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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Implications of Unschooling Rules

I was asked in an interview the other day to summarize what the key implications of Unschooling Rules are. Here they are, by group:
  • For families of children in schools: You do have a choice. Traditional school may be the best option, but understand several alternative options anyway. It will make you stronger. Further, traditional schools do a lot of things horribly. They are businesses and, no matter what they say or imply, do not love your children nor are they committed to their long term success. They have scalable processes not answers. You need to budget as much time for compensating for schools as supporting their programs.
  • For families of home- and unschooled children: Treat childhood as you treat adulthood. There are no single answers or paths. Your family members are education entrepreneurs. There are some rules, but not that many. The future belongs to the creative working.
  • For teachers and schools administrators: You are stuck in a broken monopoly. It is not your fault. You are given an impossible task. Still, you are powerful. Think of your job as protecting the authentic education journey of each child from the system and pressures around them. And look for other jobs, again for back-up. You cannot be effective if you believe you have no career choices.
  • For policy makers: Embrace and encourage real alternatives to school as much as possible. De-emphasize test scores and other standardization attempts. Think of home- and unschoolers as a fifteen year research and development experiment. Be prepared, over time, to try to make institutional schools more like homeschooling, not the other way around. Here are two thought games. First, what would you do if half of what schools taught was useless? Second, what if you had to cut the budget for schools in half?
  • For foundations and think tanks: Those who have tried, through brilliant arguments and generous donations, to improve schools over the last thirty years have suffered epic failures. If you want to have been influential in improving schools two decades from now, put every last dime and neuron into supporting and enabling home- and unschoolers today. Think of how often you have thought "If only schools could..." Well, home- and unschoolers can.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Isaac Asimov on Personalized Learning

In the old days, very few people could read and write. Literacy was a very novel sort of thing, and it was felt that most people just didn’t have it in them. But with mass education, it turned out that most people could be taught to read and write. In the same way, once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries, where you can ask any question and be given answers, you can look up something you’re interested in knowing, however silly it might seem to someone else.

Today, what people call learning is forced on you. Everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class. But everyone is different. For some, class goes too fast, for some too slow, for some in the wrong direction. But give everyone a chance, in addition to school, to follow up their own bent from the start, to find out about whatever they’re interested in by looking it up in their own homes, at their own speed, in their own time, and everyone will enjoy learning.”

- Isaac Asimov, Bill Moyer Interview, 1988

Unschooling Rules 33: In education, customization is important like air is important.