Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blurring the lines?

I've been reading yahoo groups lately and it's really the same thing over and over. I mean the topics seem to go in cycles, the latest seems to be cleaning and it's on many groups at the same time.

What is unschooling?
Is it just academic?
Can you unschool and force chore charts and bedtimes and control food and teeth brushing and limit tv, video games and computer?
Does unschooling have to extend into how we parent?
Do we have to be mindful and respectful?
Can't we just control what our kids do and still unschool?
Can't we just live by rules?
Does it have to be principles?
Do we have to model and discuss and trust?

Are there really academic only unschoolers vs. whole life learners? Why do we divide? Do unschoolers really have to parent differently in order to embrace the philosophy?

What do you think?

I'm really hoping for some comments on this post.

I will tell you what I think :)

The short answer is that I suppose you can only unschool academically while you control and limit everything else. BUT you will not experience the full benefits of unschooling with authoritarian parenting. Our relationships with our kids should be our priority, for me academics comes after, learning is just a by product of living.

It really seems like there are two camps, the academic unschoolers and the whole life unschoolers. It is kind of odd though because if you really get unschooling there isn't any academic quota to meet.

To quote my good friend Tina :

"Life is learning. Learning is what happens when you live."

In my very biased not so humble opinion I believe that you are selling your kids and yourself short if you don't fully embrace the philosophy.

It's hard to explain how I parent because when I say things like we don't have rules, chores, bedtimes, punishments, privileges or limits on electronics then people who do not get it think we are living in massive chaos where the kids rule and the parents drool.

What we do is talk about respect and safety and how to do things and what is good, bad, or indifferent. We take every situation as an opportunity to learn how to communicate and get along with each other. This is a normal part of our daily life, lots of dialogue going on, lots of questions asked and answered.

I firmly believe that unschoolers parent completely different then the mainstream, traditional, rule oriented, do as I say parents.

We should be partnering with our kids and helping them navigate their world, not limiting and controlling and ruling it.


Deanna said...

I don't see it quite so black and white as you seem to. I see a vast middle ground between controlling, authoritarian parenting and the style of parenting you describe in your household.

I believe it is entirely possible to show respect for one's children while still having some limits and expectations in the home.

When my children were young I could see that they were happier with adequate sleep so I helped that happen with soothing, relaxing, regular bedtime rituals. Lisa can tell you about being rocked to sleep when she was nearly ten years old. LOL! I didn't just shout, "bedtime" and expect my kids to hop to it. My husband and I gently guided them through the routine. I don't think that was disrepectful parenting.

As for chores, well, I sometimes regret not expecting more from them. They had a few things they were expected to do on a semi-regular basis but it mostly involved picking up after themselves and taking care of the family pets. I did almost all the cleaning. Mostly because I'm picky. (grin)

I think Lisa reads your blog so perhaps she, having grown up as one of my kids, can share her perspective. Lisa, if you are reading, you may be perfectly honest in your response. Not that I'm really worried you wouldn't be. LOL!

kelli said...

As you've probably noticed Stephanie, we live our unschooling lives very similarly to yours. :)

I think we get so many questions and comments on the lists like "this isn't working" or "we have this problem" because people try and do unschooling half way or part way. That's my experience anyway.

It's a very interesting topic isn't it? :)