How to Screw Up Unschooling

A list created on the AlwaysLearning list, with items contributed by Marji/gaiawolf, Sandra Dodd, swissarmy_wife/heatherbean, Schuyler Waynforth, Cameron Parham, Alex Polikowsky, Katherine Anderson, Robin Bentley, Melissa Dietrick, Clarissa Fetrow, Angela Shaw, Jules Adler, Jenny C (jenstarc4), Liam Zintz-Kunkle (13), Jill Parmer, Emmy Tofa, Amanda Horein, De/sanguinegirl, Nancy Machaj, Joylyn, Deborah Cunefare, Jae (Adam's mom)
Cameron wrote:
In my family we have long called this the "Automatic NO Button." The kids and I knew about this even before we started unschooling, from their grandmother and other kids' parents mostly. I have seen that many overwhelmed mothers have a very strong automatic no button. It's especially bad in those who also think that once you say no you must never back down or change your mind. I so much hated the automatic no button as a child that I had already developed the theory that overwhelmed/overtired people say "No!" immediately because they can't imagine one more thing/idea/job to deal with. Maybe they are also emotionally overloaded. This is so common in our culture. Some of the women I work with have been open to learning to watch for their tendency to automatically say NO if I lead into the discussion with understanding that they are overwhelmed, and the term "automatic no button" lends some humor to the discussion to help them stay open. My Mom has even learned to wait if I preface a discussion during one of her visits with, "Watch out, Mom. This may hit the automatic no button!" So real.

Nancy Wooten responded:
I was in Borders Books yesterday where I observed two little girls trying to convince their mom to buy them a -- Book! The mom was looking at -- Books! but then told the girls she wasn't buying them anything, that they want a book every time they come to the bookstore, they'd have to wait until Christmas, yada yada. The girls tried to make a case for the book, tried to show mom how cool it was... no dice. Mom bought something for herself later, as she was behind me in line, though it was something other than a book.

When I was a kid, my mom had a standing "yes" policy with books, but toys had a "wait until birthday/Christmas" rule, which was hard because my birthday is Nov. 24. But if I wanted a book, I got it. That's a tradition I've carried forward :-)


*** "Counsel" and "advice" were discussed, as a heading for this section. We don't want to say "counsel them" or "don't counsel them" either one, though, so it can't be set up as though those are opposites. "Don't advise" was tried and rejected. Other considerations:
Don't collaborate.
Don't share information.
Don't be helpful.
Don't give/share information.
"Guiding" or "Guidance" or even "Counsel"?
Neglect disguised as freedom
The problem is that some of the most rules-wielding, "just do it" parents believe they're helpfully sharing information.


EVEN IF one claims to be unschooling...

In August, 2011, Sylvia Toyama wrote:

In my experience, learning how to create a home for my family where unschooling will thrive, where children will grow with passion and a sense of wonder, and where we will all continue to learn and grow is absolutely a skillset. I've met a few parents calling themselves unschoolers, who talked a good game and clearly felt they had the mindset of an unschooler. But when it came time to actually walk the walk by spending time truly with their child—not just in the same room or house, but truly present in their child's life—they were simply all talk, and it showed in their kids' unhappiness and inability to get along with others.


Now Calm Yourselves!

After reading all that sad negativity up there, how about a soothing song?

The singer and muppeteer is Caroll Spinney, who performed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, on Sesame Street for many years. This song was the opening scene for a film called "Follow That Bird," starring Big Bird.


The Best Page for new unschoolers

Cheery Neglect (not a good thing)

Recording of a talk I gave on how to screw up unschooling (with some notes, links, and a transcript at some point)

What makes unschooling easier? Name as many things as you want.
That one needs a facebook account, to read; it's open once you get to facebook.