the network for radical unschooling families
My partner and I just got a final date from the library. We're going to be running a program about unschooling for the local homeschoolers and anyone else interested.
I have a pretty good idea of what we want to talk about, however I'm always afraid of missing something. What do you wish someone told you when you first looked into unschooling?
I'm also handing out a list of links and I have Joyfully Rejoicing, Sandra Dodd's unschooling site, Why Unschool and this site on there any other wonderful resources that I missed?
"Read a little, try a little, wait a little, watch"!
At some point I did get the advice to ease in by saying yes more, rather than dumping all the limits at once, and that was very help with Ray, in particular. With Mo I was reading about unschooling with a very young child, though, and struggled with a lot of all-or-nothing thinking especially about (guess!) food and tv.
The other thing it wouldn't have hurt me to hear A Lot more than I did was to try to be as gentle with my partner as I was trying to be with my kids. Again, that was something I got a little bit, from seasoned unschoolers, but I was also "hanging out" online with other fairly new unschoolers where that message didn't get passed around very often.
I think it would have been helpful to hear that schooly type thinking unwinds itself gradually over a period of years, maybe over a whole lifetime. I keep discovering new nuggets.
Also, it would have been nice to hear that that unschooling doesn't have to be something approached in a doing it right or wrong framework. The word can be used to connect with others and to explore what aligns with our instincts. Words are stepping stones and connectors, but they don't have to limit us unless limits are what feels right for us right now. We can be just as unfettered with unschooling as we want our kids to be in their day-to-day lives.
-=- We can be just as unfettered with unschooling as we want our kids to be in their day-to-day lives.-=-
I think that for the purposes of making unschooling clear to others (I think that's what Tina wants to do) this statement would not clarify things.
Can you explain what you mean?
This is my perspective and what it would have been helpful for me to hear, but not everyone will agree with how I experience unschooling.
Unschooling is a process of letting go and transcending the notion that high pressure on oneself and forcing oneself without joy or inspiration will get you where you want to go. As we see the way our children live without undue pressure and limits, we can be inspired to tap into that moment-to-moment flow of life and know that we do not have to pressure or limit ourselves in the way our culture promotes.
We may at first approach unschooling as we have been taught to do everything--as something to get right, afraid to mess up, something with exact definable borders and rules. And then after really watching how our children do things, we may be inspired to let the label go for the most part, recognizing the word as a handy tool that helped us relax into the flow of life and find a way to be with others, a way that's always imperfect and filled with delightful variety.
If I were speaking to a group of people interested in unschooling, I'd say that it's a step on the way to trusting oneself and others, a wonderful step illustrated by many families who have immersed themselves in it. Probably newcomers to the term are far more interested in nuts, bolts and real-life examples, but it also would have been really interesting for me to see unschooling framed in this way from the beginning, as a handhold rather than an ultimate destination and something one must strive to conform to.
Probably newcomers to the term are far more interested in nuts, bolts and real-life examples,
Some are, some aren't, and that's where things get dicey - because some folks come to unschooling with ideas of freedom and following their bliss and then wonder why their kids traumatize the cat and destroy the house - and that's not hyperbole! I've fielded questions about exactly that degree of chaos from parents who went too far with "no right or wrong way". I like "warmer and colder" in that sense, too - closer to my principles or farther away from them.
I do think its good to let people know that unschooling doesn't demand some kind of perfection. One of the places I got stuck, early on, not really "getting" unschooling was the idea that I needed to be some kind of perfect parent in order to unschool. I got stuck thinking unschooling was about modelling. So maybe it would have helped me earlier in the game to have it suggested that unschooling isn't just about modelling and trusting kids to follow the model. Its more involved, more interactive than that - but that's something that's harder for parents who come to unschooling with young children to wrap their minds around right away because young children need so much more parental input. Its easier to see, with older kids, how modelling is just one factor and not always the most definitive factor.
The scariest aspect of unschooling for a lot of people is that kids will make decisions parents don't like, don't agree with, find distasteful. Unschooling parents get to be a bigger part of their kids' decision making process but they don't get to be the whole of it. You get to be the good friend, the reliable friend. As an adult I try to emulate my good, reliable friends - modelling happens in relationships in that sense, but its not a driving force in my adult friendships. It isn't in unschooling families, either.
One thing I would have appreciated hearing is that unschooling isn't for the faint of heart <g>. It will challenge *you* to learn many things you either never thought you would or prefer not to learn about yourself. It will challenge all your assumptions about how learning happens. It will sometimes challenge your relationships with family, with friends, with your spouse.
But if you find the courage to facilitate your children’s learning, to learn yourself, and to live by principles not rules, you can have an amazing life.