We are no longer unschoolers. We are very much homeschoolers now that we have adopted the use of curriculum, the notion of a “school” day (and I actually use the word now because, even though we aren’t doing our stuff in an actual school, I’m no longer comfortable with shying away from the use of the word… so school it is), and the concept of the school year starting and finishing. It fits us all pretty well, for the most part. I still contend that my daughter is a perfectly good candidate for unschooling but she does just fine with homeschooling as well, so here we are. Loving what we’re doing and experiencing more peace because of the structure and guidance I have provided.
We still follow many unschooling guidelines and notions, however. Unlimited, very seldom censored media intake. Choosing their own activities for when school is not in session. Co-sleeping. Parenting without punishment (and while I’d like to include threat, I can’t… sometimes it’s all I’ve got). The list goes on and on.
I still have great respect for the unschooling movement. I still read about unschooling weekly and enjoy keeping up with many of my favorite unschooling families on line.
Which leads me to the point of this post…
I have long since stopped following or heeding the advice of any unschooling “leaders”. I have several parents, some who unschool, some who homeschool, a few of who public school, to whom I will reach out for advice if I need parenting feedback. Any unschooling “leaders” or “gurus” or “prominent voices” have lost their appeal to me, many moons ago, when I felt they weren’t always nice or when I felt they were scary or when I felt they were creepy. I just decided to drop the labels and do things my own way, by trusting my instincts and focusing on my children.
Yet information about so-called leaders in the unschooling “community” (if there is one) continues to seep through my dismissal by way of Facebook. The recent controversy that has come to light surrounding a family in this community (either you know what I’m talking about or you don’t, that’s okay) has been a source of great stress for me. Not because I’m taking sides. Because I’m not. Not because I’ve decided that one group is right and one group is wrong (on many levels I believe both groups are both right and wrong). But because it’s become a bit of a crash course in sociology. A dirty, sad, scary and upsetting peak into the human psyche.
I am often naive. I have my gut reaction to things and that is all I’ve got because it’s not always easy for me to determine, using my head, if what someone does or says is okay or not. So the gray areas that have become apparent during this entire ordeal have allowed me to read a lot about a real live situation where people do things that are very much out of my comfort zone, on both sides. I find it both fascinating and educational. The aspie in me is fervently taking notes.
This morning I awoke from yet another dream about this situation and these people. I awoke with an idea. I’d make a list of ten things that we could do in order to feel like we’re doing something productive if we’ve had a hard time processing what has unfolded. A list of items we could use to restore some peace and calm back into our lives and the universe as a whole. Perhaps I’m the only person on earth who is struggling with what is going on here… but I doubt that I am.
1. Pray/Send out good vibes. Say prayers for all parties involved, affected, and hurt by the circumstances surrounding this ordeal.
2. Do a service project with your family.
3. Speak with your children about honesty, integrity, compassion, and online bullying.
4. Represent homeschool/unschooling well in your community.
5. Apologize to a friend or loved one you may have hurt. Really mean it.
6. Become more transparent. Show your true colors once in a while, both online and in real life, so that people who may be looking up to you and trying to emulate you can breathe a sigh of relief when they see you aren’t perfect or even when they see you aren’t trying to pretend that you are perfect.
7. Live authentically. Choose one thing inside of yourself that you need to work on. And then do the work.
8. Reach out to someone who you know might be in pain. Offer them some words of encouragement.
9. Be present with your children. Turn off your phone, your iPad, your computer and be. with. your. kids.
10. Trust your gut. Your instincts will tell you so much. If only you will listen.
So, that’s it folks. My prayer is that after writing about this, my poor tired brain will be able to lay it to rest. I’ll be able to start doing some of the items on this list and move on. I have healing to do and I wasn’t even a fan, friend, or follower of any of these people. I can’t imagine the hurt they are all going through.