Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unschooling Part One: The Natural Law

A friend asked me a couple of weeks ago how we got to certain comfortable positions in unschooling. And then a stranger asked another question - totally unrelated, but still a question of "how?".

While it feels strange to have people ask me - me!- such questions, I do feel that I have a couple of things to offer.
One - access to smart and intuitive Mama's who witness and understand self-directed learning (and whom will hopefully respond with comments and advice);
and Two- I've asked lots of questions of this life myself, and have come to a few conclusions.

I remember writing - God, when was it? Sometime around a couple of years ago, wait, let me do just a tiny bit of research so that I can get it exactly right, admittedly my sense of time is terribly unreliable rather was Feb of 2006.... a post to local unschoolers about "radical unschooling seems to be something of an oxymoron, is it implies there are rules to "not going by the rules".

Since then we- dh, the babes, and I- have had a hell-of-a-lot-of, stomach-full, heart-full, and head-full of learning and growing.

Sometimes, amazingly, it just turns natural.
Really, it does.

I'm not entirely certain how to explain it.
something to do with...

family dynamic.
the individuals.
the unit as a whole.

What I mean tastes something like

"I want icecream." at 9:15am. (something Maddie would say.)
"Uh... are you hungry? D'you want pancakes? Sausage? Eggs? Cereal? Cantaloupe?"
"Nope. I want icecream."
"Alright, then. One bowl of icecream coming up."

That's what it looks like to me.

It's honoring every one's needs.
It's honoring her hunger, as well as her need for nutrition by offering healthy and filling foods that she loves.
It's honoring my need to feel I'm a good Mama by offering her cantaloupe and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
It's offering my Self to help her get what she needs. (Which is what all Mama's do.)

If Eric were to enter this particular scene, if it were played out with him rather than with me, it would be imperative to honor his needs.
He might have been witness to Too Much Popsicle Eating the day before.
He might have cooked a dinner last night (a meal on which we all agreed) that no one even touched, or thanked him for preparing.
He might be feeling that he has no control over his life in that moment.
Icecream for breakfast might irritate the hell out of him.

The beauty of time and life passing by is that eventually we come to a place of Wisdom.
More expeditiously, certainly, if we pay attention.
If we are Mindful.

Just by being and living we come to know our selves and each other better.
Just by living our lives with certain intentions we grow, and become more comfortable with certain ideas. Decide our ideals.
Just by honoring our selves, our spouses, and our children we become more aware of our needs and our reactions, and the reasons for them.

Life -and family life- just happens naturally.

Of course there are moments - sometimes days, and sometimes even weeks!- when we don't handle things as graciously as we'd like.
Sometimes I dislike myself immensely for reacting a certain way, or feel embarrassed for functioning on reactionary auto-pilot for long stretches.

And then I'm reminded that life, hearts, and heads just flow.
Not that life happens to us (without our having anything to do with it), I don't mean, but that It Is What It Is.
I think we can erase a great deal (and make remarkable steps into the future) just by doing what my friend Julie does - "Hey. I handled that badly. What I could have done is....."
(My own approach to this wisdom would also have to include verbalizing my feelings about the situation at the time, and then "I handled it poorly, what I should could have done is....")

Living in a home where everyone is honored, everyone feels just as important, everyone is free to have an opinion, and everyone feels safe to express themselves just makes it happen.
That doesn't mean that everyone always speaks with a reverent tone.
It means that questions - by and of every individual - are all part of the family relationship.
"Why do you feel that way?"
"Do you need something from me?"
"Can you stop doing that?, it's driving me mad."
"Can I have a turn first?"
"I feel you're being unfair!"

Sometimes it comes from the youngest. Sometimes the oldest child. Sometimes it comes from those who sometimes fancy themselves as grown-ups. Great age doesn't mean there are less mistakes made, certainly.

So we've come a long way on this particular path.
In the beginning I read on all the ru lists.
I tried to follow the do's and don't's.
But eventually living life with intention and love moves us toward deeper inquiries and further introspection - leading us to greater understanding of our selves and each other.
I think you come to a certain place in time -- in, of, and with Wisdom, and with care and thought, that it just happens naturally.

It just does.

1 comment:

KMDuff said...

Yep. Agreed. :)