>Heather Burditt is my guest post today. She is a Unschooling mama to three boys.
Her blog is a great resource on unschooling, and mindful parenting. Check her out at Swiss Army Wife
When I spoke at UWWG, our presentation closed with a Q&A session. It was a slightly… somewhat… ok VERY heated exchange. It seemed that it was the first time some listeners had heard of extending a child’s autonomy to all aspects of his/her life, rather than just not using a curriculum. I think a few were confused by it and immediately became defensive of what they assumed to be an Unschooled life. I know that I became confused that some had never heard of that concept before!
Recently, I blogged about the difference between Unschooling and Radical Unschooling. I asked for comments (and I’m still accepting them!). Through our presentation, and through the comments on my earlier post, I’ve begun to realize that Unschooling is a continuum. It most certainly has a beginning, ours began the very day Skylar ended his public school career. However, it doesn’t have an end, because life never ceases to exist. Even when you pass on, your children and their children (and so on) will be there to carry on with life. Unschooling IS life.
In the beginning, Unschooling doesn’t usually come very naturally to us parents. The only experts that truly exist on Unschooling are our children. They do it perfectly. We parents have to deschool and drop all those expectations we somehow ended up learning in our childhoods. It can be so hard and some people might even wonder why we are doing it if it takes so much energy. But it *feels* right doesn’t it? It *feels* right to treat our children with the love and respect we wanted. It *feels* right to give them freedom and allow them to learn through passion and joy, rather than coercion and force.
When it comes to academics, that seems to be the easiest thing to let go. The hardest seems to be the control over the children’s life choices. Wouldn’t it be right to say that a child should learn about his or herself first? If we consistently put a child to bed at 8pm and that child isn’t tired she isn’t learning very much about her body’s internal clock. If we consistently make a child eat certain foods or clean his plate then he isn’t learning very much about what it actually means to be hungry or conversely to be full. I wholeheartedly believe that the more we limit a child’s ability to learn about his own body, her own being we are limiting how that child goes about learning about the world around him or her. It *is* a continuum and it is all connected.
A lot of unschooler’s who say, “I unschool everything except for math” or “We aren’t *radical* unschoolers” are still living with that fear of letting go the illusion of control. (I say illusion, because it IS an illusion. Once that child is out of your sight or your home, you’ll understand!) I would advise not to limit the Unschooling continuum. Let it keep moving, let it naturally unfold and let yourself gradually let go. Just like you shouldn’t limit your children, don’t limit yourself with “can’t” and “won’t” and “never could” and “not for me”.
That’s my case for Radical Unschooling in a nutshell. Let it be. Let it naturally progress, IT WILL! Keep the strict schedules and the rules and the limits in school. Afterall, it seems to be the only place they are relevant, and even that is highly questionable.
Heather – Swiss Army Wife