Tag: Other Blogs

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say

So, I’m going to just be linking & leaving it up to you to decide what you read or if you read anything concerning the matter. There’s been a lot of buzz about what ‘we’ say & how we say it. Idzie wrote a little post about her issues with the word ‘teaching’ and then followed it up with another post here. In that second post, you’ll find a link to a post titled The Unschooling Police. I left the comment below at that post:

I think a lot people who are new to unschooling benefit greatly from avoiding words or concepts like ‘teaching’ or ‘rules’. It’s kin to packing up/throwing away/lending out all your packaged curriculum & textbooks until you are convinced that learning really happens without all that, lest you be tempted after a week of ‘nothing’ but Legos & Cartoon Network to start trying to use them again.

It’s easier to find the *need* for & Joy of classes while fully submerged in an unschooling life, than it is to find the *need* for and Joy of an unschooling life while fully submerged in compulsory schooling.

For those of us who ‘get it’, it can seem overkill to eschew certain words…but over seven years ago (before I was a mother) when I started hitting the discussion boards and being reprimanded or corrected for word usage & certain beliefs, I was extremely grateful for the wake-up call. Having the words I use & the meanings I attach to them challenged was a good thing.

I hate that I have been doing this for so long that I’ve almost become ’sloppy’ with word choice & communicating my Value Set of Anarchism & Radical Unschooling…conversations like these are necessary more for those of us who have been at this awhile than for newbies.

I know my son *teaches* me tons of things on an almost daily basis. I choose to listen & *learn*, because I am genuinely interested in what he has to share (usually).

The other thing I wish I had addressed was about the difference between Unschooling & Radical Unschooling. Some people in the community really say that Radical Unschoolers are the only true/pure unschoolers…I might secretly agree with them…

I know I’ve talked about Radical Unschooling before & how I realize how you ‘could’ have an educational or academic only unschooling, but that the very concept behind unschooling seems to say otherwise. I find it hard to believe that if someone fully embraced the concept that Life Is Learning, that every waking moment & decision made is Learning, that they wouldn’t naturally find themselves leaning towards Radical Unschooling or Whole-Life Unschooling.

Let’s take sleep for an example. At any age, our children learn tons about themselves, their bodies & human nature when they, for example, experiment with bed times & varying lengths of sleep/sleep deprivation. What’s more important, *they* learn how much sleep *they* need & when *they* need to sleep. Us forcing them to bed when *we’ve* ‘had enough’ or when we think they should be in bed doesn’t help them find their own sleeping rhythms, but they DO learn not to trust us about sleep & that bigger/older people can use force over smaller/younger people.

I was going to use Media as my example, but I hate long debates about media. Media is flush with innumerable learning opportunities & resources. To limit media is antithetical to unschooling — whole-life or not.

There are some people who really *need* to have things in their life that they can control…it’s understandable, especially if their childhood was largely OUT of *their* control. I know several academic only unschoolers & have had plenty of conversations with them about their ideas, principles & how they view unschooling. They are great people who *need* things to control. They are loving parents, but not always as respectful as most of the radical unschoolers I also know. Their relationship with their children tends to be strained in areas where it wouldn’t be if they could find a way to give their children back some control over their own lives.

Invariably, their need for controlling things bleeds over into their children’s education, their ‘unschooling’. This leads to ‘pushes’, “heavy encouragement” (not my words), forcing of certain materials/classes/practices and ultimately, a not-so-child-directed education. It happens with an almost unnoticeable force from the inside. One day either their children speak up about it or they realize their own unhappiness with ‘unschooling’.

Life goes from, wear what you want to you can choose between the red shirt or the blue shirt. *That* is NOT unschooling.

I (and SO many before me) have seen, experienced & learned that there is a way of parenting or way of seeing Life & our interactions with those we share it with that is beneficial for unschooling, almost imperative for an Unschooling Life to be as broad & open as possible.

Yes, one can be a traditional parent or an ‘AP’ parent & ‘unschool’ their children in an academic sense, but I can’t help but think about what they AND their children could gain from shedding parental control issues & living an over all more respectful & consensual life with one another.

More Community; Less Schools

Over at Radio Free School, there are excerpts from John Taylor Gatto’s We need less school not more-Families, Communities, Networks and the Proposed Enlargement of Schooling (1991)

Makes me think about my challenge I sent the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Gatto continues, “Networks like schools are not communities in the same way that school training is not education. By preempting 50 percent of the total time of the young, by locking young people up with young people exactly their own age, by ringing bells to start and stop work, by asking people to think about the same thing at the same time in the same way, by grading people the way we grade vegetables-and in a dozen other vile and stupid ways-net work schools steal the vitality of communities and replace it with an ugly piece of mechanism.”

Community on the other hand is a place “that faces people at each other over time in all their human variety, good parts, bad parts, and all the rest. Such places promote the highest quality of life possible, lives of engagement and participation. This happens in unexpected ways but it never happens when you’ve spent more than a decade listening to other people talk-and trying to do what they tell you to do, trying to please them after the fashion of schools.”

“I wouldn’t want my child to be an experiment.”

I know that I have a link to this post on the right side, but I just wanted to blog it here. I think that this post is one of the best posts out there about how school is the experiment and not Unschooling. After all, we are living free and organic lives; lives that are devoid of time-tables, pressures to learn certain things (even the things you hate) and lives that do not revolve around the almighty school.

The author likens school in her town to a circus and talks about how everyone goes school shopping to find the right school for them. I am sure that most parents find the right school based on how it will reflect on themselves and not at all because it’s the school that their children like best — even if they only like it best because the walls are blue and not white, the play ground (if there is one) is bigger or there were cute boys there!

Go read it and seriously consider taking your children out of school and then living life (and loving it) like there is no such thing as school. Most liberating and joyful.