I guess the question that still comes to mind is why can't they do both? School and unschool? You could enhance what they learned by getting on the internet and discovering and inquiring about the topics discussed. Basically, above and beyond!
I suppose this would be do-able. However, I maintain that what works for a class of 30 isn't necessarily the best for my class of 4 (well, by state standards, only 1 currently). I also see (and this really depends on your district and teachers) stressed-out, over-scheduled kids around me a lot. You have them in your class - the ones who have baseball Monday nights, dance Tuesday night, church on Weds, ice skating on Thursday and they're out to have fun with friends on Fridays. Plus gobs of homework. When would there be time to unschool? Saturday afternoon? Oh wait... that's Timmy's birthday party. ;) Simply put, I don't think unschooling during 'off-hours' would work well because I think it would be handled more like a hobby. And who ever has time for hobbies? I love to scrapbook. The last time I actually did it was when I was pg (and for the record, that was at least 6 mos ago).
Your next question was...
Do you think public schools quelch their learning by forcing too many rules and too much curriculum into their minds? I must admit-we probably do but I always believed that is what the world would do to them someday as they became adults and ventured into the world of a career and family. Some things are forced. (emphasis added)
A couple of interesting points here. The one that leaps out at me is an argument I've heard many times (usually from my own mother and in-laws) - 'Why give them so much freedom? There are some things in life that you just *have* to do. They need to learn that!' OK, I agree - there are some things in life that you have to do. But do those things start at 5 years of age? Sure, you have to brush your teeth. You have to sleep. You have to keep your body clean. But I feel the fewer have-to's they have, the more they're willing to not make a huge deal out of them. For example - I hear stories about moms fighting with their kids about baths or brushing teeth. If you let them choose other things (what to wear, for example), that can help relieve pressure on the other issues that are really important. Similar to management styles - do you prefer to be micromanaged or do you prefer your boss tell you the job and then stands back and lets you do it while providing support and resources? I definitely prefer the latter though perhaps there are those people who like to be micromanaged? It's my opinion that my kids will be better able to deal with more have-to's as they become adults. ;) And don't misread that - we DO have rules. My kids do not run amuk around me...well not usually anyway (they're not angels, after all! LOL). They aren't allowed to talk meanly to each other, they are not allowed to hit each other, they do have to brush their teeth, etc. But we try to minimize the amount of rules that we have and we speak to them like adults. I don't mean that in the vocabulary sense (though we certainly don't talk down to them - we just explain unknown words to them as needed) but more so in the respect sense. Our kids are always welcome in our adult world. There's no separating of this-is-the-kid-area and this-is-the-adult-area. We're a family unit and if it's not appropriate for them, we don't do it. I wait until they're asleep (or in their rooms for the evening) to watch Desperate Housewives. LOL This may get harder to do as they get older and don't need as much sleep or they want to stay up later - we'll adjust it then, whether I decide to stop watching it or we come to some kind of compromise. When my husband brings up an article of interest to me in the newspaper, they're invited to give their opinions as well.
Do I think schools are forcing too many rules and curricula agendas? Maybe...though I honestly try not to get into the whole "how do we fix America's education system" conversations because, other than my tax money (and don't get me started on that either! LOL), I'm not active in it. I'll leave that to the mass educators to figure out. ;)
Though I do see that in a mass education effort, rules and curricula are needed. I'm just saying that since I'm not doing mass education and can focus on each child individually, I don't need to follow the same techniques that work for those who are being mass educated. I know homeschooling families who have classrooms in their homes - they devoted an entire room to look exactly like a school classroom - they have alphabet posters, they raise their hands to speak, they write on chalkboards, etc. I don't see the need to follow mass education techniques in my home.
If I couldn't continue homeschooling my kids, I'd search for a Montessori school. They have a lot more freedom in their learning and interests than your typical public school and I think they'd be the closest fit in mass education, to what we do here at home.
I hope that explains it. I have a nagging feeling that I didn't get to the heart of your question so let me know if I missed it. LOL