Weird Al says it a different way in “Everything You Know is Wrong,” and Christians say “You must surrender yourself.” Before that Jesus said, “Unless you become as a little child…”
What it means in homeschooling terms is that as long as you think you can control and add to what you already know, it will be hard to come to unschooling. The more quickly you empty your cup and open yourself to new ideas uncritically, the sooner you will see natural learning blossom.
So much for philosophy and buildup. How can this be done? Can it work for former teachers? What about engineers who are sure their children need lots of math in an organized fashion? What about moms who love schedules and organization?
Deschooling is needed much more by parents than by children. I still have subconscious school-stuff to slough off; it surfaces when I least expect it and I wrestle it, encapsulate it, and try to forget it.
Here’s a way to schedule some deschooling and avoid the time-wasting stress of trying to build unschooling out of school-parts.
Quick Installation for Unschooling: Just stop.
Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life.
Gradual Installation (necessary in most school-trained cases):
Okay. Here is how you learn NOT to overlay all that on your unschooling life where its structure and terminology will disturb the peace and hinder progress. I am asking you to take your school memories, add light, and stir.
Instead of looking for “steady pace,” look for fits and starts. What if a child has a great piano week and practices two hours a day and then he’s tired of it for the rest of the month? It wouldn't all be lost and over and ruined. What if, one day, he just GETS some mathematical concept. Will you recalibrate the level at which you want him to work steadily? Or can he take a break for a month or a year without you panicking?
When you have completed some or most of the exercises above and you no longer tense up at the thought of whether your child could possibly get into college, and when you can hear “math worksheets” without thinking “Maybe we should get some of THOSE!” you can consider yourself a graduate of Sandra Dodd’s Advanced School of Deschooling.
Congratulations! Below is your combination final project and field trip: Rent some movies and watch with your kids. Here’s my recommended list, but let personal preference rule. You might have better ideas:
SpartacusDiscuss as little or as much as the kids seem interested in discussing. By this point you’ll be past the need to wonder whether there’s anything worth learning in those movies, and you’ll see your kids learning and laughing and being glad you’re there.
They just keep hanging around the house and learning things. Read more at SandraDodd.com anytime.
2013 UPDATE NOTE: Pam Laricchia wrote a great companion piece for Ferris Bueller's Day off: Living Joyfully Newsletter Issue 8
Joyce Fetteroll, September 2013:
Probably the hardest piece of baggage to remove while deschooling is trying to get your family to match your vision for them.