unschooling: let’s chat about this

Day 24 of 31 already?? Just one week left of this unschooling series?? Say it ain’t so.

Of course, I didn’t get to half of what I wanted to. Oh, well. There’s always next month. Or, more likely, never.

But the e-book is out! Woot! (And Livi and I are already discussing a sequel.)

coverblogunschoolA HUGE thank-you to everyone who has shared the book via social media in the past two days. I’ve made zero brilliant marketing plans, so y’all are what make or break this thing (and you bear no responsibility if it breaks, but I’ll give you all the credit if it makes). (am I talking nonsense?) (yes.)


New e-book, new mini-van, new niece. That was my day yesterday. PRAISE YOU, JESUS!

Today I want to chat about a question my dear IRL friend, Megan asked me via e-mail last week. I’d love to get your feedback.

I have a random thought/question/remark about unschooling vs. public school in regard to wasted time.  (btw, we can totally talk about this, I just didn’t want to lose this thought).  So one of the things that you say about public school is that there is a lot of time wasted.  I was wondering what you mean.  I’ve asked E. before what he does if there is “nothing” to do at school.  He said it doesn’t happen very often, but if so he always has a book in his desk to read.  I’m thinking worst case scenario he chats with a friend (which I see no harm in, unless he’s told not to).  I do understand that between all of the “special” classes and assemblies etc. that you really could get schooling done by noon, but it’s some of those things that make school so fun and special.  I just keep thinking that my kids would probably waste a lot more time each day at home if I were unschooling them, but I could totally be wrong.  That’s why I’m asking you. You know I love you and I’m not looking down on what you guys are doing.  Sometimes there’s just a disconnect because we love our public school experience so much! 

I have my own thoughts (which I might share in the comments sometime today), but I don’t want to influence what you say.

Here’s what I want to know:

In your experience, is there wasted time in school? If so, explain. If not, explain. (If you don’t know, ask your kids!)

(It doesn’t matter if your experience is positive or negative. Like I’ve said before, it’s not my goal to convince everyone–not even anyone–to pull their kids from a positive public school experience. And our six years of kiddos in public school were all positive.)

And, before I forget, another friend, Megan, is doing 31 Days of Prayer for Public School Parents on her blog this month. She hasn’t had time to blog all 31 days, but I think it’s a fabulous idea to pray for your kiddos’ schools/teachers, and I think this will help.

8 thoughts on “unschooling: let’s chat about this

  1. Melissa

    Definitely all the lining up, waiting and more waiting are what I think of as wasted time. I also wasted a lot of time in high school, being in class but writing my stories instead or even sometimes reading. I had an Algebra 2 teacher in high school who would seat us in assigned seats according to how well we were doing in that class and then he never asked questions, he always just called on people. He called on the people in the struggling section more than those who already got it. He didn’t care if I read all through class as long as I could answer him correctly if he called on me (which I did). So much time spent learning things I already knew, learning pointless things, and then just waiting. Or study halls, where the things you were allowed to do was very narrowly defined. By the way I have never been in public school, this is just my perspective from my private school experience, but there’s still a lot of time I could have spent doing other things that mattered more to me.

  2. Anna

    I had friends who had very little wasted time in school, so I think it is very dependent on the student. As someone who picked things up and retained them easily, there were hours of wasted time for me each day as we reviewed things we’d learned last week, last month, last year, etc (sometimes for the 3rd or 4th straight year in a row). I did an informal time study in 6th grade, and determined that I was actively learning about three hours out of each day. It was frustrating. This was in the 90s, but my son’s preschool teacher just told me her middle school daughter is experiencing the same thing – she was too far ahead last year in math, and the teacher just gave her a wipe-off board to play with during class.

    And then there were the 90 minutes a day I spent on the school bus. I read or visited with friends, but I had other interests that I wanted to pursue that couldn’t be done sitting in a classroom or on the bus waiting to get home.

  3. Jill Foley

    When I taught violin in a public school, I saw wasted time as the time spent lining up and waiting on everyone in the class to be ready. Obviously it takes a group of 20 some students longer to get ready for something than it does for the few that are in your living room.

    I think wasted time and free time are two different things. The kids who are waiting on other kids to get ready aren’t experiencing free time. Lining up and walking down the hall to the cafeteria isn’t free time.

  4. Jordan

    I think this question has to do with your definition of wasted time. Is wasted time “doing nothing?” In that case, stay busy, and you won’t waste time. But I know plenty of people who are constantly doing and waste time all the same (myself, at times, for example).

    Is sitting in the branches of the tree in the backyard with your sister “wasted time”? (That’s something I wish I had done more now that I’ve left home.) What about filling in the answers on yet another worksheet? It could be argued that either or neither are wasted time. It might even depend on the day.

    So I didn’t answer your yes or no question with a yes or no… Blame my unschooled upbringing that taught me to think outside the box 🙂 As an unschool “graduate” (do unschoolers even graduate??), I’d say I wasted plenty of time. I just hope that most of that time was wasted on something meaningful…

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