This week, I spoke with a journalist who was working on an article for USA Today about unschooling. She specifically wanted to know what kinds of challenges unschoolers face. She described the readership as generally more interested in how to help their child excel, get into a “good” school, and be competitive. Well… you and I know these aren’t traditionally unschooling characteristics. 😉
Yet, I am on a mission.
It breaks my heart to think of kids that are miserable in the school system being told they have to stay, that they “just have to get through it.”.
Because I KNOW that isn’t true.
Yes, lots of us felt that was the case when we were growing up. Little did we know that a movement was brewing and one family at a time was quietly leaving the school system saying, “Enough already!”
I want to do whatever I can to stand on the highest building and shout that there are other ways to learn. AND you can still go to college, get a career, be successful – whatever carrot that has been dangled out there to lead people around.
So, with that mindset, I agreed to do the interview. The reporter was lovely and genuinely intrigued by the idea of unschooling. She found me through this coaching website and through the Unschooling Mom2Mom website. (Hooray! All those volunteer hours of curating the “best of the best” in unschooling writings and making them all available in one place paid off!!)
But then we ended up talking about challenges.
So what do I think the biggest challenge is for parents who choose this style of homeschooling?
By far… the toughest challenge is undoing our warped way of thinking about learning and education and children. And we think this way PRIMARILY because of all those years we spent in school. Year after year we were told that we had to “stick it out” because school was our ticket to success.
We were not told that there are multiple right answers to any given question – but instead only one right answer. It had to be all black or all white. And what I’ve come to know is that most of life is gray. And I know now that a multitude of ways exist for arriving at any given answer. People can use all sorts of tools to learn!
And all of that… takes some undoing. It’s as if we have ruts in our brains. We’re taught to conform and we’ve been conditioned to believe that thinking independently is NOT a good idea. Somewhere along the way, we stopped trusting ourselves and we look for validation from others instead of from within.
But I’m here to tell you that that doesn’t have to be a permanent way of thinking!
Thousands of parents – like me – are living proof that you can change how you think about all of this. It takes some deliberate effort to swim upstream though. Society does what it can to influence you to conform, to get back in line. Recognizing this is the first step though. Reading about deschooling and opening up our eyes to what’s really happening right in front of us – these are things that will help change our way of thinking. Noticing how children learn without coercion or lesson plans will help loosen the ties of that old way of viewing learning. Piece by piece, you can begin to dismantle all those preconceived ideas we carry around with us. And we can always talk more about it together!
THAT’S what I think the biggest challenge is.
What about you? What has been YOUR biggest challenge as you carve out an educational path for your family? I would love it if you’d share it in the comment box here: