Schuyler, on What Might Help

Every month or two someone comes along who assures one of the discussion lists that they can state their opinions, but it won't change what she's already doing. Once, Schuyler Waynforth, who is usually the voice of logic and science, went on an unexpected rant. I saved it.

I must admit I find this post offensive.  You are very publically telling a group of people who are willing to listen to you and maybe help you see things from a new perspective that you aren't going to change anything really about your life.  You've been on this list for one day, and I believe there is a request that you read the list for two weeks before posting, and you've very aggressively made it known that you school-at-home: "I don't have time to teach the little ones, take care of the baby, feed everyone, have all the laundry done and keep a clean house—it would be impossible"; that you can't possibly believe that what anyone here is telling you could be true: "I don't buy this at would be impossible"; and that  you are considering unschooling in part because you see it as a way to free up your time: "My eldest two are in public schools so they aren't home during the day so it can get a bit rough trying to do lessons when the baby is needing constant attention—that is one of the reasons I've been thinking of unschooling." I recognize that I don't know you, but this is how you've presented yourself to a complete stranger.

Let me help you understand who you are writing to.  Most of the people on this list are unschooling their children.  That means first and foremost that they have chosen not only to not put their children in school but they have chosen not to school at home. This audience that you have has decided to trust that children learn from living, and not just children, but adults as well.  Most of the parents on this list have chosen to parent in a way that Ren Allen describes as mindful parenting.  That is we have chosen to listen to our children, to pay attention to their needs and their wants instead of telling them that they must conform to our needs and our wants. It means that for me if Simon (my 8 year old son) asks me to help him play Tales of Symphonia on the gamecube and I happen to be doing the dishes I may ask that he wait the 10 minutes or more likely than not I may just let the dishes soak and come and play with him. The dishes will be easier to clean when I empty the sink and refill it with warm water and I will have gotten to spend an hour with my son talking and exploring and playing and continuing to forge a relationship that makes me so happy I cannot begin to express my joy.  It means that for me spending the 15 minutes cleaning and setting up all of the action figures on the dresser/window seat in their bedroom is as much about me setting up this wonderful future moment of imaginary battles and play as it is about cleaning the toys off the floor.  I love thinking about how I will set the lizard on the deer antlers that we found on Raby Castle estate so that it looks like a giant lizard crawling forward to eat the Viking warrior.  Or hanging Linnaea's (my five-year-old daughter) favorite clothes up so that when she decides she wants to twirl about they are easy to find, again a moment waiting to happen. 

Maybe you want to back off a little, read a little, find out what unschooling is about a bit more.  Explore Sandra Dodd's site at /unschooling, look through Joyce Fetteroll's site at, join Unschooling Basics at and read more.  And think about what you are reading.  Let it bubble and stew and maybe write what you are thinking, but don't post it, or write it and read it and think about what you are saying and how you are presenting yourself.  And then post it, maybe.


More of Schuyler (happier stuff ) Creating an Unschooling Nest