More Unschooling Questions Answered

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Boy, my recent posts on unschooling have opened the floodgates for questions, and that’s great because I’m still new to this whole unschooling thing, too. Please don’t mistake my passion on the subject for expertise because I’m surely no expert here. Having said that, I’m excited to attempt to answer these inquiries the best that I can. Always remember, though, that unschooling looks different in every home, so I can only refer to our experience with it.

Here is part of a comment that was written for yesterday’s post.[Please note that the comment has since been removed at the request of the author.] I will follow it with what I hope is a satisfactory response.

1) The majority of unschoolers I know have grown up to be rebellious young adults. I cannot help but wonder if this is related to them not learning school-related discipline. They might learn certain academic subjects quite well, but I am concerned about the character development.

I’ll start with the section on rebellion-

I really can’t answer this in a completely factual way because I have never met any other unschoolers. This homeschooling method is rather rare, so I’m surprised to hear that anyone has met so many formerly unschooled adults that an opinion like this could be formed in the first place. I have, however, met many, many rebellious young adults who graduated from public school, so this is where I believe the lack of “school-related discipline” theory is flawed.

My oldest child graduated from public school. He used to come home daily with tales of the “discipline” taking place in his school. Kids texting, painting their fingernails, listening to music, and doing each other’s hair during class was a rather commonplace thing. My son’s science teacher actually gave up halfway through the year and would just sit at his desk for the entire period because the kids were so unruly. Obviously, discipline in the schools is becoming quite the rarity. So, rebellious adults from public schools-check.

When I was in public school, the local Catholic school was well-known as a haven for rebellious teens, and I’m pretty sure they were given much discipline there. So, rebellion in private schools-check.

I don’t know any homeschooled adults, but I have read plenty of anti-homeschooling tirades written by none other than people who were formerly homeschooled. And I mean traditional homeschoolers, yet traditional homeschooling is full of structure and discipline.

So from this information, I can come up with these points:

Public school kids can become rebellious adults.
-Private school kids can become rebellious adults.
-Homeschooled kids can become rebellious adults.

And I’m going to take a gamble and say that

-Unschooled kids can become rebellious adults.

Notice the broad spectrum of learning and discipline styles. Rebellion can happen in any kind of environment, certainly not just unschoolers.

Now onto the section about character development.

I think it’s important to note that we are not radical unschoolers. Radical unschoolers do not enforce rules in their homes. In this form of unschooling, children can decide when they go to bed, what they eat, what they will do with their time, whether or not they will brush their teeth, and are not expected to do chores. THAT IS NOT WHAT WE DO. We have ten children; that’s a lot of cleaning and laundry and dishes to do, and we all have set jobs that we do. My children make messes, so they will help clean up. My children eat, so they will help with dishes. I am very strict about this aspect of our life because a family of this size will not function if we are not a team, which brings me to the other aspect of character development.

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We live in close quarters with each other, so learning to get along is crucial to a peaceful (as peaceful as you’re going to get with twelve people under one roof) life. My children are also being raised as Christians, so serving others is a high priority here. You will often find my children weeding the neighbor’s garden, shoveling her driveway, or helping their Grandma at her house. I can assure you that character development is not an issue here.

Some of you may notice 11 kids here. Our oldest is 20 and no longer lives at home, which is why I always refer to just 10 kids.
Some of you may notice 11 kids here. Our oldest is 20 and no longer lives at home, which is why I always refer to just 10 kids.

As for character development in public school…well, I wrote a little about that here.

If you’re interested, I wrote a post back in January giving a basic rundown of a typical unschooling day. Feel free to browse my archives, as well, because I frequently write about what our days are like.

I hope this has given you a better picture of what our unschool philosophy- our life philosophy- is all about.

Any other questions? I’d be more than happy to address them.

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