Monday, June 08, 2009

New and improved: the UNschooling Meme!

New Improved UNschooling set, by Linda Wyatt:

1. Original question: What time do you get up? Unschooling version: What sleep schedules do people in your house have? Do you all have fairly similar schedules, or not? Are you the kind of people who wish things were open 24/7?
We all tend to be nightowls in somewhat varying degrees. Chloe is the one who most often is up all night, waking in the afternoon. When she was very little and first learned the word "nocturnal," she declared herself to be "noc-noc" because she could be up in the day, too, if she wanted. "Diurnal" sounded too much like being killed in a men's public bathroom so she simply avoided that word. (Just kidding.)
I always want things to be open 24/7/365. The internet has made shopping and research pretty convenient that way. But why do Washington (state) bars close at 2 am? Bars CLOSING!? That, I'll never understand.

2. Original question: What do your children wear to school?Unschooling version: Do you know any good sources for great stuff to wear? Some examples: vests with lots of pockets, good boots, lightweight jackets with a sleeve pocket for pens, comfortable cotton tees with interesting designs. Anything you have that you love that other people might not know about?
Well, I'm a shorts and T-shirt with a pair of Crocs kinda guy, so my couture is pretty generically obtained. For more specialized wear, I love R.E.I.

3. Original question: What curriculum have you tried and hated? What have you tried and loved?Unschooling version: Any good references to suggest? Websites, catalogs, whatever? Any that you have found that tend to be suggested by folks, that you really didn't find useful? Favorite books?
There's a math site I like: cut-the-knot
Generally, I enjoy the serendipitous learning of just Googling a phrase and seeing what resources appear.
Yes, books are a favorite of mine.

4. Original question: Who is your most inspirational homeschooling role model?Unschooling version: How did you decide to unschool? Do you have any good sources of info to share? Anyone in particular who helped you make this choice?
Ronnie and I came to unschooling from different processes which converged through our continuing discussion about educational philosophy from the very beginning of our decision to be parents. I read Holt and others starting in the 60s. Ronnie connected online with the "first generation" unschoolers. Eventually, those two different paths braided together into what we're doing as a family.

5. Original question: Abeka, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or Classical?Unschooling version: What kinds of ways do your family members learn about stuff these days?
Well, I'm tempted to say that we find out about things from the world around us. Then, when we decide a particular thing is interesting, we pursue knowledge of that thing in whatever ways seem appropriate: Internet, apprenticeship, networking (although I dislike the usual context of that word), etc.

6. Original question: Favorite response to “What about socialization?”Unschooling version: How do you talk to people who ask clueless questions about unschooling? Any favorite stories? Suggestions for dealing with family members who are fearful or critical?
This question conjures up a StarTrek moment for me. Spock has been brought back to life and Bones asks him about death. Spock replies that they have no shared experience of knowledge to have a worthwhile discussion. Bones incredulously asks if he hasta die to discuss death. Spock blandly responds, "Of course."
I have a layered approach for this question, more in the interest of not wasting my own time than from any philosophical imperative. For casual questioners, I simply say that it's like unit studies and the kids concentrate on a topic and explore all the components that go into it. For people who genuinely want more info, I'll talk a little bit about coercion vs. autodidacticism and recommend that they read Holt or some of the now-prolific 'net resources. Choice is a big concept for me.

7. Original question: Favorite subject?Unschooling version: What are you guys up to these days? What are you doing that is so terrific that you think others should hear about it?
I'm a little, just a little, uncomfortable with the context of the second part this question, not just here, but in general. Why should we be doing something so terrific that others MUST hear about it? It (slightly) implies that unschoolers are superior beings who are doing superior things in superior ways. We're just regular folks doing regular things, mostly. Sometimes we do unusual things in unusual ways, but that's just how *we* are. The core thing we're doing that's so wonderful that others MUST hear about it is that we're having fun with our kids, living our lives without wasting our precious time bending to societal expectations which are poorly conceived or often even flat-out dumbass dunderheaded.
For the first, simple question, we are, variously: Writing, drawing, reading, travelling, talking to and hanging with friends, playing music, planning some rock climbing and camping, contemplating a SCUBA trip to the Caymans, and proving that 1=0:
1. (n+1)^2=n^2+2n+1 basic algebra
2. (n+1)^2-(2n+1)=n^2 Euclid's common notation
3. (n+1)^2-(2n+1)-n(2n+1)==n^2-n(2n+1) Euclid again
4. (n+1)^2-(n+1)(2n+1)=n^2-n(2n+1) ordinary factoring
5. (n+1)^2-(n+1)(2n+1)+(2n+1)^2/4=n^2-n(2n+1)+(2n+1)^2/4 Euclid again
6. [(n+1)-(2n+1)/2]^2=[n=(2n+1)/2]^2 basic algebra
7. (n+1)-(2n+1)/2=n-(2n+1)/2 square root of both sides
8. n+1=n Euclid again
Therefore, 1=0 inevitable deduction
(FYI, step 7 is the "cheat." It's an inaccurate use of square roots.)
Fun, huh? We party HARD at the Maier house!

8. Original question: Favorite field trip ever?Unschooling version: Been anywhere cool? Where? Have any stories to share about adventures you've had? I'd be especially interested in hearing about adventures to places that few people know about. Pictures, too.
This the one where I could go on and on and on…
When Chloe was still in diapers, we lived one Winter in a condo on the beach in Destin, FL. We've taken several long roadtrips around the Western US. In the context of obscure recommendations: Hovenweep National Monument was a delightful and rarely visited site. I like Estrella Sailport, near Phoenix, for flying gliders. We had a lovely 2-week sail in the Virgin Islands in 2001. Our most adventurous adventure was, of course, our 2005 planned Caribbean circumnavigation which turned into a hurricane-dodge-'em ride. Last year we visited Italy and Ireland. In general, we like to travel!

9. Original question: Best thing about homeschooling?Unschooling version: we can pretty much leave this one as-is. What have you found to be the most rewarding about how your family lives?Connectedness. My kids are not strangers whom I see for a coupla hours in the evenings after school. We have time together and we get to KNOW each other and interact in significant ways. My kids are FASCINATING people. It's amazing.

10. Original question: Sports, music, or art?Unschooling version: I still don't know where to go with this question. Care to share any interesting things you've done or are doing in any of these fields? Anything you've had time to delve into that you might not have if you were busy doing schoolwork?
Chloe does art most consistently in our household but MJ and Ronnie have been know to dabble also. I love and appreciate art but have no talent myself. We all love music and now have 4 guitars (2 acoustic, 1 acoustic-electric, and 1 electric), 1 bass (electric), 1 piano, 1 synthesizer, and a lotta drums around the house. (I think this count is accurate.) The girls have both dabbled in a variety of sports but haven't gotten intense about any one in particular. If MJ were in school, she wouldn't have had time to volunteer at the horse rescue place where she met and interacted with a variety of people, learned a lot of "real-life" job skills, and got to indulge her love of horses.

11. Original question: Beautiful script handwriting, or lightning fast accurate typing?Unschooling version: Don't know where to go with this question, either, since I don't really understand why it was even asked. Make something up.
Seems to me the root of this question comes from that belief that doing handwriting is important. Over the years I've seen lots of homeschoolers seriously discussing the hand-copying of Bible verses as a necessary root of learning. Or that being a good typist is a fallback job skill.
I spent a career in the context of language arts as a librarian, editor, indexer, and technical writer (and made some good money!) without being a competent typist.

12. Original question: Best one stop shopping for school books?Unschooling version: Best place to get books? Or other things, too, like some of those fabulous websites that have all sorts of really cool toys and equipment. Where do you find cool stuff?
Library. REI. Yachtworld. Aerotrader. BVI Yacht Charters. Etc.

13. Original question: One subject you didn’t get to this week:Unschooling version: What do you wish you had time for this week that you didn't fit in?
In the last few years, our time has been so occupied with doings and goings-on that I typically wish for more quiet time, maybe to read, maybe to just sit and think.

14. Original question: What will you do when you run out of kids to teach?Unschooling version: What ways have you found to continue your own learning? What kinds of things have you gotten interested in since having kids? Do you have any particular plans once fewer people live in your house, whenever that may be?
After I survived school, my desire for learning started to revive. Yes, it had been pretty well dimmed by schooling; but even school couldn't quench it. I've always loved to learn new stuff. Significant or trivial, it makes no difference.
When we're "empty-nesting," Ronnie and I will probably (continue to) travel a lot. I suspect one or both girls will still join us occasionally. Or frequently.

15. Original question: Ever give school books as holiday or Birthday gifts?Unschooling version: What's the best book gift you have ever given? Gotten?
Impossible question. Too many answers.

16. Original question: Better late or early (delay formal education at home, or start as young as possible?)Unschooling version: Are there some things you find you prefer a class structure for? What alternatives have you found for learning things most people think can only happen in a class? Do different members of your family have different learning styles, and if so, can you tell me a little about that and how it has affected how you do things?
I've always (since age 10, anyway) done sword-related martial arts, starting with European fencing in New Orleans, then kendo and iaido in Seattle. These only exist in a structured, "class" environment, although, interestingly, the classic Japanese mode does NOT use "teaching." One is supposed to simply watch the sensei and LEARN how to do it. So, it's unschoolish in a very structured, "class-ish" way, although in most American dojos, the sensei does provide "instruction."
Aside from that, a class structure may be useful for teachers and/or bureaucrats but not so much for students/learners.
All of us in this family have fairly similar learning styles, conveniently. That does streamline the process for us.


  1. Well... This one didn't make me laugh hystrically but I got to know your family a bit :)
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Why DO bars close at 2??? Less than 30 minutes from me, over in New York State (unless they have changed it) the bars are open until 4am. Guess what the kiddos do when the bars here close???

  3. What's up with step 5 in the algebra? ((2n+1)^2)/4 is n^2+n+1/4, which doesn't match the other sides, which have integer coefficients.

    I prefer to prove things which are true, though, such as how many ways can you prove .999... == 1.000...?

  4. Stephanie, always good to get to know other unschoolers a little better, huh?

    Heather, I grew up in New Orleans where bars never close, It just seems wrong to me!

    Walt, kudos to your careful reading and "Hello!" My crappy typing bites me in the ass again. Walt noticed that step 5 should have been:

    rather than:

    It's corrected in the text now.

  5. Now *this* is a meme I can do! (And I did.) Thanks for posting this!