Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Leaving the world wide open

I was just reading the list over at Always Learning, and there was a discussion about TV-watching that I just loved reading, not just because it espouses the value of TV, but because the voices of the unschooling moms are so full of respect, love, and connection with their families. I often visit this list to read the voices of Sandra Dodd, Pam Sorooshian, Joyce Fetterol, and others, because they inspire me and remind me about why we have chosen to unschool our kids. And they help me get better at it.
I am into my fifth year of unschooling, and I am still learning to consistently create and foster an environment for my boys that is free and full. I get anxious when I discover certain things they don't know; when gaps are revealed through conversation, I sometimes still, want to whip everybody into shape with some structure and lessons. However, I have gotten to a point where I can silently acknowledge that anxious feeling in myself, and not punish them for my insecurity. It is mine, and when I impose it on them, I end up damaging our trust and our flow of natural learning.
Just yesterday, we were sitting around the table for lunch and I was reading questions to them from a deck of quiz cards one of them got for a birthday. They were all science-based questions and one of them asked what the center of a hurricane was called. My youngest answered "The eye, the eye!! I remember from Tweety and Sylvester!!" Other answers came forth, and when asked how they knew, I was struck by the wide variety of sources for their answers. Visits with grandparents, trips to museums, conversations with friends, cooking, camping, stories, and yes...TV and video games...were all cited. There were things they didn't know, but there was no shame in their not knowing. Just an inquisitiveness and a sense of "Huh. I didn't know that."I still have to get a grip on myself sometimes, and remove my ego from their learning. I have come to appreciate not only their knowledge, but their freedom to not know; their ability to see information and connections everywhere, and to take in what interests them. They get to wonder about things and to explore many paths. The best part is that I get to be there too, and I am grateful for that.


Colleen said...

Reading this post makes me feel very happy to be an unschooler. :)

debra said...

I love posts like this!
I remember when my now 20 yr old college student as younger. She told me some amazing fact, and I asked her how she knew what she had told me. She looked at me like I was nuts and calmly said, "I just do." My almost 17 yr old reminds me constantly that she is in charge of her learning. Does the anxiety that comes from the constant messages from the dominant culture raise its ugly head? Sure---once in a while it does. Then I look at my lovely happy healthy daughters and realize that is is all good. Thank you for a lovely lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Yes,that was an inspirational post. You almost converted me.

I can't help thinking though, that unschooling is so much more appealing in places that have better weather than we have.

I don't know. . . I really don't think unschooling is for me but it is one of many things I kind of wonder whether I should give (or have given) a whirl.

Reluctant Blogger wanders off pondering anew.

Sandy Feet said...

Colleen, I'm glad. Thanks for saying so.

Debra, Moms like you with older children help me to hear less of the mainstream jabber and listen to myself and my kids. Thanks for walking the talk and passing it on.

RB, you flatter me. From what I have read of yours, you would be a great unschooler. And yes, weather is a factor, but mostly we live near a metro area that has jillions of resources. That makes it easier in any weather.

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Just what I needed to read this morning! :)

I love what unschooling has done for our family. With Thanksgiving coming, and the family discussions that always include quantifying children's learning with grades, I needed the reminder that all is well and we're all where we need to be, as life unfolds for us.

I love reading about your family -- those boys of yours are something!

And I agree with you that RB would make a terrific unschooler. Unschooling or not, those boys of hers are going to learn a lot from their move to Perth! Exciting!

Sarah said...

I felt so happy for you and your family in reading this post. Your self-awareness on the affect of your own feelings and how they project out is so powerful. Your children are very fortunate to have such inspiration in their lives. I also loved the compilation of photographs with the text. you really are living life to the fullest and enjoying life's learning journey united.

Best wishes to you and your family,


Sandy Feet said...

Laura, I was ready for the impromptu quizzing and questioning today at Thanksgiving, but it didn't happen!! Maybe they are finally becoming more comfortable with it.

Hope you and yours had a lovely day.

Sarah, Thanks so much for your kind words. I will return here to read them again when I am having a bad day. :)

debra said...

Now that my kids are older, the quizzing has stopped. But #2 daughter will be 17 in 3 weeks. The questions for her are what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She's pretty matter of fact: "Like.....I know?????"
She wants to continue to explore, to travel and to live her life.
#1 goes back to NYC tomorrow. she has an interview for an internship with PBS next week. Fingers crossed.

Mandy aka Mandaroo said...

What a wonderful post. Expresses exactly how I feel sometimes (about gaps) and am always surprised and happily amazed at all that they do learn and that it is from so many different sources.

LOL-we had yet another conversation that stemmed from SpongeBob the other day about oysters and how they reproduce!

Mrs. G. said...

Beautiful. Sometimes we have to just get out of the way. I'm not good at this.

Anonymous said...

Awww you lot are just so lovely.