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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......

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Too radical?

I think I've gotten to the point, where I have a hard time explaining unschooling--radical unschooling anyway--to anyone that isn't ready to understand. I know people that don't have lessons or curriculum, but would have a hard time understanding that we don't "study" anything. We learn all the time, but my children's interests haven't led them to anything that looks like formal study. Trevor has a broad knowledge of computers and how to build them, but he never did anything that looked like a class or "study". He learned. He read books some of the time, but I don't believe he would feel that he "studied" anything.

How do you explain that to the average person? Not planning a curriculum or requiring any sort of lesson is enough to freak most people out. But top it off with never separating life into subjects and not studying anything and you lose them all together. Sure, we delve into some interests deeply.....but we're just playing more intently.:)

In responding to a post at Unschooling Basics, I dredged up this commencement speech that Anna Quindlen gave some years ago. It's a favorite of mine. It speaks about creating a life worth living, which has very little to do with studies or degrees or diplomas or societal expectations. If we are to truly march to the beat of our own drum, then certificates and degrees mean very little. Learning what we love is everything. If you're carrying around a heavy backpack of perfection....it's time to lay it down.

On a personal note, Neurofeedback has continued to be an interesting topic. Jalen is typically more centered and able to communicate after his sessions. He still thinks the games are "stupid" but seems to enjoy the calming effect. We've struck a bargain. He didn't really want to go back, so I made a deal with him that if he would do something he didn't like (neurofeedback) then I'd take him to do something he DID like afterwards. Yeah, it's bribery plain and simple. But I felt it was important enough to try this time around. And we've had a great time at McDonald's playland (yucky, yucky food....argh) and visiting the Dollar Tree.

Trevor even noticed the difference in Jalen one day. While driving in the car, Jalen and I were able to complete a conversation that involved explaining why we couldn't do something he wanted right at the moment (we explored many options without a melt-down) and how to resolve the issue. He has a very hard time processing certain information usually, but lately has been able to take it in, digest it and offer up information that contributes to a solution. Big step for my little man. I don't think he's punched the wall in anger for over a week now. Another big step. So the neurofeedback has been positive for all of us.

He's still his intense, active, energetic self. He's just more able to cope with transitions and information without the huge frustration and anger. It's really cool. It's no magic bullet. We still need a large dose of patience and mindfulness to stay connected. But that gentle nudge to the brain has definitely made life easier for him to cope with......and in turn making it easier for us to meet his needs. Neurofeedback is gentle, gentle nudges. That's all. It isn't some "cure", but it helps the mind operate more effectively which I figure all of us can use a bit of help with.

So far, it's been a very positive experience and I hope we can continue sessions for a little while longer.


Blogger Miranda said...

I know just what you are saying, Ren! I am dealing with questions from new people on my support group list and I feel like I am talking gibberish sometimes! It is so hard to translate, for sure. Worth the effort though!

2:31 PM  
Blogger Deanne said...

That commencement speech was definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing. Thanks also for writing about your neurofeedback experiences. I was looking into it for my migraines, so I appreciate your first-hand report. :)

10:19 AM  
Blogger Deanne said...

That commencement address was definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing! Thanks also for writing about your neurofeedback experiences. I was looking into it as a treatment for my migraines, so it's helpful to hear some first hand reports. :)

10:21 AM  
Anonymous melissa said...

Well, I don't talk about unschooling with anyone, per se, it's just too much work. :-)

I'm glad the neurofeedback is helping, and that Jalen was willing to compromise (or be bribed, whatever ;-) ). We also have spent a lot of time and patience helping Josh and Bre both deal with anger and frustration in ways that are hm, I used to say appropriate, but now more mindfully I'd say in ways that lead to a better life for the entire family. Definitely a safer life...in consideration of some of the very dangerous behaviors both Josh and Bre showed.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Schuyler said...

I realized the other day that I completely don't understand school. Absolutely don't get it anymore. Can't see any value in handed-down structured teaching. I don't believe in teaching as a construct anymore. I simply don't get it. So when I'm on a list where people give helpful tips to help other's to teach their children to write or do math, I don't understand.

I definitely think I have reached a point where I am no longer speaking the same language when someone comes to a list I'm on asking about how to help their children to master some schoolish concept or other. I was watching the Dr. Phil Great School Debate on Joanne's blog the other day and thinking about how hard it is to explain to someone who is so invested in school that it isn't a necessary evil. I think, often, those people who suffered the most at the hands of school are the most invested in believing they suffered for a reason. Or that they made their children suffer for a reason. Y'know what I mean?

"If you win the rat race, you're still a rat" Oh, what a wonderful quote. The whole speech was wonderful. Thank you.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Brenda Marie Hoffman said...

I just have to say that I'm glad that 1 of my friends took the time to explain radical unschooling to me. We've started unschooling ourselves because of it.

Brenda Marie

12:53 PM  
Blogger Nance said...

Loving your blog, Ren! And thanks to Deanne for sending me the link!

Yesterday I spoke with a Mom who wanted to know about unschooling.

When we got to the typical question: "But how will she ever get into college? How will she show she's ready?" I found myself pausing for just a moment and trying not to be as rude as I wanted to be. . . but then I let out a little bit of directness that I think actually worked.

I just turned the question back and asked the Mom: "Well, how do you think that would work?"

Pause. . . then the Mom rattled off a few things that she figured her daughter could do at that point . . .

It felt strange not to be as helpful as I could be but it felt like maybe getting the Mom to think of the answer herself was actually a better way to go in that case. It seemed to click better.

Not that she's going to be unschooling right now. . . sad to say because her daughter sounded miserable in her current situation. . . but maybe she'll keep thinking. . .


11:41 AM  

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