truisms - "proven" strategies

proven parenting strategies

There's a fundamental problem with this premise, which is that it assumes that
rule-based parenting is proven effective when it's results are actually pretty
random. In fact, the body of evidence provided by "proven parenting strategies"
is that there are good seeds and bad seeds and it doesn't matter if you do all
the right things, some kids will turn out bad.

The problem is that conventional parenting and educational strategies are
divorced from rational analysis. Parents and teachers continue using the same
strategies and sharing them as "proven" even when they fail spectacularly. Part
of that comes from seeing child psychology and behavior as divorced from adult
psychology and behavior - children are seen as students or subjects, future
adults, future people, and as such everything known about human nature is set
aside in favor of tactics for training or educating them.

Where radical unschooling gets radical is that it applies what is known about
human nature and cause-and-effect relationships to children. There have been
educational methods, over the years, which apply those principles in classroom
situations to great effect. And there have been parents and movements of parents
who have applied such principles in the home, also to great effect. These
principles have been applied to normal kids, gifted kids, troubled kids, and
kids with a wide range of disabilities. The idea that children are human beings,
with the needs of human beings and reactions of human beings, and that adults as
well as children can learn from adult-child interactions to the betterment of
both parties has been proven true over and over. But none of that is reflected
in conventional parenting lore or common educational methodology.

it seems that parents still need to steer their kids in the right direction,
not based on biased world view...

The human brain is designed to notice patterns and there are patterns everywhere
- in speech, in social interactions, in shapes of things, in the relationships
between physical characteristics. Some sets of related patterns we call
"language" some we call "mathematics" some we call "ethics" and "courtesy". Kids
can't help but notice those patterns and think about them because that's what
our big convoluted brains do best.

The trouble with trying to "steer kids in the right direction" is it ignores the
human capacity to see patterns - it's the "do as I say, not as I do" fallacy.
Adults try to write knowledge onto kids to protect them from having to learn
"the hard way" - noble sentiments! but the human brain isn't a tabula rasa. It
doesn't work that way, and so kids become aware of the fundamental gaps between
what's being taught and the real patterns of real life. That's why teenagers
fight with their parents! They have enough perspective by then to see all the
ways that adults are impulsive, foolish, self-deluded, contradictory, and rude,
and contrast that with how they're told they should behave "if you want to be an

If you step back from the idea that kids need to be steered and see what they
do, they explore and respond to the patterns of their environment. Adults can
help them - and should! Unschooling is absolutely Not "hands off parenting" it's
very engaged, thoughtful parenting. Kids, like adults, don't want to be set up
to make disastrous mistakes, but they do want to make their own decisions.
Unschooling parents help by offering up other portions of the patterns around

from a related discussion:
What methods [of evaluation] would you suggest, that aren't subjective?

There are no methods of measuring what a person has learned which are not subjective - none whatsoever. The idea that it's possible to measure learning objectively is part of the problem, and one of the reasons so many parents, educators and administrators are opposed to the use of standardized systems of evaluation. That's why more responsive methods of education rely on a mix of different kinds of feedback, both qualitative and quantitative - feedback which allows the "teacher" to know if he or she is doing well or needs to modify his or her approach, focus, and/or goals to better meet the needs of the student(s). The greatest horror of the push toward more "objective" methods is that it prevents teachers from doing exactly that - modifying the curriculum to the real needs of the people being educated. That kind of ongoing, inherently subjective, assessment and modification is the hallmark of good teaching anywhere, under any conditions.

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