Just when it seemed things start making sense, this story on Good Morning America about extreme homeschooling comes along. It seems that common sense is not as common as we assumed. The report starts out with explaining that for these particular children, school literally does not exist. No textbooks, no tests, no classes, and no curriculum.
While a homeschooler myself, I am a proponent of just about all things homeschool, but even I have my limits. These kids, who are labeled as “unschooled,” supposedly sit around the house all day in what their parents call a “hands-off” approach to learning. And that “hands off” approach extends into every area of the kid’s lives. The report states that these kids make their own decisions on what to read, what video games they want to play, and what they want to watch on TV. Yeah. Right.
This couple, the Yablonskis of Westford, Mass., describe themselves as “radical unschoolers.” These parents, these stewards of tomorrows leaders and citizens, these caretakers of our country’s most precious assets allow their son and teen daughter to make their own decisions on what they want to learn, and when they want to learn it. The Yablonskis believe that kids have to be trusted to find their own interests. They’re not worried if their kids stay up all night watching TV because the kids are getting everything done that needs to be done.
When asked how the kids would learn math or some other subject, the parents say that if the kids need math, they’ll find that information. Really? Well I don’t know what it’s like at their house, but at our house we have a few rules about what our students learn. There is no “finding” the information, unless it’s “found” in a predetermined textbook based on a sensible, planned curriculum. And at our house, that information is “found” on a daily basis,
Seriously, do these parents really believe that children know what’s best for them? My spouse and I are all for the idea of allowing kids to explore in order to find something in which they are interested, but there have to be limits. Most parents are smart enough to know that kids need structure in order to learn what they need to function in a modern world. If we gave our kids the option of watching television or school work, they would always watch television.
While I am on board with the whole giving kids some room to make some of their own choices and decisions, what this family is doing is about half past crazy in my opinion. This is not a healthy approach to raising children and in some states this family’s bizarre approach to educating their kids could be considered criminal.
There are currently about 1.5 million homeschooled kids in the U.S. Most of those kids are engaged in daily scheduled studies and classes, working on a prepared curriculum, learning and preparing to be the leaders, citizens, and professionals of tomorrow.