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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The uselessness of grades

......and other such baloney people take with them even when leaving the school system.

I angered someone immensely when she wrote me asking a question. I was written, I did not approach this person, but when I answered her question to the best of my knowledge I made her very, very angry. Why? Because I suggested that a link to her blog had been removed because of her reference to graduating her children to the next grade and issuing rewards for behavior and educational goals. sigh.

There was no suggestion in my email that she was wrong or bad....just a simple "maybe that's why it was removed." which ended up NOT being the case and I went on to explain that I was incorrect and perhaps it was accidentally removed. In the end, I have no idea why the link wasn't there, but now I have someone angry at me because I have "judged" her.

Hmmmmmmm....if one is very comfortable with one's choices, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? If you choose to keep parts of the school you're comfortable with, that's your business. I choose to leave it ALL behind.

Children don't need rewards for learning. The learning itself, is motivation enough when a person is pursuing an authentic life and living their passions. What is the purpose of a reward or a punishment? To alter behavior. I don't like rewards. I don't like punishments. My husband and I don't use them on each other, we don't need them for children.

When a person is motivated to learn something or act a certain way, then the action itself has value for that person. Being motivated by your own desires, is the best way to accomplish anything in life.

Sure, we do kind things for each other, but simply because we love each other and that's how we choose to live. I don't give certificates or grades or talk to the children about what grade they would be in unless they ask. They don't view grade level as some kind of thing to be achieved. Adults don't need to be in a grade....why would children?

Furthermore, if claiming to walk our own path in this journey...then why take a model of schools and use it? Leave it behind. Walk without all that baggage. Don't strip kids of their internal guidance by watering it down with rewards and grades. That's what I think.

So here's a mushroom for ya, from Jalen who is no particular grade at all and needed no reward for finding and discussing an interesting thing that caught his fascination.:) Happy trails.


Blogger Joanne said...

My daughters had a party recently and my oldest (just turned 12) was so excited to tell one of her friends about a book she had just read. She was telling her how great it was and that she finished it in a day and a half and she would lend it to her if she wanted to read it. My daughter stopped raving about this book long enough for her friend to ask "You do school work in the summer?" My daughter answered no. Her friend then asks the million dollar question, "Then why did your mom make you read that book?" Sad, isn't it?

10:18 PM  
Blogger Snavleys said...

Maybe this woman needs to read The Four Agreements, especially the chapter titled "Don't Take Anything Personally". And we can be so thankful that our children go about their lives, living joyfully without the rewards, punishments, grades, tests, evaluations, etc.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Dear Ren-
What a jewel you've given me in "Adults don't need to be in a grade....why would children?'. Isn't it funny that most of my thoughts and actions are held against "I'd not treat my spouse or friend this way", but 'Grading An Adult' is an entirely new thought for me. Not that I grade my children, just that I had associated the process more with 'age' than 'merit' if you see what I mean.
But if we adults were graded, and asked what 'grade' we were in, it would be extremely vexing - insulting, judging, and snobbish.
Thanks so much for pointing this out to me.
I'll be thinking on this, and no doubt writing about it.
Much love and thanks,

8:53 PM  
Blogger granola*girl* said...

There are more important things in life to get upset about... I can't believe that woman go so pissed about it.

Anyway... I get so tired of people asking what "grade" Dayle is in. I just told her again recently, we don't *do* grades, but you can tell them how old you are.

Do you have any witty responses for what to put down on the next form I have to fill out, to sign her up for something, when they ask for her grade?

Joanne - very sad... :(

4:56 PM  
Blogger Collette said...

Colleen said....
I'm a firm believer in unschooling but why do many of you think it is sad about the way others live and believe. School is a reality. I was a teacher for 30 plus years. It's OK for people to live the way they want to live. I wish unschoolers would stop being defensive. If you think your way is best (and I do) then go about your life supporting those who want this life. I had controlling nuns all my life and i turned out fine. There's something to learn from everything. My grandkids are unschooled and I love it. I also loved teaching/facilitating. So be it! Get on with UNSchooling without analyzing others or feeling sorry for those who don't. We all love our children and all have the same goal.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

No, we don't all have the same goal. Not at all.
My goal is to let my children be exactly who they are without trying to form them into something they are not. That isn't the goal of schools, nor is it the goal of many parents from what I hear as I go about my business.

There is no defensiveness by my thinking schools are a waste of time for most people and damaging to the attendees forced to be there. It's just what I believe.

I'm not going to teachers (some of whom are my dear friends) or to school lists or groups that support schools and preaching anything to them. I'm talking to people that have chosen to walk away from the school system and find an alternative. This very blog is for and about unschooling.

I believe that's what a blog exists for, so the owner can say whatever they damn well believe and choose to share with whomever stops by.

If you choose to read here, then choose to deal with my views. I make no apologies for my strong belief that compulsory schooling is harmful.

Controlling Nuns didn't help you turn out fine. You turned out find IN SPITE of them. Survival isn't necessarily optimal.

I choose optimal.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Ren said...

Oh, and my strong beliefs don't stop people from living the way they want to live. I'm really not that powerful. Truly.;)

12:34 AM  
Blogger granola*girl* said...

>>>Ren said... I'm not going to teachers (some of whom are my dear friends) or to school lists or groups that support schools and preaching anything to them. I'm talking to people that have chosen to walk away from the school system and find an alternative. This very blog is for and about unschooling.<<<

True! But they are coming to ours, putting us down for what we do and our views about things and then complain that we don't agree with their views!

>>>Colleen said.... School is a reality.<<<

Schools the way they are run now DO NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! The Sudbury school model proves that! Schools the way they are now is not how true education takes place. I recommend you read A Thomas Jefferson Education (although not a strictly unschooling book) to see how the great leaders were educated. It wasn't through the schools the way they are now! So school may be a reality... but does the reality of it have to be so negative, so harmful, so out of control? Hell, no, but no one wants to step up and do a damn thing to change it. IMHO.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

"School is a reality"

Hmmmmm. Not my reality.Not my children's reality. They don't HAVE to be a reality for anyone. Truly.

But I'm not against some form of public schooling actually. I realize they are a haven for some children who don't have parents truly interested in providing a nurturing environment. Doesn't mean it has to be compulsory, or screwed up so badly. That's a choice. Everyone who does nothing to change it, or open their eyes to the damage is feeding that system and saying it's ok.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to debate or disagree, coming to a blog and doing just that.

I DO however, have a problem with people trying to tell ME what to post or bitch about at my very own soapbox.:)

Let's have a debate about schooling or unschooling or whatever. But asking me to NOT post what I choose to post, now that's just downright ridiculous.

Especially when you see how easy I am to shut up.;)

12:27 PM  
Blogger Madeline said...

I have been experiencing this on our local unschooling e-mail list - posters taking the more radical unschoolers' perspective (a discussion about TV limits was the provocation) as being an attack on them personally. It has taken a week for the defensiveness to begin to die down. I went looking on line for a more radical unschooler's blog (glad I found your's) to just rest in the common ground. I will bookmark you and come back for a fix again! Thanks.

2:16 PM  
Blogger ~K~ said...

-It's OK for people to live the way they want to live.-

It's an interesting "oops" that she phrased school as "the way [people] want to live." I don't know if Collette knows this: School attendance has been compulsory for almost 100 years now.

In a way, Collette is right. Schools are a choice since parent(s) can opt out and choose to homeschool their children. However the children who choose to go to school don't always choose to stay, but since they generally get no voice or vote on the matter, for them school is compulsory.

-I wish unschoolers would stop being defensive.-

People like me, who feel that children are human beings and therefore capable of making many important decisions for themselves, are getting more and more accustomed to the feeling from people who would very much like people like me to shut up.

Children are worth being on the defensive for because they don't have a vote or get majority until they reach 18.

-If you think your way is best (and I do) then go about your life supporting those who want this life.-

I concur. I mean, I will. ;)

-I had controlling nuns all my life and i turned out fine.-

Ew. Controlling nuns. I'm sorry that happened to Collette. Glad she's fine.


10:40 AM  
Blogger Ren said...

The original comments (everything before yours Katherine) were actually from June 2007. I forgot about that part actually, until your comment came through. :)

It's always interesting how people respond to those that have walked away from anything school related. It sorta freaks them out. Good.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Ren said...

The other amusing part about that comment, is how the person assumes we aren't "getting on" with unschooling. Which is simply living life. Not sure how sharing opinions is in any way detracting from LIVING LIFE.

I'm living my life fully every day. Sometimes part of MY personal "living fully" is about having discussions, sharing opinions and experiences etc...

Part of my "living fully" this week involves going to the Live and Learn conference to talk more about these kind of topics!!;)

ttfn....more to come....

1:23 PM  

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