Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I Unschool

So, I wanted to touch on why I unschool our kids.  I have three kids, ages 6, 3, and 1.  Since my oldest was about 1, I knew I wanted to unschool.  I picked up a book at my local library called The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith and that was it for me.  Unschooling was the way for us. (Never heard of unschooling check here.)  You may be thinking, isn't that a little naive to make such a drastic decision after reading just one book?  Maybe for some, but for my husband and I it made perfect sense.

 Why I unschool is kind of a hard question to answer for me because what do you say to someone who asks you why you want to live?  There is every reason in the world for us to unschool! The easier question would be why don't I send them to school?  I could give you some concretes there.   Unschooling for me and my family is a natural extension of living our lives in harmony with our desires for ourselves as well as the desires of our children.  It is our children being driven to learn by their own curiosity, creativity and imagination.  Their curriculums are tailor made to them, by them and in effect, makes each of them so beautifully unique.

After reading The Unschooling Handbook, I read all the books I could get my hands on about unschooling, which lead me to peaceful parenting, non-violent communication, the non aggression principle, and so much more that has added such meaning to my life.  It was like a brilliant sun shining in a dark room.  All of these principles help guide our lives.  One of the main reasons we don't prescribe, pressure, or force what our children do for the day is because it goes against all of these principles.  You may be thinking, "Well, Lyndsey, you are the parent.  It is your job to push them in the right direction."  And this is a very common thought.  This is kind of a harsh way of putting it, but is obvious in the way most people treat their children. Most people don't trust their kids.  We don't believe they will be kind, share, be compassionate, learn and a whole host of other things unless we motivate them, coerce them, reward or punish them into it.  A lot of this pressure we put on our kids comes from our own inadequacies(and believe me, I deal with it too!)  We have to raise them right, or we will be societal pariahs.  You see it at the supermarket when a mother is trying to check out with her children and one is crying, the other is punching his sister, and the third is no where to be found.  Most people around her are thinking, "Get it in control lady!  You are the mom, show them who's boss!"  I myself am guilty of thinking the same thing long ago when I was single and knew everything.

Imagine an alien has come to you from another world and is asking you to guide him in the customs and ways of your planet.  Would you bribe him to motivate him to learn faster?  Would you punish him when he wasn't learning fast enough?  Would you be angry with him when he has found something amazing and wants to investigate further when you are trying to show him something you feel is important?  Now replace the alien with a child and ask the same questions.

My point is that children are whole, loving, kind, compassionate and brilliant in their own right!  I wish that this was commonly taught and believed.  There is no need to push children to learn, for they already do it on their own.  There is no need to push them to be kind, for they already are.  It is when we start pushing our children to do these things that they start loosing their passion to do them on their own. It reminds me of a quote from Master Uguay from Kung Fu Panda:

 "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

 I believe it is my job as a parent to help facilitate my children's lives.  I want to guide them on the path to finding their own passions and study the things that they love.  

Unschooling gives our family the freedom to do what we want, when we want.  We don't have to schedule our activities around school.

When you live your life doing what you love, learning is just a happy side effect.  It naturally occurs.  I have had worries in the past about my kids learning to read and write.  Now, I think, maybe they wont do it at age 5 or 6, but I have no doubt that reading and writing will be a natural extension of the life of a child who loves to learn.  Isn't that the case with babies?  They learn to walk with no help from us, they learn to talk with no help from us, so why do we think they would just stop advancing there?

A hope that I have for my kids through unschooling is that if they live their lives chasing their passions they will never separate living from learning.  They will be able to find a way to monetize their passions instead of working a job they are apathetic about.  This is something my husband and I are trying to do, but find it hard to think outside the box.  I hope if my kids are never put into the box mentality they will never struggle with box-like thinking.  If they want to work a nine to five job, cool, if they want to travel the planet while writing for national geographic, also cool.  The world will be their oyster.

If someone doesn't have the ability to unschool for whatever reason, these are still principles you can live with your children when they are home with you!

This is just a small excerpt of why we unschool.  Since this is my life right now, I'm sure you will read more in some future blog posts.  If anyone has any questions, comments, or curiosities, feel free to contact me.  I have lots of good resources on this topic. 

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