So in my last post I talked a little bit about how unschooling works for our family, 🙂 , but what exactly does radical unschooling mean? The title itself sounds rebellious right?
Unschooling means not school and is an alternative way to educate by trusting that since we as human beings are natural learners that maybe children can learn without the need of school. It is trusting that children will learn what *they* need without having to be taught (like how they learned to talk and walk). As I mentioned in my last post that does not mean we as parents do nothing. We still have our role to play.
Well if we as parents can trust our children with their own educational needs just maybe we could trust them to make their own choices on how much sleep they need or what kind of foods they need too. However not everyone agrees, which in my own personal opinion is kind of funny I mean I think trusting one to their own education is more scary than food but everyone is different, so the term radical unschoolers was phrased to help clarify one group from another (because at the time it was a pretty radical idea and some unschoolers didn’t want to be classified as *that* radical and still don’t really).
So some families are unschoolers and some families are radical unschoolers. Then there are some people who unschool everything but math or some people think unschooling is allowing children the choice but only from “school” type materials and it can get confusing who is really unschooling and who is not (Why adding freedom to the mix muddles thinking even more).
Honestly what we call ourselves is not as important to me as being the girls partner but for the sake of being clear about what we do for anyone else that may come along and read here I label my posts as radical unschoolers.
So that means we (Papa and I) trust the girls not only with their education but with making their own choices about how much time they want to play video games, or watch television, or what they want to eat, or wear, or sleep, or…… we trust them to make their own decisions about themselves.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN HANDS OFF PARENTING!!
Papa and I work together as the girls more experienced partners helping them come to their own conclusions. This is when all the naysayers start in with “but, but if I let them they would run wild in the streets, or they would play video games all day, or eat ice cream for breakfast”. Yes there are lots of buts so I have a story my grandmother told me , sorry dad 🙂 .
As a little boy my dad loved coconut! Well one day when my grandparents were not looking my dad found the coconut and ate as much as he wanted. He ate and ate and ate until he got sick. To this day he still remembers what he felt like and will not eat coconut. He learned on his own why eating lots of coconut might not be such a good idea.
Now this does not mean I want the girls to get sick in order to learn a lesson (why we are their partners) but lets look at why my dad might have got into the coconut in the first place. My grandparents were products of the great depression and sweets was a treat. Actually my grandmother was raised in an orphanage and treats were nonexistent. My dad was acting from being in a controlled environment where sweets were limited and found what he so desired, as a little boy, and indulged his little heart out. He had to sneak because if asked to have some the answer more than likely would have been no.
If my grandmother would have had the information that I know today about being your child’s partner maybe instead she could have found a way to buy an extra bag of coconut and helped my dad experiment. Maybe they could have made cupcakes sprinkled with coconut or cookies together. Maybe she could have kept a bag in the refrigerator that he could eat from a little bit each day until coconut no longer became desirable and he could move on to something else like chocolate. 🙂
I understand times were different in my grandmother’s generation but this is what being the girls partner looks like in our home. We find ways to meet their needs. They are able to discover who they are, what they like and don’t like and make those decisions for themselves. They are learning how to be independent adults. Is that not what parents want for their child? For them to know how to make their own choices?
You can replace coconut with television, or video games, or anything that you possibly don’t think your child could make their own decision if given the chance and the outcome will still be the same.
We came to radical unschooling from Waldorf education. The girls television was very much controlled so was their food choices and just about everything else. Sandra Dodd tells all radical unschoolers “Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch” don’t let everything go all at once. Don’t do what you don’t understand. So I started with television and yes like my dad with the coconut they indulged their little hearts out.
Why? Because they had to trust that I wasn’t going to take the TV away again. Yes, I was worried I had those Waldorf voices in my head saying “SEE, they can’t handle it” but I kept “reading a little” and “watching” and instead of being negative about the television I joined them and found out what it was they enjoyed SO much about it.
Guess what? They still watch a lot of television, so do Papa and I. We love movies!! It is something that brings us joy. We also like being outdoors. In fact if given the choice between going outdoors or the television the girls will choose outside. We have fires in the backyard, and listen to music, and cook out, and play games. When it gets dark the girls lay out blankets and look up at the stars until they fall asleep and Papa and I bring them to their beds.
They also like to draw, and read, and listen to music, and play video games. It brings them joy. Why would I not want the girls to have a joyful childhood?
I guess the whole idea does sound radical. It is so different from mainstream, from what we are being fed, from how we were raised. Kind of like homeschooling is a little radical but we know now homeschooling works. There are grown homeschoolers getting married and living out in the real world just fine. There are grown radical unschoolers out living in the real world too. *I* know it works.
I wonder how many people thought electricity was radical or women voting was radical? Just because we might not understand something does not mean it can’t work.
Papa and I trust our girls (all 3 of them). We know who they are. They will make mistakes just like my dad and his coconut but that isn’t because of radical unschooling. It is because that is how we learn.
It is called living. 🙂
Peace for the journey.