page 219 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, May 15, 2013

First, the announcement and intro, from

Okay... This topic is a hard one. 

I'm going to quote the whole page from The Big Book of Unschooling. Please read it before the chat and think about problems you've seen with too much focus on freedom.


A discussion came up in which someone asked about "True Freedom" as though it were a concept central to unschooling. I'd never come across the phrase, and discussion ensued.

It's just musing and analysis of the ideas of freedom, which unschoolers do tend toward in lots of things, but in ALL things? Maybe, maybe not.

I think what some families call "freedom," I call "choices." In the discussion referred to above, I wrote:
Just like getting lots of gifts instead of one big one, if you say "sure," "okay," "yes" to lots of requests for watching a movie late or having cake for breakfast or them playing another half hour on the swings and you can just read a book in the car nearby, then they get TONS of yes, and permission, and approval. If you throw your hands up and say "Whatever," that's a disturbing moment of mom seeming not to care instead of mom seeming the provider of an assortment of joyous approvals.
The bold face print in the quote below came from something Danielle Conger wrote. My responses are indented. It's at the link below.

After reading Sandra's words, I realize that my kids come to me, not because I say they have to, but because they use me as a sounding board.

Maybe they're coming to you as a font of "yes!"

That's a cool thing, if every time they want something loving and positive, they run to mom, huh?
Asking permission becomes a way of gauging their own sense of right and wrong because they know that I will explain a no and help them come up with better alternatives.
My big guys still ask little things, like "Can I have this last soda?" What that means is "had you dibsed it?" or "Is this perhaps NOT the last soda, so I'll feel better about taking it?"

If I say "Sure," they're drinking a soda I gave them, and I bet it tastes better than one they snagged knowing they had "the right" to drink it, but they wanted the blessing.

From the linked webpage, (and there's more there):

"Freedom," and unschooling
In December, 2011, a mother whose daughter had been court-ordered to go to school created a facebook page called "The death of an unschooler." I went expecting to hear about someone dying, as Hannah Jenner did of leukemia, or as Sam Wilkinson did of falling through ice into a lake.

No. It was the story of a divorce, and of a judge ordering that the child should go to school, because the father wasn't in favor of unschooling. I objected to the name of the page, there, and the mother responded with these statements, and others.

"Unschooling is freedom."
"I have always told her she does not have to do anything she does not want to do."
The definition of unschooling is not "freedom." No parent has so much power and freedom that she can assure her own child she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to do. No parent has the power to choose to do nothing she doesn't want to do and guarantee her own freedom from incarceration.
I think good unschooling needs parents who aren't in jail, and children who aren't removed by the government or ordered into school. And while none of those things are guaranteed, there are many easy steps to take to avoid jail and court orders.

So for purposes of this page and radical unschooling as our family lived it, and as I am familiar with it in very many other families, unschooling involves learning and choices, LOTS of choices, but is not absolute freedom.

I think since the beginning of human existence there has never been anyone with total freedom. Living in a group comes with restraints and restrictions. It's just the way it is. Cave men, Bible days, feudal society, pioneers settling the Wild West... all end up answering to other people about what they're doing, how, where and why. And when. "We're trying to sleep; get QUIET!"

While there is a great deal of rhetoric, slogan, poetry and art about freedom, the author of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" owned slaves.

SO. Unschooling. There are many arbitrary rules, expectations, school-related goals and milestones and competitions and rankings that unschoolers can ignore. A family can choose to be free of those.

There are many cultural expectations and traditions—what food is for breakfast, but never for lunch; what time is too late for a ten year old to be awake; what music is for children and what is for adults—that parents can opt to disregard within their own home and immediate family. They cannot, though, by making those choices, cause anyone OUTside their home to think it's a great idea, nor to impose their new freedoms on friends or more distant relatives. If I let my children stay up late in my home, that doesn't even begin to give them the right to stay up as late as they want in any home on earth.

I think that's where unschoolers get confused. They think they're replacing a set of rules with another set of rules. And partly it might be English. The idea that you can "give someone freedom" can seem whole and absolute to someone else. If my child looks in a happily full fridge and asks "What can I eat?" and I say "You can have anything you want," the context suggests that I mean he can have anything he can find in the house, and perhaps something I could prepare upon request. It doesn't mean I will take him to any restaurant on earth right then and buy him anything. It doesn't mean he can go to the grocery store that's a few hundred yards out the back gate and eat off their shelves.

The foregoing explanation sounds goofy. It seems I'm explaining something that was so absurd that no one could possibly misunderstand it.

And now begins the chat, from May 15, 2013:
Virginia joined the chat

Marta Pires joined the chat

Virginia: Hello

Sandra Dodd joined the chat
Sandra Dodd: Hiya!

Heather Booth joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: For anyone who's just come in, here's the info on the chat:  [link to all that quoted above]

Marlo joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: And there's a new page on my site (thanks to Marta Pires gathering up ideas and examples):

Capn Franko joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: The last time the concept of "freedom" came up in relation to unschooling, there was a big fight about it, from a libertarian point of view.

laura zurro joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: Or from the point of view of one libertarian, who wanted to claim "king of the castle"/king of the mountain because she had been a libertarian longer than I had been an unschooler, or some such.

Capn Franko: I'm working on arranging a mashup of "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "All Along the Watchtower" for my music jam gang and I gotta get it done today but I'm kinda paying attention here, too.

Sandra Dodd: But it's not about libertarianism, nor anybody's politics. It's about real-world considerations in normal-land.

Capn Franko: Fot them it is and that's where the conflict originates.

laura zurro: Thanks Marta for pulling that info for the link - gonna be a good read.

Sandra Dodd: I don't go to their rallies, and I don't let them take over my little online rallies. :-)

Marta Pires: You're welcome, Laura! But it was purely selfish -- I needed that info too! ;) Hehehe

Virginia: I was often shocked by how authoritarian many "libertarian" parents were, back when I used to read libertarian blogs.

Virginia changed name to Virginia W.

Sandra Dodd: Good song combination, Frank.
Sandra Dodd: As usual, part of the problem is English.
Sandra Dodd: We collect words, English. We have "freedom" and we also have "liberty." Some places just have one or the other.

Capn Franko: I see the problem as "special" definitions of words which have a common (accepted) usage in English.

Virginia W.: The word "freedom" is heavily overloaded. It means too many things.

Capn Franko: Although "freedom" is so generic. Everybody says they believe in freedom but what do they actually mean?

Marta Pires: We only have "liberdade".

Capn Franko: Yes, Virginia!

Sandra Dodd: True too, Frank.
Sandra Dodd: People use words like banners, so they're waving their freedom banners and not meaning exactly the same thing.

Virginia W.: That usage of "overloaded" is from computer programming.

Marta Pires: But I think the problem you find among English unschoolers, concerning this word, will also be found in Portuguese unschoolers.

Sandra Dodd: And some of them are  saying freedom and declaring "I am free" without much examination of politics and history.
Sandra Dodd: Well bummer, Marta. I was hoping you'd be spared some of the many layers of bullshit unschoolers face in my country. :-)

Virginia W.: Do you have a word for "free of cost" in Portuguese, like "gratis"?

Sandra Dodd: Oh, right. there's THAT confusion.

Marta Pires: No Sandra, I don't think so... :P
Marta Pires: It's "grátis", Virginia. :)

Sandra Dodd: People forget the next layer of terms, where free things come from, and who offers freedom or liberty.
Sandra Dodd: Things can be granted. People can be liberated. People can be freed.

Virginia W.: My favorite rapper has a lyric "Freedom is a right, but having any means you're privileged."

Capn Franko: In the context of talking to libertarians, however, you immediately run into their definition of "rights".

Jill Parmer joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: I was going to tell people that Jill and Marta couldn't be here today, but now I'm not going to.

ColleenP (NH) joined the chat

Marta Pires: :P

Marta Pires: You know I just can't resist being here! :)

Sandra Dodd: Make your declarations now: Any libertarians here?

laura zurro: No.

Virginia W.: Nope.

Marlo: No.

Sandra Dodd: Because nobody has the right to be here.
Sandra Dodd: I am free to boot people (if I put my moderator hat on). I'm free to delete the whole damned room.
Sandra Dodd: That is freedom. Today, in this place, I have more power than any of you do.
Sandra Dodd: $36 a year I pay. But my freedom is limited by Chatzy, who could delete the whole site.

Capn Franko: I confess that I find American anarchocapitalist-Randia n libertarianism to be the most vile philosophy ever created. Ever.

Sandra Dodd: Someone probably owns Chatzy, who could pull THEIR plug, and so on up the line.
Sandra Dodd: When people live in a fairly friendly environment, they have some of the freedom that comes down from someone else who is guarding that someOTHER-one else doesn't come and take everyone's freedom away. Replace "freedom" with "cave near the stream," and that's been going on for... a long time.
Sandra Dodd: People pop out of some mom somewhere, TaDaa! And their "rights" and "freedom" start, one way or another.
Sandra Dodd: It's not God-given and it's not "natural."
Sandra Dodd: Born in Germany? Can't be homeschooled.
Sandra Dodd: Born in Pennsylvania? You can, but it's going to involve a lot of reporting, or moving to another state. :-)
Sandra Dodd: Born in a mansion with servants? Bonus! Born in a home for unwed mothers? oops Less freedom.

ReneeCabatic joined the chat

Virginia W.: Could you replace "freedom" with choices in all of those?

Sandra Dodd: Even if we were all of us, right now, in (say) Texas...
Sandra Dodd: We wouldn't all have the same degree of "freedom."

ColleenP (NH): I'm in the Live Free Or Die state but so far that doesn't seem to be a state-wide guarantee.... ;-)

Sandra Dodd: No, Virginia, because parents are not required to give children choices.

laura zurro: Also, if you're in Germany and can't afford to move, you can't choose to homeschool
laura zurro: unless you break the law.

Virginia W.: We're in Alabama, where it's really easy to homeschool, as long as you say Jehovah told you to do it.

Sandra Dodd: Is there a fairly-heathen umbrella you can join?

Virginia W.: The easiest possible way is to declare yourself a church.
Virginia W.: Oh, yes, very easy. They call them "cover schools". All church schools.

Capn Franko: I'm an upper middle class White male who attended exclusive schools and worked for Microsoft. My "privilege backpack" is much bigger than most. What's the line? Anybody who says "Life is fair is trying to sell you something."

Virginia W.: But, no, I don't think there's a way to make a secular cover school.

ColleenP (NH): Fair is where you go to ride the merrygoround, my grandmother would say. :-)

Capn Franko: Colleen FTW!

laura zurro: Good analogy Colleen.

Virginia W.: I avoid "fair". That's another overloaded word.

Sandra Dodd: Gratitude and abundance help, with thoughts of "freedom."
Sandra Dodd: I'm grateful I've never lived in a war zone.
Sandra Dodd: I'm grateful that we have a house and the ability to lock it up and not let anyone in who doesn't have a warrant. That's pretty cool.
Sandra Dodd: But God didn't do that, and it's not natural.

Virginia W.: I learned an interesting idea about those unwieldy, overloaded words on a site called

Sandra Dodd: I'm the recipient of lots of random factors, and some good luck, and years of not pooing in my own nest.

ColleenP (NH): The idea that god picks and chooses and gives some people freedom and some suffering seems so sad - seems (to me) that luck of the draw has a lot more to do with it than god.

Sandra Dodd: I'll hot-link that when/if I edit the chat, Virginia.
Sandra Dodd: If you put http:// before a link, though, it will light it up. Enliven it. It will liberate it! Give it wings!

Virginia W.: Cool. There's a lot of good mind tools there.

Sandra Dodd: When people say "Unschooling is freedom," it means they don't know, really, what to say about unschooling.

AlexPolikowsky joined the chat 

Sandra Dodd: It might be a factor in freedom from homework.
Sandra Dodd: Freedom from getting up at 6:30 to get a 7:15 schoolbus in the dark of freezing-ass winter.
Sandra Dodd: But it is not from or of or the creator of "FREEDOM."
Sandra Dodd: And I've used "freedom" in several articles and essays I've written, assuming that people would understand it in context and not tear it out, put it on a stick, and say I had told them to give their children FREEdom.

AlexPolikowsky: Freedom is not the goal of unschooling and there are many that will tell you unschooling is all about freedom.

Sandra Dodd: My children are about as free as they're going to get, honestly. Always have been. Yet there are all these real-life limitations and considerations.
Sandra Dodd: They're free to ignore them.

AlexPolikowsky: And they argue with you.

Sandra Dodd: And the state of New Mexico (county of Bernalillo and City of Albuquerque) are not only free, but OBLIGATED, to protect other residents from any over-reaching acts of wild "freedom."

Jill Parmer: A guy at the ALL MN conference thought the pinnacle of unschooling was ultimate freedom for your kids.

Marlo: I agree, Alex.

AlexPolikowsky: My kids are free from thinking grades make them better or worse.

Sandra Dodd: Within the context of the family, maybe so!
Sandra Dodd: For now, Alex. But other people are free to mention it for the rest of their lives. "What was your GPA?" That question comes up in casual conversations. :-)

Virginia W.: "Ultimate freedom"? Double abstraction!

Sandra Dodd: That was for Jill about the dad in MN, that within the context, compared to kids in school, his kids did have freedom.

AlexPolikowsky: I have said that unschooling attracts people that go against the norm and people that want to buck all kinds of conventions and systems, even good ones.

Sandra Dodd: :-)

Jill Parmer: There is a freeing feeling with unschooling, what other word could be used besides freedom?

Sandra Dodd: I think it needs qualifiers. Free from school. Free from pressures.

Jill Parmer: Ah.

Sandra Dodd: Liberated from the treadmill. Free of the assembly line.
Sandra Dodd: Free to play, free to dream, free to sleep late.
Sandra Dodd: There can be a LOT of freedom, but it comes from the parents, not from God and not from the universe.

AlexPolikowsky: I think our kids are freer than kids in school or school at home. To be themselves and do what they love. It is when Freedom is the end all and nothing else it taken in consideration like social norms, politeness, mindfulness, learning.

Sandra Dodd: And parents can get in trouble for giving kids too much freedom. (Virginia, this time "too many choices" can go there.)
Sandra Dodd: Because the parents don't have unlimited freedom.

Capn Franko: I'm free to go to Mars. There are just a few problems and constraints I have to overcome first.

Sandra Dodd: " social norms, politeness, mindfulness, learning"... property, biology, laws, gravity, the cost of hospitilization...

AlexPolikowsky: HA Frank!

Sandra Dodd: I'm free to go into a church and stab the music director, or at least try to. A guy did it here just last week!
Sandra Dodd: Now his freedom has ended abruptly.

Capn Franko: Was the music that bad? (grin)

AlexPolikowsky: I am trying to be serious because Jill is here and she keeps us on track Frank!

Sandra Dodd: The alleged perpetrator had reason to believe the guy was a freemason and a member of an anti-church conspiracy.

Colleen (NH) joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: It was a Catholic church, so I doubt the music was all that great.

Capn Franko: I'm free to disrupt your seriousness, Mrs. Polikowsky! Ha!

Sandra Dodd: I'm free to say that because I'm home all by myself and none of you can reach me to punch me, you several-of-you-Catholics )

AlexPolikowsky: I am trying to be a good girl Mr Maier!

Capn Franko: It's ok, I'm EX-Catholic.

Jill Parmer: I'm not free to boot any non-focused people here... I don't have moderator status. :-/

AlexPolikowsky: Free from gluten Mrs Dodd and Parmer! (inside joke here)
AlexPolikowsky: Ok, so I personally do not dislike the term Freedom but I think it has caused confusion and misunderstandings. Even for me in the beginning.

Sandra Dodd joined the chat
Sandra Dodd: For $36 a year, you'd think this room wouldn't have a big hole in the floor. I touched something and fell right out.
Sandra Dodd: I don't dislike the word at all. I like it. It's old. It's English.

AlexPolikowsky: But even when a discussion is very clear some people will take a word or expression and they will interpret in some way that was not intended.

Sandra Dodd: It's made out of parts related to domain, and domicile.

AlexPolikowsky: Do tell Mrs Dodd. I love when you tell stories.
AlexPolikowsky: About the word Freedom.

Capn Franko: Sandra, you fell through the subtext!

Sandra Dodd: Doh!

Jill Parmer: So... freedom and unschooling... People are free to bring their kids to the park, and free to not do anything when their kids hit others and/or throw sand at others. But ewwww, I don't wanna play with them.

Sandra Dodd: They make the subtext diagonal to the part you're supposed to read, y'know, so there are always holes.

AlexPolikowsky: Like trapdoors? HA

Sandra Dodd: Free is some old, old word from indo-european that has to do with peace, like free from danger free from war, I think.

Jill Parmer: Yes, Sandra, please go tell us about freedom being an old word and whats all related.

AlexPolikowsky: Yes.

Sandra Dodd: It's always a "from," when there's a "free."

Capn Franko: Yes. Classic subtext construction technique. Until it gets rotten, then you fall through. Darned rotten subtext.

Sandra Dodd: and "dom" means the place where you are.
Sandra Dodd: Stand in the place where you live (dom dom)

AlexPolikowsky: Interesting!
AlexPolikowsky: So not so free in someone else's space/domicile/property?

Capn Franko: I like that song.

Sandra Dodd: I do too.
Sandra Dodd: I usually like but today, for this, it's not very useful:
Sandra Dodd: freedom (n.) Old English freodom "freedom, state of free will; charter, emancipation, deliverance;" see free (adj.) + -dom. Freedom-rider recorded 1961, in reference to civil rights activists in U.S. trying to integrate bus lines. It has been said by some physicians, that life is a forced state. The same may be said of freedom. It requires efforts, it presupposes mental and moral qualities of a high order to be generally diffused in the society where it exists. [John C. Calhoun, speech, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 31, 1816]
Sandra Dodd: I have no idea what John C Calhoun is talking about, but it's probably not something the Libertarians would be liking.

laura zurro: Actually even in your own domicile you're free to do things unless you break the law or don't pay mortgage or taxes.

Sandra Dodd: Ah. This one has its cognates (other languages with parallel words from the same parent word): From Middle English freedom, fredom, from Old English frēodōm (“freedom, state of free-will, charter, emancipation, deliverance”), from Proto-Germanic *frijadōmaz (“freedom”), equivalent to free + -dom. Cognate with North Frisian fridoem (“freedom”), Dutch vrijdom (“freedom”), Low German frīdom (“freedom”), Middle High German vrītuom (“freedom”), Norwegian fridom (“freedom”).
Sandra Dodd
Sandra Dodd: Here's an example from that page:
Sandra Dodd: Every child has a right to freedom from fear and freedom from want.
Sandra Dodd: So a government or an inspiring write will say "every child has a right to..."
Sandra Dodd: Just like that!

AlexPolikowsky: So freedom has caused some people to read about unschooling and take it way too far. Like parents letting one child hit the other and then say "well he is free to be upset and lash out" or "free to express his emotions". I have seen that and it makes me very upset for both children.

Sandra Dodd: Yes.
Sandra Dodd: So it's worth being aware, those who are in positions to advise or organize or comfort other unschoolers, that use of the word "freedom" can be problematical at best, and riot-inciting at worst.

AlexPolikowsky: The child who is hit should have freedom from being hurt!

laura zurro: We had a lot of problems with that in our old unschooling group , people had different 
ideas of freedom and what it meant for how their kids acted towards other kids

Sandra Dodd: Especially if he's in his own home.
Sandra Dodd: Not so much freedom in a public place.
Sandra Dodd: So if someone had figured out that it was the word "freedom" that was getting kids hurt, more than the other kids, it might've helped.
Sandra Dodd: But one can't go around advertising for other unschoolers who aren't interested in freedom. That just won't work. :-)
Sandra Dodd: Maybe it will help to ask "Freedom from what" or "freedom to do what?"

Capn Franko: Great chat but I gotta go prep lunch for the gang. (And finish working on my musical orchestration). Y'all have fun. See some of you next week at LIFE is Good. I won't make chat cuz we'll be on the road. I'll try to catch y'all in two weeks.

Sandra Dodd: What's the comedy with the geeky Mormon teen?
Sandra Dodd: NO, Frank! No chats in future.
Sandra Dodd: Not until August.

Heather Booth: Bye Frank. See ya next week.

Sandra Dodd: Sorry.

AlexPolikowsky: Bye.
AlexPolikowsky: Do not know Sandra, sorry.

Capn Franko: Ok, then. Talk at y'all in August. Have a fun Summer.

Sandra Dodd: I mean you guys can come here and chat, but it won't be "the chat" unless some of you jump in and Make it Happen. You're all free to do that.

AlexPolikowsky: We have Freedom to chat here.

Sandra Dodd: Napoleon Dynamite.
Sandra Dodd: I went and found it. I didn't search for geeky Mormon teen movie, though that might've worked.
Sandra Dodd: I searched for "Vote for Pedro."

Heather Booth: That was a mormon teen movie?

Sandra Dodd: The quote I wanted to bring here, about freedom, is this:
Sandra Dodd: Kid on Bus: What are you gonna do today, Napoleon? Napoleon Dynamite: Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!
Sandra Dodd: Very Mormon kid, yeah.
Sandra Dodd: Some parents give kids freedom. To do what they want.

Virginia W.: I never got that he was Mormon.

Sandra Dodd: And then the parents feel that they are limiting the freedom if they make suggestions, or don't buy them a big snake.

AlexPolikowsky: Always?

Sandra Dodd: Where do you live, Virginia?
Sandra Dodd: (You don't have to tell us....)
Sandra Dodd: If you've been around Mormons or Mormon towns.... that was one.
Sandra Dodd: So in those cases, again, "freedom" confuses the parents.
Sandra Dodd: Always what?

AlexPolikowsky: Some parents give kids freedom. To do what they want.

Sandra Dodd: I don't know "always." I said "some."

AlexPolikowsky: Got it.

Sandra Dodd: A parent could arrange for their children to be free to ride a new bike, or to sleep in a cool tent, or to visit their cousins.
Sandra Dodd: But some parents seem to think kids should just be free to do (as Napoleon so lamely said) "whatever they feel like they wanna do."
Sandra Dodd: That's really not much freedom, if the child's range is limited by being home.
Sandra Dodd: So freedom (the word, the idea) once again creates confusion.

AlexPolikowsky: I like choices.

Sandra Dodd: I like rich life, lots of choices, new things, comfort things, variety.

AlexPolikowsky: Makes a person think.

Marlo: Yes, it does, and that isn't always easy - to come up with different choices to choose from.

Sandra Dodd: Marty just came in to show me he got a raise.

Colleen (NH): I think Freedom as a yardstick isn't useful, just Unschooling isn't so useful when used as a yardstick - like when people write "if I ask my child to take a shower, *is that unschooling*" - which is similar to "if I ask my child not to hit his brother, is that respecting his Freedom?" To me it's not about is it unschooling or is it freedom - it's about making choices that fit with your principals and how you want to live your life. Said me, who is asking my son to take a shower this afternoon since his grandmother is coming to visit :-)

Sandra Dodd: 3.5%, routine' he's been at target a year.
Sandra Dodd: Nice they gave him anything, since he was out for almost two whole months with a broken arm. They called it personal leave. That was nice of them.
Sandra Dodd: Colleen, you're right, but it's not easy.

Virginia W.: Alabama.

Sandra Dodd: It's not simple to explain it and it's not easy to do, but it does become plain and simple and effortless once people get through the initial confusion.

AlexPolikowsky: Yes Colleen!

Colleen (NH): It's not, especially when someone gets attached to an ideal - Unschooling, Freedom, or any other, I think.

Sandra Dodd: So you would recognize a Baptist town and a Baptist kid in a movie about Alabama, maybe. :-)

laura zurro: But wouldn't that be more coaching him on societal norms... Grandma coming, a shower to be fresh for visitors?

Sandra Dodd: By clues in what t-shirts he was wearing, or phrases he used or songs he hummed, perhaps.
Sandra Dodd: Maybe it's because I've visited lots of unschoolers, but it always surprises me when someone writes (with feeling and conviction) "We have the right to unschool our kids if we want to."
Sandra Dodd: No, we don't.

Colleen (NH): More, Laura, than what? Not sure I follow what you're asking - but I have seen people say asking a child to take a shower isn't unschooling and it isn't respecting freedom. To me, it's asking someone to take a shower, because Grandma likes showered children who are not stinky - it's not about freedom or unschooling in the moment of the shower :-)

AlexPolikowsky: Gosh I got to go help Brian. Would love to stay and will stay logged in but he needs help!

Sandra Dodd: And who's "we" anyway? Usually they're including a large discussion with people from 80 jurisdictions (50 states, ten provinces, some other nations).

AlexPolikowsky: Will come back to read.

Sandra Dodd: Bye, Alex
Sandra Dodd: Well yes.

laura zurro: That's what I meant Colleen!

Sandra Dodd: There comes the problem again. So first level of unschooling is academics, and finding fun ways for kids to learn non-schoolishly.
Sandra Dodd: Then comes "why should it end there, and what about health/nutrition?" and then comes radical unschooling.

laura zurro: I was trying to say that it wasn't about taking away freedoms but about coaching.

Heather Booth: I've met people who use the term "free range", as in they are free ranging their children and they tend to think that their kids have a right to do what ever they want to do, when ever they want to do it. Even if that means letting their three year old run around alone at a big conference.

Sandra Dodd: So when someone wants others to say "Yes! THIS is what unschoolers do! Welcome to our tribe," they will go for appearance, rather than substance.
Sandra Dodd: They will act like unschoolers (the way they think the other unschoolers are acting) and not BeCOME unschoolers.
Sandra Dodd: I loved Just Add Light today. Colleen's beautiful bird and that simple profound quote.
Sandra Dodd

Being a Mother

"If you are choosing to be a mother, move beyond playing at it, and *be* it."
—Pam Laricchia
Are You Playing the Role of “Mother”? by Pam Laricchia
(see also, if you're having fun,
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sandra Dodd:
"If you are choosing to be a mother, move beyond playing at it, and *be* it." —Pam Laricchia
Sandra Dodd: Running around whooping "Freedom!" while a child is "free" to be ignored and neglected isn't good for the family or for learning or for unschooling.

Colleen (NH): It was fun to see the bird this morning - made all three of us smile :-)

Virginia W.: Some of the "free range" stuff seems like cover for wanting kids to go do stuff alone and leave parents alone.

Sandra Dodd: Nobody got my apple joke on Just Add Light.
Sandra Dodd: Or maybe they did in the privacy of their own homes.
Sandra Dodd: I think I will start saying "free to do what?
Sandra Dodd: or "Free from what" when people casually use "free"
Sandra Dodd: But it really is a very hard concept.
Sandra Dodd: Most people are very uncomfortable when a conversation turns philosophical
Sandra Dodd: When I say they only have SOME freedom and it comes from the government, I'm like a big party-pooper.

laura zurro: Conferences seem to be a place full of the misguided ideas of freedom. Is it freedom to let your kid run around and throw chairs in the pool, or dump soda at hotel doors, etc, yet people let their kids do it under the guise of we're unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: Laura, did those things happen in Florida?!

laura zurro: Yep.

Virginia W.: I think there are people who leave their kids to flounder like that across most parenting styles.

Sandra Dodd: I don't think so.

laura zurro: The soda thing was actually announced and people were asked to keep an idea on their kids.

Jill Parmer: Yes, I like those, Sandra. "Free from what" and "free to do what."

Sandra Dodd: If a parent is a passed-out drunk, she's still going to want her kids to be quiet and out of trouble.
Sandra Dodd: People will use unschooling to release themselves from responsibility for their children's actions. That's not moral or legal or courteous or sensible.

Virginia W.: I think that people with authoritarian parenting styles try to do the same thing sometimes

Sandra Dodd: I really don't remember where, so don't anyone remind me, but there's a story of a family in a homeschooling group, on a field trip to a museum.
Sandra Dodd: They had changed from homeschooling to unschooling, and the kids went inside the ropes/barrier of a display, and the mom shrugged and said "We're unschoolers now."
Sandra Dodd: In what way would they do that, Virginia?

Virginia W.: I mean confused "unschoolers" are not the only people who neglect their children in exactly the way you describe.

Sandra Dodd: It cannot be so, because the way in which I described was that they say "We're unschoolers, so our children are free."

Virginia W.: The passed out drunk mom might want her children to be quiet and out of trouble, but her being passed out drunk is making it impossible for her to do anything about it.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe you've seen the children of authoritarian parents act crazy when the parents say "I better not catch you doing that," so the kids do it when the parent can't see.
Sandra Dodd: That's not the same thing.
Sandra Dodd: Which means you're missing the point.
Sandra Dodd: There are unschoolers
Sandra Dodd: who say "our children are free"
Sandra Dodd: and so they nearly encourage them to be wild and crazy, thinking that it makes them good unschoolers.
Sandra Dodd: The effect on the pool and the hotelroom door might be the same, but the thinking wasn't.

Virginia W.: The effect being the same was what I meant.

Sandra Dodd: You wrote: " I think that people with authoritarian parenting styles try to do the same thing sometimes"
Sandra Dodd: And they can't "blame" authoritarian parenting for their children's behavior.

Virginia W.: I meant absolve themselves of responsibility for the negative effects of what their kids do.

Sandra Dodd: I've never seen an authoritarian parent do that. I've seen them grab kids, shame them, hit them and ground them, remove privileges and blame the child.
Sandra Dodd: I've never seen one say "It's not my fault." The seem more often to think they're at fault for not having grounded and limited their children enough. :-/
Sandra Dodd: Unless they can blame poor supervision at school or camp or somewhere else.

Colleen (NH): Yes because if punishment and control don't work, try more punishment and control... (said me, sarcastically :-))

Virginia W.: They blame the child.

Sandra Dodd: Yes.
Sandra Dodd: Unschoolers don't. They rejoice in their "freedom."

laura zurro: And people unschooling and allowing their kids "freedom" might say, they're just exploring their boundaries, or being boys, or we don't do rules.

Sandra Dodd: Laura, I hope it wasn't so bad the hotel won't let the unschoolers use the site if they want to in future.
Sandra Dodd: Yikes. "We don't do rules" needs to stay home, and not in a rental house.
Sandra Dodd: We didn't "do rules" here, but my kids were not destructive or mean.
Sandra Dodd: If a hotel has rules, anyone who stays there is agreeing to those rules.
Sandra Dodd: (Hotels have rules. I don't even know why I said "if".)
Sandra Dodd: That was quite a laid-back hotel, too. :-)

Virginia W.: So you're saying these "unschoolers" who don't intervene when their kids do this stuff actually don't think there's anything wrong with what the kids are doing?

Sandra Dodd: Any questions about other topics, in our last quarter hour?

Virginia W.: I was confused.

Sandra Dodd: Yes, that's what we're trying to say.

laura zurro joined the chat
laura zurro: Sorry, computer crashed.

Virginia W.: I thought the attitude was "my kids are doing this wrong thing and unschooling makes it impossible for me to intervene."

Sandra Dodd: There are people who come to unschooling after other kinds of parenting, and they hear someone say "unschooling is freedom" and they don't find a good balance, they (the parents) do wild "out there" things just to prove they can, and they let their children behave badly because they believe somehow that it makes them better unschoolers.
Sandra Dodd: There's some of that too (your example about not intervening).
Sandra Dodd: But there are parents who seem proud when their kids are up way late making too much noise, or they'll brag about having taken their kids out for food, or to the store, or to a park, at midnight.

laura zurro: I don't know about hotel - I only know I stopped some boys ready to pull use some chaise lounges as a spring board and then dump them into pool = mid day when other kids were in pool

Sandra Dodd: So they didn't throw them in because you stopped them before they did?
Sandra Dodd: The effect is about the same, if the parent is proud of wildness, or if the parent feels helpless.

laura zurro: They had already started - one chair was in pool and the chaise was on the edge of the pool with one of the kids climbing on it. The worst thing is that two of the dads were just outside the fence watching/talking, not intervening.

Virginia W.: If I saw kids acting that way, I would think they were getting a lot of meanness at home.

Sandra Dodd: If I saw kids acting that way and they were unschoolers at an unschooling conference, I would ask them to stop, right then. I wouldn't care who their parents were.
Sandra Dodd: or I would say "You need to do this at home, with your own chairs, in your own pool."
Sandra Dodd: We had teen boys at the recent Minnesota event and they were SWEET, polite, and helpful.

laura zurro: Perhaps different conferences attract different unschoolers.

Sandra Dodd: I wouldn't think they were getting meanness at home. I would think they were being limited at home and had been let loose by parents who thought/imagined that kids should be allowed to just do anything they wanted to.
Sandra Dodd: I think that's true, Laura.
Sandra Dodd: Some are about learning, and some are parties.
Sandra Dodd: Some have learning as an excuse, kind of as an interruption of the party.
Sandra Dodd: Some are about learning, and at night there will be some partying. :-)

Virginia W.: I really want to take my family to an unschooling conference. I would be disappointed if it turned out like that.

Marlo: I've never been to a conference yet, and I know that I would want to be there for learning - not the partying.

laura zurro: I've heard the phrase "boys will be boys" used as an excuse.

Virginia W.: That's what I mean by meanness: limits, shaming.

Marlo: Yes, Laura, me too. I don't get that phrase.

laura zurro: Virginia those things can happen without limits or shaming as Sandra said.
laura zurro: Oops, sorry just misquoted Sandra.

Marlo: - as an excuse, I mean.

laura zurro: Sorry!

Virginia W.: At an unschooling conference, I would hope the dads would be playing with the kids.

laura zurro: I can speak to this because those same kids were in our local group and so I knew parents and kids.

Virginia W.: I can see parents ignoring their kids at my own YMCA any day.

Heather Booth: Was there any drinking at ALL? It seemed everyone was too happy staying up late to talk to bother with drinking.

Sandra Dodd: This last one? In the bar, a little, when kids were busy (in Minnesota).
Sandra Dodd: In Albuquerque, no—even though we had permission to have alcohol in the conference center, I didn't see any.
Sandra Dodd: People were playing games, telling stories, knitting, kids were playing chase

Heather Booth: Renee offered me some homemade wine when I couldn't warm up, but I didn't drink any.

laura zurro: How many famiiles were at ALL?

Heather Booth: That description made me smile Sandra. Your conference is so nice.

Virginia W.: I thought hard about going to that one.

Sandra Dodd: Thank you, Heather. We'll do another one this year, Virginia. I don't know if Joyce will be here, and I can't promise all my kids will be there.
Sandra Dodd: Which one, Laura?

Heather Booth: It's a nice one to go to. It's very calm and laid back. There is no running around to get to different sessions and because the whole thing takes place in one room, with the same group of people you get to know people.

laura zurro: I think that helps at a conference also, when you know the conference planners have the same principles and ideas. I might find it hard to go an unschooling conference run by people who espouse freedom because they are unschoolers

Sandra Dodd: There are usually about 20-30 families (some "families" just the mom)

laura zurro: MN

Jill Parmer: (started typing this a bit ago, and am at work) It was harder to make the choice to hang with my kids instead of chatting with the moms. I did it though, and I think it's one of my actions that has paid off nicely.

Sandra Dodd: Massachusetts, one in Santa Fe (SUSS), two in Albuquerque.
Sandra Dodd: Minnesota had a few more than this. I didn't add in one last family and one late mom-alone:
Sandra Dodd: As of April 23, we have 25 families. 15 dads 24 moms (plus Jill and Sandra and three grandmothers) 5 grandparents 22 girls 27 boys
Sandra Dodd: It's a good number, to have 80, 100 people and not more. People can all meet each other. Even introverts can get in on a conversation. :-) If they want to.

laura zurro: Do you have many details yet about ALL in NM?

Sandra Dodd: Dates, Laura. Hotel rates are the same.
Sandra Dodd: Here's my request: 
I would like to arrange a conference similar to 2011 and 2012, please. I would like to set up on Friday the 27th and use the rooms that evening. Our main days would Saturday (December 28) and Sunday (29), with Monday (30) our "goodbye" and clear-out day. As some people will be staying over that night, I would like to use the conference room (now storage and workspace) adjoining room 242, if it's available, or if not, to use The Sandia Room for the afternoon and evening of December 30? Although it was part of our contract the past two years, we haven't used it. This year, I would like to use it the day we're leaving, to move our equipment to, and for games on Monday evening for those who are still there. We don't need any set up for it at all, just the tables and chairs. If you have a New Year's Eve event, and if it's public, I could let my attendees know and some might want to stay. Thank you so much for your support and help! Sandra

Sandra Dodd: I'm hoping to do a trip to Sandia Crest on the tram for those who want to go to the top of a mountain.
Sandra Dodd: I need to get group rate information. It's on my list of things to do before I leave for England next week.
Sandra Dodd: The base of the tram is only about 10 miles from the conference center.
Sandra Dodd: Two turns.

laura zurro: Okay. We have it on our list of possibilities since Stephane's company is closed during that time. Just depends upon what happens with my surgery. New Mexico is definitely driveable
laura zurro: How much were hotel rooms last year?

Virginia W.: Bye

Marlo: Sandra, what is the cost for the ALL in NM?

Sandra Dodd
Sandra Dodd: Not sure yet, Marlo, but about $100 for one person and about $150 for three. I need to see what some other things are going to cost.

laura zurro: ooh you changed the look, I like it!

Marlo: Thank you :)

Sandra Dodd: Registration between $100 and $180 (for a big family) and rooms cheap
Sandra Dodd: That's last year's Laura. Changed it from what? :-)

Marlo: That sounds very doable - we're a family of 5, so that's even better!

Jill Parmer: Yes, to all...park days, conferences, ...

Sandra Dodd: Kids stay free and breakfast is free and we'll have snacky food out in the room all the time.
Sandra Dodd: Monkey platter table. :-)

laura zurro: Really? I don't remember it looking like that - maybe I'm thinking of the MN website. I love the photos of the conference on Catherine's blog page.

Jill Parmer: Laura, I meant hang by my kids, be available to them, etc at conferences or other gatherings.

Sandra Dodd: That's included.

Marlo: Bye, everyone! See you in August :) This chat was wonderful!

laura zurro: that's what I thought Jill :)

Sandra Dodd: There's the main page:
Sandra Dodd: If you scroll down, it's the sky above the mountains. but it just looks like some generic blue background.
Sandra Dodd: The mountains are gone. The credit for the photo is still there. :-)

Jill Parmer: I need to go, glad I got to be here today. Thanks all. Sandra, I'll miss you, have a safe, fun, enjoyable time in Europe. Lucky Marta! :)

laura zurro: I think I never saw the site much last year knowing that would have just moved. I love all the photos . I would love to go to MN, but I want to see New Mexico!

Jill Parmer left the chat

laura zurro: So no chats now until August?

Heather Booth: All right, I am off as well. Enjoy your summer :)

Colleen (NH): I'm off too - hope everyone has a great summer!
Colleen (NH) left the chat

Sandra Dodd: Next week there's a chat, and then no more for a while.

laura zurro: Ah okay phew!
laura zurro: Topic?

Sandra Dodd: Respect.

laura zurro: Okay great.

Sandra Dodd: I'll take those comments out.
Sandra Dodd: Keith and Holly and I had a great time...

laura zurro: We had a great time as well. You got to catch an cool.
laura zurro: I wish we could have stayed at the hotel, but being so close is what allowed us to even go.

Sandra Dodd: I hope you do get to come to Albuquerque. :-)

laura zurro: Me too!
laura zurro: Fingers crossed.
laura zurro: Okay I'm off to help with Minecraft.

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