Re: keeping unschooling free


On Sun, 03 Feb 2002 22:23:16 -0800 Heather Madrone <heather@...>
* Seeing posts on this list claim that X, Y, or Z wasn't
unschooling. This seems like a pointless exercise to me,
one that distracts from the more important issue of what
is best for the children.
There are some parents, really nice people who love their children
fiercely, who think spanking is best for children, who think grounding
and restricting and punishment is best for children. There are those who
think dealing with bully's at school is best for children, so they can
learn how to live in the real world. There are more extreme examples,
Sometimes people who come to unschooling think they have it. They think
they get it. When their child shows an interest in insects, they run
right out and buy that unit study. They let their kid play all day
except for those two hours he has to sit down with the math text book.
That is not unschooling, and if a person wants to understand I don't
think it's helpful to let them go on thinking it is.
I wouldn't know how to define unschooling so clearly and precisely that
everyone would have real understanding. But it only seems reasonable to
try to make it clearer for those who are trying to understand.
I always get in trouble with analogy's but I'm going to try one here. If
I wanted to make a cake, and had never baked or cooked before, a cake
recipe that just said - do what ever seems best to you, use your
imagination - probably wouldn't be that helpful. If my friend, who
always had lovely cakes ( devil's food? ) had given me this recipe, I
would have to assume cake just didn't work for my family.
It would have been much more helpful to have an ingredients list and a
plan for putting them together.
Ok, kids are not cakes, and maybe there's no ingredients list for
unschooling, but I would hope, before I pour a bottle of vinegar in my
batter, someone who knows about cakes would stop me. I would hope,
before I add a text book or take away TV, someone who knows about
unschooling would stop me.

We have also touched on whether parents can think for themselves and
whether parental instincts, listening, and so forth are good enough
guides for parental action. Do parents really need an external
philosophy or can they drive their own lives? Will they, if given
gentle encouragement, come to the truth on their own, or must
else give it to them piecemeal?
I'm sorry to say, I know way more parents who listen to their instincts,
and make choices that are really bad for their kids. There is a whole
population of parents out there who think playground bully's are just a
natural part of growing up. They think having a terrible year or two or
ten at school is just the way life is.

It is my impression that I have a far more positive view of the
capacities of parents than Sandra, Joyce, and others on this list.
I have felt cast in the role of Pollyanna, although it is fairly
common in my experience for people to come to unschooling gently
and gradually.
I really envy you this. I wish this was my experience. I know so many
kids whose lives could be so much better. I know so many parents, not
really *getting* or caring about what's going on with their kids.

I got the
impression that Sandra thought that most people can't think for
themselves and so need expert advice in order to make changes in
their lives.
I don't think so. I think Sandra understands that unschooling is such a
huge change in thinking, such a giant step, that people often need
guidance. It's easy to get lost when your going someplace you've never
been before. Having a guide, or even a map might mean the difference
between getting there happily and not getting there at all.

What I heard had a different emotional tone, close to "You young
ought to listen to your elders and betters." This struck me, and
strikes me, as patronizing, and probably infuriating to the young
things who are being spoken to.
We had some church guy here crying about how terrible Harry Potter books
are, who openly admitted he'd never read them. Asking new unschoolers
to gain a little more understanding before jumping to conclusions doesn't
seem unreasonable. That's all that was. No one here would deliberately
discount someone's wisdom simply because they are young. Most of us wish
we'd gotten the whole thing much sooner ourselves. It's inspiring to see
young parents who seem to have a really natural understanding of this
concept. But someone, young or old, who believes they have an
understanding of unschooling, and still wants to place restrictions on
their children, really may have things to learn yet.

Your post was really beautiful. It really spoke to me. My own
understanding of unschooling came naturally, gradually, thankfully before
my son ever went to school or had a taste of text books. I'm still
gaining understanding. But I've seen that it's not always a natural
thing with some parents, and for them and for myself, I'm really glad for
the wisdom of people like Sandra.

Deb L

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