Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why we unschooled

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I really loved school. When Kirby was three or four, I was at a La Leche League playgroup and some of the moms were talking about homeschooling. My friend Rhiannon said she would NEVER send her kids to school. I said "but what if they loved school as much as I did?"

Rhiannon said, "What if Kirby hates school as much as I did? What are the odds?"

That's the moment I started considering homeschooling. I knew two unschooling families (in that same group) and two school-at-home families (ditto). I thought about it for the next year.

Flash forward 20 years. Her kids DID go to school, and they did not like it. Kirby never went to school.

The odds of which she spoke were well known to me. I taught Jr. High for six years, after paying close attention to what school was for various people, because I knew from the time I was six that I wanted to be a teacher, and I started teaching when I was twenty-one years old.

The odds that someone will love school are smaller and smaller as the years go by, and one element of loving school seems to be an unhappy homelife. I wasn't planning on providing my kids an unhappy homelife. Attachment parenting, in combination with my working on recovery from growing up with an alcoholic mom, was changing my life.

I could tell good and fun school stories at length, but in each story, there are people who "lost" because someone else won, or kids who were watching but not involved in whatever cool thing was happening.

The kids who have fun at school aren't ecstatic about school.
The kids who are unhappy at school are sometimes so unhappy they kill themselves or others. School wounds people for life, if they live.

I found the writing above today, in a folder of things I had saved for a book. But it isn't in the book. It's likely I didn't find it when I was working on The Big Book, but I'm glad I found it today.

It was probably written on a forum that no longer exists. I cleaned up some spelling and word order.

The photos are from that time, when I only had two children and figured they would be in school someday.


Tracy Million Simmons said...

I always like hearing the why stories. I very much enjoyed much of my school experience. I was very good at school, but I was also very close to people who were miserable in school and suffered greatly from day one. Some of the smartest people I knew did not excel at school the way I did, and I always felt it was wrong for them to think of themselves as failures when they did so many things better than I did. I was hesitant to homeschool in the beginning, but when I discovered unschooling, it all fell into place. I feel fortunate that I came across the idea early in my life as a parent. It was easily as good for me as it was/is for them. I thought my children might eventually chose school. The oldest took her first class in the spring and will be going to school for the first time in the fall -- to college. She's trying it out. It's another arena to explore.

Sandra Dodd said...

Thanks for adding your story, Tracy!

I too thought each of my children might go to school, and didn't think at first that the second two would be interested in staying home, but they all did. Each has taken community college classes and done well, too.

Sukayna Labboun said...

My husband and I, plus our three girls were also very successful students, and still preferred unschooling to the damagind environment of school. I wanted to thank you from all of us for sharing your unschooling journey, and to say i am so, so glad you chose to try homeschool! Our family has benefitted in numerous ways, many of which entirely unexpected, from your contributions....and it just keeps improving.

Anonymous said...

how sad your friend didn't follow through and keep her kids home. did they ever get out and homeschool?

i hated school. i was a "brain" and in all honor societies, sports, band, volunteer work, i babysat and had a job. you name it, i did it and excelled. overall,i didn't enjoy myself and i wasn't allowed to tell anyone. i enjoyed the sports and the volunteer work and babysitting, but that was only a small amount of time. i was never allowed to explore what it is that i wanted.

hen i got older i realized what a waste of time so much of what i did was, and wished i had someone who could've helped me and given me support and the options i really wanted.

there was an episode of three and a half men where charlie said to his mother you would have us perform for you like trained monkeys, and i realized, wow, that's how i felt. like we didn't matter unless they could use us to impress someone to make themselves look better.

i didn't know i had options. i spent my whole life doing what others(parents) thought i should be doing and was castigated for choosing a different path as an adult, so i still wasn't happy. i didn't know what happiness was, i just knew i had to excel and that was the only thing acceptable to them. it came easy to me,even though it cost me greatly. nothing is worthwhile if it doesn't bring you happiness. you certainly can never make anyone else happy, no matter what you do. and anyone who really loves you would never ask that of you.

it wasn't until my daughter was born 4 years ago that i finally figured some things out. i guess you could say she gave me my life back and i will be forever grateful for that.

my daughter is amazing and there is no way i would put her in the public fool system, as i like to sometimes refer to it as. i discovered unschooling and didn't realize there were other people who think like i do and actually support their kids and their dreams and believe in them.
i now have a name for the way my daughter and i spend our days!

i wanted to share my story so that even though on the surface many kids look like they have this perfect life, it may not be that way and i wouldn't want anyone else to spend a single minute being unhappy and not knowing they don't have a choice.

thanks for your blog and website. i don't feel so alone after reading about other people and their experiences. Terri

Sandra Dodd said...

-=-did they ever get out and homeschool?-=-

Out for a while and then back in when they were young, and the second one (of two) was home again in her teens. The parents ended up divorcing and not agreeing about school or parenting.