No Such Thing As
|Of course you’ll feel that you are an unschooling failure if you can’t follow the unschooling rules! But what if there are no rules?|
Another temptation is to think that life learning is an easier or slacking-off form of homeschooling because mom or dad doesn’t have to arrange for curriculum, or teach, or cajole, or motivate. To those on the critic bench – and even some beginning life learners – it can look too simple! It is simple, but it is not necessarily easy. For instance, those who like to play school (or who are professional teachers), who haven’t moved beyond control, or who don’t share their children’s interests will have to work hard to let go. Other parents find it demanding to always model learning and be on the outlook for things that might be of interest to their kids. And, lacking tests (or a window into your child’s brain), being sure that learning is happening can be a challenge for those who like to observe cause and effect. Learning happens best when it’s not the goal but the byproduct of living. Believing that requires trust in ourselves as much as our children, and that’s not easy.
Perhaps the biggest thing that makes some parents feel “unschooling doesn’t work” is that they’ve defined the concept too rigidly and, often, by someone else’s way of doing things. Of course you’ll feel that you are an unschooling failure if you can’t follow the unschooling rules! But what if there are no rules? If we are able to forget about the formulas, the “experts,” the opinions on discussion boards, the principles and rules relating to this or any other way of being with kids – and respect and trust them (and the innate human drive to learn), while tuning in to their needs and interests – we should be able to create a rewarding style of family life and learning. And we should feel free to change what we do in response to our or our children’s needs without feeling that anybody has failed.
Wendy Priesnitz is the founder and editor of Life Learning Magazine, and the author of twelve books, including “School Free: The Homeschooling Handbook,” “Challenging Assumptions in Education: From Institutionalized Education to a Learning Society,” and "Beyond School: Living As If School Doesn't Exist." She is also the mother of two adult daughters who lived and learned without school. Read more: www.WendyPriesnitz.com.