Monday, April 30, 2007

How Unschooling changed me

The question of the month on Unschooling Voices is:

How has unschooling changed YOU? Yes, it’s about the kids, but is it ONLY about the kids?

What surprised me was that the principles about freedom and choices generalized themselves into other parts of my life. I give my dog and my cats more choices. I let plants and trees grow naturally instead of trying to control them so much. I am more compassionate to my neighbors and to strangers.

When I see a parent being gentle with a baby or a toddler, I really notice it and appreciate it. Sometimes I say something like "You're a nice dad!" or "That looks fun."

My kids are all big now, but were never in school. When I show photos of them now, they look like photos of adults doing things. It's so hard, though, to "take a picture of unschooling." It looks like a peaceful life. I do have some recent photos, though, of my kids doing things from which they were learning and building relationships. That's what life is about: learning and building relationships.

Marty built Holly a sculpture, a kind of big chair, of the broken shopping carts behind the store where he worked. They took photos on them, and Holly made this and called it facecarts.

I gave a talk called Unforeseen Benefits of Unschooling and the notes are at Much of it was about the children, but some was about getting along better with my husband, and not wanting to notch seeds to get them to germinate sooner.

Holly was taking photos of her reflections one day.

Three of our unschooler groups are here. Sadie in the green with the veil, Marty with his arms crossed, and Holly in the blue. Their friend Howard is between Marty and Holly. They were listening to an artist talk about the Battle of Hastings (re-enactment at Hastings in 2006), medieval turn shoes, making cloth and tissue paper window covers... (click it for more photos of that evening, of the items they saw and some of the kids too, near the bottom)

And here's Holly, by the side of the highway south of Alamogordo, where the white sands were encroaching on a state road and had totally covered the big chain-link fence. Most of the sound is the wind blowing.

This post is one of several linked from Unschooling Voices, on the question of how unschooling had changed the parents.


kim said...

I like what you had to say about giving your pets choices now and not wanting to force plants to grow a certain way. It is the most inexplicable thing about unschooling,how it changes the way you think and live. People think it is only about education but it is really about life and I can never seem to convey that as simply as you just did.Thanks!
Kim from

Anonymous said...

Initially that pet thing sounded really weird and then I thought about my reaction to folks who keep "indoor" cats. And it's all about how not-cat that is. Cats need to roam a bit. And chase small animals (and torture them and kill them). And if they live a shorter life, so be it. Because it will be a shorter CAT life rather than some weird un-cat indoor life.