the network for radical unschooling families
Now you're in trouble, Jon! It's probably *Homeland Security* closing in on you. Have fun in Gitmo! We'll start working on a jailbreak plan right away. Don't worry about a thing.
Jon Gold said:
Yes, that is my blog. What is a 'security error'? I've never heard of such a thing.
Meredith said:Jon, is that your blog? I get a "security error" for that post - do you have another or a pertinent quote? I had fun scrolling through your old posts looking for the entry by other means though... er, maybe need to warn off some of our more sensitive readers - got that, y'all? Jon's not for everyone!
From Ronnie Maier's Blog of the zombie princess:
"...here's the deal: Any time you let your belief system or your convenience come between your child and your child's wants, goals, or desires, that is institutional response. It's rigid and it's inherently disrespectful of the individual. Also, it is punishment because when you keep your child from having what he wants, you are punishing your child, and I don't really care how you pretty it up.
The alternative to this rigidity and disrespect is adaptability and acceptance. Adapt to your child. Accept your child for Who He Is, both in this moment and in the larger sense. And always, always respond as an individual and to an individual."
I like her. I read her blog all the time.
Actually, I love her and her sweet girls. Her dh is a swell fellow, too. (wink)
From Ronnie Maier's Blog of the zombie princess: ...snip...
From Ronnie Maier's Blog of the Zombie Princess:
There is a rhythm to an unschooling day, but you kind of have to be in it to see it. When I'm in the house with her, I know that Chloe's pile of notebooks is spread across the couch while she herself is painting at the kitchen table because something she discovered or thought of while working in those notebooks inspired her, and she rode that inspiration straight to her easel. Or maybe she was writing and needed to look something up on the Internet, and then she got drawn into a really fun Facebook conversation with her friends (socialization!).
When I'm home with her, I understand how this happens. I see the sparks. I hear her peals of laughter from the computer, or I see a painting in progress and hear her animated descriptions of her vision. And I know that she knows the notebooks are there, and I know she has every intention of getting back to them. It all makes sense. There's no chaos. The abandoned-for-the-moment notebooks are part of the rhythm. Do I know there might come a time when I need to ask her to clear the couch so we can sit down? Sure. But there's typically no urgency around that awareness.
By Jeff Sabo:
I can only assume that, as parents, we want our kids to have a better and easier life than we did. You can define "better" and "easier" in a variety of different ways, but I think that a "better" life means a happier life, a life that you enjoy, a life that is fun, a life that gets up every morning and pulls you into it even when you think you'd rather not. If I don't have one of those lives myself I can make changes to get there, but I may have a ton of reasons why I shy away from doing that much work. I may have to sacrifice my possessions, my security, or the way I am perceived in order to pursue a life that I would love. But kids . . . . kids don't have that baggage yet. They can choose joy and fun and happiness without feeling like they have to sacrifice anything to get it, because they're often not as intellectually invested in the trappings of life - their sole interest is in living and enjoying it.
When my kids grow older, I hope they never say "I would love my life too if I could do what I wanted." Instead, I hope that they do love their lives, that they are pursuing their passions, and that they feel unencumbered by convention and compassion for people who are unable or unwilling to make choices to pursue joy.
By Jeff Sabo:
By Pam Sorooshian, in a comment on the Always Learning email list:
Unschooling is largely about making our relationship with our kids the
highest priority in our lives. In practice, we make ourselves available
to them far more than is conventional in our society. This means we
leave the dishes undone and beds unmade and our email unanswered and we
skip going out (without kids) with friends, and we don't insist on
watching our own tv shows (that the kids aren't interested in), etc. If
that all sounds like sacrifice, then I guess it will be. There is a
trade-off to every choice - the real question is whether the trade-off
is worth it!
Unschooling parents let go of many seemingly important things in life in
order to focus on the more important things.
The payoff is SO worth it that we don't go around feeling like we're
being self-sacrificing; we feel glad to be able to make the choices
An interesting comment by Pam Sorooshian about the history of the expression "radical unschooling" and how it has changed and is continuing to change:
I was one of the first people to use the term "radical unschooling," but
I've stopped using it. I wish we could turn back the clock and go back
to using "radical" only as an occasional adjective, not as if it is
something completely different than other unschoolers. And now Dayna
Martin has appropriated the term and uses it to refer to unschooling
combined with a belief in the "Law of Attraction." So it seems like the
term has a lot of baggage associated with it, these days. I don't have
an urge to hang onto it - we don't need to define ourselves as a
particular group or subset of unschoolers. I'm feeling about it like I
do about calling kids, "gifted." The word is fine when used as part of a
description - "My son is a gifted writer," or "My husband is gifted
singer." That's using the word in a meaningful way as opposed to
dividing people up between those who are "gifted" and those are are,
apparently, "ungifted." I don't like the term used the way it is
most-often used, these days. Same with "radical unschooling" because it
has (erroneously) gotten the connotation of neglectful parenting.
I used to feel fine about the term "radical" because it has a real
connotation of taking something to its root and I felt like that's what
we were doing when we started applying unschooling principles to more
basic things like sleep and food, rather than just the the kinds of
things kids were supposed to learn in school. But, over time, the term
has come to mean things to a lot of people that we never ever intended -
and I think it is getting in the way of people even being willing to
consider the ideas that it (used to) encompass.
Instead of a new term, instead of a new label, I try very hard to simply
describe. I say, for example, "My family extended basic unschooling
ideas to all kinds of learning,"
I'm not wanting to start a debate on the subject, but I thought it worthwhile to acknowledge that this particular lable has some history and some baggage. For the purpose of the discussion forums on RUN, "radical unschooling" involves extending the fundamental principles of unschooling to all kinds of learning.
I'm adding a brief history of how radical unschooling discussions began, originally from another thread, because several people have found it useful. It's written by Sandra Dodd:
-=-The term radical unschooling was used to describe the type of unschooling Sandra originally intended it to.-=-
Mine developed, too, from communicating online and in person with as many unschoolers as I could find, over the past nineteen years.
First, all homeschoolers were in one forum online, a user group "BB" (kind of an e-mail list direct-deposit archive) on *Prodigy. There were about 80 families active, and mostly Christian and mostly discussing whether to buy ABeka or Sonlight.
Next, AOL opened nice discussion areas with chat rooms, instant messages, folders that stayed on topic! The downside is all homeschoolers were in one place, and it cost $3 an hour (charged by the second).
After a couple of years, AOL gave more space to homeschooling, and an unschooling forum was created, just for unschoolers!! Still, there were people wishing the extreme end of unschooling would just shush up so they could call whatever math lessons they were doing, and their "He's in school until he learns to read, and then we'll unschool him in other subjects" was just as good as actual examination of how learning works and how damage-to-learning can happen. Someone said we didn't have to be so radical, or she was unschooling same as we were, she just wasn't so radical. So some of the people looked up radical and found its root meaning, its literal meaning, and I said (and others were there and said "yeah,") Okay, yes; then I AM a radical unschoolers. That seemed WONDERFUL, so one folder was named Radical Unschooling.
Deb Rossing wrote this today on the subject of unschooling and rules-v-principles:
DH and I sometimes chuckle at how rule-keeping DS (almost 13) is - we don't have
any 'rules', never really have had. Basically the principle of do no harm to
self or others (which covers a multitude of things from physical harm to name
calling to damaging someone else's possessions in a deliberate manner and so on)
is the operating principle since he was a wee one. We've never had to make and
adjust and readjust rules with him - when he was 2, a rule might have been
"don't go near the stove, it's hot" but now at nigh-13, he cooks his own oatmeal
for breakfast when he chooses (like this morning). There's a 'rule' that
would've needed work over and over - and even moreso if there were younger
siblings (or older siblings) around who had different 'rules'. Instead, we
walked alongside him and when he felt comfortable pouring the pasta into the
water, he did so (with us right on hand to guide so most of it went into the
pot); when he felt comfortable learning to flip tortillas on the skillet, he
watched then tried then watched some more and tried some more until he was
comfortable (and is now quite proficient). Ditto for oatmeal and other things he
chooses to make/help with. Took a bit of time for him to be comfortable turning
on the gas burners on the stove top so we'd do that part for him as he needed
until he was okay with it himself (I'm totally with him on that - I love cooking
with a gas stove but I hate that little whoosh when the burner ignites. When I
was a kid, we had to light the oven manually and I would ask my mom to do it
well into my late teens until I finally got used to it, never really comfortable
so much as familiar with how it acted.)
However, whenever we're outside the house where there are rules in place by
others (whether someone's home or a public place of some sort), he's the most
likely one to note and follow the rules. His basic operating principle is If
there's a rule, there's a reason for it. If the reason doesn't make sense to him
right off, he'll ask us about it and we try to figure out why it is there, where
it came from. A great source of fun is to read the warnings on instructions
(like "do not use this iron on the clothing you are wearing") and try to figure
out why those 'rules' or warnings are there (you mean someone actually tried to
iron the clothes they had on? Doh!) If a place or situation has rules that don't
make sense, he has the choice of going ahead and following them because the
place/situation is of interest/importance or just not going wherever it is/doing
whatever. We've had occasions of both. And, in the off chance that the
place/situation is not something he can just stay out of (for instance, when he
was too young to be home alone but hubby and I both needed to be someplace at
the same time), we'd do whatever we could to create a buffer for him - whether
that's bringing along something he can play with that is within the bounds of
the rules (like having headphones for his Nintendo DS in public places so the
sound doesn't disturb a quiet situation) or whatever else might be suitable
(like bringing his shoes along in the car and only putting them on for the
minimum time required to go into the store and back out again).
Sometimes we joke that we'll need to invent some rules so DS can do the
"typical" teenage rebellion. Other times we think maybe he'll do an "Alex P
Keaton" on us and 'rebel' by deciding he wants to go to military school or
something where there are lots of rules and regulations.
It really takes a lot of hard thinking to get past the ingrained mindset of
'kids need rules to feel comfortable'. Rules are kind of a 'short hand' so that
us adults can go do other stuff and expect the kids to keep themselves safe. It
takes a LOT of energy to be present to support the kind of exploring kids want
to do and to help them be safe at the same time as they are exploring. Our old
beat up couch took lots of 'abuse' from DS jumping over the back onto the
cushions, sitting on the back or arms, unpiling the cushions to bounce on, etc.
We could have made a bunch of 'rules' about it and I suppose in some ways we did
- we discussed potential "ouches" (or "ouches" that actually occurred) and
brainstormed ways to moderate the risk (make sure there are no people sitting on
the couch when you flip over the back, put throw pillows at the sides to cushion
the wooden part of the arm, etc). As the initial quote indicates, those were
mostly not imposed rules as such but rather working together to mitigate risk -
the reasons made sense to DS so it wasn't something that required enforcement or
any kind of punishment (a rule by its nature required some sort of
'consequence'). This is stuff that we've done since he was about 3, so it's not
something that has to wait until they get 'old enough'. It was energy-intensive
when he was younger. Now it's so much ingrained that it informs most everything
he does - and, still, if he wants help with something, he'll ask for assistance
whether it's physical stuff (like taking a hot baking sheet out of the oven -
stoneware is heavy) or working through some situation (for instance, he really
hates wearing shoes if he can avoid it, but there are places that require it -
however, slipping his feet out of his slip-on shoes while we're sitting at the
table in a restaurant works fine, no one can see it, he's not walking around on
the floors barefoot, etc. He just sits his feet on top of his shoes.)
This essay may shed some light:
I had forgotten about Jon's blog, but found the text today, via another blog. I usually like to include actual quotes in this thread, but the piece is so heavily (and hilariously) footnoted that it's better read where it is:
I found that, btw, through Lyla's blog, The Adventure Continues, which has a nice set of links to other articles about learning and unschooling in the side bar. Here's her latest post on the subject of motivation, with a quote to follow: