Children learn the same way everyone does when they are completely free of others’ expectations and other interfering impediments to learning. They learn by wondering about something, thinking about it, finding out about it, perhaps reading about it or discussing it or looking it up on the internet, all driven by their own curiosity.
When a child WANTS to learn mathematics, the learning is effortless and remarkably swift.
A child who is completely free to learn and whose learning is not being monitored and assessed is empowered. Their learning is for themselves, not because an authority figure asked them to memorise and regurgitate a set of facts or ideas.
Children should do what they want just as adults do what they want. We can be there alongside our kids as they explore their interests the way they themselves choose, in an unstructured manner. Cole… says most of everything he achieved was because of his parents’ support and help.
If it were true that maths is boring at the beginning and only becomes interesting later, then no one would ever have discovered all the mathematics that has been discovered, because it could not have been being forced on children before it had been discovered. Each bit of maths was formed by somebody who had not been taught it but who did it purely because it was interesting.
If neither option appeals to the child there are reasons for that. What are the reasons? There is a problem to solve. There will be something good that the child wants, and something bad that the child wants to avoid. We just need to find out what those things are, and start thinking laterally to come up with a solution that provides the good and not the bad.
Most home educators in Britain favour autonomous curiosity-driven learning, vs formal homeschooling.
John Holt was so critical of school that sometimes he appeared to suggest that even children who want to go to school should not do so.
Every Education Act since 1870 has clearly intended to place upon parents a substantive duty to educate their children. Therefore, if it were ever found that some legal loophole made that duty vacuous or unenforceable, Parliament would rush to plug the loophole.
Even the junkiest of junk television can be superbly educational—by sparking questions and enjoyable conversations.
The homeschooling mentality turns education into performance—the semblance of education. This interferes with learning.
One family’s experience with the Local Education Authority is no guide to how it will be for a different family.
Learning science could include conversations, reading, thinking. It might or might not include experiments. Experiments are tests of theories—so first you need a theory to test. Theoretical physicists do no experiments at all. They think. The same could be true of a child.
What non-coercive, curiosity-driven mathematics education looks like in real life.
It is a mistake to seek evidence of children’s learning, because that can have a significant destructive effect upon the learning that is going on. They are then highly likely to switch from addressing the problem they were addressing, to the new problem the teacher has introduced, of how to perform and provide evidence for the teacher.
Children have to do what they themselves think is right, with no pressure whatsoever—that’s what non-coercion amounts to—but they also have a right to be told morality as best we see it.
Understanding that knowledge grows through creative conjecture and inner criticism facilitates non-coercive interactions.
All interactions implicitly assume epistemological ideas, so it is worth considering what those ideas are and whether they are true or not.
Popper’s work provides an epistemological critique of the teacher-directed learning model, although it appears that Popper himself never made this connection.
The Unschoolers’ ‘child-led to directed’ continuum does not distinguish between ‘child-led’ and neglect (which is coercive), and it also does not distinguish between what some unschoolers categorise as ‘directed’, but which is non-coercive—lots of welcome suggestions by the parent.
If children are not made to write essays, will they ever learn? Does the hoped-for end result justify the coercion? An argument with a coercionist college professor.
Having pessimistic educational theories like ‘not everything that is useful is (in itself) interesting’ suggests there are things children need to learn that they will not willingly choose to learn, therefore educational coercion is necessary. That is a mistake. Educational coercion impedes and impairs learning. It does not help.
My re-wordings of what people say about a child, usually to make it about an adult, but in this case making it about learning to breathe instead of whatever the poster was saying children need to learn, aims to show the reality of what is being proposed.”
Instruction is usually not a very good way of learning things, because it does not address the immediate moment-by-moment concerns and questions of the learner.
It is educational coercion that sabotages learning, not teaching per se. WANTED teaching is different from unwanted teaching.
Unschooling or home educating parents often draw distinctions between what they are doing versus what a school teacher or homeschooling parent would do, but I often see little difference between schoolish educational coercion and what they themselves advocate. There is a pedagogical agenda in both cases.
Television is a wonderfully educational medium. How can anyone possibly compare the richness of television with workbooks, let alone compare it unfavourably?
You may think you are helping your child learn when you answer your child’s burning question pedagogically, with a question, such as ‘What do you think?’ or ‘How might we find the answer to that?’, but it is more likely to annoy them so much they avoid asking you questions in future.
Never stop reading to your children. I remember not wanting to read to my mother even when I could, in case she stopped reading to me. Being read to is one of life’s great pleasures we can all enjoy, even as adults.
In the UK, at least thirty per cent of school leavers (age sixteen) are functionally illiterate. Taking a wider view of schools’ success and failure, I’d say the proportion of children our schools fail is nearer eighty per cent, if you consider how little children learn in schools, and how little love of learning children end up with after eleven years’ schooling.
Many unschoolers have a very narrow definition of ‘education’ and hold an incoherent theory in which the putative ill-effects of coercion only apply to areas deemed ‘education’. They range from ‘never offer, never refuse’ (not interventionist enough imo) to having a pedagogical agenda, or in some cases they get their children to do projects.
This 1989 workshop advocated taking children seriously, not just ‘autonomous learning’.