page 13 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, September 7, 2011

Sandra Dodd left this message :

For Wednesday September 7, The topic is page 13 of The Big Book of Unschooling, "Schooling" which is a little timely as twice in the past week or so I've seemed to have defended school. More, I've tried to keep other people from thrashing and trashing school, for various reasons. Wednesday we can talk about how schooling and schoolishness can hurt, but also about how too much bile and vitriol toward school can hurt just as much.

ChrisSanders: Hi all

Sandra Dodd: Are you Jamie or Monica?

JamieAndMonica: We are Jamie and Monica - I'm here with my wife at a tea shop

Sandra Dodd: When we have ten people we can zoom. [In 2011, that meant "take off" with the chat—move along quickly.]

Sandra Dodd: Doing this from a tea shop sounds PERFECT.

Sandra Dodd: I'm in the library in my house at an old 50's dinette table, sitting in an uncomfortable chair. I'm at least going to change chairs, out of envy of a tea shop setting.

Alex P: A cup of tea does sound nice!

JamieAndMonica: We're going to make this part of our Wednesday date lunch at least until the baby is born in November

Sandra Dodd: How sweet!

Sandra Dodd: Today is about attachment to school, or rejection of school, or the love or hate of school.

Jennie: this is a difficult time of year to live "as if school does not exist"

Sandra Dodd: Part of my deschooling was to stop looking at the world in terms of "school day" or "semester"

Sandra Dodd: Jennie, why is it difficult for you this year?

PamelaCorkey: It is an interesting balancing act in our family because I am a college professor, so I just started a new semester yesterday. Rejecting school completely would be impossible. I love what I do. Also, my oldest is in college and everyone else we know went to school.

PamelaCorkey: I can't deschool that way, Sandra!

Sandra Dodd: I don't think "rejecting school completely" is a good idea, and I've never advised it.

Jennie: so much back to school hype, and so much "not back to school" hype in the homeschooling community. it doesn't affect our home so much, it's just more visible now.

Sandra Dodd: Ah.

Sandra Dodd: I hardly saw a single advertisement this year, and it's been a long time since I was going to a weekly park day.

JamieAndMonica: Monica: the main impact on our family is that now the Science Center and Zoo will be comfortably depopulated when we take our son

Jennie: my kids commented on seeing back to school ads in July!

JoM: there are loads of 'back to school' or 'starting school' tv programmes on at the moment ... my 8 and 5 year old had their bears go off to school yesterday in a game

Sandra Dodd: Both on facebook and on Always Learning recently I've objected to people badmouthing school in aggressive ways.

Jennie: I do love getting the museums and playgrounds and library to ourselves again!

ChrisSanders: at our house it's other activities -- dance, drama, art -- outside of school but follows the general school calendar

PamelaCorkey: I saw a mom yanking her little boys arm and snapping "you better cut it out. You're not going to get away with that kind of behavior at school." He looked to be about 4 or 5.

Alex P: J&M that is how I feel! It really only makes difference because I am more likely to go to the zoo and the museum and one of my son's friend goes to school and he misses him.

JamieAndMonica: since we're pre-unschooling, we're seeing the very first wave of friends going to shool this year. Well, really only one - to a Montessori. I'm actually curious to see how that goes for him

Sandra Dodd: Having the friends go to school was always a bit rough for my kids, when they were eight, ten, those ages. Not so much when they were older.

Jennie: I think that for some, the bad mouthing is part of the process of convincing oneself that homeschooling is the right way to go.

JamieAndMonica: how did you help your kids get through that Sandra?

Jill Parmer: It's disappointing that at unschooling discussion sites, people need to defend school against school bashing.

Sandra Dodd: Because when people change belief or action they tend to go to the opposite extreme, people will go too far and some forget to find the balance point.

ColleenP: my 8 year old is sad to see his friend from our neighborhood have to stay inside to do homework in the evenings and then go to bed early for school the next day - he says if she's at school all day, she should be able to play when she gets home, not do more school stuff

Jill Parmer: I'm surprised at so many people who purport peace and love bash school so much their kids fear it.

Alex P: yep MD was just asking when his friends could come over and he has to wait until the weekends. He is a neighbor but he has to be on the bus at 6:45 AM and gets home at 4PMs so not time to play at all.

Sandra Dodd: Jamie, your baby isn't born yet. It's too soon to worry about that. What was going on with my kids in the 1990s isn't what will be going on with your own in five or six years. So principles instead of particulars, in this case, I think. There are LOTS and lots more unschoolers and homeschoolers now than 20 years ago.

ColleenP: Jill I agree - it's like for some people, to have something good (unschooling in this case) there has to be something bad to counter against (school) - I don't think it has to work that way - but school-bashing is in full force in some circles right now!

Sandra Dodd: It doesn't have to be that way, but for some people they have to get far, FAR away from the thing.

JamieAndMonica: i know in my unschooling exploration I've been reading in a lot of directions, and one is the "bad of schools" direction.

JamieAndMonica: I think its natural to look for that support/justification/defensive position, at least at the beginning

Alex P: I think I did some school bashing when my son was much younger but I realized that school is good for many children and their best option. That I have always said but still some people are offended when you homeschool and they do not. They have a need to say how their kids love school ( even when they say they do not )

Sandra Dodd: People need to know a little "bad of schools," but usually by the time they take a child out, they have enough of that to propel them far enough from school to get their deschooling going. They need a booster rocket, not to leave the entire solar system, as it were. Jennie: Lots of folks come to unschooling/homeschooling after a bad school experience though. I think it's understandable that they'd do some bashing.

Sandra Dodd: "Some bashing" isn't the same as demonizing school and living in opposition to school fulltime, every day, in every conversation, in every joke, in every reference, in bumper stickers and t-shirts.

Alex P: Also I know that many teachers and educators are really doing the best they can and some are really making a difference in many kids life. My mom wa a teacher and loved what she did.

Sandra Dodd: People die.

Jill Parmer: I think it's fine to know the bad parts about school. but I know an unschooler whose children refuse to be around school talk, and immediately think the people are evil who talk about school. The mom has done a disservice to her children, in that case.

JamieAndMonica: i do like throwing out some articles, movie clips, or other stuff about some of the bad direction or history of schools to see where an interesting conversation might engage with either my offline or online friends/contacts

Sandra Dodd: Every one of us is going to die. I made it to my kids' adulthood. Not everyone does. I had a long (too long) e-mail from someone yesterday whose son's life is a mess, because (very long story very short) dad died, mom put kids in school, moved to another town, oldest didn't adapt, in and out of school, horribly afraid an traumatized as a 19 year old but if he's not in high school his dependent-child social security is cut off. She wanted me to help her fix that.

Sandra Dodd: It is highly likely that if the kids hadn't been made afraid of school when they were unschooling, that transition would've gone better.

Alex P: Yep Sandra While my sister's kids were out of school she bashed school a lot and now they are back in school. SO not good. Same thing with religion I saw happened the other day. We need to be careful with what we say and demonize because it may be something our kids may like in the future.

Sandra Dodd: Some people, upon leaving a church, proceed to spend the rest of their lives badmouthing the same church. I have a friend who was sexually abused by a priest when he was seven years old.

Sandra Dodd: He's my age or a year older now, so 58 or 59. He has spent most of his life researching child abuse in the church, has written a long report (a book with references, details on buried reports and recommendations from centuries past), and a novel, and ... he let it ruin his entire life. He lived in the shadow of that situation. The priest died 20 years ago and my friend has dedicated his life to that situation. Admittedly, the activists have changed the situation, but it could be done with the sacrifice of five or ten years apiece. It didn't need fifty years.

Sandra Dodd: I've said before that people shouldn't live with one foot in the school (with a curriculum, or trying to keep up with school), nor even in the shadow of the school.

Sandra Dodd: I've been saying that for nearly 20 years.

Sandra Dodd: And it means live as though school didn't exist. It means live outside of, far from, without thought of school.

Sandra Dodd: Learn in ways that work naturally and holistically, where the learning has to do with life, and is living, and being.

Alex P: Could the young man in your story above ( the one going to school) be enrolled in an online public school? Now that is an option in many states.

Sandra Dodd: That's an idea. I'll pass that on to her.

Sandra Dodd: Thanks.

Alex P: maybe it is easy for us to live without the thought of school because we do not have a mainstream life schedule. With farming and working everyday we really do not even remember stuff about school. We just do our stuff. It may be easier for my husband because he does not get to hear school stuff from co-workers and because we are both older and more confident.

JamieAndMonica: we're in the suburbs with friends getting into school age, and a few friends who are teachers, and our son likes some local parks that are attached to schools. So we have a bit of automatic contact

Alex P: Gigi, who is 5, spend a huge chunk of her days doing chores with dad. Today she is on her way home from a 2 hour each way drive to take a cow to get eggs to do in vitro fertilization. She even helped the vet there check some calves that were coming out of sedation. The vet was so impressed with all she knows about cows and reproduction and gee so much stuff. She really loves it.'

Jennie: Still, we get the "are you ready to go back to school?" questions from the grocery store employee, or people we sort of know that don't know/forgot that we homeschool. And sometimes I just say "Yeah," because it's just a "fill the conversational air" type question

Sandra Dodd: Going to a park that's a school playground isn't what I'm talking about.

JamieAndMonica: i just mean seeing/hearing the schedule - being reminded of that side of things. Its not totally out of sight

Sandra Dodd: It never will be totally out of sight. But it can take a lower priority in one's own mind and awareness, gradually. Unless it's sainted or demonized, it can.

Alex P: Jamie&Monica, Find a group of homeschoolers so you have some other people to hang out. But I have to say that a percentage of families who plan to homeschool and then put their kids in school when they reach kindergarten or 1st grade age is not small. That is when many freak out . Same with the ones who want to unschool but then buy a curriculum.

JamieAndMonica: right Alex - Sandra warned us about that - not to talk too big an unschooling game until our DS2.5 gets a bit older

JamieAndMonica: I'm very confident in our direction though - we've been deschooling ourselves for the past year plus, and we're both very on board and have talked our way through a lot of our past school experiences

Alex P: I have seen many "unschoolers" of young kids and I can tell that the majority of them now are either sending their children to school or doing a curriculum.

Alex P: It changes when your child is 6 or 7 and the parents around are talking about how their children are reading and yours may not even know their letters.

JamieAndMonica: Alex - understood and noted

Sandra Dodd: They're not as common as they used to be (or maybe I'm just not connected with people as I once was), but in the 1990s there were a lot of "recovering fundamentalist" sites and groups, where people spend a TON of time talking about religion because they had left the church, and reading the Bible to find the places they had not known about when they read the Bible another way.

Sandra Dodd: It's still living a life of religion.

Sandra Dodd: And so living a life of anti-school is still school-based.

Alex P: It more about you being able to see the learning and how children will learn without school or without you teaching them.

Sandra Dodd: Interestingly, though the argument is made about unschooling that the word itself will make people think of school all the time, when unschooling is done well enough long enough, the name of it doesn't matter.

Robin Bentley: I'm glad I've gotten to the point that when I hear "oh, so-and-so's teacher is so wonderful and inventive and engaging" that I can say "that's great!" and not have it affect me at all. I'm happy for that family and commiserate with them when things don't go so well, but it doesn't touch our lives much.

JamieAndMonica: having been through Montessori for 2 years myself and then bored for 5 years of Catholic school, then only ok later because of gifted. My wife had horrible early school experience and it only got to passable at best

Sandra Dodd: Holly's giving a talk on her own at Good Vibrations this weekend. She decided it would be easier for her if I'm no in there, but I'm her typist, so I have seen the outline.

Sandra Dodd: One thing she's going to suggest is that unschoolers should not use the word "unschooling" more than once or twice a week.

Alex P: That is so right Robin! I can totally say that and even see how she can be great.

JamieAndMonica: we're both having way too much fun with our son and exploring so much that we can't imagine ever forcing school on him

Sandra Dodd: Jamie, you're still identifying with school. You just told us you're gifted!

JamieAndMonica: haha

JamieAndMonica: no - gifted progam got me into an ok portion of school

Sandra Dodd: Try to dismantle that and encapsulate it as the past and not live there. It WILL take a while, but that's part of deschooling.

JamieAndMonica: the whole gifted process was a joke

Jennie: Robin, I can say "great!" but in the case of former homeschooling friends, it still hurts to say it, and I'm not sure I fully believe it.

Sandra Dodd: You're grown. You're a dad. You're not a gifted student anymore. Let's not talk about the details of your schooling, okay?

JamieAndMonica: I'm not more gifted than my sisters who didn't get in - I just happened to have better aptitude for the entrance process

Sandra Dodd: People do. People older than I am have wounds that will never heal from their school days in the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's.

Sandra Dodd: If we tell those stories, we live in school.

Alex P: I did not choose to unschool/homeschool beacuse I thought school was horrible or that I had a horrible school experience and that maybe where I see things differently. I absolutely loved school. I did well and I loved going. I decided I wanted to homeschool first when my son was 6 months because I thought we could do better and he was so intense I did not think school would be a good match. Then I started reading about unschooling and it just made sense.

Sandra Dodd: Jennie, it wasn't a recommendation to say "great" if you didn't believe it. It was the report of progress, of detachment from emotion associated with school.

Jennie: I say great just to be polite, I guess.

Sandra Dodd: I figure it's more polite to say nothing than to say something that agitates me or that I don't really believe.

Sandra Dodd: Or you could say "Did she get some new clothes?" and not "great"

ColleenP: my cousin posted on FB today about how much her daughter loves first grade - I posted back that that's great - her happiness about her daughter being happy is what matters - no need to remind her that my son didn't go to first grade and was quite happy too ;)

JamieAndMonica: actually, our first reason why we looked into homeschooling was that we wanted freedom to travel, without worrying about school schedules. Then we met someone homeschooling while they did mission trips, and they were shocked how little time the curriculum took

Robin Bentley: Jennie, while I believe that I can do it for my kid, some people just cannot manage unschooling, even after years of trying. They've gone another direction and sometimes it seems to be working in some ways; one of the families I'm thinking of never really understood the depth of unschooling, so could never really make it work for them. They're happier, and I'm happy for them.

Sandra Dodd: That's one of the biggest benefits of all--freedom from the schedule AND from the geography!!

JamieAndMonica: so that's when we started questioning/exploring homeschooling options

Sandra Dodd: You can be resident in your area but not have to BE there all the time, and "the open classroom" can be a thousand miles wide, 8,000 miles wide.

JamieAndMonica: curriculum sounded restricting and boring and like a lot of busywork. So we flowed into the unschooling direction with our reading (after some reading on montessori, infant potential and other topics)

Sandra Dodd: It's hard for people to envision living without school because there aren't a lot of examples.

Sandra Dodd: So maybe, Jill, we need to find and point to examples of people who are doing it really, really well.

ChrisSanders: I hit the "like" button when I'm glad someone his happy on Facebook but I don't really want to comment.

Robin Bentley: I don't say anything to the family I know who has messed their kids' lives up completely. But that involved divorce and new partner and demonizing all that went before it. I don't really believe that their life is better.

Jennie: Maybe I could just say "like!"

Sandra Dodd: I personally intend to continue to ask people not to badmouth school, if they can just as easily talk up cool learning situations.

Alex P: So it is good to be aware of school and what happens in school but do not dwell on it , do not focus on it right?

Sandra Dodd: There's no "like" button at the grocery store or on the phone when someone's relatives are going on about the first week of school.

Sandra Dodd: I think so, Alex.

ChrisSanders: true -- I thought the original comment was about facebook -- my mistake

Sandra Dodd: I could watch the news every night (every morning, noon, night, and set a news site as my homepage) but I choose not to because it's depressing and alarming.

Sandra Dodd: I could read half an hour of anti-school stuff every day, but I'm not going to.

Sandra Dodd: It's the same injection of sensationalist negativity.

Alex P: You can just listen what they are saying and not say great. If they want your opinion they will ask. But most people just want to talk about it and that you listen to them. I think it may reassure them they are doing the best.

Robin Bentley: It's putting energy in the wrong direction to go on and on about school.

Robin Bentley: The anti-school stuff, that is.

Jennie: absolutely. spend your time with your kids or looking up cool stuff to do, places to go!

Robin Bentley: Yup.

Robin Bentley: Step into the light!

Sandra Dodd: It doesn't happen in one year, or three.

Alex P: Yes, Robin. I think that is what happened to me a few years ago, It was just a waste of my time to talk about school so I stopped talking about it , or bashing it.

Sandra Dodd: But it never happens unless one is on the lookout for it.

Jill Parmer: I know a bunch of families doing unschooling really well, some on this chat. And it is SO refreshing to be around them.

Sandra Dodd: But the effect on the children is a problem.

Sandra Dodd: And the effect on the unschooling can be a HUGE problem that people haven't been talking about at all. But I'm going to start. (or continue)

JamieAndMonica: its funny, before we came to unschooling ideas - our vision was for "world schooling" - learning in the world, all the time, from anyone - not just "teachers" - which is then unchooling. That's why we were excited when our reading came in this direction

Sandra Dodd: That's a good way to see the world, Jamie and Monica.

Alex P: I may say things here and there, point out some issues. I rather focus on positive and on my children and my family.

Sandra Dodd: Alex, that makes sense.

Sandra Dodd: Totally ignoring school and never mentioning it wouldn't make sense either.
Treat it like a thing, not like THE THING.
If a child thinks the mother has saved him from a fate worse than death, and if she keeps reminding him that she has, that's not healthy for relationship or reality.
If the mother believes she has saved her child from a fate worse than death, her next move might be grand complacency and self congratulation.

Jennie: So Sandra are you saying that folks need to drop the comparisons? The "my unschooler will hire your honor student" stuff?

Sandra Dodd: Jennie, I'm not saying that all folks need to do anything as a group.
I'm saying there is harm.
Harm in individual lives.

ColleenP: I also figure when my son is an adult, he's going to be around more schooled-folks than unschooled-folks - I wouldn't want him as a result of anything I had said (about school) somehow meeting those folks and thinking poorly of them just because they went to school

Alex P: I like my unschooler will save your honor student from zombie invasion! Is that how it goes?

Sandra Dodd: I have that zombie bumper sticker, in my bathroom, on the inside of the door. Not on my van.

Sandra Dodd: It says "My unschooler will rescue your honor student from the zombies."

ColleenP: I haven't seen that bumper sticker but think I need it for the outside of my file cabinet - love it!

Robin Bentley: Yeah, I keep my bumper stickers in my house . I'm not really interested in making that kind of statement, out in the world.

Alex P: One of the things I love about Sandra's blog Just add light and Stir, is the focus on learning and not on bashing school and pointing out what is wrong with it.

Alex P: I kind of like that bumper sticker but I have no stickers in my car!

Robin Bentley: Shouldn't that be the focus of unschooling, anyway? Good point, Alex.

Sandra Dodd: Kelly Lovejoy made them. It's funny. I laughed.

Robin Bentley: It is funny.

Jill Parmer: Good point, Colleen.

Alex P: I think it is funny too.

Sandra Dodd: Alex, thanks--I keep thinking that blog is more about parenting than "learning" but I guess unschooling is too, after a while.

Robin Bentley: I like "Unschooling for a better today".

Sandra Dodd: That's part of a long tradition of anti-honor-student bumper stickers, though, which came in response to honor student bumper stickers.

Robin Bentley: Yeah, like "My dog is smarter than your honor student"!

Sandra Dodd: Like "My child is an honor student at Washington Mid School" or whatever.

Sandra Dodd: In the late 1970's? early 80's?

Sandra Dodd: The first one I was was "My kid can beat up your honor student." and later "My kid knocked up your honor student."

ColleenP: 80s I think - my mom had one - about the child, not the dog...

Sandra Dodd: So that's a cultural phenomenon unschoolers didn't think up.

Alex P: Yep. I cannot separate unschooling from my parenting and not even my marriage now. That is how we live. My husband and I and the kids. He is such a big part. He can be so much better than me in some things. MD sometimes reacts so much better to him than to me.

JamieAndMonica: what about conversations about the current state of the education system - high-stakes standardized tests going in an even worse direction - talking with people with kids in school about that kind of topic? That if they're going to keep their kids in, they should be thinking about that and what they're going to do about it?

Sandra Dodd: One thing mentioned on that page in the book (page 13, for recent arrivals) is about homeschoolers doing the same kind of damage at home.

Sandra Dodd: I don't talk about it, Jamie. If ten people talk about it, it doesn't change it.

JamieAndMonica: so you just stay out - gotcha

ChrisSanders: Here too, Alex. But I have to say that I was doing pretty well the last 10 days while Rick was riding his bicycle out east. I really picked up my game since I knew Zoe would miss his sparkle. Plus I didn't have to work - so that made it easier -- and fall activities hadn't started yet so we had lots of wide open time together.

Sandra Dodd: If a million people talk about it, it doesn't change it, it just pollutes the potential peace of a million people.

Alex P: You can point out flaws about all that and give them stuff to read but you cannot really make them homeschool or unschool. If they choose to send their children to school the best is to listen, offer ideas , but mainly listen.

Sandra Dodd: If who does, Alex?

Sandra Dodd: I'm not listening to ANYbody's details about school or tests. The best thing for me (and them) is for me NOT to listen.

Alex P: The friends Jamie and Monica are talking about. You said it best. Just do not talk about it. I listen and that is it.

ColleenP: My objection to standardized testing (or rather my objection to the idea that I couldn't say "please excuse my son from this test") is what led me to unschooling in a roundabout sort of way - so for my son, I changed it - he's not being tested. That's my impact on the world. One child at a time

Sandra Dodd: I'm done. I've had enough of being in school, teaching school and talking about school. I much MUCH prefer to talk about living and learning.

PamelaCorkey: Not having to worry about the state of public school in NYC is a huge relief. I'm more than happy to stop fixating on it.

Sandra Dodd: Another way to look at that, Colleen, is the impact on your child. 100% benefit, on your child. Statistically insignificant impact on the world, but absolute impact on your part of the world.

Alex P: You can just say: Hey I homeschool so I don't have to worry about those things." and leave it at that!

Sandra Dodd: So... "When parents want to bring school home in the form of buying a curriculum..." (I wrote, and am quoting) and when they THINK about a curriculum they might as well buy one)..."and 'doing school,' they bring many of the problems of school home, too. If those methods worked, they would be working for every student in school."

ColleenP: Sandra - absolutely, yes, I agree. 100% fixed, right here at home

Alex P: Something about them bringing some of the school problems home too

JamieAndMonica: its something I hadn't looked into in a while - then in my reading about unschooling I came across some interesting articles in Carlo Ricci's journal about our (Ontario) system. Stuff that if I'd read it earlier, I would have started looking for more possibilities then... so I almost feel like "strewing" stuff like that in front of some adults I know, and see what happens

ChrisSanders: I do worry about those things a bit because they impact other people I care about -- teacher sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews, friends, but... I guess I don't focus much energy on it. I'm interested but not advocating one way or another.

JamieAndMonica: Chris, I can relate (Monica here). My nephews are going to be in the school system and I know my son will be interacting with people from school, or who are homeschooled and also people who are unschooled. I am trying to be aware to withhod my opinions about it all and allow my son to form his own.

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling parents should look at school enough to form a clear picture of what they don't want to do.

Alex P: Jamie& Monica, I think you guys are so excited that you have found unschooling and that you believe it is such a better option for children that you want parents to see it too. I have been there when my son was that age too.

Jennie: I think when you first learn about unschooling, it is so exciting and it makes so much sense, it's an intense experience. You really want to share it with people you care about. But it is probably best to resist the "missionary urge."

Sandra Dodd: if people aren't careful, they can make their kids hate math, make them feel like failures if they don't read early, make them feel "behind," cause them to fear or loathe "history" or "science" without even knowing what those things are.

PamelaCorkey: I must admit, when it comes up I experience a private sigh of relief that it's not hurting Oscar anymore. I am personally all wrapped up in issues of higher ed.

Alex P: Trust me when I say that unschooling is probably the best for every child but not for every parent/family.

Sandra Dodd: Alex, I don't think that's a statement for a "trust me." Every child isn't in a family that can unschool, so how could it have been best for him? Many kids are better off with calm, sober, interesting adults in a school than the adults back home.

Alex P: Yeah that was a figure of speech that does not work well!

Alex P: Sorry!

Sandra Dodd: And I think that fact can and should be accepted without excitement and argument by people who assert otherwise.

Alex P: Yes not the best for every parent/family. I was thinking a child in isolation/individually and that is just not possible.

Serah: Hey Jamie and Monica, I'm in Ontario too!

JamieAndMonica: (Richmond Hill for us, Serah)

Sandra Dodd: I'm glad Oscar's doing well or better (or okay or whatever)

PamelaCorkey: Oscar is doing amazingly. I can't quite believe how lovely our family life is. When Milo was 13, it was hell.

PamelaCorkey: (Things with Milo are great, too)

Serah: I agree with staying low key. Not everyone is ready for this type of mentality

Robin Bentley: Oh, you Canadians! Me, too - started unschooling in B.C. We're now in WA state.

JamieAndMonica: (Jamie here): I know I might sound like I want to "convert" everyone, or prove them wrong, or me right, etc. I don't. What I would like is to expose more people to more possibilities that they might not know about, and might consider - that could positively impact them or their family. I'm not attached to the result - just the exposure. Which is why I think of it like strewing

Robin Bentley: I think the best "exposure" is to live your life well.

Jennie: yes Robin

Alex P: My sister took her kids off school because of her oldest having a terrible experience in 1st grade. She wanted to unschool, she read, had me to talk to, but 2 years later her kids were back at school. Her husband did not want to unschool and did not even really like homenschooling and my sister really never understood unschooling deep enough to be doing a great job unschooling.

ChrisSanders: I agree with what RObin said.

Alex P: yes Robin! Great point!

Robin Bentley: Concentrate on making your life sparkly and happy and full of learning. They'll know where to come when they are ready to hear your message, if that ever happens.

Sandra Dodd: Jamie, there are problems with showing people things they don't want or can't have. It can make them unhappy.

Robin Bentley: You don't want to sound like an Amway distributor .

Sandra Dodd: It's better to concentrate on learning it, doing it, really living it.

ColleenP: reminds me of the quote about being the change you want to see in the world - because (in my opinion) you and your family are where you can have the most impact

JamieAndMonica: learning about it, applying bit by bit, and enjoying the heck out of life is our focus for sure

JamieAndMonica: thanks everyone

Sandra Dodd: The women's movement in the late 1960's and early 1970's is a case to look at. A LOT of divorce and extreme frustration and unhappiness came up in a very short period of time.

ChrisSanders: Besides, most people won't believe you until your kids are much older and are the 'proof in the pudding' so-to-speak.

Sandra Dodd: Huge waves of male-bashing and indignation and sharing of horror stories brought upheaval and noise and there wasn't a lot of understanding and improvement attached to it.

Sandra Dodd: Gradually things settled, but there was a ton of social rubble.

Alex P: LOL Chris!

Robin Bentley: That could happen (in a smaller way) with unschooling, if people aren't careful, Sandra.

JamieAndMonica: just to be clear - Monica is 100% with everything you guys said, and not looking to push anything on anyone, that's all me - Jamie

Jennie: social change can be like that. lots of upheaval.

Robin Bentley: Well, cut it out, Jamie

Sandra Dodd: There are changes people look at now and say "Oh, but this is better; college admissions policies, equal pay for equal work, divorce laws and rape laws are better..." but they're not looking at the lives of individuals that were horribly mangled.

JamieAndMonica: and I should say "push" because I'm certainly not pushy

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling doesn't need to be "social change."

Alex P: I think that is why Sandra was talking about the anti-school bashing this week on the list.

JamieAndMonica: this is mostly in my head, things I think about

Alex P: Jamie I understand it. I have been there.

Jennie: you were referencing the women's movement

Sandra Dodd: I think (sadly, and I can't change it; I've tried) that's what's happening with one family in France. The mom read my stuff and loved it and translated a bunch of it and became strident and political and now is standing down the government, pretty much. It can't possibly be creating a peaceful environment for her family.

Robin Bentley: Yikes!

JamieAndMonica: that's scary

Sandra Dodd: I was referencing the women's movement as what unschooling should NOT become and is not like.

Alex P: I hope all goes well for her family.

Alex P: My family comes first and would avoid anything that could harm my family or break it apart.

Sandra Dodd: If we concentrate more on politics and the awfulness of school, we're not paying attention to our kids. Exactly, Alex.

Sandra Dodd: I won't sacrifice my family on the altar of social change.

Sandra Dodd: My family will be a light, not a bonfire.

Alex P: Unschooling is NOT a revolution that just began!

Alex P: Sorry I could not help!

Sandra Dodd: Nor should it be.

JamieAndMonica: Agreed. I did like Glen Doman's term - the Gentle Revolution, even if his techniques were too paternalistic and focused on pushing stuff on kids

Sandra Dodd: It should be an option for education (that happens to also become a whole new way of being).

JamieAndMonica: do the best for your family

Alex P: I like that: My family will be a light, not a bonfire.

ColleenP: a light not a bonfire - like my husband's parents who came from Cuba on the freedom flights - would it have been better if they stayed in Cuba for the sake of social change, or is it better that they came here? For their lives, it's better that they are here. For those left behind to struggle - there are no good answers that I know of. But they did what was right and peaceful for their family, and I think that's an option we all have - to do right for our families.

Sandra Dodd: I like that example, Colleen.

Sandra Dodd: I think people without kids should be the ones who risk their lives to bring about change. Not parents.

Robin Bentley: Unschooling can be an internal revolution in one's own thinking. That's where it should stop, change-wise.

Sandra Dodd: And that is something that owes some of its existence to the women's movement, I suppose. Reproductive options.

Sandra Dodd: If people can't choose to be parents, they're less likely to be really dedicated parents

ColleenP: it was a lengthy discussion the other night at our house, brought about by my 8 year old asking "what's a communist and is Abuelo (his grandfather) one?"

JamieAndMonica: love the question

Sandra Dodd: That's not much discussed, either.

Sandra Dodd: Parental resentment, and resentment of mothers toward husbands was WAY, way higher when sex could mean another and another pregnancy. If someone chooses to be a parent they have more obligation and a higher likelihood of desire to be really hot-shot great parents. As opposed to people who end up pregnant and have no safe, legal options. It creates a new reality, and a new relationship to reproduction and parenthood. Even for those whose beliefs won't let them consider abortion, they too have chosen.

Sandra Dodd: And so, Jamie, that's part of why you should be wary of telling other people that they have options.

JamieAndMonica: thanks a lot for the perspectives - I really appreciate them

Sandra Dodd: When a family knows, for sure, really knows, that they could have homeschooled, then they become responsible in a whole new way for any emotional, psychic or physical damage their child experiences from school.

Sandra Dodd: If there was no option, they are blameless.

JamieAndMonica: that's why I'm asking this in my head, and out loud here - before I do much outside

Sandra Dodd: So be careful passing out what you think is knowledge.

Robin Bentley: Good plan, Jamie.

Sandra Dodd: Remember Adam and Eve.

Sandra Dodd: There are also assimilation considerations. Jill, are you still there?

Sandra Dodd: She's busy.

Sandra Dodd: I don't know everyone here, so I don't know who best to use as an example or foil if I can't use Jill.

Sandra Dodd: When someone goes to a conference or symposium, the assumption is that they will be around unschooling families, and see what unschooling families are like. And hear unschooling speakers.

Sandra Dodd: So what percentage of new families is too many? What tips that balance?

Sandra Dodd: If there are 100 families, what if five of them are REALLY new, so new that the kids go crazy with a little freedom? Or that the parents are harsh and controlling and it "harshes the buzz" of the others?

Sandra Dodd: But if there are NO new families, who's going to be learning?

JamieAndMonica: what do you feel is an ideal balance? and what suggestions do you have for us going to our first conference this weekend?

Sandra Dodd: But if half the families are new, how will anyone know what an experienced unschooling family looks like?

Robin Bentley: I think 5% might be okay. Half is too many.

Sandra Dodd: I don't get to pick an ideal balance. There's a huge randomizer. It's called "registration." And freedom.

ColleenP: Or if the speakers are parents of young kids, not older kids - I think that'd be a much different conference than when "seasoned" unschoolers are speaking/presenting

Sandra Dodd: Too many speakers without much experience can be a problem too, or too many speakers with something to sell

ColleenP: I'd not want to hear too much of parents of young kids, who are just starting out on their unschooling journey, try to show "how it's done"

Robin Bentley: I agree, Colleen.

Sandra Dodd: I was speaking when Kirby was nine, but there weren't many others with more experience, and I was pretty clear about what I knew and why, and didn't pretend to know anything I didn't know.

ColleenP: I have an 8 year old and though I am confident in my ability to provide him a peaceful, happy, unschooled life, I'd not want to present as if I already had it all figured out - because when my son is 15 or 16 - well then the proof is indeed in the pudding

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, that can be a problem, and HAS been a problem. A site set up by a mom of young children is going to be taken down at the end of the month. She founded a discussion list, too, and now... eh.

Jill Parmer: (sorry back and forth from computer) Sandra, what "assimilation considerations"?

Sandra Dodd: How many people does it take to help someone else understand unschooling?

Sandra Dodd: If half the unschoolers were brand new all the time, the new ones couldn't be surrounded by more experienced people.

Sandra Dodd: On the other hand, I think part of the school bashing and over-zealous behaviors discussed earlier have to do with pack mentality, or mob mentality.

ChrisSanders: I'd say no more than 1/4 newbies -- and that is if all of the experienced one's are willing to surround them. ;)

Sandra Dodd: People like to feel they are part of a crowd, a movement, a "tribe," and some of that involves having a common foe.

Sandra Dodd: Human nature.

Robin Bentley: Yeah, and that it's the cool thing to be doing.

Sandra Dodd: We can't change it, but we can be aware and try to compensate for it some., sometimes.

JamieAndMonica: and proving your own rightness or superiority over the foe

Sandra Dodd: But unschooling isn't a big team sport. It's more a spiritual transformation.

Jill Parmer: For all that you're saying, I think the list of what it takes to be an unschooling parent is good to look at. See what qualities you have and can build on, and what qualities are within easier reach.

Alex P: I just really want to make it to ALL to see more people like Jill, Robin, Pam, Sandra and others alike with their children. I got so much out of being with the Waynforths and their kids when mine were younger.

Robin Bentley: I just want one conference talent show *not* to have Pink Floyd's "The Wall" .

Jill Parmer: Yes! Robin.

Robin Bentley: It's played at some point at every conference I've been to, except Live and Learn.

JamieAndMonica: thanks everyone, we have to head back to our little guy - we really appreciate the thoughts and getting us to think about things differently

JamieAndMonica: (ok, mostly Jamie)

Sandra Dodd: Wait a minute, Jamie. Where are you going? The Toronto conference?

Robin Bentley: Come back again, you guys!

JamieAndMonica: we plan to

Sandra Dodd: that's what this weekend?

Sandra Dodd: we forgot to advise you.

JamieAndMonica: and we're excited about the conference too - Toronto Unschooling Conference

Sandra Dodd: Listen more than talk. That's my advice. (To Jamie; I don't know about Monica.)

JamieAndMonica: for Monica, that's the default... and I'm prepared to.

Robin Bentley: My suggestions: don't plan to see everything; take plenty of time to rest and rejuvenate.

Sandra Dodd: Read the story at the top of /deschooling and have an empty cup. Otherwise it's a waste of being there.

JamieAndMonica: we read the empty cup already, thanks again for it

JamieAndMonica: we're excited to see these families being together in this setting, and to be together with little Alex in that environment

Sandra Dodd: You need to be breathing it in.

Sandra Dodd: And have fun!!!

Sandra Dodd: I'll see some or all of you next week.

Jill Parmer: Look at what looks good and sweet, and seek out more of that.

Robin Bentley: Talk casually with people you think really get it. Yeah, and have fun!

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