Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a glimpse into my journey toward unschooling

Sunday afternoon a young friend of the family asked me how Henry learns.  In what environment do we "have classes"?  What subjects does he study, and when?  Who teaches him?  These questions used to make me feel sweaty and afraid.  Of course children who attend fairly traditional schools will want to know what goes on in a different type of classroom, i.e. the classroom of life.  Why should I let these kinds of questions bother me?

I've come to see that it's not the question at all, but my personal feelings about breaking with "tradition."  Going into homeschooling--pondering it and such--I felt like a tourist looking on.  I didn't feel its terrain "belonged" to me.

Now I see that as a false perception--not just on my own part, but on anyone's.  Learning is not a foreign land.  It "belongs" to all of us.  Whether we or our children learn in "traditional" classrooms, or in the car on the way to the traditional classroom, we are all learners, all the time.

There's a simple truth, but it's profounder than I can wrap my head around.  Each one of us is responsible for his or her learning.  Parents are responsible for holding the space in which their children learn, and that can mean choosing to send their children to a school.  It can also mean choosing to educate them in other ways.

I now see that my job is not to educate Henry.  Neither is doing so Joel's job.  Together we have experienced that Henry learns what he wants to and is ready to learn.  We, or I'll just speak for myself, I love, repeat:  LOVE facilitating Henry's learning when he is ready to know more about something.  It is a joy to feel and witness his readiness to claim skills and explore subject areas--conventional and otherwise.

It sounds cliche to me at this point, but I can't argue with something so true it has become an aphorism:  life is for learning.  All of life is for learning.  I'm delighted to be a learner now, and delighted to watch my husband, our children, our parents, our neighbors, our wider circle of friends, continue to be learners.

Now.  I guess I was going to say something about unschooling.  I've read some John Holt and liked him.  There are websites.  Dayna Martin, a self-styled unschooling expert, has been my greatest teacher.  While I used to think, Wow!  Have you got the nerve to put yourself out there like that!  I now see her as a caring friend.  That woman has inspired me to let go of fear and enjoy life.  Check her and her resources out.  She has a powerful way of addressing the perceptions that can stand in the way of our living with the kind of joy and purpose most of us (all of us, no?) really want to claim.

She has helped me tremendously in my mothering journey.  That's for sure.  A six on the enneagram, I've got fear d.o.w.n.  What I've needed to work on is trust.  Ah, yes.  I've known that, but giving myself permission to trust rather than be afraid in a culture where parenting and educating are simply fraught with fear-based habits, behaviors, assumptions...why, THAT is another matter.

Be well, dear readers.  I cherish this space for checking in with you and myself.  Also love reading your blogs, whether I subscribe to you or have just "met" you.


Katherine Willis Pershey said...

Going to have to check Dayna Martin out. We are schoolers, but I love the idea of a unschool hybrid philosophy.

Always happy to see a new post from you. :)

keepingthemistakes said...

May we all be life long learners!! YES!

Sher said...

radical yet natural. thanks for your inspiring post, Bev.

Lori said...

love this post!

Lady Cordelia said...

An passionate mother, such as yourself, simply can not go wrong in the education dept.
I think that conscious parents are always "homeschooling" or "unschooling" even if there is classic education going on as well.