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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Unschooling trust

The unschooling carnival has been officially revived. It's interesting to read the variety of posts collected at one carnival. I've decided to blog about the topic for this month, whether it's part of the collection or not, because it's a great topic and rolls around frequently on the lists.

~~August topic: Do you extend the principles of unschooling (trust, freedom, etc) into any other areas of your child's life? ~~

I think the question for me, is how does an unschooling parent NOT extend the principles of unschooling to all areas of life? It just doesn't make sense to me. If a parent says that a child is capable of learning what they want, when they want, then how does that NOT apply to areas like eating, sleeping, household tasks and other topics?

For us, learning is about everything in life. Learning how your body feels when it takes in different foods is part of learning. Learning how to wash dishes or do laundry or any other household task is...well, part of learning. It's ALL part of the journey of life, it's all an individual thing. How does one apply trust to only certain parts of the learning a child does?

It's like saying "I trust you...but not really" to a child. Saying I trust my child to learn all these things in their own way and time, does not mean I am relegated to some imaginary back seat. Children DO need avenues to explore these things, and I am their avenue until they're old enough to know there are avenues available.

I read this at another blog recently, where television was being controlled and limited: "The fact that your instincts are warning you that you may not be doing the right thing is excellent–but the culprit here isn’t unschooling. It’s allowing your kids to watch non-stop cartoon network/TV."

Why are the children watching non-stop tv? Are there other choices available? Has it been doled out and limited by the parents so that it's seen as a forbidden fruit and the children want more, more, more? In our home, the television would not be limited any more than books would be! They are simply two different forms of communication, not better or worse, just different. I wouldn't lock up the books, we don't lock up the television either. Interestingly enough, in a home where the children all have tv's in their rooms, it isn't on constantly, nor does it hold their interest more than other activities. That's the result of freedom in choice. When a choice isn't limited, there's no reason to gorge, it's just another option among many options.

They don't learn these skills in a vacuum. But they do learn them with a parent that is aware, assisting, offering opportunities and being a support. They learn all these things in their own time and way, because that is what humans do. They learn about all of it, because it is all a part of their lives. Learning is living is learning....I can't possibly separate out one kind of learning over another.

Unschooling is all about living well. So when an issue arises, my main concern is not how to get any kind of information or behavior into my child, but how to address the concern in the most helpful manner possible for all parties involved. Looking at our journey in this way, changes everything about our family dynamics. Life is short. Our focus is about relationships and how to live each day fully....it's about
seeing the beauty in everyday occurances and taking pleasure in the simple things.

Living well. What does that mean? When a person looks back over their life story, will it be with regret or a sense of fulfillment? I believe that in applying the philosophies of trust, freedom and awareness to all aspects of our lives, we are creating the environment that leads to a life well-lived.


Blogger Chelee said...

What a great post!
I struggle with limits on my kids. I set them then realize how ridiculous it is then they go away. I've found that the more stressed I am, I tend to set limits. Thank goodness my kids entertain my craziness.(:
Thanks again.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Sandra Dodd said...

-="The fact that your instincts are warning you that you may not be doing the right thing is excellent-=-

That's not a quote from Ren. I think if people go toward what feels right and good and true, they will suffer fewer and fewer instinctive warnings, and be able to relax into the happiness of their families. If they're building fences and walls instead of bridges and gardens, they will have more and more of those "this isn't right" feelings.

Great description of a peaceful family, Ren!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Ron R said...

Excellent point. It's really coming at my thoughts from a different angle.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Interestingly enough, in a home where the children all have tv's in their rooms, it isn't on constantly, nor does it hold their interest more than other activities."

I find it interesting that when unschoolers say this, everyone is supposed to just take it on faith that this is true, but if someone comes along and says that they have observed something different, unschoolers rush in to blame it on everything under the sun than the fact that maybe some kids will just veg in front of the tv forever if given the chance. I believe in the idea of unschooling, but I also believe that some things that our brains are not hardwired for, such as tv and highly processed foods, can affect our bodies in ways that are detrimental to us.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Ren said...

I KNOW for a fact that the way a parent treats television directly affects whether the kids will "veg" or use it as another tool. I've been on both sides of this issue and watched it firsthand.

I THOUGHT my children were "vegging" back in the days that I limited and controlled it. My oldest son's actions continually convinced me that he couldn't choose to walk away.

Guess what? When I relinquished control and joined them in their watching, using it as a tool for discussion, rather than a point of contention, things changed drastically around here. Not overnight, but they changed.

TV is no more important than books or games or anything else now. *I* had to make the change before the results of trust could be seen. It's easy to pass off the RU point of view, but when you've been on both sides of the issue, you have a more rounded point of view than someone that is only limiting and controlling the tv. Good luck with that.

I was one of those kids that would "veg" because it was so limited in my life. I did that into my 20's, because it was SO fascinating to me. Took years to overcome that desire. I'm glad my kids won't have to "veg" when they finally leave home...it will just be another resource.

Children WILL be out from under the control of their parents eventually (usually much sooner than your realize), much better to be their ally, not their adversary.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous lesa said...

Herein lies the issue of making your lives full of joy and
adventure! And the fact that this person (anonymous poster... why are you posting anonymously?) is only seeing the world
through their paradigm... it is possible to shift those glasses to see
a different view of the world. The poster most likely is comparing
unschooled kids (who have tons of freedom) to those kids who's lives
are repressed by outside influences (i.e. school, parents, etc...).

And yes, there are things in the world that can affect us... so, then
you as parents, facilitators, guides to the world need to talk to your
kids about these things. And if you're consumed by these things then
you need to STOP FIRST! It's like telling your kids not to smoke and
then going and lighting up... it's just stupid. Walk the walk...
don't just talk the talk!

But in the end your children may not end up with the same interests and values as you and you CANNOT control that! They need the freedom to be themselves and they need your support and acceptance for who they are!

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this discussion fascinating. I also find that I was unschooling naturally, since my children were born. Even though one travels through the school system, it's by her own choosing. I'm happy to finally meet people who believe in their children. People have always told me I give my daughter too much choice. Even the legal system says children have no rights. (It's a long story of trying to legally stop visitation with an insane father - Law says insane or not, he gets visitation even if he did say he would murder her.)
Anyhow, if children aren't allowed to grow and make choices, how will they become mature adults able to make wise choices? Thank you for addressing this issue so well.

11:19 PM  

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