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Month Day
Topics: education,empowerment,homeschooling,mindful parenting,relationships,Unschooling

Unschooling: It’s what we DO, rather than what we DON’T DO.

When people find out that my family considers ourselves to be Radical Unschoolers, they almost always become confused and then angry–in that order.

The confusion comes when they hear the definition of “radical unschooling”. I state, calmly and succinctly, that it means living without school, artificial rules, or others’ definitions of what we should or should not be doing with our lives. Radical Unschooling is unlimiting, unending, and unauthoritarian. We live in freedom: freedom to learn what we want to learn, freedom to learn how we actually learn, freedom to pursue our own interests, and freedom to do it all on a timescale that works for each of us, individually. Synonyms to unschooling include: autodidactic learning, whole life learning, life long learners, and many more. It’s a way of living that is all encompassing and has no limits.

The anger from strangers (and sometimes friends) comes when they assume that I must be a negligent parent due to the above definitions. They look at the small picture (the definitions) and become confused. They take “living without rules” to be equal to “living in chaos”. They take “no bedtime” to equal “sleepy kids who don’t know when they are tired”. They take “eat whatever they want” to equal “eat nothing but candy bars, ice cream, and potato chips all day”. They take “watch whatever television and movies they want” to equal “watch cartoons 24 hours a day without moving an inch, becoming obese, and being incapable of deciding what is good/bad to watch”.  These people are under the impression that children (and possibly adults, too) are incapable of deciding simple things such as: when they are tired, when they are hungry, and when some tidbit of information is logical and/or useful in life.

After spending time with my family, these same people usually become quite angry again. This time it comes when they realize that they’ve spent years doing things they needn’t have. This is disempowering, and a lot of people start being really resentful about this (more on this in a later post).

—————

When a family, like mine, decides to walk away from “traditional parenting”, we don’t just stop sending our kids to school–we replace it with something better. If we can’t replace it with something better, then what was the point in walking away from school and its settings? None.

What are rules replaced with? Principles. Principles are universal truths, such as: food makes you not hungry, air is vital for living, gravity pulls objects to the earth, friends don’t like it when you are mean, etc.

Without arbitrary rules which make no sense, we live by our moral compasses. We work to make money. We eat healthy foods so we don’t have to go to the doctor (or get sick). We are kind to each other, because it feels good to be kind and kindness begets kindness. We sometimes spend an entire week (or longer) devoting all of our time to one and only one project (like my older daughter recently with her Exogeology ROCKS! website and movie project). We sometimes wake at 7 or 8AM like “normal” people.  We always follow through on our promises and commitments; we’re just careful who and what we commit to.

We spend our time DOing. We live life fully and completely, without regrets. Rather than giving my children hours and hours of busy-work, we go out and live life together. They are aware of our family finances. They know how to grocery shop. They know how to take care of a household and pets. They are competent and complete individuals who have grown and learned at their own individual paces. When they’ve been ready to learn something, they devour it in a mere fraction of the time as school would have us to believe necessary. Yet, they know their knowledge fully and completely.

Most importantly, they know the secret to life: HAPPINESS!

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