The Great Unschool Attack

Posted by Annie on Nov 20, 2006 in Education |

The Great School Debate scheduled to air Friday, November 24th.

They say timing is everything and the Dr. Phil Show is determined to get the most bang for their buck.

The Great School Debate is scheduled to air this Friday, when of course all the public school children and teachers are home celebrating Thanksgiving.

Dr. Phil’s website now has a promotional video clip of the show you can watch and judge for yourself. (Click on Friday.) The video clip introduction doesn’t make it look pretty, according to Dr. Phil many of us may be raising “vegetables,” instead of children.

Parents want the best for their children, but what’s the best way to educate them? Dr. Phil’s guests face off in a debate about whether to school, homeschool or unschool. Dana and her husband, Joe, call themselves radical unschoolers. They say education happens as a side effect of life, and they don’t believe in tests, curriculums or grades. Are their three kids learning what they need to know?

Then, RaeAnn says public schools are death traps and wants to homeschool her children. Her husband, Steve, says their kids are safer at school than they are at home. Can this couple reach a compromise? Plus, Nicole feels like an outcast at 26. She says she hated being homeschooled, and couldn’t relate to other kids.

You can add your own comments.

If the producers of the show intended to inflame unschoolers, I believe they have reached their goal. One of what is sure to be many attacks on unschoolers in general goes like this:

My husband’s Aunt is an “unschooler”…her children are sharply behind when it comes to every subject…I personally find it to be a very irresponsible thing to do. Our society requires education and society benefits from it. Not everything is learned as a side effect of living. That’s ridiculous.

While it’s true that “not everything is learned as a side effect of living.” I can’t think of too many subjects that can’t be worked into a child’s life, during normal schedules and activities. Apparently this person doesn’t have a clue as to how children really learn and can’t remember what it was like to sit day after day in a classroom of clueless children, who’s goal for the day was to get outside and play in the sunshine. Learning doesn’t take place in a vacuum.

I had to chuckle when I read…

Crime and bullying do NOT come from the public school system. We don’t teach that as a special elective class!

Well, that is certainly good news, but I doubt that will be much comfort to the children who are forced to attend school and are harassed and bullied by other students and teachers on a daily basis.

While it’s doubtful this show will actually be seen as a debate and more likely to be view as an ambush. Homeschoolers can be thankful for one thing, at least it airs the day after Thanksgiving, so that most of us will have gone home and not have to spend the entire day defending ourselves.

It just figures the show would air on my birthday, but I’m not going to let it spoil my day.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Parental Guidance,I also would love to hear about your homeschooling success stories.The stories, I’m sure, would be a great encouragement to me as a second year homeschooler.Anonymous (posted daughter with hearing impairment..drop out public school son)

  • Jane says:

    Has anyone been in touch with the families who were on the show? Or do they have some sort of gag order placed on them? I’m really curious to know how they are faring and what their perspective is.

  • joanrenae says:

    I just hope everyone will go to the boards on Dr. Phil and bombard them Friday afternoon and Saturday. 🙂

  • Annette M. Hall says:

    Dear Parental Guidance,There are many of us who would believe you and in fact would love to hear of your children’s accomplishments. It would help encourage us in our own homeschooling efforts.If you are so inclined, I would personally love to hear about your children and how they faired during and after their homeschooling years. I still have a 9-year-old at home, though I began my homeschooling journey in 1984. It is one of the scariest things I’ve ever committed to in my life. I know other parents feel the same.Thank you for your comments!

  • Parental Guidance Required says:

    Frankly, those of us who homeschool are unlikely to rear children who one day end up on a program like Dr. Phil or Jerry Springer.Oh, how I’d like to list the accomplishments by my friends’ homeschooled children as well as my own children! But it would be far too long a list….beginning with winning essay contests, to graduating from the Naval Academy at Annapolis with honors!But alas, there are those who just wouldn’t believe me anyway.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree that homeschooling is not the best option for everyone. It is the best and only option for my family and I. I am not a teacher just a very concerned parent. Maybe I can not protect her from everything in this world but I believe that homeschooling her I am protecting her from a not great public school education where she will not learn about sex education in the first grade or earlier. She will learn when I fell she is ready and when she asks the questions. Thank you for letting me post. Just throwing in my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have not always been a “fan” of homeschooling. I definitely had preconceived ideas about children who are homeschooled, and yes, I was a teacher in the private school setting. As a result of my daughter’s hearing impairment, our family decided it would be best if I taught her at home. It has been the best decision ever! We are involved with several other homeschooled families through co-ops, and each of the children in our groups are testing way above their peers in public school. By the way, my daughter is in Kindergarten and reads at a third grade ninth month level. She was tested by public school officials because of her hearing. Each of her subjects were all graded between first grade third month through fourth grade!! Now on the other hand, I have an eighteen year old son who recently dropped out of public high school. We helped at home, tutored, conferenced, and stayed in contact with teachers throughout the years of school on a weekly basis, but those things did not help when he was verbally abused at school by teachers and peers. Bullying and condemnation seemed to be a constant in his public school education. I regret not homeschooling him. Maybe the outcome would have been better!! I know I am new to homeschooling, so I will stick to my personal testimony. My problem with homeschooling was like so many people’s opinions that I have spoken with “what about social skills?” My goodness, we are busier “socializing” since homeschooling that before when at public school. Then we seemed to only have time for homework then off to bed in the evenings. Through homeschool, we school in the mornings and experience in the afternoons. I am able to enroll my daughter in everything from dance and music to all that is available through our community programs. My daughter loves school; she loves learning and is eager to do more. She learns so much more through hands-on activities (usually in cooperation with other homeschooled children) in addition to her regular schoolwork. When she attended pre-school, it was a struggle each day to get her to want to go, and she would “shut down”. Now she is ready to learn through homeschooling.So why, Mr. Phil, are you trying to paint an unfair picture of homeschooling when there are so many more stories of succuss like ours? Why are we “homeschoolers” not fairly represented? Oh, and why is it that when we attend any community event, and a question is asked that pertains to any school subject that it is usually a homeschooled student that answers correctly over the public school students? Why Mr. Phil are there so many wasted minutes in a public school student’s school day? What is actually taught during some of these school days? My son seemed to watch more movies than do schoolwork!I have always held your show and books in high regard for being fair. I am no longer able to do so! I am not asking that you have to change your mind, only that you try to show fairness in the representation of homeschooled children. I am sure there are a few “not good” stories of homeschooling, however, do we really want to try to balance the “not good” stories of homeschooling verses the “not good” stories of public school education?

  • Annette M. Hall says:

    Those who wish to comment either on the Great School Debate blog post or the show are encouraged to post them here. The page for the Great School Debate is very very long.Either way… Please post a copy of any letters or e-mails you post else where, I would personally love to read them.I hope everyone has a terrific Thanksgiving Day. I think the day after could get a little tense.

  • Annette M. Hall says:

    One reader posted the following in regards to the Great School Debate. I want to make sure no one misses it.I was so appalled after reading this! Here is the email I sent:To whom it may concern,I am a frequent watcher of Dr. Phil, and a reader of his books. I was most disturbed, though, to learn of his upcoming show about homeschooling vs. public education which is scheduled to air the day after Thanksgiving. With all of the homeschooling choices available to a family, why was such an extreme and uncommon option chosen to represent us? Unschoolers are considered radical even in the homeschooling community. I don’t disagree with including them in a discussion, but certainly they should not be represented as mainstream. Where was the balance? Were the parents of the Spelling Bee winners not available? Or parents of successful college graduates? Homeschoolers regularly score better on standardized tests than public schooled children, despite having the averages of those who are homeschooled due to disabilities averaged in. Why did the show have to be set up to make us look like fools? My children can write their names in hyroglyphs and are grades ahead in math, AND THEY ARE NOT UNIQUE. We are not just letting them sleep in and play video games all day. What we provide is a viable (and in my opinion, superior) education when compared with the public school system. I have read that you would not allow any homeschooled children be a part of your audience, while you bused in public high school students. Perhaps you knew that this was not really as much a debate as it was a smack-down. I also read that you misled those homeschoolers who were invited to be a part of the audience as to what type of show they were participating in. I was shocked to read all of this about the show, and disappointed. I will watch for the show on Friday, and if it airs and it is as biased and misleading as I have heard it to be, it will be the last Dr. Phil show I ever watch. I am only one, I realize, but I intend to be taking notes of those who advertise and they will also hear about how unfair this show is to the mainstream homeschooling community. And I will become a loud and passionate denouncer of all things Dr. Phil on every message board, email, play group and dinner party that I participate in. It is my sincere hope that you will reconsider airing such a biased and unfair show. I hope that I can remain a Dr. Phil fan. — Ranae Jones

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Annette,I tried to post a link to your blog posts on the show, they are not being posted, I even copy and pasted one of the posts, but the screeners are not letting them go through. I guess they don’t want to expsose Dr. Phil on his own message boards. I’m going to be anonymous on this one in case the Dr. Phil show spies are checking in. Hee hee.

  • Anonymous says:

    Let’s keep this in perspective….The Doctor Phil showis a TELEVISION SHOW, based on ratings, that’s all. He does not solve any of the problems in the world in his one hour time slot, he is a mere actor with a degree in psychology.He has to pick topics that will get the public heated and he sure has with this schooling show.Homeschooling has been around since the beginning of time but cumpulsory school system only 150 years! And is has evloved into a system based on test scores. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a mindlesssociety where people follow eachother like herded cattle.Whatever happened to independant thinking? No one should pass judgement on Homeschooling that has not tried it, done the research & discovered the masses of information, networking & support out there in this wonderful, caring & creative community. Even more so, no one should ever tell me what is right for me, my children & my family. This world needs to mind it’s own business in personal matters & beliefs. Lastly, I bet Dr. Phil’s kids go to private school, nice that he can afford it. I wonder what he really taught his kids himself……

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s about time the ridiculous notion of “unschooling” was exposed for what it is, total bunk.These children will never have a life of their, never be able to hold a job or support a family. Parents who employ these types of radical methods should be jailed.

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