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My child and “unschooling?”

Two caveats first: One, I may have unconsciously or even consciously included “unschooling” in the title because I suspect that will draw traffic. I’m guessing the unschooling types are abundant in the blogosphere (see e.g. http://anunschoolinglife.blogspot.com/).  And, my narcissistic need for attention is now well-documented.  Second, I feel like I’m sticking my neck out here a bit. Be gentle; please.

I’ve ALWAYS been a staunch advocate of public schools. They served me well. But, at the moment, I’m in a bad place with the institution of public schooling. Much of my current state has to do with pondering my son’s pending entrance into the world of formal “schooling” when we enroll him in preschool in the fall. I feel really good about the place we’ll be sending him come September, but I can’t help think about what happens 2.5 years from now (how’s that for thinking ahead?). If my wife and I are so focused on doing what we think is “best” for our child, how can I justify “exposing” my child to an institution that:

  • conceptualizes learning as a solo flight
  • tinkers towards modernity, but still remains woefully incapable of supporting the development of 21st century skills and dispositions
  • is complicit in systematic, if not intentional, segregation by race between and within schools
  • consistently sorts children according to unchallenged constructions of “ability”

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

I’m not ready (yet?) to fully embrace “unschooling” and I’m not sure I have the will or the emotional fortitude to implement the ideas behind that “movement.” I’ve read some stuff by John Taylor Gatto and other unschooling advocates; it all strikes me as simultaneously compelling and ridiculous. I do, however, feel a need to learn more (what else is new?).

I have 2.5 years to reconcile my concerns with the institution of public schooling and my core values as a learner and a parent. Dear readers, I’d be forever indebted should you wish to help me through that reconciliation process.


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