Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No More Guitar

My younger son wanted to learn guitar. We could not afford it at first.

Finally he got his acoustic guitar and lessons. I said if he was serious and learned to read music and to play then after that he could have an electric guitar. It took a year to get fluent and he then received that electric guitar. Lessons continued and he played nearly every day for fun and to practice. I did not push him to practice, he did it on his own and loved it.

When the job was lost the lessons stopped, there was no money in the budget. My son stopped playing. Then we moved and had no teacher. My son did not resume playing.

It has been exactly two years since my son stopped playing guitar.

We have the money for lessons now but he has not asked to take them.

So, four years ago he started guitar, and two years ago he stopped.

I am sharing this story as further proof as to why my younger son would never make it as an unschooler. He thrived with the regularly scheduled lessons. He likes a deadline. He likes to know he will have to perform by a certain date. he was inspired by the live teacher who knew him as a person. Left to his own devices he does not practice to keep the learning going. Without the lessons he does not go to YouTube to find lessons he could do on his own (as some homeschooled kids we know on tight budgets do on their own).

So, my son is a failure as an unschooler. I love the idea of unschooling and mourned the loss of that educational method when we quit it. This guitar situation that is happening here and now is further and more recent proof that my younger son is just not cut out for unschooling. I am trying to be happy and grateful for the good in our lives instead of feeling negatively about things that don't work out, like unschooling.

But I do wish the kid would play guitar was nice to see him happily doing something that was "just his own" and that did not involve staring at a screen. He was building skill and having fun. Maybe I need to offer up those lessons again...

Update 11/29/12: I wrote this post about two weeks ago. Over the weekend I offered the lessons again. I explained I have a good referral from a friend of a cool and nice teacher who comes to the house, just like the former teacher did. My son said he does not care anything about playing guitar now and is "over it". At present the guitars are on display in his bedroom, all ready to use, not just for decoration. He asked if he could sell them and keep the money for himself since the stuff belonged to him. My husband (who was present) and I did not respond. Frankly after the over a thousand dollars we spent on the guitars (and we got some of it at 50% off!), the speaker, the Cry Baby, the replacemnt strings, etc. and the about three thousand dollars on lesson fees I'd like to put the money into the family's fund. I didn't want to get into a debate over it.


Ahermitt said...

Unschooling would not have worked for us either. You're not alone. As far as the guitars are concerned, I would agree to sell only if the money was being used for some other educational pursuit. They were not a gift, they were a tool.

Xa Lynn said...

Unschooling would not have worked for me as a child, nor would it work for my kids today. It's a neat theory, but it is my opinion that it actually works well for only a very small minority of people. This doesn't make them any better or worse than anyone else. It it just another learning style.

As for the guitar(s), I own all the instruments my kids have played, and I'm going to be selling most of them soon, and using the money to pay for the voice lessons for ME that I have been missing since I had kids 11 years ago.

In your case, I might tell your son that you disagree with him on the ownership of the guitars, but you are willing to let him sell them himself and keep the money. And that he is now responsible for paying all costs associated with Scouting, and/or sports in 2013, since that is what you would have used the money for. If he can sell his stuff and pay his way, then he can participate. If he uses the money for something else, and then cannot go on a particular trip because he hasn't enough money left for it, that's his choice.

dstb said...

I am not sure unschooling would have worked for us either. I suspect mostly because I am not sure I could have given up the control.

Here is a question though, and it is a general question on the idea of homeschooling, not aimed at you or your son, but I'll use you as my example.

Just because he is not interested in guitar now, does that mean that unschooling is a failure? Has he moved on to something else that interests him and is that okay?

I'm not sure I am explaining myself well. Does he have to sustain his interest in guitars for his lifetime in order for it to have been a success? Didn't he learn something from the lessons that may come in handy down the road somewhere (some music theory perhaps, even if it was not specifically taught as such)?

Ugh. I am still not explaining well. Hopefully you can figure out what I mean.


ChristineMM said...

Sarah, I know what you are driving at.

However the point is that with scheduled lessons with a professional teacher my son learned and practiced on his own.

My son is an extrovert who likes to be around and to please people. He likes praise from authority figures who are not his parents. He likes feedback from other people.

So my point is that the success at the guitar, whatever he learned and his enjoyment at the time existed ONLY BECAUSE he was receiving traditional tutor type instruction with a formal teacher.

In the absence of that rigid structure it broke down. At first we changed to 2x a month instead of 1x a week due to busy-ness and that is when the passion started to dwindle. He was most motivated close to the lesson time then it died down.

Then when we stopped altogether due to not being able to afford it, then the move and not knowing who a good teacher was, and the tight budget also, the whole thing went down the drain.

To hear unschoolers talk they make it seem like their kids who thrive with it as so internally driven that they will do nearly anything to make the learning happen, including being resourceful like using free YouTube guitar lesson videos to keep learning from a virtual teacher.

As of right now my younger son's only passion is playing video games which we limit, and discussing them on chat forums. He has begun making videos of himself playing said games then uploading them to his own YouTube channel. He is crafting what he thinks is both a social network and a money making venture (if thousands of people watch your videos then they get paid a small amount of money). He thinks he could make money. (I will bite my tongue.)

If left to his own devices to manage his own time and craft his own educational plan he would do NOTHING academic and would play video games nonstop and make those videos and chat it up online all day and night.

ChristineMM said...

Xa Lynn,
Wow you are more strict than we are about spending the income from the sale on his own pursuits.

Jamboree with Boy Scouts is $2400 which does not include the about $300 in required uniform expenses and the $300 at least in spending money. He would never get that for his 2 guitars as that is over full retail.

I like the lesson in what you are saying but it would never fly.

I guess we are over-indulging our kids. Then again if this is over-indulging then everyone I know in real life is over-indulging their kids also because they spend gobs of money on the experiences that schools and scouts and sports team dictate as "routine" and "recommended" and "common" and "beneficial for childhood development".

Maybe most Americans are just nuts for spending like we do on our kids?

I recall a WSJ article that said that it costs about $2 million per child by age 18 not counting college or private school or whatever after high school expenses.

dstb said...

I was going to suggest that you hold on to all his guitar stuff. He is still fairly young and you never know if in another couple of years he will be interested again. He may meet a new friend or group who likes to jam and he might want to then.

If he decides to sell, and you let him keep the money, let him know that if he changes his mind, he will have to buy the new stuff himself. (You could even write up a simple contract to that effect. I joke about this because it is something my kids do to my husband and me sometimes and they actually can find it and pull it out when needed even a year or more later. There is a funny story about a Nerf gun, but I won't share it now).

Deborah said...

Unschooling does not work for families where the expectation is that the child will do a similar curriculum to that planned out by the parents or a traditional school. "Interest led learning" is a PROCESS of enabling a child to discover and pursue interests. The child is not expected to be able to do these things before he has done these things (a seeming paradox), so there are lots of things that look like "false starts" and "wasted time" along the way. It seems that a mix of unschooly and structured learning has worked well for your kids in the past...I hope you are able to find a balance that suits you all now that your kids are older.