Monthly Archives: September 2008

Is “Unschooling” About the Parent or the Child?

I never felt part of the mommy wars. If anything, I was jealous of my stay-home mom friends. But alas, I married a teacher—need I say more?

So my children began child care early and, today they are both in elementary school. (They do get a bonus that most kids don’t—they get daddy 24/7 all summer long.)

I firmly believe that there are benefits and negatives to both full-time child care and staying at home full-time. That said, most of us make our decisions based on what is best for our child given the circumstances in which we live.

Which leads me to what I want to talk about. I stumbled on a blog by Joanne Rendell about “unschooling.” The website explains it like this:

Have you ever described ‘red’ to a person who is color blind? Sometimes, trying to define unschooling is like trying to define red. Ask 30 unschoolers to define the word and you’ll get thirty shades of red. They’ll all be red, but they’ll all be different. Generally, unschoolers are concerned with learning or becoming educated, not with ‘doing school.’ The focus is upon the choices made by each individual learner, and those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type. There is no one way to unschool.

Although they do offer multiple definitions.

Frankly, what I really struggled with was Rendell’s closing. She writes:

But un-kindergarten for us means Benny can sleep late so I can write. It means we don’t have to worry about bedtimes and can go out on the town with friends any night of the week. We can go to Europe and visit my family when the flights are cheap. Un-kindergarten also means we can pick and choose how we spend our days and who we spend them with. Benny can go to free classes at the Metropolitan Museum in the week when it’s less crowded. He can read a book on sharks when he feels like it. He can experiment with bungee cords while eating his breakfast at noon.

The decision seems to be about what’s most convenient for the parents, rather than what may be best for the child. John J. Edwards III addresses the issue in his blog on the Wall Street Journal. He says, “Maybe I’m hopelessly square, but I think early-childhood education—like education in general—provides structure and discipline while not necessarily stifling creativity.”

What do you think?


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Filed under child development, parenting

Who’s to Blame When Kids Make Mistakes?

All of the news coverage of Sarah Palin’s daughter’s teen pregnancy is making me cringe.

First, in the interest of full disclosure—I am mostly (though not always) a liberal Democrat. But I’m looking this through a very different lens right now. A parental lens.

Does the fact that her teen daughter had sex, something went wrong, and she got pregnant say anything about Governor’s Palin’s parenting skills or the type of person she is or the leader she would be? Honestly, I don’t know. But I hope not.

Yet, I’ve heard Republican and Democrat women suggest that it does. On NPR’s Day to Day , a woman identifying herself as a 20 year-old Republican criticized Governor Palin’s ability to properly parent her daughter.

While little in life is guaranteed, I feel pretty confident in saying that my children will make mistakes. Will it be fair to judge me by those mistakes? Can my character be questioned as a result of my children’s mistakes? I know I made plenty as a teen—most of which, thankfully, my parents are still unaware of. It’s part of growing up.

It seems to me there are enough critical issues facing the country right now that speculating over who may or not be to blame for a teen’s actions is a grave disservice to all of us.


Filed under parenting