Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food for Thought

Starting from food, moving to learning...

There's another aspect past the fact that hungry kids are cranky.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs says a person who is hungry cannot learn, so for unschooling I think that could be the very first consideration.

When a family doesn't consider learning the primary goal of unschooling, things can disintegrate pretty quickly. YES, once you get it going kids are learning all the time. But if a family starts with the idea that learning is happening all the time, they might never quite get the learning part of unschooling going. And in that case learning will NOT happen all the time. It's subtle but crucial.

From a discussion at Always Learning, here
and it spawned a new topic: Learning all the time
photo by Sandra Dodd


  1. I'm a little confused by this excerpt. So often, I see experienced unschoolers (and I do it myself) tell newcomers to unschooling "learning happens all the time". If going into unschooling with that expectation may be a bad idea, why do so many of us say that? Does saying that require some clarification?

    I think I get what's being said -- that just trusting learning will happen without facilitating it is a mistake and can doom unschooling. I've seen this happen, a time or two, but I've also seen folks really begin to figure out unschooling when it's pointed out to them that learning is everywhere.

  2. Clarification is being provided at the link above. :-)

    But all the discussions I've been in for 20 years have been clarifications of that.

    There is some very bad advice being given to newcomers by people whose own unschooling philosophy is weak, and there have been unschoolers who get a few years into something they think is unschooling, and their kids aren't learning much. Had they planned from the beginning to facilitate learning first, and have fun second, they would be in great shape.

    The saddest part of my days lately is helping dismayed people who come and say "But people told me..." and they spill some bad advice out, and tell us how confused they are.

    Learning happens all the time, but if children are in an environment where learning isn't valued and respected and thought about, it won't be as rich.

    "Unschooling is creating an environment in which natural learning can flourish." That's been my quick definition lately, my "elevator answer." Other definitions I've saved are here:
    They all talk about learning.

  3. I agree there is some very bad and irresponsible advice being given to newcomers.

    I like your "elevator answer".

    I find that I'm really only comfortable saying 'learning happens all the time' when it sounds like the parent I'm talking to is still thinking in a very schoolish mindset -- usually those who have just taken the kids out of school and need to relax a bit. And follow it up with examples of what learning looks like.

    I see what you were talking about, and I can see where it's helpful to clarify.



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