Your Mind and Awareness

In April 2014 someone came to the facebook group Radical Unschooling Info, inspired lots of good writing, and then left with a thank-you note, but deleted the thread.

The thank you:

Hi I just wanted to personally thank you for the really helpful insight I'm going away to think and read and think some more on these wonderful comments i have received Thank You Sandra It was a big emotional issue just writing my question at the risk of some of my friends seeing it ! thankyou

This is a rescue of some parts I thought should not be lost. I left out most of the discussion about academics and degrees, in favor of keeping the recovery from trauma, and learning how to learn.

images are links

Sandra Dodd responding:
-=-Is it possible to make my brain grow?-=-

Physically? Or do you mean are there ways for you to make more connections inside of you?

If your childhood abuse and neglect have left a lot of closed-off areas inside you, it would help to get therapy—even light help, to get you started on looking, a bit at a time, at what happened, and looking with a compassionate eye—compassion for the child you were, compassion for the adults who might have done better if they could have, if they knew more, if they had support for being kind and gentle. Then that would help you spread "kind and gentle" into the present, while you were gently untangling the snarls of your childhood memories.

The clearer your mind is of trauma and fear, the more easily your thoughts can flow, and connections can be made.

Don't think of your brain. Think of your mind and of your awareness. A little tiny brain can hold a LOT of information. A big fat one can fail to do so. It's not size, it's peace and use.

Sonya Bedelia:
I agree with Sandra above. I am an abuse survivor. I use therapy and that helps. i read a little, watch a little and try a little with my own healing. I prioritize healing my trauma for many reasons. one is that it makes unschooling easier. I think healing trauma can lead to increased cognitive skills, better focus, more energy. It will lead to feeling safe so your brain can explore and learn instead of constantly being in fight or flight or freeze modes, where it's difficult for learning to happen.

It's also, in my experience, difficult to try things/take risks when working from a place of trauma. Learning requires trying, and just seeing what happens. That used to feel terrifying to me. Therapy has helped a lot. reading about unschooling has also helped.

Shan Jeniah Burton:
*Don't think of your brain. Think of your mind and of your awareness. A little tiny brain can hold a LOT of information. A big fat one can fail to do so. It's not size, it's peace and use."

OH! This just resonated through my mind and awareness.

What a concise, clear way of expressing it. It feels to me like this is the difference between unschooling learning and school learning. School learning is focused (and not so well, maybe) on pouring things into brains.

Unschooling is about learning, and engagement, and connections, and awareness of things that can get deeper and deeper, throughout life. It works that way for kids and for adults.

Peace and use. I feel like bit is going to be connecting to lots of other things in my mind and awareness for some time to come...

Thanks for writing that, Sandra!

Sandra Dodd:
Unschooling can be therapeutic in and of itself, especially for those who participate in group discussions.

Healing Presence

Mental Health

How Unschooling Changes People

This can help (or any Richard Carlson book might be useful):
Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out
(amazon listing and reviews)

In a serious case of having grown up with an alcoholic parent a year or two of al-Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics could make a huge difference.
For Adult Children AdultChildren.org

Common Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics

If self-help seems too daunting or slow and you want a professional who is familiar with unschooling, here are various people who might be able to help you online: Counsellors and Professional Advisors

**How can I become more academic theres some reading that just make my eyes glaze over**

I'm not sure what you mean by becoming more academic... you want to learn more about something in particular? Or something that will make you feel smarter?

I'm a big fan of public radio as a way of learning about a wide range of things in little bite sized pieces - international news, music, space exploration, global weather patterns, new movies.... Just listening to the big daily newscasts, morning and afternoons, provides a pretty good sample in that regard. And then there are specialty shows like Science Friday - that's a favorite at my workplace - and the weekend shows like The Splendid Table (food) and the news and literary game shows.

I've also found that the kinds of books I'd fall asleep reading are nice to listen to as audio books while I'm doing something like cleaning or sewing - something I don't need to think about.

If you like a to read a little, but not too much, magazines are nice. You can pick them up and put them down, read a bit while eating a sandwich, or look at the pictures, skim the article, and decide if you want to learn more about that or not. You don't have to commit to reading a whole book, and there's a range of different kinds of articles - the specifics will depend on the magazine of course.

Listening to public radio and reading magazines helps me decide what kinds of books I want to read - I'll come across an article and think "cool, I want to learn more about that".

It's also good to know that it's not necessary to totally understand everything you read (or listen to) the first time through. I think that's one of the misconceptions people get from school's "read it and answer the questions" format. It's okay to skim through something the first time and just get a general idea, then, if you're still interested, go back and read for more detail later - maybe after reading or hearing something else, first, that clarifies those details.

But that's learning in the sense of "taking in information" - and learning is more than that. Learning also comes from doing things, exploring objects and processes, places and ideas. Much as I like storing up facts like a magpie, I do most of my learning by taking things apart and putting them back together. If I have a question, I'm as likely to look for person to show me what I need as I am to look for a book. I *can* figure things out from books, but often I can learn the same thing more effectively by watching someone else.

Alex Polikowsky:

The more you know about a subject (and I am not talking math or history but those and any thing from show dogs to airplane flying) the easier it is to understand more "academic" or any kind of text about it.

If someone that knows nothing about cows shows come to a show and hears the judge giving their explanation about why they are giving first place and so on to a cow they will be clueless. What is body capacity or udder depth? But if they start coming to shows and just hanging out and asking questions here and there, listening to people talk about cows they will soon start to pick up here and there not only vocabulary but knowledge. If that person is interested in learning it will even probably come faster than someone that is not really paying much attention.

The more vocabulary about the subject you want to learn is acquired the easier it will be to read a text that may be more difficult.

It is all about connecting information you gather all around from many different experiences. In the case above from watching, listening, observing, asking questions, comparing.

You cannot expect to pick up a text about show cows to read and understand what people are talking about if you have very little experience being around cows.

Last year my son and I built a computer together. A gaming rig. The most important part was knowing enough to be able to pick out the parts.

There are hundreds of options for each part! With huge difference in prices and specifications. I already knew some by updating some of our computers by myself and because I am interested in games and computers but it was not nearly enough to make choices yet.

So I took my time while we saved money and asked questions to friends, participated in forums, read discussion, articles, watched videos, compared parts.

I now know enough to fix most computer problems, update computers, build, pick parts, and so much more.

I know things that in the beginning went right over my head when I started reading articles. But now??? I totally get it and can read any technical text!

Our build was praised by many and the criticism we received made me learn even more about it.

It was awesome!

Right now I am learning Korean, as I fell in love with the language. It is very different from the languages I already speak. The alphabet is different. I can, in less than a month, read and write i! But the most exciting is being able to recognize words and expression in songs and movies I watch. I keep adding to my knowledge bank !!

Learning is like that.
You learn first that this cow is a dairy cow and not beef and what the differences are.
Then you learn there are different dairy breeds and what those are.
Then..... One cannot just not even know what a dairy cow is in relation to a beef cow and read a technical text about dairy cows and think they will understand it. It would be very very hard. Or go to a cow show and get any of what the judge is saying!

How many things were taught to us in school and we just could not really get it but later in life you came across them again and you finally go "I get it!"
Why is that?

It could be that your brain was not ready for that information, it could be that you did not have enough knowledge or/and experience to support learning that!

Knowledge builds up and up. Like reading!

I have seen both my kids learn to read. How they went from knowing a few words and letters, to a few expressions to full fluent reading and comprehension of text.

They were not taught to read. There were no classes or learning systems I implemented. I did not teach them phonics or a basic vocabulary.

We read, played, I assisted them, read for them typed for them, answered questions, in a safe learning environment where my kids felt safe to ask questions and to explore, rich of printed words and computers.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
Unschooling is when parents create a nurturing nest for children to learn in. So since no one's creating an environment to support your free exploration in, you can't unschool.

You can, though, learn naturally. You can, though, be an autodidact, someone who deliberately creates her own learning path towards a goal.

The two aren't the same. An autodidact can often look like she's pursuing academic learning on her own. Natural learning looks like being engaged with life, exploring joyfully, willing to follow a new interesting trail without feeling the need to finish another trail. Natural learning isn't goal directed.

If you have a vision of completing a study of something, of reaching some level of completeness, natural learning will frustrate you. It won't *seem* to be accomplishing anything. (You will be growing though!)

If you want something more academic, it will depend more on your personality and learning style than on your past. Lots of radically unschooled kids have no interest in academic style learning. It's a big lie we've all been fed that success in school means something other than being good at memorizing. Unschooling doesn't magically give kids the ability to sit through classes that don't interest them and slog through dull textbooks

Original poster (now gone):
one example of things i would like to know and learn would be how do I find out the answer when my children ask me why the marbles they just put in the metal bowl spin around and around thats a great question and I would love to answer that for them, I don't need to know all the answers I just need to know how to be able to find them.
Alex Polikowsky
Google it?
Original poster:
some things don't come up in google
You can shoot down answers, but a better thing to do is to read a little
try a little
wait a while
and watch.

You could try the marbles in other dishes in your kitchen, and watch and see what you can learn by playing with the marbles. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." If you knew everything, and answered every question without any exploration, they would learn less.

If you can't figure something out, and you can't find it with google, you could ask online somewhere (maybe just on your own facebook page, and friends could help you).

There is no academic degree that would enable you to answer all your children's questions.

Playing: Play and learning; regaining playfulness

Penny Vecellio-Lewis:

I think you already know how to find the answers , you've been guiding & nurturing your children to be able to do this for themselves .... Google, explore, ask someone who does know lots about lots ... Outsource when investigating ( after all that's what pioneers in investigations do)
Tiffani Mooney:
Ask your children. If you started homeschooling 11 years ago then at least one of your kids is an older teen. For example we bought a new dishwasher and the install was halted by an old piece that needed replacing. They were not able to return to install the dishwasher for a week. I was really upset and asked them to come back and pick it up. I no longer wanted it if they were going to take so long to install it.

My 17yo son suggested I install it myself. I had no clue how to do that. He showed me how to pull the info up on youtube. I watched the videos and read some other pages and I installed the dishwasher myself. I even got a refund for the installation charges.

I am amazed at how my kids can show me how to learn to do things. This type of thing has happened lots of times.

Learning is making connections, and seeing different aspects of things.

When Parents Have Issues Mental Health

Therapists, counsellors, coaches who are unschoolers, or very familiar with unschooling

Images (all links) are by:
Lydia Koltai (the photo in the "Just Add Light and Stir" image),

Roya Dedeaux (the word "Play"),

and me/Sandra Dodd (quickly with a Sharpie once, for the Connections page).