page 21 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, October 12, 2011

What makes a really good teacher? Is there something natural to it? Interpersonal intelligence?

So when someone is a teacher, and comes to unschooling children at home, what are the advantages or the disadvantages?

What tricks might be worth knowing? Which are good to abandon?

PamelaCorkey: This topic is extremely salient for me - I am a teacher, professor of film production and screenwriting at a University. Just a few eeks ago I had to submit a long narrative (19 pages) talking about my teaching, my "research" (making movies and writing stories), service to the institution, etc. I have brought a lot of unschooling into my college classrooms and struggled to find a way to discuss it while also being politically, um, cautious.

Sandra Dodd: Were you a teacherish kid, Pamela?

PamelaCorkey: No. I was a wild rebel who chafed at authority. I was expelled from 3 schools before skipping high school and going straight to college.

Sandra Dodd: I didn't mean teacher-loving, but were you a kid who explained things to other kids, or that others came to.

Sandra Dodd: When I was nine I started being the sex-ed resource for my friends.

Sandra Dodd: I'm looking at unschooled kids and seeing the same traits that make good teachers in kids who never "had teachers."

PamelaCorkey: Not really. I was alone most of the time. We moved a lot and other kids thought I was weird.

Sandra Dodd: Jill, have you taught other things than skiing? Who else here has been "an instructor," formally, for money?

PamelaCorkey: My uschooled kid is just barely starting out. But that makes sense.

Sandra Dodd: I don't see it in all of them; didn't mean to say that.

PamelaCorkey: Do you think it is the result of having helpful, empathetic adults as models?

Sandra Dodd: Kirby is "a good teacher." He taught karate to the beginning kids' class for a couple of years, and would talk to me about why he was deciding to do what he did, compared to what the main sensei/owner had done.

Sandra Dodd: No, I think it's a personality trait some people have.

Alex P: MD is pretty good at showing others how to play games. Very well spoken that way. I have a video of him showing his sister how to play Kirby on the Wii that is cute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsIKAF9UPyY

Sandra Dodd: Probably the intersection of interpersonal and some kind of analytical/logic?

Jill Parmer: I did in home daycare, and saw how much the children learned by doing/playing. Some parents wanted their kids to go to a preschool at age three, in order to learn letters and numbers. It bummed me out because I was having fun with the kids, and they were learning anyway.

Sandra Dodd: Kirby used to work at a gaming shop with a motto "we teach the games we sell," and he was their best "teacher."

PamelaCorkey: I see a lot of schooled kids are competitive with other kids -- they don't have the mindset of trying to help a peer who might be seen as a competitor. That's a generalization, of course. And many do not interact much with kids older or younger than they.

Alex P: I think MD would do great with that Sandra.

Jill Parmer: I show anyone who wants to learn, how to knit. I really like sharing information.

Sandra Dodd: I think that's another good point, and probably a factor, Pamela. Even kids who might be inclined to help are in a competitive environment here "helping" skirts "cheating"--a big crime.

Sandra Dodd: I see Keith being NOT a good teacher, in lots of areas. Holly, not so much either. Impatient.

Jill Parmer: I see my kids helping others, and excited about others' accomplishments. It was weird to me the first few times I saw them do that, because it is so not school behavior.

Sandra Dodd: They're helpful but more inclined to just do something for someone than to figure out a good way to help them.

PamelaCorkey: I love my job. Unschooling has made me a much better at it. Over the last 18 months I have significantly revamped my syllabus to being far more respectful of my students and their desire to learn.

Alex P: Brian, my husband, likes to explain things and does a very good job doing so. One of my best "teachers" was a dog handler I came to live and work for in the US when I was 16. She was awesome at explaining why of grooming or whatever it was related to showing dogs. I learned so much with her. She is fantastic. I worked for her for many years on and off.

Sandra Dodd: That was nice, Alex, the video.

Alex P: Same here Jill, specially MD is great at helping others.

Jill Parmer: Interesting Pamela. I've thought of teaching after my kids don't need me so much for unschooling, but I wonder if I'd go in and be saddened/overwhelmed with the state of that.

Alex P: Thanks Sandra, he was sweet and patient with her.

PamelaCorkey: There is a really horrible adversarial dynamic between teachers and students in college. On the first day, the professor will rattle off all of the rules and punishments - deadlines, penalties for missed classes, no cellphones, etc. It's a strange way to start a relationship with someone you hope to mentor, although I guess that is the standard model. The acolyte has to take their lumps and subjugate themselves to the master.

Sandra Dodd: I want to use writing as an analogy, for something about teaching. People will say "I want to be a writer when I grow up," or "I'm a freelance write" or whatever, when they seem not to write at all for fun.

Jill Parmer: Do you do that differently, Pamela?

Sandra Dodd: And people who ARE clearly writing, lots, usefully, and well, will not say "I'm a writer." Because "writing" is a job people get paid for, so it seems dishonest for someone to say "I'm a writer" unless they can answer "What have you written?"

Jill Parmer: Writing is such a sore spot for me. That is one of the schooling things I remember and being upset about. And yet I'd like to be able to get words out easily. And I've gotten good responses from people who've seen my small amount of writing. I have fun, but there's a huge mental stuckness to get over.

Sandra Dodd: -=-The acolyte has to take their lumps and subjugate themselves to the master.-=- Do you think that might be too harsh a way to say that someone who's helping others doesn't have to take crap from them?

Sandra Dodd: In a university environment, especially, people pay for a certain number of hours of the attention of someone who's been vetted to be an expert in a field. They don't have time to get to know each other in any sort of natural human way.

PamelaCorkey: Jill, my students just light up when they hear that the class is there for them and that I will be flexible and respectful in offering my services. Since I relaxed policies and focused on their learning, I have been amazed at how much harder they work, how much more invested. My office hours are always packed! So it's a happy thing.

Jill Parmer: Wow Pamela. That is so awesome.

Alex P: Talking about taking crap. MD had a friend that used to play Minecraft with him in his server and talk on Skype. He was an online gaming friend. I think the kid was a year younger. But this kid would get mad and nasty so he simply ignores him now.

Sandra Dodd: Just yesterday, Holly's boyfriend was talking about high school teachers saying to make sure phones are silenced. They can't take them away anymore in the public school, just because they see one. The restaurant we were in had a list of rules for cellphone use. Vibrate, speak quietly, keep conversations to a minimum. It's not "no cellphones," because they're in a business district and are encouraging people to meet there.

PamelaCorkey: Sandra, it is harsh way to say that, but I find that many of my colleagues enter into the dynamic expecting "crap." I get much less crap since I started to be more accommodating.

Alex P: That is cool Pamela about your students.

Sandra Dodd: I don't think there's ever been a rule made in the world that wasn't made because someone pushed, hurt someone, took advantage. THEN a rule is made against that action (one that's already happened). I think they have experienced crap (or once dished it out) and so they hope (falsely) to prevent or punish it by stating rules. It doesn't really work.

Jill Parmer: Sandra wrote **Do you think that might be too harsh a way to say that someone who's helping others doesn't have to take crap from them?** I don't think the helper or the helpee should give crap to each other, I think the helper should be a great enough teacher to see how/what the student needs.

Sandra Dodd: I think there's an aspect of teaching that involves nothing more than noticing what another person can already do, and what they want to be able to do, and try to bridge that gap with coaching or information.

PamelaCorkey: This is an example of an email I got this summer from a colleague:

While working on my syllabi, I've been trying to formulate appropriate wording for policies dealing with cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc. in the classroom. Here's what I have so far. Anyone have any suggestions? ----------------------- CELL PHONE POLICY: Use of your cell phone during class is rude, disrespectful and distracting. Therefore, PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE before the start of class! Also, do not keep it on your desk – put it away. During class, if your phone rings or you are caught texting, you will have to turn your phone in to Dr. XXXXX immediately. You may also be asked to leave the classroom.
PamelaCorkey: There is a nice way to ask for people to do something. I did not abolish all policies in my classes, I just thought harder about them and whether or not they were based on real concerns, or just about being authoritarian. The ones I have, I explain respectfully.

PamelaCorkey: I have no cell phone policy and have almost never had a problem in over 10 years of teaching.

Jill Parmer: You could say, if your phone calls are more important than being in class, you don't have to be here.

Jill Parmer: Oops, think I misread.

Jill Parmer: Oh it's your colleague looking for help from you.

PamelaCorkey: yeah, exactly, Jill. I would never speak (or write) to someone whose respect I was hoping to have in the above manner.

PamelaCorkey: I agree totally with the last thing Sandra said.

Sandra Dodd: I've seen tons of times people say "oh!" admiringly if someone who is a teacher or professor talks about unschooling, even if they were disdainful of the same explanations from someone who is "not a teacher."

Rebecca Allen: What Sandra said -=- I think there's an aspect of teaching that involves nothing more than noticing what another person can already do, and what they want to be able to do, and try to bridge that gap with coaching or information.-=- is so much better than trite praise.

Sandra Dodd: So former teachers get a free pass from others, regarding unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: Some of them are WAY better unschoolers, right up front, than others, if they've been thinking about learning and information and assisting learners for years.

Sandra Dodd: it's those teachers who have pro-teacher bumper stickers and love their lessons plan books who have a harder time with unschooling.

PamelaCorkey: I have certainly benefitted from that. It's like I'm "passing" for schooling.

Alex P: Because my mom is a former teacher and Montessori teacher people always think she is teaching my children as she spends many months a year in my house.

Sandra Dodd: But even if they move toward unschooling and are doing it with difficulty, they're still assumed "to know what they're doing." So it can be a blessing and a curse, being a teacher.

Sandra Dodd: (as regards unschooling)

Sandra Dodd: A long time ago I did a talk at a couple of conferences called "What Teachers Know that You Don't Know."

Sandra Dodd: It was a good way to get people in there to talk to them about unschooling, and about how much of "professional teaching" has nothing to do with real teaching.

PamelaCorkey: I have noticed that, just as it is at home with unschooling, approaching teaching college from this difference mindset is more time and effort and at the same time much more pleasurable (less conflict).

Alex P: I am going to change computers as Gigi wants to play Barbie online

Jill Parmer: difference mindset, Pamela? What do you mean, or can you say more?

Sandra Dodd: Some professors and teachers set up an antagonistic challenge, based on "you'll probably fail, but..."

Sandra Dodd: And I think Pamela's talking about how different it is to feel you're their partner in learning. More work, but less "harsh"

PamelaCorkey: I meant different mindset -- meaning, looking at my students as people who want to learn things that I can offer them instead of viewing them as lazy, immature, and grudgingly present.

PamelaCorkey: Right, Sandra.

Jill Parmer: Ah, I see.

Sandra Dodd: There are homeschooling parents who have that same "you'll have to prove to me that you deserve an A" thing with their own children, in their own homes.

Sandra Dodd: Because people are afraid of teachers, and also kind of don't like them (sometimes the same people, sometimes different people

PamelaCorkey: Ironically, I have to grade them and since I am on the tenure track, the administration is looking at my stats. If I give too many A's, I'll be called to account for it and told my course is not rigorous enough.

Sandra Dodd: the same reason they will say "Okay" and not ask any more about unschooling, sometimes they will assume that that "teacherliness" (the bad parts, mostly) are what homeschooling involves.

PamelaCorkey: As Sandra has said many times, the system insists on failure. If I don't fail a few kids, I'm doing something wrong!

Jill Parmer: That is so sad, to me.

PamelaCorkey: I can't wait to get tenure. I will have much greater flexibilty. Grading is such an asinine way to provide feedback. Not at all helpful.

Sandra Dodd: So part of what I wanted to talk about today was teaching itself--that it exists outside of paychecks and job titles, and there are people WITH titles and checks who aren't really teachers in the ideal-facilitation way.

Jill Parmer: Teachers have so much power over minds. I read on Post Secret recently about a person making a living working as an artist, and still every time she/he does art, she/he still hears that first teacher saying, "you scribble" in a derogatory way.

Rebecca Allen: Parents have a similar power in that way, Jill. Those stinging words can stick around a long time when they come from someone whose approval you're seeking.

Sandra Dodd: I figure looking at the good parts of teaching and the parts that are more about group management, administration, accountability and all that will help unschoolers find clarity about how they can and should help their kids learn.

Sandra Dodd: The seeing, knowing and assisting parts are good to keep. The assuming, controlling and shaming part is not good to keep

PamelaCorkey: One component of good teaching is clarity. Some people are just good at rephrasing complex things in simple ways. They are translators, to some extent. The can grasp both sides -- the difficult concept and the learner's struggle to understand.

PamelaCorkey: Also, knowing when to stop talking.

alexPoliwsky: sorry old computer! It took a long time!

Jill Parmer: Curiosity and digging for information are good things to keep. Find more ideas and such for your kid. Laying out the smorgasbord.

Jill Parmer: I think also people can help by sort of being a cheerleader or an encouraging person, in the sense of asking questions of the kids or encouraging them to say more about their ideas.

alexPoliwsky: I like how MD likes to play with words and is witty wiht them. Gigi is making a book right now. She tells me to write and I do. SHe makes the drawings. It is all about cows and cow breeding and dairy cows

Sandra Dodd: Alex, she's writing what she knows.

Sandra Dodd: So many people "want to write" and they think they will write about what they want to read about. But they should write about what they know so well that they can describe it in every sensation.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe that applies to teaching, too, I guess.

alexPoliwsky: Yes she is and anyone would be amazed. She is pretty amazing in her knowledge about cows! She loves to be with her dad and soaks up all!

Sandra Dodd: The things I know most about, the things I love most, I have shared with my kids in a deeper and more personal way than the things I just vaguely know about, and help them look up online or somewhere.

alexPoliwsky: I like that Sandra, "So well they can describe in every sensation"

Sandra Dodd: But although I'm willing to share about the history and trivia of English words, or about Renaissance music or whatever, I don't plan to impart everything I know to them. I just get excited when they're curious. I do know when to stop.

Sandra Dodd: I notice when I went past the place I should've stopped. That's good to practice, too. "Sorry--I said more than you wanted to hear."

Sandra Dodd: That's better than "You really ought to listen; I know more..."

Rebecca Allen: Pamela wrote -=-Also, knowing when to stop talking.-=- I witnessed this recently with an adult showing another adult how to do something. The "teacher" was going too fast for the learner to absorb the information. The person was just going through the steps of what the teacher was saying without actually understanding what she was doing. It seemed like the teacher was more attached to being the person to show than actually helping the person learn.

alexPoliwsky: It is just weird when a kid asks a question and an adult talks to them like they are "teaching them" even their tone and intonation is different than they would use if answering another adult. It is condescending.

Sandra Dodd: Some people are way WAY pushy. I was walking a woman out of my house one day, trying to get rid of her as politely and as pointedly as I could. I was 22 or so; she was 40's, and a teacher (as I was). She had delivered some art of her husband's to my house for some reason I forget now.

Sandra Dodd: We were talking about dinner or something chit-chatty and she said I could make some red chile sauce, and I said I didn't know how to. She said "YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE RED CHILE SAUCE!?"

Sandra Dodd: It's a New Mexico thing.

Sandra Dodd: She marched past me into my kitchen and started getting stuff down and making this sauce. I didn't want any. I wanted her gone. I couldn't figure out how to say so.

Sandra Dodd: I thought of that last week when I made some red chile sauce.

Jill Parmer: Wow. That is pushy.

Sandra Dodd: It's like making gravy, in Texas.

ColleenPrieto: I taught (preschool) for 10ish years before I became a mom - but I was a very unschooling-inspired teacher (if that's not an oxymoron) from the start - I got asked to leave a job once because I didn't believe in lesson plans I believed in children playing and interacting in a classroom rich with materials

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, then unschooling gets to be healing for you in more ways than one, maybe! (Me, too.)

PamelaCorkey: I have become very very sensitive to having an agenda that is indifferent to the agenda of the person I'm teaching. Oscar can instantly tell when I have an agenda and he withdraws. My college students do, too.

ColleenPrieto: absolutely - whenever I think of college professors telling me children need curricula etc. to learn, I smile and know how wrong they are

Jill Parmer: Since reading unschooling lists, I've become amazed and shocked when people have such old backward ideas...like that playing and learning is less important than lesson plans.

Sandra Dodd: So unschooling can be healing for teachers. That's one of the points I had wanted to make.

alexPoliwsky: When we were at the Renaissance festival a girl , not older than 20 , started quizzing Gigi about how much change she was getting back when buying her wand. Gigi just shrugged off and then the girl said " Oh you will be back on school Monday and learn that"

Jill Parmer: That's really fascinating, Pamela. And I've seen many people say that on lists, that kids/people know right away when someone goes into to teaching mode.

Patti: I'm Patti. I'm new. I'm hoping unschooling will be healing for my 12 yo daughter and for me.

Andrea: Pamela said this earlier: **Some people are just good at rephrasing complex things in simple ways. They are translators, to some extent. The can grasp both sides -- the difficult concept and the learner's struggle to understand** This describes my husband. And ColleenPrieto's husband, too, I think.

alexPoliwsky: This is for a child that spends literally hours a day asking about numbers and what is this plus that. She asks and is pretty good about knowing a lot of it . We just answer her . And she goes: What is 6 + 6 ? We say 12 and she says "Oh that is half a day!"

Andrea: Translating is something they naturally do.

PamelaCorkey: It's a tricky distinction, though. You can be describing something and people can be fascinated, or you can be describing something and they can be bored or indifferent. The difference is whether or not the information is relevant to THEM.

Sandra Dodd: Patti, are you or were you ever a teacher? Or are you a good instructor when you do try to explain things to people?

Sandra Dodd: (That's kind of where we started the chat.)

Jill Parmer: That's when you are explaining to more than one person, right, Pamela? Because it makes sense that some would find it fascinating, and some would find it boring.

Sandra Dodd: It's like having a conversation, Pamela. I might be charming and clever but if nobody in the room wants to talk about that thing, or it's out of the blue, totally non sequitor, I'm not really conversing.

ColleenPrieto: translating yes my husband is an engineer, but in his heart I think he's a teacher - but the sort of teacher who teaches you something without you ever realizing you're being taught - I think that's a talent some people definitely are born with

Sandra Dodd: Helping people think.

Andrea: I agree, Colleen

Sandra Dodd: Nudging them away from the dark and dopey toward the clear and sensible.

alexPoliwsky: The only thing I have professionally been an instructor off is DOG Grooming! HA!

Patti: Was a college teacher. I think I was good at student-led classes. I'm not particularly good at working with my daughter, which pains me and I am trying to learn from you and from the list

Sandra Dodd: Patti, are you moving straight from school to unschooling or from school at home or what?

PamelaCorkey: Yes, Sandra. And unfortunately this can become maddening/mind numbing when the person is ostensibly in charge of the topic! As a teacher, it's very tempting to grandstand.

alexPoliwsky: I agree Colleen. Brian is good at "teaching " too. he is really good at explaining things clearly.

Jill Parmer: My husband, Steve, likes to talk to me about work sometimes. And he is really really good at explaining computer engineering stuff in terms of knitting and other things I can relate to.

Sandra Dodd: So when a person who doesn't feel confident about "teaching" can think of what helps and what doesn't help, that will help with unschooling.

Patti: Been homeschooling for 5 years- switching from unschooling to fear and then curricula and all over the place

Sandra Dodd: I know when we talk about natural learning it's WAY helpful to avoid "teach/teacher" altogether, so that people get that we're talking about learning, learning together, helping people learn.

Sandra Dodd: But those who are good natural teachers can be especially good at that.

ColleenPrieto: my husband facilitates a homeschool chess club, and I saw him simultaneously relate chess to money for one child, and dance to another, to meet their interests and learning styles - it can be magical to watch things like that just click for kids!

Sandra Dodd: And those are aren't can, with a little analysis of what they've seen and experienced, clean out their own tool boxes as to being "learning facilitators"

Jill Parmer: That's awesome, Colleen, and I bet it is exciting to watch.

alexPoliwsky: and those are aren't can, _ Sandra I did not get that?

Andrea: And he explained it completely differently to me, Colleen.

Sandra Dodd: Let's see if we can help Patti a bit. It's likely to be on topic, and that page wasn't very long in that book.

PamelaCorkey: I think using the term "teach" is perfect for when someone asks another to help them learn something because they have the knowledge already. In our first year of unschooling Oscar didn't ask me to teach him practically anything -- he was healing from having information shoved down his throat.

Sandra Dodd: -=- and those are aren't can, _ Those who aren't good natural teachers can become better by looking at what helps and what hurts.

reneecabatic joined the chat

PamelaCorkey: Now, he is slowly coming out of his shell like a curious little turtle. Now that he trusts me and himself a little more.

alexPoliwsky: OK thanks. I see now.

Sandra Dodd: [quoting Pamela from above]-=-I think using the term "teach" is perfect for when someone asks another to help them learn something because they have the knowledge already. -=- If money is changing hands, that's fine with me. But if someone is wanting help to learn something, rather than voluntary obligating himself to a long course of "instruction".... best to say "I can help you learn that."

Sandra Dodd: Patti, Are you resolved to just move toward unschooling and are you done with the fear and the curriculum?

Patti: I'm here. It's like reading Greek but I'm here

Patti: I'm totally resolved at this point and I've got my husband on board, and daughter says yes

Sandra Dodd: How many times have you thought (or told your daughter) you were going to be unschooling, and then changed your mind?

Patti: none

Sandra Dodd: What part is like reading Greek?

Patti: the part about money changing hands

Patti: but just because I've not used the word unschooling with my daughter before doesn't mean I have not yanked her around a lot

Patti: right now she just wants to be left alone and I can't blame her

Sandra Dodd: We were talking about "being a teacher" (professionally paid) and being naturally good at teaching.

Patti: I get that

Andrea: How old is your daughter, Patti?

Patti: 12

Sandra Dodd: Pamela was defending using the term "teaching" if someone asks to learn something someone else knows.

Sandra Dodd: I think it's still better to call it "helping them learn," unless they're paying you to teach them (in which case you have an obligation to deliver some results). If someone asks me to teach them to play guitar, and I take money, I really need to try to get them some results.

PamelaCorkey: Patti, my son, who just turned 13, was the same way. I nurtured him with peace and food and comfort and responded generously to his expressed needs.

Sandra Dodd: If they ask me to show them some stuff, then I can show them and be done with my obligation.

Sandra Dodd: That's why I said "if no money changes hands."

Patti: I wish she wanted more

PamelaCorkey: Sandra, why the distinction with money and results?

Andrea: She will!

Sandra Dodd: I just explained it.

Jill Parmer: She's had too much, Patti, I think. That's why she just wants to be left alone is my guess.

Sandra Dodd: Helping someone learn, the learning is theirs to do or not do, to ask for more of or to think "Okay, enough for today."

Patti: yes

PamelaCorkey: Hmmm. I need to think about it more.

Patti: I think I need to keep my yearnings on my side of the street. They belong to me. Not her

Sandra Dodd: Teaching for money brings an obligation, for them to feel like they got their money's worth.

PamelaCorkey: Patti, why do you wish she wanted more? A big part of deschooling for me was to stop focusing on what I wanted, and get still and observe what my child wanted.

Patti: I want to "connect" with her

Patti: I want her to "find Joy"

Patti: blah blah

Sandra Dodd: First she needs to find recovery, probably.

Patti: what I want

Sandra Dodd: Deschooling.

Sandra Dodd: She needs a new starting point.

PamelaCorkey: What has she been doing lately?

Patti: playing sims and watching psych

Patti: likes piano lessons and cake decorating

PamelaCorkey: Does she mind if you are around when she's doing those things?

Sandra Dodd: How long since your last lesson/pressure/homescho oling, Patti? Days? Weeks? Months?

Patti: a month and she's right here right now on the computer

Sandra Dodd: A month isn't long enough.

Patti: another computer

Sandra Dodd: You know that in the way that you could answer it on a test, I suppose. But there's "knowing" to recite, and "knowing" to believe.

Sandra Dodd: If you try to bypass deschooling, you will not move forward faster. You'll move backwards.

Sandra Dodd: You connect with your own interests. YOU find joy. Do things that don't involve her, clean out closets, sew or cook or play music or whatever your hobbies used to be, or what your hobbies are. Rent some movies just to watch for yourself. She's 12. You can watch some things you don't try to press her to watch too.

Jill Parmer: Yeah, that's what I was thinking, Patti needs a new project; which is not her kid.

Patti: I think I'm afraid that deschooling is going to last forever since we've done it off and on for a few years now- in between my bouts of being pushy and trying to make her do stuff

Sandra Dodd: "I think I'm afraid" is the important part of what you wrote.
What if it DOES "last forever"?
What if you've done damage?
What's the alternative?

Alex P: What did your deschooling look like? and how long they lasted?

PamelaCorkey: What do you think unschooling will be like if it works for you and her?

Sandra Dodd: Pamela, that doesn't seem like a useful question, honestly.

Sandra Dodd: Any projection of what should be is aiming away from the present moment.

Patti: she will start smiling again and be interested in something besides tv?

Sandra Dodd: And if she "sets a goal" or has an image of what it will be like, that won't be helpful if it's different when she gets there.

Patti: kk

Sandra Dodd: It's important to start to live by the hour and not by the year. And then by the minute.

PamelaCorkey: I was wondering why Patti started and stopped -- what prompted her to go back to curriculum etc in the past.

Sandra Dodd: But everyone who starts and stops does it for the same reasons. They don't wait long enough for natural learning to start to work. So they assign some more "lessons." It's the same every time in a hundred thousand.

Alex P: What is wrong with TV? I watched a lot of TV at 12, that and I read a lot of books starting at that age.

ColleenPrieto: does she smile now, when she's playing sims or decorating cakes? Because both those things sound like fun!

Sandra Dodd: Deschooling has never taken forever.

PamelaCorkey: I understand. Some people think natural learning will look like spontaneously asking to study math. If they don't see that, they think it's failing. That's why I asked. Sandra Dodd: Deschooling and hanging around with unschoolers (online, in this case, I think) will not lead toward looking for requests for math lessons.

Patti: I am thinking of coming to the december conference because I think the problem here is me and I need to talk it out

Patti: I want her to love science the way I did

Sandra Dodd: Maybe taking a half hour to read and then going off to do it without help can lead to all kind off dead ends, but helping in the moment needs to involve looking at the moment.

Patti: but if memory serves I didn't love science until college

Sandra Dodd: Patti, what does "love science" mean, if you use it in the past tense?

Sandra Dodd: You loved science but you don't anymore?

Patti: still love it but also involved in other things

Patti: just remembering the discovery I guess is why past tense

Sandra Dodd: Alex asked about this. Everyone stop here for a moment, please: "Patti: she will start smiling again and be interested in something besides tv?:

Sandra Dodd: The best place to discover or to love science these days is TV.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe Pamela's question was a good one.

Patti: yes

Sandra Dodd: If you think deschooling looks like a kid not watching TV anymore, that's a problem.


Alex P: Wouldn't you be happy if she loves something else that is not science? Why does it have to be science? What if she loves arts more? (like cake decorating, tv-yes tv and movies are art)

Patti: It's my own issue. I just want her to smile. I don't care what she smiles about. She is processing quite a few losses and I think I just need to let her be

Sandra Dodd: My site and Joyce's have become kind of like dispensaries or pharmacies for unschooling problems. Patti, I think it will help if you poke around the TV section--read about violence and monsters, even though your daughter is 12; definitely read the one about cooking. You can start there and go back into the rest from links at the bottom.

Sandra Dodd: /t/holly

PamelaCorkey: I sold an original tv series to ABCFamily two years ago. I got paid well and it is helping me secure tenure as a professor of film. I love TV. It's a huge part of my life.

PamelaCorkey: Oh, and both of my parents are scientists. And I love science, too.

Sandra Dodd: The background is the best part of that page. (For me, I mean; I was happy to have learned to do that.)

Sandra Dodd: Pamela, is it still on TV? Are you on IMDB?


PamelaCorkey: No, it never made it on the air. It was a vehicle for Mario Lopez and they dumbed it WAAAY down. Didn't get picked up.

ColleenPrieto: TV - I'm thinking of shows like Ace of Cakes - if you sat and watched something like that yourself, or had it in the background while she was on the computer, it might lead to conversation or connection...

Sandra Dodd: So the Pamela Corkey on IMDB isn't you? bummer.

PamelaCorkey: I am on imdb. And have a feature on Netflix.

Sandra Dodd: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1125602/ 'zis you?

PamelaCorkey: Yup, that's me!

Sandra Dodd: http://www.netflix.com/RoleDisplay?perso...

Sandra Dodd: Okay! Cool.

Sandra Dodd: Patti, another "treatment" I want to recommend is reading some typical days, but here's the warnings label:

Sandra Dodd: Don't think that these parents turned the TV off and "made" their kids do ANY of those things. That's NOT how it works.

Sandra Dodd: /typical

PamelaCorkey: That last link is to a film I'm in, but didn't direct. Here is the one I made: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Easy_L...

Patti: thank you

Jill Parmer: I think another warning label to typical days is....those days happened, but its not what happened every day for many days.

Sandra Dodd: But those are what good days not only "can" look like but HAVE looked like, and that's important to know, too.
It's not fantasy.
It's not fiction.
There have been days here that were so hoity-cool I wouldn't have reported them because people wouldn't even have believed it.
And there have been days where nobody did anything discernable from the outside. Very quiet, people in the house, pajamas, forgot to feed the cats...

Sandra Dodd: Generally they're right in between those two.

ColleenPrieto: I can say that my 8 year old and I watched a good 4 hours of TV together today (including the movie Megamind - oh goodness - awesome one!) - then we went outside and played beach ball catch, played with our dogs, and had lunch - all in pajamas. That's one of many, many versions of a "typical day" here at our house - some days are definitely more impressive (from the outside looking in) than others

Rebecca Allen: -=-She is processing quite a few losses and I think I just need to let her be-=- That's significant.

Sandra Dodd: I saw that too but hesitated to ask without more time. I don't think "just let her be" is ideal, unless you were thinking about educational pressure.

Sandra Dodd: There should be nothing that looks like school at all, five or six more months.

Patti: just let her be about educational pressure is what I meant

Sandra Dodd: But there's a world of relationship between a mother and daughter that has nothing to do with "subject matter."

Sandra Dodd: Let that totally dissolve in to the substance of life--of your OWN life--to the point that you can't think of things like "I want her to love science the way I did."

Patti: I'm probably doing what I should be doing with the losses. I wait for her to bring them up and then I let her talk and answer questions she has and love her

Sandra Dodd: "Science" isn't a thing, outside of school. Science is a way of thinking and seeing.
Sandra Dodd: When someone claims to love science, it often means they like science more than history, math or language arts. You need to move really far from those kinds of thoughts before you can even see what you yourself liked about "science."

Sandra Dodd: Science IS all about history, and vice versa. They can't really be separated. And these days can be as hard to separate them from politics and economics as it was sometimes in the Middle Ages to separate them from religion.

Sandra Dodd: While your daughter is recovering, maybe you could spend time thinking about those ideas. Find science in the real world, for yourself--not for your daughter. Don't talk about it to her.

Patti: That part is not greek to me

Sandra Dodd: This is an explore that will benefit you.

Sandra Dodd: Because your daughter is 12 but you're probably in your 30's and went to school for 12 or 15 or 18 years.

Rebecca Allen: Cooking and cake decorating involve science. Talking about the science of it could take the joy out of the cooking and cake decorating.

PamelaCorkey: We have been talking a lot about the link between science and magic and early alchemy because we are watching the TV show Merlin. Amazing what comes up.

Sandra Dodd: That's way more deschooling time due for you than for your daughter.

Patti: Science was an example. I love learning, reading, exploring, am an artist and like to write- I thought she would just love all that because she's so exposed to my husband and I who are avid life learners

Sandra Dodd: No person loves ALL of science--nobody loves the chemistry of geology equally with the diseases of elm trees or the production of flexible but heat-resistant plastics. It's just too big a field.

Sandra Dodd: -=-I thought she would just love all that because she's so exposed to my husband and I who are avid life learners-=-

Sandra Dodd: Beware "just." As used in that quote, "just" jumps out.

Patti: that's the thing I see too

Sandra Dodd: Up to this point, maybe "exposed" to her parents is accurate.

Patti: ?

ColleenPrieto: in a chat a while back someone used the phrase "without attachment to outcomes" - I have that quote sticky-noted on my computer screen - it can be a helpful reminder to enjoy - be life learners - share your passions by living them - but do so without attachment to outcomes

Sandra Dodd: From this point on (or from next Spring on) a partnership would be a way better image than being exposed to others' lives.

Patti: yes colleen that's the issue isn't it

Sandra Dodd: If the three of you can come to live a shared life, THEN your "avid life learners" aspect can affect her.

Sandra Dodd: Somehow, I'm guessing, you've been seeing you and your husband on one side, as one sort of being, and her as a different one?

PamelaCorkey: One of my best friend's mothers is an intellectual -- a sculptor, writer, and academic. My friend loves fashion and music and social events. She does not feel like her mother likes her or values her. They see each other rarely. My friend is 44 and it still saddens her.

Patti: not consciously. I don't see it. But it's possible

ColleenPrieto: "just be" is too simple because as Sandra has pointed out that can lead to neglect and such - but if you can be and live and love without aiming toward a predefined outcome, I think you're one step closer to happiness

Sandra Dodd: No, not consciously, but you were homeschooling her, and it wasn't working out so well (because if it had been, you wouldn't be here).

Patti: yes, that I am keenly aware of

Sandra Dodd: So somehow there was antagonism or separateness, otherness. You weren't her partner so much as you can be once unschooling starts to work well, in a few months.

Patti: yes

Sandra Dodd: We can help you! Have you joined any discussion lists, like yahoo lists?

Patti: I'm very grateful for the time you all have spent today

Patti: I'm on your always learning

Sandra Dodd: Okay. If you have questions as you're moving toward deschooling, that would be a good place to ask them.

Sandra Dodd: Good!

Jill Parmer: Thanks for the great chat, all. We're heading up to Rocky Mountain National Park to saunter and watch the elk, and listen to them bugle.

Patti: Thank you

PamelaCorkey: Best of luck, Patti. So long, everyone and thanks for the chat.

Jill Parmer: See you next week.

Marta BP: thanks everyone, once again! see you next week

Patti: Thank you all very much

Sandra Dodd: Thanks for being here!!

Sandra Dodd: "What Teaching can Never Be"--about learning without teaching. Soaring within a field of learning. Frolicking in ideas.

Sandra Dodd: Somersaulting in thoughts.


Andrea: See you then!

ColleenPrieto: another fun topic for we reformed teachers

Sandra Dodd: Living jazzily.

Sandra Dodd: Play.

Sandra Dodd: Frolic.

Sandra Dodd: See some of you next time, I hope! All of you, maybe!

In the Big Book, that page links to: SandraDodd.com/learning

The Big Book of Unschooling Directory of the Big Book Chats Chat Transcripts on other topics