where trouble was needed

August 15, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 1:59 pm

For me the terms homeschooling and unschooling are just shortcut words that other people understand. As such, homeschooling is a more effective shortcut, since more people understand it – what they understand is that a child who does not go to school is homeschooling. Unless they are neglected, exploited or both*.

One who is homeschooling is generally imagined by the non-homeschooling majority, to be covering the same or similar syllabus at home. Hence unschooling is a term to describe homeschooling without the syllabus.

Personally I don’t mind being called a homeschooler or an unschooler, but I don’t use the terms for myself. I am not doing any kind of schooling. And neither is my daughter, (though she has grown comfortable answering people who ask “in which school are you studying?” that she “goes to homeschool.”) We are just doing what we are doing, cooking, eating, playing, exploring, sleeping … and don’t forget there are plenty of books that purport to help you “teach” or “train” your kids to eat, sleep or even go to the bathroom.

If I had to give a name to what we do, I would call it nothing. Since you can’t really say that without a lot of explanation, I could settle for a term like free learning.

Though I will answer if so called, I don’t myself think I am “unschooling.” Nor do I think that unschooling is something A does to B. Sometimes when I realize that I am out of place with the structured homeschoolers, I consider joining a discussion group for unschoolers. Soon I find myself out of place there too – there are SO MANY rules about how to unschool and so many who are unschoolier than thou, ready to pounce on you for the least thought or act that violates those rules.

Often I find that it’s the like-minded peole that are the hardest to get along with. Every day we go to the playground in our neighborhood. 10 kids and a handful of parents show up and we chat about any number of things. They complain about school and I listen sympathetically. (No, am not smug. Not at all – how would I get to hear all their complaints if I were ;-). We share no views in common regarding birth, breastfeeding, parenting or education. It doesn’t matter.

* Is presence in school, in itself protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation? When the abuse is physical, we may read about it in the newspapers, as if this were a rare case and therefore made news. Unfortunately it is all too regular, even seen as normal. It is in fact, what the schools teach, to dominate and exploit those weaker than yourself. When the abuse affects the mind, the intellect, few notice.

Meditating on “I am not ….” can be truly liberating. Unschooling is a liberating term in that you are not doing anything that fits within a label


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