kitchen table math, the sequel: 7/15/12 - 7/22/12

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Questions about Unschooling (ChemProf)

Most of us who read education blogs are aware that Penelope Trunk has become a radical unschooler.  (For those not familiar with her, she's a business writer who tends toward extreme positions.)  What I found interesting about this, and thought might be worth discussing, is how she got there and how it relates to things we've been noticing like the dissatisfaction at the Celebration of Teaching and Learning.

Now, most of us at KTM are not likely unschoolers.  We are interested in curriculum (Trunk argues curriculum is stupid) and typically want a rigorous education for our kids.  Those of us who are homeschoolers tend toward the classical.  So why do I care that a person who tends to extreme positions opted for an extreme educational position?  Because she was sent there by the same folks who push Writer's Workshop and Everyday Mathematics -- educational experts!

She starts with the position that the best thing for kids is project-based and individualized instruction, and that research has proven this without a doubt (where have we heard that one before?).  One of the people encouraging her to unschool is head of technology and teacher training for New York City public schools, to customize education for her kids.

I think it was AmyP who said, in another thread, that if kids are supposed to be teaching themselves via projects, then why did they need teachers?  And this is where unschoolers end up.  I think it really is the end game of a lot of the beliefs that feed into constructivism.  How big a step is it from "the guide on the side" to "no teacher required?"  And if you believe (at some level) that teachers are really glorified babysitters, then how can you feel great about your job?

Lest someone misunderstand me, I am NOT saying teachers are just babysitting.  But in a purely constructivist classroom, where everything is student led, how necessary is the teacher?  How much students learn in that classroom is a question for another day!

aloha from Seattle

I'm here in Seattle, attending Morningside Academy's Summer Institute, and ---- wow.

We should just turn the entire K-12 system over to Morningside.