Friday, July 6, 2012

Weird unschooling beliefs

A lot of times the vision of unschooling families is imagining that the house is just out of control with kids doing whatever they want all the time. You hear that a lot when you might tell fellow homeschool comrades that you have been drawn to unschooling.  

Sandra Dodd shared this great response to a post a Mom had on the Always learning yahoo group, it was a post about sleeping issues and children being loud when Dad was trying to sleep. 

Sometimes people will express (joyfully, giddily) that they are unschoolers and so now their kids stay up all night.

My kids didn't stay up all night except a very few occasions when they were teens.

Sometimes people will brag that their kids eat ice cream for breakfast.

My kids didn't eat ice cream for breakfast. I wouldn't have cared if they had, but they didn't.

Sometimes people will report that now that they're unschoolers, their kids break the rules.
My kids were happy to follow rules, out at museums and in parks. If a sign said stay out of a fountain, or don't cross this barrier, they didn't.

Unschooling should be about peaceful, supportive relationships, about modelling consideration and thoughtful choicemaking, and about learning.

Being loud and wild and "breaking the rules" seems to be a celebratory stage for some people who are new to unschooling, but it shouldn't be the goal or destination. It's not good for that family, really. It's not good for those who wonder what unschooling is about.

Sometimes people say that one should not 'throw the baby out with the bathwater,' meaning don't make so huge a change, or don't be so rejecting of something that you lose the valuable parts, too.

It seems some unschoolers want to move away from life as they saw it before, including school and rules, and they've thrown out the bathwater, the baby, and the tub.

Where will you live if you reject your whole culture and don't care about anything or anybody, safety or ownership or logic?
How long will a person stay in a house where he can get no sleep, no rest, no consideration?
How long will unschooling last after a divorce?
How happy can a home be if one or more people in there are very sleep-deprived and unhappy?

It's one thing for a nursing mother to be sleep-deprived because a tiny baby is hungry (or wet, or uncomfortable). That's natural.
It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom, or that unschoolers are awake when other people are asleep, or some other questionable premise.

If a mother is a child's partner, she should be his partner in learning, and in living a peaceful life--not his partner in living wildly and being inconsiderate.


Here is a response to the same post, this one by Joyce Fetteroll:

--It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake
--people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom

Or because it sounds like unschoolers are saying "Let your kids do whatever they want without interference or you'll get in the way of their learning."

That's *NOT* what anyone here is saying. (And if anyone is reading where that *is* being said, they should stop!)

Conventional parenting methods often imply that children must put aside their wants and needs if it interferes with anyone else.

But the opposite, letting kids believe their wants and needs should come at the expense of anyone else's needs, is worse.

Whose needs take precedence depends on the situation. Kids shouldn't be expected to just know.

It's up to Mom to be the broader focus to help them meet their needs AND take others into consideration. Help kids find respectful, peaceful, kind, safe, doable ways to explore their interests.

If they've shown they can't figure it out how to be considerate while meeting their needs, if they're then helped to consider other people AND meet their needs, they won't feel like they're in competition with others to be able to do their own thing. (Sometimes the "and" will mean waiting until later which they'll be far more accepting of when Mom has shown through her actions that their wants and needs are important to her.)



Sandra Dodd said...

Bob Collier's Parental Intelligence newsletter has linked this. I'm flattered that you've quoted me, but if you could repair a typo, I'd appreciate it. "It seems some unschoolers want to move away from live as they saw it before" should have "life" rather than "live." Thanks!

Here's where your blog post is linked:
8 June (in case another one has been put up there)

Melissa said...

Wow Sandra Dodd here on my tiny blog! I am speechless. Thanks Sandra : ).