I am a strong believer in delayed academics in theory. I am really big on following a young
child's lead with academics and in taking the lead in terms of instilling character and self confidence. But now that
my children are getting older (9 and 7), I worry about my choice.
In my experience with unschooling growing up, this philosophy(unschooling) was prevalent
among homeschoolers who appeared to use it as an excuse to be self absorbed and let their children raise themselves.
And in many cases in reality it amounted to intellectual neglect.
The example you sited above of childrearing while you were growing up has nothing to
do with unschooling. This is child neglect and it would not have mattered where the children were being educated.
As an example, I went to private schools growing up and many of my classmates who came
from very well off families had the same experiences growing up in their home lives as you described(parental neglect). Many
of those past classmates as adults today have no work ethic, are always trying to get something for nothing, and some of them
still live either with or are completely supported by their parents. All while and after being provided with a "world class
education". So, although the families you grew up with used the word unschooling to describe how they were raising their children,
in fact they were not unschooling at all.
The homeschoolers I was exposed to basically appeared to use the philosophy of unschooling
as an excuse to be self absorbed and let their children raise themselves. Knowing some of these kids as teenagers,
I can say it was a hindrance. The result was a lack of ability to concentrate and follow through, lack of
ability to approach anything methodically, poor work ethic, and shaky belief in their dreams.
And we all know of schooled adults and teens who fit this same profile. Unschooling(or
schooling) isn't going to be the cause of a good or a poor work ethic. I believe many things play a role in shaping how we
navigate the world as adults. I unschool because I believe in the child being the greatest determiner of what they are ready
to take on academically, but as the parent, I might have more insight on what kinds of experiences might help to spark curiosity
in my child. To me, for child-led learning to work, it takes a lot more effort on the parents part than just sending children
to school or ignoring them.
Now here I am with the trappings of those parents, the "natural living" lifestyle, homeschooling,
radical political/social beliefs and making my own natural foods etc. But I want my kids to be capable, self
motivated, self disciplined, confident, and, yes, to have sharp minds (which I believe comes from exercising the mind more
than natural smarts).
Now this is where we may disagree. I believe that there is no difference between "natural
smarts" and "learned smarts" Each for me are acquired and expanded upon by each person's own interest and motivation. And
I believe that your early experiences in learning to trust yourself and being allowed to find out what motivates you to action
can only help you achieve greater knowledge.
I try to remind myself that I am not sitting around smoking pot, philosophizing about turning my
small community into a utopian state, and collecting checks from the government I rail against, while my kids
run around outside all day unattended.(I'm not saying this as a stereotype but as a description of actual people I grew
And you just proved my point. Even though that is the example that you grew up around,
you still wanted something different for yourself and for your children. What would you attribute your desires to lead a different
kind of family life to?