If you missed Part One of Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!? where I talked about how we arrived at the conclusion that we might be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers...then click on the link above.
You might be wondering, after making all of those observations about how we homeschool, did we, indeed, decide that we are unschoolers? I decided to do a little research before I actually came to that horrifying *insert smiley* conclusion. Here is what I found when I researched the definition:
This is what Wikipedia says:
Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling)
Hmm...how does this apply to the Tinkel family?
Well, as mentioned before, our kids definitely learn better when the learning includes their "personal interests and curiosity".
We travel a lot and learn a lot through our travels. In fact, here are a few links to some of our travel blog posts:
Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!
Our Crazy, Mixed Up, Fantastic, Wonderful Trip to Kansas City, MO
And my "5 Days of Traveling With Kids" series (click on the banner below):
We read all of the time (I really do need to update that Amazon book widget in my blog column. It's way outdated.).
We make use of internships and work experiences and mentors. In fact, Joshua is about to start an apprentice/mentorship at the sporting goods business of a friend of ours.
We do a lot of things as a family but social interaction...well, let's just say that social interaction can be challenging for an autistic kid, but they do learn a lot from it!
The kids even learn a lot from play and household responsibilities. That is, when we can get them to actually do their household responsibilities.
Another Unschooling website that I looked at also emphasized helping your children set goals and then helping them to reach those goals. As I was writing this our friend, Kendra, reminded me that we did that recently with our oldest, John Allen, when he recently set a goal to read the Bible through in a six week time period.
While I was reading and doing my research I realized that we were doing most of the things that Unschooling embraces to one extent or another. I also realized that there are a lot of kids that could benefit and learn more with this type of learning. Don't get me wrong. I am a product of public education and, for the most part, loved it and learned a lot. I also worked as an educational therapist at a private, Christian school for 11 years that produced outstanding graduates. I'm not knocking traditional schools or traditional methods of learning. I do, however, think that if kids aren't all "cookie cutter" kids then why should all education be "cookie cutter" education? That's why I like homeschooling so much. You can pick and choose how to teach your children and what to teach your children with. John Allen did fantastically well using traditional homeschool curriculum. Joshua and Jacob, however, haven't done as well using those same methods.
So, is the Tinkel family, indeed, an Unschooling family? Well, yes and no. While we do embrace many Unschooling methods, we do often use standard curricula and conventional grading. However, as I mentioned in part one of this series, when I originally began to research curricula for John Allen, I did try to choose curricula that taught the way that he liked to learn. That is what we try to do with all of our kids. Since Joshua is interested in geography, countries, and languages, we choose curricula that embraces those subjects. Right now Jacob's interest is in animals so that is what the books reflect that we chose for him. We don't always stick to the syllabus and suggested lesson plans, but we do use them. The state of Tennessee requires all homeschoolers to be registered with an "umbrella organization" and most of those organizations require you to list what curriculum you are going to use with each child and then have you send in grades for each child, so we can't abandon traditional texts or grades altogether anyway.
I would say that, instead of being Unschoolers. the Tinkel family is more of an "eclectic" family when it comes to homeschooling. We pick and choose the books and texts that we feel are right with each child. We kind of go with the flow, are very flexible, and relaxed but don't abandon structure all together. My feeling is that all children are different. For example, John Allen thrived using structured curriculum. Joshua is more (but not totally) an unschooler, and Jacob is someplace in between. My opinion is that's the way it should be in all homeschools. Teach to your child's strengths. God made each child an individual. To try to force a child to be something he isn't and to learn in a way that doesn't suit him is being very counter productive.
So there you have the answer to the age old question of whether the Tinkel family is an unschooling family or not. Well, maybe it isn't an age old question, but it has made me wonder for quite some time *insert another smiley*.
How about you? What do you think? Are you an Unschooler? Do you agree with or disagree with something I said? Leave me a comment. I love comments! See you soon!