Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unguided Discovery

Deb Lewis, on the idea of Unguided Discovery, wrote:
"My son has experienced a lot of wonderful learning through discovery and knows how to find instruction if that's what he wants. I have a wild idea that doing what he wants to do is more important than doing what science educators would like him to do. I don't think all innovators and leaders have to come from the molded and stamped process that produced a previous innovator. I think new understanding often comes from fresh and fearless approaches to discovery. So, while some people are working to prove Piaget wrong, I think he had a good idea when he said, 'If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.'"
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a steam calliope


  1. "Stay in part a child" sounds like a wonderful thing to aim for every day.

    And "Unguided Discovery"....This is a phrase I can use to describe how we homeschool to people who I think will misunderstand the term "unschooling."

    ~Michelle in PA

  2. Deb Lewis send this note by e-mail:

    Piaget and Bruner and others wrote a lot about Discovery Learning but it’s been criticized a lot, too. I think concerned friends and relatives might be just as worried or confused by “unguided discovery” or Discovery Learning as by “unschooling.” Especially if they care enough to do some research.

    Maybe Discovery Learning with Support? Supported Discovery? I don’t know. Guided Discovery is a term used a lot by educators and would be misleading for an unschooler to use.

    And “unguided” can be a problem. Not every guide is a good guide that’s true, but a good guide when wanted or needed, can help learning and discovery. On a river float trip once, the guide said something like, “I won’t tell you to hold on all the time because I know you want to take pictures. But I will tell you that I’ve been on this river hundreds of time and it can still surprise me. I’ll tell you when it’s going to be rough but you’ll be safest if you stay aware.” A good guide will point out obstacles and opportunities, answer questions and tell you where it might get rough (and pull you out of the water if you forget to hold on!) I wouldn't have wanted to discover the class II rapids of the Kenai canyon without her. People who’d been through the canyon before wouldn’t have needed a guide there, but I think all kids deserve a good guide, rapids or no. :-)

  3. My own note: Maybe "discovery" is a good term to use without specifying how much guiding you intend, when talking to people who don't yet understand unschooling.


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