Monday, May 27, 2013

notes from my presentation

We were asked to submit notes of our slides or handouts from our presentations.  I wrote up a basic outline of what I planned to say.  If you read it and you heard my speech, you will note that what I planned to say and what I said are not the same.  I find homeschooling a lot like that, too.

What i submitted:

What is unschooling?

Unschooling is on a continuum.  Most homeschoolers unschool to some degree.

Things to have around the house:

white board and many colored markers, various maps and charts, books, aleph beis games and puzzles


How will my child learn anything if we unschool?

  • they’ll learn it themselves when they find it relevant and useful or interesting.

  • they’ll learn it late, but very quickly or with great vigor when they need it or find it interesting.

  • they won’t learn it, but they’ll have an attitude of “if I want to know something or how to do something, I’ll just learn it or learn how to do it.”

How will my child learn limudei kodesh if we unschool?


middos/character development
read Hebrew
know torah stories
self control
write hebrew
know halacha
understand tefila
read and translate
follow concepts and steps of gemara
concepts of a rashi
doing things they don’t enjoy




mishna berura etc

speak Ivrit


  • Relax! You can always catch up later

  • Listen to your gut.  If you feel like you should push, then push a little (yes, this is contradictory.  Be flexible!)

  • Any time you worry that your child should be learning, let them play and pull out a sefer yourself.  When you see how much you are able to learn all by yourself, you’ll realize how easy it will be for your child to learn when s/he wants to!

  • The more learning Torah you do, the more it will come up naturally in conversation with your children.   
Do Chazal recommend a specific educational approach and does unschooling contradict that?

here is a blog post where I discuss this at length:

  • debate amongst educators about how important skills are (comparable to debate about memorization when the technology of the printing press came out)

  • Chazal’s recommendations of 5 l’mikra, 10 l’mishna, 15 l’gemara (Pirkei Avos, end of Chap. 5) are based on general conceptual ability of the child (the gemara says or 6 or 7, so there is some flexibility) and we should bear in mind when the child is capable of these types of study

  • Yeshivos began when R’ Yehoshua ben Gamla instituted them when he saw that fathers were no longer teaching their children themselves (Bava Basra 21a)

  • Don’t read it: “V’limadtem Osam” אותם (and teach them [your children]); rather read it: “V’limadtem Atem” אתם (and YOU should teach them [your children] yourselves)

  • if the child is not learning, put him with with his friends
    • What does that mean?

  • Rambam, Hil. Talmud Torah 1:6 says to teach children Shema and some pesukim as soon as they learn to speak

  • Avoda Zara 19a. a child should learn what he wants to learn.
(R. Elazar): "Ki Im b'Toras Hash-m Cheftzo" - one only learns (well) what he desires to learn. Rebbi finished teaching a Sefer to his son Shimon and to Levi. Levi wanted to learn Mishlei next, and Shimon wanted to learn Tehilim. They forced Levi to agree. As soon as Rebbi expounded "Ki Im b'Toras Hash-m Cheftzo" as above, Levi said 'you have given me permission to leave.'

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