Wednesday, December 12, 2007

mountain view and radio afterword

This is how the Sandias look from our house today.

There's not a dark smudgy cloud in the sky. There's a cloudy smudge on the outside of the window. I need to clean that.

You might click that smaller mountain photo to see what it looked like last August. The bamboo has its seasonal look. The sky is always artsy.

I was on the Alan Colmes show. I was on in the first half hour of the middle of three hours. My "opposition" was Sandy Rios, another radio show host who's head of some conservative organization that seems designed to tell fundamentalist Christians who to vote for and what to think. Luckily, that didn't come up. She knew nothing about unschooling, and wasn't a homeschooler. She let me know her son was as honest with her as my kids were, even though she used to spank him, and that I was lazy to unschool instead of structuring my children's lives. I think she said that disciplining kids was disciplining oneself (or maybe she said structure was structuring... either way, it was just noise).

Her son won't be honest with her if it involves sexuality, homosexuality, or if he starts getting the wrongheaded idea that people should be able to make choices in their lives. If he looks at porn, he won't share that fact with his mom. That doesn't affect my own family in the moment, though.

I wasn't able to say half of the things I had hoped to say, and even though I had short phrases pre-written to try to work in, I was interrupted mercilessly, so I named the webpage twice, figuring maybe those who wished they could hear me could go there later. Alan, the host, also named the site twice, which was good of him to do. It seems I got a few hundred extra hits from that overnight, according to the week's average. I had 1420 site views yesterday, and this week has been a thousand-a-day week, give or take.

For people who don't know me but heard the program, if you find this post please consider reading here: This is a collection of those "aha!" moments when someone struggling to understand unschooling finally got it. It never happens in a half hour of radio listening, nor even in an hour of reading. It does take a while, and that's a point I was trying to make last night. It's simple to condemn the total misunderstanding of it. It's not easy to breathe out and take in the tip of the iceberg of the reality of it.

I had hoped to say something my husband, Keith, wanted conveyed: "We wanted our children to become thoughtful intelligent, undamaged adults." I never got to say it but I can say it here. I'll add it to my quotes generator. I love that quotes generator. It's here.

Although I rarely write or talk about school, it seemed all the questions last night were about school. "Cookie cutter students" or some such phrase was used, but school doesn't use any kind of template but the overall sorting (literally "grading") of students into gifted, honors, average, special needs, lazy/trouble, failure (and many subdivisions). School creates failures. They know in advance they will, and they must. Then they blame the kids for falling into the category and reality the school itself created and requires. An A average means nothing unless some corresponding number of kids have failed. I'm serious as a heart attack about this, but it must be a topic for another radio show.

I didn't ask to be on that show. I was contacted by a producer who had seen an article. I wasn't proselytizing. I was minding my own business at home. But by being willing to go on there, some people will know unschooling exists and that's fine. If they come and want help to get it, my website, this blog, the connected blogs, Joyce's website, the other authors whose pages I've made... all those people and resources are at their disposal.

A couple of friends of mine wrote to me concerned that the host was too rough on Roger, the first caller. I thought so too, and had planned to defend him with my next utterance, but I was thanked and dismissed at that point. I had hoped to leave Roger a message here, but he e-mailed me, so we've had an exchange about it and I felt better. There were two supportive calls and one fairly negative (but not totally negative). The next hour was about another topic altogether, so it was brief and a little rough, but will probably be positive for lots of people in the long run.

While I was on the phone, Marty and Holly were listening to the show on the computer, with headphones (sharing a set of ear buds). When the first set of commercials came on, Marty advised me to chill—he said I was being defensive. He and Holly coached me and said I was smarter so I had the responsibility to be nicer.

A sixteen year old girl and nineteeneighteen year old boy with the freedom to have been watching movies, playing video games, eating ice cream (to use a repeated example from the show), or to have gotten in the car and left the house were sitting listening to their mom on the radio, and counseling patience and courtesy.


Anonymous said...

I remembered and heard about half of the show. I thought they cut you off and were pretty rude to you and the caller. It surely wasn't a "fair shake" but I did hear the website mentioned a couple of times and that is good. My goodness that is about all the time they gave you from what I heard. You were a real trooper!

Robyn Coburn Writer said...

I woke up from a nap frustrated to have missed half the show, and I was startled by the abrupt cut off. I wished I could have called in to say something about that laziness comment - that there is nothing wrong with making my daughter's and my life as easy as possible, since life can be counted on to have real limitations.

I also was frustrated because the word "school" was used two ways - for mandatory schooling of kids, and for tertiary education. I suspect that poor Roger was doing the latter, and the difference was that it was by choice even if he had returned to high school.

So many commercials taking up tons of the time. I thought I must have missed tons of it, but from your recap evidently I only missed a few words.

Robyn L. Coburn

Madeline Rains said...

I remembered and then fell asleep waiting : ( It sound like it would have riled me up and then there would have been little sleep. I love the radio interview that you link to on your other site that is just about unschooling, no debating. I have quotes from it on my desk.

Sandra Dodd said...

Madeline, if you want to let me know which quotes you liked enough to save, maybe I could add them to the random quotes generator!

Sylvia said...

I like Keith's words about undamaged children -- the past few days around here have reminded me how very damaging my childhood was. If undamaged is the only benefit of radical unschooling -- and I know it won't be the only one -- that will be enough for us!

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody, and thank you all for your kind words and even though I don't have a complete understanding of what you are doing I really think I have a beginning of an idea, and I am very jealous your children . How wonderful it must be to have parents like you who are willing to make the education of their children the utmost in their lives that to me being 40 years old from a time when the "Authorities" always new best, and kind of unruly to say the least, I was a Ritalin child, it really makes me think that there is hope for us, as a people yet. My parents really couldn't have cared less what I learned when I went to school which stopped happening shortly after I started high school. So for me, I received, my G.E.D. in my 30's , and now in Community College,in my 40's where I am taking a number of things that interest me and will help me to learn the things that I want to learn, after learning one of the hardest things I had to learn, the fact that nobody but me knows what those things are, but me, and to rely on some one else to tell me what I should like is close to insanity. I am rambling on here but I wanted you to know that the more I learn about what you are doing with unschooling, the better it sounds for everyone involved. So thank you all for your time in letting me go on like this.

Sandra Dodd said...

Roger, I'm glad you found this post. It's the opposite thing, to choose, than to be forced. "Going to school" isn't what it is. It's choosing.

What I would've said if I had been on longer is that I didn't "make" my kids homeschool, I asked each one of them every year for the first several years whether they wanted to stay home or go to school. Every year, each of them chose to stay home.

Holly seriously considered going when she was 13, 14, thought about it a lot, asked around, and decided against it. They were not stuck at home against their will, though.

The same kinds of damage school does, parents can do at home if they're not careful, and a big one there is making the child feel powerless.

At our house we've let the kids make lots of choices since they were babies, and as teens and young adults they're very good at choicemakng. Others their age are still waiting for a chance to just try to make some of their own life choices.

Madeline Rains said...

Sandra, I moved a pile of ooks and there were the quotes. They can continue to inspire me -

"You can't learn unless you feel safe, loved, fed, not cold or hot or afraid..."

"[what if] you only have 300 no's in your whole life"

"You should be your child's partner, not their adversary."

"Keep lives so busy and so varied that learning happens all the time."

OK, so there were more than two. It was hard to keep it to just that!