Monday, July 19, 2010

Guest Post: Unschooling Everything

Welcome to the first ever Guest Post Monday!  It won't be a super regular thing, but you will be seeing a couple more guest posts in the coming weeks...  For this first edition, I'm very happy to give you a short piece about unschooling from Sara McGrath, unschooling examiner and author of Unschooling: A Lifestyle of Learning

To me, this concept of unschooling, which I have chosen as a project focus, really refers to everything in life. I may check the "education" box or the "homeschooling" box when pressed to classify an article or interest area, but really I choose to focus on "unschooling" because it integrates all aspects of my life (learning inseparable from living and parenting inseparable from living, etc.)

I chose prior focuses, such as "the continuum concept" and "attachment parenting," for similar reasons. Where Western culture expects parents to use day care and school to exclude children from adult activities, CC and AP show a way of life that includes children as integral. I have children. Whether or not they're present with me, they're an inseparable part of my life.

Whole life or "radical unschooling" further dissolves the boundaries that define conventional lifestyles with lots of rules and regulations. I don't set and enforce bedtimes or mealtimes for myself or my kids, for example, because I'm going to help us all get what we need regardless. I've felt drawn to radical unschooling for its simplicity.

I don't do unschooling. It's not an action plan. I just live with my kids. We communicate freely. I help them figure things out. They help me do routine tasks such as housework, cooking, gardening, shopping, etc. We don't have to think about schooling or parenting. We just live a simple, whole life together.

14 comments:

  1. I came upon this blog through my 16 year old daughter, who is a life long learner. All three of my "kids" learned naturally and in daily life.

    We happily fell into this life in 1994 and have never looked back. But...back then, it was virtually unheard of within the general public. Those who had heard about it, didn't like it, and had no problem giving me a piece of their mind!

    How refreshing to know that a new generation of natural learners are standing strong and bold.

    Thank you for that:
    Kimberly Wlassak
    Gerushia's New World

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  2. Where Western culture expects parents to use day care and school to exclude children from adult activities, CC and AP show a way of life that includes children as integral. I have children. Whether or not they're present with me, they're an inseparable part of my life.

    Very well-put.

    What are you other RUs / life learners etc. doing about how anti-kid so many other people are (including some parents), constantly complaining about loud kids in restaurants etc etc and "bad behaved" kids? For some reason this is bothering me a lot lately. Lots of parents want to speak up and say well those aren't MY kids, MINE don't misbehave, etc. I rarely hear parents and other adults speaking up against demeaning language towards children (which is almost always coupled with demeaning language toward mothers).

    I'm curious if anyone else has any experiences or thoughts to relate.

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  3. I love this - why do parents think they have the right to "parent over" their children...and why do they want to?

    "We don't have to think about schooling or parenting. We just live a simple, whole life together."

    This is beautiful...and the way it should be. Life is so sweet when our children are sharing our experience (or we are sharing theirs) instead of constantly living in a power struggle. Thank you. -Debbie

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  4. Regarding anti-child culture: I give my kids lots of info about what most people will expect or prefer from them. I don't insist that they conform, but I hope they will consider other people's feelings.

    When my kids are being loud or otherwise freely expressing their joy, I try to smile and share their energy rather than remain on the defensive out of fear of offending someone. Oftentimes that helps other adults mellow out, too.

    If I know my kids won't have an easy time conforming in an uncomfortable way (still and quiet), I avoid those situations.

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  5. A simple, whole life sounds perfect to me!

    I look forward to reading more of these guest blog posts Idzie! :D

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  6. I love this

    I don't do unschooling. It's not an action plan. I just live with my kids. We communicate freely. I help them figure things out. They help me do routine tasks such as housework, cooking, gardening, shopping, etc. We don't have to think about schooling or parenting. We just live a simple, whole life together.

    We are just starting out so I'm reading as much as I can. Thank you for your posts

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  7. Your mom breast fed so she was part hippy? Listen to this please but I have never been opposed to home schooling but can you honestly think that bringing up a child without any kind of rules and or regulations is right? it seems this is what you are suggesting but... I would love to hear your response if you have a rebuttal as this is not as much an argument as a response KAYAKER29@hotmail.com

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  8. A sincere question, If you are all into NO-schooling and a natural form of education how would you reccomend one be disciplined for something really bad??

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  10. Let's all have open minds here. There is something we can all learn from each others experiences. Different things work for different people.

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  11. @Anonymous #1: This post makes no mention of the post author's (Sara's) mother breastfeeding, so I'll assume you're directing this comment at me (the blog author), and just commented on the wrong post. I *am* a (grown) child who was brought up this way. I write this blog because I'm passionate about unschooling and want to share this wonderful lifestyle, that I've been lucky enough to experience, with others.

    Part of unschooling is giving up a lot of the commonly held beliefs in this culture, and one of those beliefs (seemingly with Christian roots) is that children are naturally "bad", untrustworthy, etc. If, however, you realize that the vast majority of children want to be kind, and to learn how to behave with other people, then you realize that this way of raising children works. Unschooling parents are there to help their children navigate through the world, help them figure things out. I am a grown unschooler, and I know many, many other teen and grown unschoolers, and we're the living proof that this most certainly "works".

    @Amie: Thank you Amie for your respectful comment!

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  12. @Anonymous #2: I don't believe in "discipline". You hurt someone, so now I'm going to hurt/shame/punish you seems to only be teaching that might is right, and not actually working to solve any problems.

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  13. I had not heard of unschooling until today. Every family has a way that works best for that family. While some feel that a conventional school is best, others choose homeschooling and others decide not to send their children to school at all. Sometimes, parents don't know how to parent. Perhaps one parent passes away and the other is lost in regards to parenting. Perhaps someone who longed for children has since discovered, that parenting is not at all their strong point. For those parents, maybe something like boarding school, while it sounds horrific to some, is the best option for both the parent AND the child in another situation. And who are we to judge what is best for someone else's family? None of these choices are wrong. Whatever the societal norms are, the choice of how people teach their children is up to them and no one else should have any say in how each individual family functions.

    It is a lovely thought to think that everyone, schooled by conventional means or not, can live in harmony and enjoy happy futures no matter what decisions they have made for their families.

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  14. "@Anonymous #2: I don't believe in "discipline". You hurt someone, so now I'm going to hurt/shame/punish you seems to only be teaching that might is right, and not actually working to solve any problems."

    I agree with you Idzie. What is really odd is that people think if you don't believe in "disciplining" your children, the kids will run around hurting other people, causing destruction, and it will be all Lord of teh Flies.

    I tell these people they're welcome to ask about our experience as a consensual-living family or come watch for themselves and hang with me and my kiddos. Of course people who pound the table the most about "disciplining" kids never actually want to know anything different. I am grateful to those who are open-minded enough to try to learn a better way. Those email and conversations make all my work reading, researching, and writing a bit more worthwhile.

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