want" to study without being assigned subjects, but of course unschoolers are part of the world. They see stuff on TV that is fascinating and calls out for more investigation--an example right now might be, "Why is Iceland such a volcanic hot spot?"--they go to museums, they travel, they read good historic novels that draw them into learning more about the time period, and so forth. I felt like one of my roles, as a parent, was to expose the kids to lots of different stuff. Another role, of course, was to help them follow their interests--gather materials, help brainstorm ideas, find resources.

Unschooling can work because parents don't have to teach kids everything, PLUS because parents can teach a lot. Obviously kids don't need human teachers to learn everything--otherwise, none of us would be able to learn from books, Abraham Lincoln would have been an uneducated country bumpkin, and Warren Dew (who wrote eloquently on this thread) would know precious little math. We are all autodidacts at times in our lives...

Also, parents of unschoolers can find "teachers" other than themselves without necessarily turning to schoolish-classes. For example, I found a self-proclaimed "rock guy" (a guy with a hobby) who helped my daughter with her enthusiasm for rocks and minerals. He had a diamond saw and opened many geodes for her (polished a few, too), he talked about where he got this specimen and that one, why this rock is green and how to test pyrite, and he even gave her a few amazing pieces. (We also bought some rocks from him, which is how we first met him.)...

Finally, I think we short-change parents by assuming that they can't help kids learn if they aren't specialists in a subject. I have only taken one astronomy class in my life, so I wouldn't be shopping myself around to schools claiming I am qualified to teach astronomy, but I have read about astronomy since age 13, and my enthusiasm for it plus lots of knowledge plus eagerness to help them find answers to additional questions--it all adds up to, yeah, I can teach my kids a LOT about astronomy. When my kid was interested in marine biology, she was 12 years old. I dove into the subject, and in the course of pulling together materials she might like, I ended up with so much good stuff that I finally gathered a largish group of homeschooled/unschooled kids to meet once a week for the better part of a year. We all did a ton of interesting things and we all learned a ton.

My two oldest unschooled until age 16. At that age, one daughter joined a formal homeschooling program and faced tests and assignments for the first time. She did great, graduated and got into her #1 choice of university and got a scholarship. She graduated with honors and is now in a master's program. My next daughter went to junior college at age 16, transferred to a college at age 19, and graduated with top honors. (My youngest is just 18 and a freshman in college.)

Unschooling can work for the same reason that little kids can learn all the stuff they learn before they go to school: humans are good at learning.

And, finally, cognitive science and educational research shows that testing can impede learning and rarely improves it, that assignments and assigned topics can stifle interest and learning, and that letter grades and some other sorts of evaluations tend to diminish learning as well. If we look at the evidence about how people learn, it would seem that unschooling is the way to go -- IF, as Harmless Eccentric says, kids and parents are motivated.
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#38  Postby GreyICE » Apr 26, 2010 9:15 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Warren Dew wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:I've got years of teaching experience and a passionate interest in most academic subjects.... but I would never lie to myself that I was capable of providing comprehensive tuition covering all the necessary educational areas children/teenagers need. That's why we have people who specialise in fields.

Subject matter expertise is not all that prevalent in the U.S. public school system. If it were, the homeschooling movement might be weaker.



Well, I can't claim to know anything about American public school systems, but it seems at odds with having some of the best universities in the world. Don't public school kids get placements at these universities? How many home-schoolers get into these institutes?

I'm an alumni of a fairly prestigious engineering college, got a 1510 on my SAT, and didn't encounter many problems getting in.

A homeschooler who takes SATs and SAT IIs as well as a fair share of APs encounters no problems running through even the most prestigious universities. Demonstrated skill is demonstrated skill, and its not like they stick a gun to your head at the door and demand to see your school ID (rather the opposite, actually).

Homeschoolers generally outperform public school students. I'll be the first to tell you that isn't fair (homeschoolers typically have 1.4-1.5x the income of non-homeschoolers, as well as a stay-at-home parent, and there is a fair bit of self-selection in their testing) but its hard to argue they have to have a worse outcome on the basis of available evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Homes ... _chart.gif
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Re: Extreme Homeschooling: No Tests, No Books, No Classes, N

#39  Postby Tyrannical » Apr 30, 2010 5:58 am

Would be much cheaper to run a public school like that :think:
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