Tension (the useful kind)

When I have talked about tension in discussions sometimes, I was thinking of the way tents stay up in the wind, or the way bridges can be suspended over wide, deep rivers. The tension unschooler could use considering has to do with a pull from two directions. If a rope is managing to hold your tent up and also down, be grateful for that force.

Susan May quoted me in 2016:
"It's human nature to justify and explain why loving parents did what they did to us. It's also human nature to try to do better for our children than our parents did for us. So those two things together create a tension (like cables on a bridge, holding it in place) that keeps the world from changing so quickly that it's unrecognizeable, but keeps it improving." Sandra Dodd
She commented:
Wisdom I found from Sandra while rereading a blogpost I wrote and she took the time to comment and encourage me. Good stuff.


Then she brought her response out:
My response:
I agree that we do not want to hurt those we love (or for them to hurt us). And it is also natural to try and make sense of things - even when they don't make sense.

I really like how you put the idea of things evolving slowly because of the tension between trying to do better while loving our own parents. It kind of makes sense that we shouldn't all just "abandon ship" in favor of a new idea or way of being - I mean if the old way "worked" well enough - as in we are surviving and reproducing (and we are pretty good at that aren't we!) then it is better for a small group to try these wild ideas out and see if they work first! Now there is an idea that makes me feel better.

These two photos and the one above are by Shonna Morgan. They are links.

From a discussion in 2013:
Sandra Dodd:
Tension—not nervous jittery tension, but the kind of tension that holds a tent up—is hard to describe, and it's important for having direction, in life. It's why today's topic is an odd, important, difficult one.

We tell people to slow down and wait a while, but if they slow down too much and wait too long, they won't get it. But if we say hurry up and do it NOW, they will stumble and become overwhelmed and confused, and might give up in frustration.

Jill Parmer:
Like the tension of standing up tall? All the muscles working together, and it's almost no effort?

Sandra Dodd:
It's like the clutch and the brake.

Sandra Dodd:
Maybe, Jill! Like the tension that makes a sailboat go. Not too tight, not too loose, needs to be just right.

Right about then, Frank Maier came into the chat, and he knows about sail boats,
and shared some details, in a bit, and more are at the link below.

Sandra Dodd:
Even the finest unschooling curriculum wouldn't work for someone who didn't get it.

Jill Parmer:
Ah, I see what you are saying. There is effort (lots) in unschooling, and when you get it right or on or in flow, it's a lovely feeling, calmer and easier going.

Sandra Dodd:
That's better than what I was trying to say, Jill. Thanks. smiley face

Capn Franko:
Every system has a total amount of energy in it. How much of that energy goes into something "useful" and how much is used up in friction, waste, etc. determines the efficiency of that system.

Jill Parmer:
So, Frank, I'm guessing you want the least amount of waste, to get the most efficiency. Am I on the right track? And ...hmmm....how would that translate into action for unschooling?

Sandra Dodd:
So, Frank, in the idea of the needed tension between approaching unschooling carefully and thoughtfully, and hurrying up and just DOING it, where would the energy and waste and all go? Waste of misstep or wrong direction?

Capn Franko:
Exactly correct. In theory. No system is perfectly efficient in reality.

Virginia Warren:
It happens when people go "no rules!"
They're trying to hurry up and do it, but throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
It's still not thoughtful.

Capn Franko:
So, wow! Big question - how is that observed in attempting unschooling? Lemme use a sailing analogy. I choose a course and set my sails with my best guess. It ain't perfect. I see signs which tell me that I'm not "in the groove" - sail flutter, churn in the wake, whatever, so I make adjustments. Trim the sails, refine my course, whatever. Now, I'm more in the groove.

Was my first attempt incorrect? I don't think so. It was my best guess at the start. As I felt that and where it was weak, I worked to improve it. I think that's analogous to unschooling beginners.

Sandra Dodd:
Nice! Thanks.

Capn Franko:
Even an experienced sailor who's in the groove will notice that sometimes the wind changes or the current changes or the boat trim changes and you must readjust for that. What had been as perfect as humanly possible is now less so and adjustments are called for.

I like that Frank. Do you have an analogy for the wind? The force that drives the sails?

Capn Franko:
I think so, Alex. A sailboat works essentially on the Bernouilli principle, forming a pressure differential between the sails. However the direct force of the wind is also simply trying to push directly against the sail and push the boat over on its side. Balancing those forces to get the best bernouilli slot with the least knock down pressure is where "the groove" is.

Robin B.:
Just when you've think you've figured something out, things change (growth spurt, new interest, life event).

The quotes above are taken from a 2013 chat on Regrets, in which we also discussed tension, being in the flow, helping newcomers (and, near the bottom) when and whether it's fine to keep unschooling to oneself). Some discussed what, in unschooling, would be "the wind" in the sailing analogy.

photo (a link) by Colleen Prieto

A mom named Lisa wrote:
This tension bridge idea has been with me for a few days. I think it is a really really good analogy. The tension pulling up and the tension pulling down and the balance, the safe passage down the middle.

I might or might not have the physics correct there. ;)

Anyway, thank you for this.

Criss-cross trails

Do the best you can to survive the bumps and unexpected turns of the trails through the unschooling world, which will necessarily cross back over and through themselves, which is how learning works–a little now, a little more later to connect to what you've learned since, and detours that end up being short cuts.

The quote is from page 3 of
The Big Book of Unschooling.
photo by Sandra Dodd

The photo above is of the ceiling in a house in The Netherlands. That one is old, but there are companies still doing timber framing, or post-and-beam construction.

Shifting Gears
 photo DSC09408.jpgDeschooling is like changing gears.

Go slowly. Go deliberately.

Don't goof around. Don't stall.

How can both be true?
The clutch and the gas.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of
coloring by Holly Dodd, years ago, and
light switch plate by Sandra, years ago

This is something newer:

The page from which I lifted this image said, of it:

No illusion -- just physics black witchery.

This is a so-called tensegrity structure. It uses a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension. Can you figure out the physics behind it?

Reluctance Gradual Change Balancing in the Middle Ground

Wikipedia, on Tension (physics)