Dads and Unschooling

Bits and Links for Unschooling Dads

Rick Sanders and Zoe

Learning Always and Everywhere

"For the wonderful unschoolers in my life, and all who are on the fantastic journey of lifelong learning" by Kevin Patterson, father of triplets, and a minister.

June 2012 Unschooling Blog Carnival was on dads.

June Carnival: Dads

Letter to an Unschooling Dad

(in English, but in a Francophone family)

A young dad's life-changing first impression of unschoolers at a conference

"I arrived this week halfway thinking this would be the tipping point that convinced Marianne and me to put our son back in school (he attended public school for kindergarten, but he has been spending his first grade year at home), and things did tip, but in the other direction..."
Waterpark, Educational Development and A Wake-up Call
Also by Sean Heritage, in reference to a talk Kelly Lovejoy gave: Curling: Sweepers, Sweepers Man Your Brooms

There is a movie called Between the Folds.

It is a cool film about folding paper, but in it is a young man named Erik Demaine, a Canadian unschooler who is now a professor at MIT, and who still works closely with his father who is a glass blower and artist. Perhaps your husband would find Erik's dedication to his passion interesting, as well as the strong bond between he and his father as a result of their chosen way of life.

My husband met Erik and his dad at MIT, and said he was taken with how inspired they were and how close. It might be good for your husband to see more inspirational stories. That is one that I can think of.

—Karen James

(a bit about Karen James' husband, Doug)

Unschooling - a view from the corporate office

Part of a talk Phil Biegler gave at the Northeast Unschooling Conference (NEUC) in August 2010, with an intro, on his family's blog.
Full-length version, with family photos: /philbiegler/NEUC2010

Living and Learning as a Father in an Unschooling Family

Drew, unschooling father of three, writes about unschooling from the point of view of a teacher (and more).

Unauthorised Dad Handbook

An Unauthorised Guide for Unschooling Mums dealing with (still developing) Unschooling Dads, by Arun, at The Parenting Pit

Cartalk's Thomas L. Magliozzi and "The New Theory of Learning"

It's one of the "Car Talk" radio guys discussing what he calls a "new theory of learning" or "backwards learning." Sounds a lot like unschooling.

On Being a Father

Frank Maier wrote, on Father's Day in 2009:

Just as unschooling is, for us, more of a weltanschauung than merely an educational philosophy, being a father is more than just having children. To me, it means being a husband and partner to my exquisite wife, Ronnie. We're a team. It certainly means being a father to my girls. We're a team. The four of us together comprise another variant on the team theme.

Being a father also means participating in, and belonging to, the world around me and not just sitting quietly, being an observer. I have learned from my family and blossomed within my own inner geography as much as the kids have blossomed and grown into the wide world around them. As with most kinds of growth, it's difficult to see the changes on a daily or short-term basis. It's when you look back over a longer period that you really see, and are amazed by, the amount of growth that has happened.

That's the middle of a longer bit which is on Frank's blog here.
(if that's gone, here's a backup)

Frank Maier was interviewed in the summer of 2014 here: Interview with a Homeschool Dad #2 and the intro is:
"Today we are hearing from Frank Maier, the father of two successful young women whom he and his wife unschooled for the bulk of their education (minus a bit of time when his younger daughter experimented with public and private schooling but quickly grew bored and returned home). Frank's daughters are now 20 and 21, they currently retain 4.0 and 3.9 GPA's at the community college in which they attend and they will be transferring to larger universities in the coming year." (read what Frank wrote)

The Blogs of some Male Unschooling Parents:

Singularity, Frank Maier

up up and away in afghanistan, Mike

John, in Oregon the husband of Jenny Cyphers

A book recommendation from Ben Lovejoy: Kelly ordered a new book for me (and the house) which I think will interest you if you're so inclined. Before I give you the title, let me share some of the points I've read in the past 20 minutes reading this book.
"Today's kids are not ADD, they're EOE: Engage Me or Enrage Me.

"Like all of us, including the adults who spend countless hours perfecting golfing, fishing, and other hobby skills, kids love to learn when it isn't forced on them. In fact, because their brains are still growing, kids probably love this *non-forced learning* even more than the rest of us. This is why game designer Raph Koster says that the *fun* kids are always seeking is really a synonym for *unforced learning*."

As stated by James Paul Gee, Tashia Morgridge Professor of Reading at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes in his Foreword: "(the author) knows that game designers have learned to harness deep and powerful learning—learning in the sense of problem solving, decision making, hypothesizing, and strategizing—as a form of fun, pleasure, engagemeent, even *flow*".

Mr. Gee goes on to point out that the author *knows* what makes a person good or bad on video games is not violence or lack of it, but how the game is played. "Does the player see through the *eye candy* and the superficial content to the underlying rules, strategy spaces, and emergent possibilities for problem solving? If so, powerful learning and thinking are going on." Gee goes on to argue if these two things weren't taking place, the player would *die* and have to start over again. {I don't know about your guys, but Duncan hasn't missed getting to at least the fifth level of any *new* game in less than two days in quite some time}.

Finally, the author saw a t-shirt a kid was wearing in NYC which stated: "I'm not attention deficit - I'm just not listening".

The book is called Don't Bother Me Mom—I'm Learning by Marc Prensky. (amazon link) I thought that I'd pass this along to the group since *gaming* (or computers/TV) always gets some time at our SSUDs gathering and beyond. So far in the book, the author is focused on the good our kids get from gaming rather than focus on all the negative that seems to get into the media. The book gives the thinking parent an opportunity to make a more informed decision.

Hope you pick it up if you don't have it, or comment on it if (when) you've read it. I'm just getting started but think I'll get a lot out of it myself.


Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy, on Living by Principles instead of by rules. Don't think Ben might be some wimpy dad who can't stand rules; he's a Lieutenant Colonel in the South Carolina Air National Guard, and went to the Citadel, and grew up as rulebound as anyone could. He has experience in the matter of living by rules.
Also by Ben Lovejoy:
Following Our Passions to Bonnaroo
A Look Back
The Stories of Our Families

Lyle Perry

Lyle is a dad who wrote a lot for a while and then went to live in Utah and have fun with his family. Some of his writings are here: Lyle

John Holt

John Holt's writing is the basis of unschooling, along with the findings of other school reformers from the 1960's. You can read his own words and not need it filtered through a bunch of moms. (He wasn't a dad, but he was a guy.)

Bob Collier

Parental Intelligence site. Quote from his intro:
Hi, this is Bob Collier inviting you to 'explore the psychology of happy and successful parenting', connect with bright minds, discover new ideas and sail outside the mainstream for a while without running aground.

...As always, I trust you will find in my latest collection of parenting, education and personal development ideas and information from around the internet something that will make a positive difference to your life — and, through you, to the lives of your children.

Bob Collier, on playing dolls with his daughter
on how his son learned to drive

[This comment was made in a discussion linked below, but can stand alone.]

James D.       APRIL 24, 2010
I went the traditional schooling route all the way to a Cambridge (England) Maths degree. I am now an unschooling dad.

Some observations:

I did very well at school because I was quite happy to pay attention to what was put in front of me and I didn't get too angry about having to sit through the occasional stuff that I didn't find interesting. Also, while I had interests that weren't well catered for in school, I was content to restrict the time I spent doing them to what remained after school and at a weekends. I had no particular sense of direction or urgency (until I was about 40 in fact). So I was OK with school, but I don't imagine that all children approach it that way, so there may be children (many? I don't know) who need to do things differently.

"Should" they be forced to do it the "normal" school way? I can't see any moral or practical advantage in forcing them. School is a very inaccurate flight simulator for real life. Why teach children to learn to fly a school when you could be letting them learn to fly real life? I would not want to fly in a plane whose pilot had been taught in a simulator that inaccurate.

If there is much value in what is taught in schools beyond basic literacy and numeracy, it is in the process of getting interested and developing one's interest in things, not in the practical application of what is learned. I still work my way through Maths textbooks for fun (the ones I missed first time round because my school thought they were old-fashioned and unimportant) but I never use it in my work. I teach adult learners in the workplace. They are generally high-performing professionals. Most of them had successful conventional educations, and most of them are at least a bit neurotic.

One recent example was someone who came from a traveller family, totally "failed" at school, and became a semi-pro drummer for a while. In early adulthood he decided he wanted to be a lawyer. He set his sights high — Cambridge law degree. So he studied for his A-levels, got top grades, got his law degree (top marks), got into a good chambers, qualified as a barrister and became very successful. The whole process took about a third of the time a conventional school, university, chambers process would have taken.

He was not unschooled at all, but his story shows that the conventional stairway to heaven is not the only route and that people can and do leap up it three steps at a time if they want, and when they're ready. People can gain access to any depth of subject matter expertise when they need it these days — it is not necessary to make human sacrifices in order to earn the right.

The only risk arising from unschooling would be if children weren't made aware of the diversity of things they could possibly get interested in. But as Sandra points out in her references to "strewing", creating that awareness of diverse possibilities is part of the job. You just don't push it until people are sick of it.

Makes sense to me.

Leaning on a Truck

"Women talk face to face, they say, but men lean side by side on a truck. Another version of leaning on a truck is fishing: facing the same way, doing the same thing. Traditionally these days parents and children move in different spheres and do different things, but unschooling families mix ages and activities...." Doing Two Things at Once or, Leaning on a Truck and other parallel play

Bob Collier, on playing Polly Pocket with his daughter

On the Always Learning list, a mom asked for help to play dolls with her daughter. She had forgotten how, if she ever knew, and didn't like the plastic dolls. The discussion is here, but Bob's response was wonderful:

I used to love playing Polly Pockets with my daughter. Years ago now (she's 25).

This is what I did.

Close my eyes. Imagine my daughter. She's having fun. I love to see my daughter having fun. It feels good. Oh, and I'm there too. I'm having fun. I love to see me having fun. That feels good. My daughter's having fun. I'm having fun. What a wonderful feeling! Now I'm looking closer in my imagination to see what it is we're doing that's so much fun. We're playing with Polly Pockets. Open my eyes.

Next time Bronwyn says to me, "Will you play Polly Pockets with me?" — of course I will! I want that wonderful feeling again. So there I am, a six foot guy with a beard lying on the floor with a little girl playing Polly Pockets, smiling and laughing and making silly stuff up as I go along. My daughter's happy. She can see that I love what she loves because it's written all over my face. And I really do. Who knew Polly Pockets could be so much fun? The Polly Pockets though are just the excuse. Not the cause.


Gifts for Guys to Buy

Gifts for Guys to Buy is a short bit on playthings and gifts from hardware, sporting goods and auto parts stores. Some men don't do Toys 'R Us but some kids prefer REAL stuff anyway!