My husband, Ron, wrote this for Skyler Collins’ book, Unschooling Dads. I wouldn’t really call Ron a dad who was super outspoken about unschooling. He always shied away from conversations on the topic when we were in groups. He’d much prefer to simply live the unschooling lifestyle than talk about it! ha!
In retrospect, I think that was his biggest contribution to the kids’ upbringing. They had front row seats to witness what it’s like to dive into your interests – to have many and to pursue whatever you enjoy. They watched what he did when he didn’t know about something but wanted to. He’d look it up, ask around, find more resources. And like many good shows, audience members from the front row are often drug up onto the stage! Ron did that with the kids – and they loved it. His interests were primarily outdoorsy – climbing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking. But in Alaska, it was primarily ice skating and hockey – some of which was outside. In California it was horse-related – riding, building barns, birthing foals. In Texas, we moved to a ranch and raised horses, cattle (and goats, chickens, ducks, guineas, dogs, cats, cockatiels, parakeets, guinea pigs, turtles) and baling hay. Then when we moved to Central Texas, it was motorcycles and hiking.
I just rediscovered an old blogpost that I did back in 2012: For Some People, It’s Just Natural.
But here’s a more current interpretation of life in our family from Ron’s perspective. This was his contribution to the Unschooling Dads book. Short and sweet.
I don’t know a lot about unschooling. But I had faith in my wife and faith in my kids.
We have many things to learn in life but you don’t necessarily have to learn any of it in school. People think that’s the only way, but it’s not. Frankly, I learn a lot better when someone isn’t telling me what to do. I see something that crosses my path and suddenly I want to find out more about it. Then one thing leads to another…and another… and another. Why wouldn’t kids be the same way?
Life is full of great adventures and you should take every opportunity to pursue them. That’s how we saw it and how we lived it. Some of the things we did:
- Hiked on a volcano
- Sailed on a tall ship in the San Francisco Bay
- Built a horse arena
- Built an ice rink in the back yard
- Walked through the Red Woods (literally)
- Saw a grizzly bears in the wild
- Saw a humpback whale from about ten feet
- Watched gray whales migrate up the coast of Alaska
- Pitched a tent in the middle of a lake and then went ice fishing
- Threw a cup of hot water up in the air and never saw it hit the ground (we were in Alaska)
- Participated in a civil war re-enactment on Angel Island
- Hiked multiple mountain peaks
- Climbed waterfalls on the banks of the Colorado River in Texas
- Visited the deck of the only ship sunk twice in World War II (USS Enterprise),
- Learned to ride horses, raise chickens, bale hay on our own ranch
- Learned about history, science, the world through movies together
- Wandered around the battlefield of Custer’s last standLearned about the Japanese culture as we hosted an exchange student
- Spent a week in Washington, D.C., visiting museums, monuments, and fascinating sights.
These are some of my fondest memories – things we were able to do because we did not bother with school schedules or school ideas about what’s important to learn. My kids are now grown – 21, 24, and 26 – all making a living, happy with their lives.
His Bio in the book:
Ron Patterson has retired as a Major in the USAF and also as the Director of Christopher House, the only inpatient hospice facility in Austin, Texas. He continues to pursue many of the activities he shared with his kids – hiking, sailing, motorcycling and working on projects.