JUST. Just what?

This isn't a recommendation to abandon the word "just." Sometimes it's useful or necessary. This is about those times when it's used to minimize or to discount an idea that should not be dismissed.

This is a request for people to look twice if the word "just" pops up.

—Sandra Dodd

On the facebook discussion group, someone had written:
Some parents I know simply don't have any foods they consider unhealthy in the house
My response (June 2018):
For unschooling purposes, it's good to set an alarm to go off in your head about "just" or "simply."

What might seem simple (and easy, and "just doing...") can have ripples and repurcussions that could have been avoided, but that cannot be undone.

Original (viewable if one has a facebook account)

In 2012 someone wrote:

-=Unschooling for us is just living!-=-
I responded:
It would be stronger without "just". 🙂

I always notice "just" now, and "have to."

Living isn't enough, though. Unschooling should be rich, flowing and mindful living where learning abounds. Too many people see "living" as nothing more than the absence of death. Let's encourage sparkly, bubbly, warm and effusive lives.


Here's a visual example of the harm of "just" (and of "actually just"):

Rather than link to where I got it, I will say that some of the commenters pointed out that it was MORE than a handrail, and not "just" something. Good. Because it was facebook, and 2022, many people were complaining that the stairs were dirty, that it wasn't a great handrail... ("Just" complaints? 🙂 )

There's another section of art further up those stairs that's even longer and maybe better. It's in Germany, and the credit above is the sculptor, Karl-Henning Seemann.

See more images of both sections, which are in the city of Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

Caren Knox responded beautifully to a mom explaining a situation:

Other mom wrote: I realize she didn't really need help but just wanted my attention.

Caren/dharmamama wrote:

The word "just" here popped out to me, as if you were dismissing the need for attention.
What the mom really wrote was longer, and used "just" repeatedly:
I realize she didn't really need help but just wanted my attention. Between my other obligations and my personal feelings at the moment I just wasn't able to give it to her. I did spend some time with her it just wasn't as long as she wanted.
Caren's response was longer too, and excellent. It's here: Re: Balance

Here are the stump and the dandelion I was thinking of when I wrote what's below.

Accept and admire beauty if you can, instead of dismissing things as "just..."
      Just a stump.
             Just a dandelion.

Can you see the beauty in the stump? It might be a safe place to stand after a rain. To a child you love, it might be a chair or a mountain.

Dandelions are flowers that make puff-toys for children to blow on. They grow without our help. They might be the only colorful flower you'll see, some days. If a child loves them, can you follow?
more about "wonder" than anything else

-=- I think I've got to stop wanting and just have the peace and joy. For me as well as them. -=-

Read before you post. Really read what you've written down. Maybe print it out and carry it around, and consider each phrase, each word. You're thinking in big lumps of emotion, and that's reactive, and reactionary.

You can't "just have" peace and joy.
Every time you use "just," see if you truly meant to, if it was a thoughtful choice, or if it's a simplifying noise.

Peace and joy will be made of a hundred tiny choices a day. Maybe more. Maybe fewer. But you can't decide it once, and you cannot "just have" it.

Building an Unschooling Nest

Sandra Dodd
original, June 2017

-=- I guess I'll just feel my way?-=-
First, beware "just." If you write "just," see whether leaving it out makes the statement stronger.
-=-I guess I'll feel my way?-=-
In the dark? Feel your way blindly?
How will you know which way to go?

Probably it would be better to gather ideas that will help with decision making and then make decisions in the bright light of everything you know, and the way you would like to be.

Sandra Dodd
Original, June 2017, on facebook

photos are links; credits are there



Be joyful about their discoveries, and sorrowful about their unhappiness even if your first thought is cynical or dismissive.

It's part of respect for the child, to consider that if he's unhappy it's the real unhappiness of a human, not "just kid stuff." (original, near the end)

“But he'll just play video games all day! He'll never DO anything!” If you give a kid a Nintendo...

Words Being Clarity

Radical Unschooling vs. "Just' an unschooler