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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......

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The uselessness of grades

......and other such baloney people take with them even when leaving the school system.

I angered someone immensely when she wrote me asking a question. I was written, I did not approach this person, but when I answered her question to the best of my knowledge I made her very, very angry. Why? Because I suggested that a link to her blog had been removed because of her reference to graduating her children to the next grade and issuing rewards for behavior and educational goals. sigh.

There was no suggestion in my email that she was wrong or bad....just a simple "maybe that's why it was removed." which ended up NOT being the case and I went on to explain that I was incorrect and perhaps it was accidentally removed. In the end, I have no idea why the link wasn't there, but now I have someone angry at me because I have "judged" her.

Hmmmmmmm....if one is very comfortable with one's choices, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? If you choose to keep parts of the school you're comfortable with, that's your business. I choose to leave it ALL behind.

Children don't need rewards for learning. The learning itself, is motivation enough when a person is pursuing an authentic life and living their passions. What is the purpose of a reward or a punishment? To alter behavior. I don't like rewards. I don't like punishments. My husband and I don't use them on each other, we don't need them for children.

When a person is motivated to learn something or act a certain way, then the action itself has value for that person. Being motivated by your own desires, is the best way to accomplish anything in life.

Sure, we do kind things for each other, but simply because we love each other and that's how we choose to live. I don't give certificates or grades or talk to the children about what grade they would be in unless they ask. They don't view grade level as some kind of thing to be achieved. Adults don't need to be in a grade....why would children?

Furthermore, if claiming to walk our own path in this journey...then why take a model of schools and use it? Leave it behind. Walk without all that baggage. Don't strip kids of their internal guidance by watering it down with rewards and grades. That's what I think.

So here's a mushroom for ya, from Jalen who is no particular grade at all and needed no reward for finding and discussing an interesting thing that caught his fascination.:) Happy trails.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Anti-prom was a blast! We all dressed up and ate pizza (yes pizza) at Mellow Mushroom then walked up to Pritchard park for many hours of jumping, dancing and grooving to the beat of many drums (and a few others instruments). By the time it got totally dark, the square was jam packed with dancers.

Saying goodbye the next day was the hardest part!
After it was all said and done, there was a lot of group
hugs and laughter and walking and dancing and
eating and talking and new friendships and makeup
(yep, even the guys) and dressing fancy and having
a generally great time.

Thanks to M for putting it all together....you rock chica!!:)
Looking forward to next year.

Monday, June 11, 2007

8 things about me meme

I got tagged a while back, and sort of ignored it (sorry sara). I'm pretty sure the reason we all do these damn memes, is all related to ego, but then again...what's wrong with that? ;)
I do enjoy reading about my friends quirks, likes and dislikes. Whether any of this is relevant or readable, I have no idea.

But I'm going to play the game anyway. Sara at Unbridled Learning tagged me.

8 things about me meme

~~~Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the
game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their
names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them
know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.~~~

Yeah, this is going to be hard. Just finding 8 people to tag that haven't already been tagged will be a challenge. And while I'm probably quirky enough to list 8 things, it's much harder to think of them yourself. Methinks Bleu could list at least 20.;)

So here we go:

1) I don't eat meat (other than occasional seafood...very occasional, maybe 3-4x per year) but I will use leather and think hunting is much more humane than buying that crappy meat sold in grocery stores. I think people who buy crappy grocery meat and gross out over hunting or raising your own meat ought to be slapped silly.:)

2) The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite poem ever....but Advice to Myself by Louise Erdrich is running a close second at the moment.

3) I don't watch much tv, but I think "Heroes" is the most fun and interesting series and I hate to miss an episode. Monday nights just aren't the same now that the season is over.:(

4) I'm a metal head. Yeah, head banger...whatever you want to call it. Though my musical tastes range from opera and classical to folk/bluegrass, hard rock and hip-hop, I tend to listen to the heavy metal/hard rock the most. I love blasting AC/DC, Metallica, Mega-Death, Creed, Alter Bridge, Disturbed, System of a Down, Flyleaf, Nightwish....anything with that intense guitar please.:) It makes my heart happy. So there.

5)I'm a snob about food. Yeah, I'll eat just about anything (unless it's been through rigor mortis) but if I'm going to drink beer, it has to be good beer. Same with wine. Same with chocolate (ok, sometimes desperation allows for a lesser variety). Same with tea.
If it's not good, why bother? Bud Light is good for slug bait or making beer batter (so there AMY!) but you don't put it in your body! Ack. Try a Blue Moon or something worth drinking next time.
By good, I don't mean expensive. Just good.
I'm still loving that Rioja Danielle.....just had some last night with Bleu.:)

Oh, and the same logic applies to ice cream and other "fattening" substances. If its low-fat, I'd rather just skip it all together. Yuck.

6)Ok, the big dichotomy of being me:
I feel a strong need to live a simple life, connecting with the earth and living sustainably. BUT, I also love fashion, makeup and work for the "machine".:) And you know what? I love it. Most of it anyway. Needy people who think makeup "fixes" some deep pit of emptiness inside of them annoy the shit out of me. But in this industry, I've met some incredibly artistic, amazing human beings that have helped me grow not only as an artist but as a person.

Yes, I am passionate about beekeeping, growing your own food, buying local food, sustainable energy, makeup, fashion and all of the artistry it entails. It is what it is. I make no apologies.

7) I grew up in Fairbanks Alaska. Born and raised, with the exception of one year spent in....yeah, you guessed it....HAWAII. Crazy eh? I walked to school in 20 below more often than most people even walked to school probably. I remember my lashes freezing and wearing clunky moon boots every damn day.
I got a taste of prejudice heaped upon me in Hawaii. I was an outsider, a white, a "haole" and many of them hated me for it. The beaches were lovely though.
As to Alaska living.......
Yes, it's light all night in the summer. No, we don't have polar bears that far south. Yes, we lived in normal houses, drove cars and lived pretty much like the rest of America except for the moose, the dark, the light and the amazing mountains and northern lights.

8) Haven't had enough yet?
Ok then. I think school is a stupid place to put kids. I do understand why people utilize it at times, but if you're mindlessly forcing your kids to go, then stop it. Now.
People are born to learn and the only way to mess that up is to either leave your kids to figure everything out by themselves (neglect) or coerce and force them to learn (which doesn't produce any real learning anyway...so just stop it).
Ok, that's not really about me, just my viewpoint. BUT....
I will continue to speak and write about natural learning and gentle/mindful parenting as long as people give me a soapbox on which to stand. :)

End of ego-filled dialogue. I promise. For now anyway.

And now to tag some unsuspecting bloggers. Look out! Alright then:
~My sis Heidi (because she's unfortunate enough to be related to me),
~Danielle (since she got me hooked on the Rioja in the first place and could easily qualify as a food snob herself),
~Samuel (because his wife is a roller derby player and they're beer snobs too),
~CG (because she really DOES grow most of her own food and inspires me greatly),
~Kelli (who made me the most awesomely beautiful hand-knitted poncho ever and because I have to pester her until she moves here because I love her so),
~Diana (because hell, she's Diana and could easily come up with 100 things...every one of which would be interesting to read),
~ Zenmomma (who owns the Sunnyside Up cafe in Corvallis with her crazy-ass Jon who both make me smile often, even though I see them rarely),
and finally...
~Crystal (because she's trying to sell her house and has absolutely no time for such triviality as a blog meme!)

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Moon is Always Female

I kept passing the sign, driving up Fox street through Jonesborough. "The Moon is Always Female"* it said. There was a ceramic moon hanging next to the words. The sign hid whatever was behind it. So I kept wondering what it was, and driving past and thinking "what a cool sign".

Yesterday some friends came to town. They drove up from the NC coast to visit the area as they are thinking about moving here. These friends are the very first real life unschoolers I met, way down in Pensacola before the military moved them and mountains called us away from the beach.

Yesterday, I decided to take these friends into Jonesborough for some window shopping and a lollipop or two. The sign is still there..."The Moon is Always Female". I decide to peek behind the sign finally, as everyone else swirled up the street. "Just a second you guys, I'll be right back" I lied.

I peeked behind the sign and there was....
Beautiful art.
Expressive art.
Messy art.
Women's art.

So Im going to grab a brochure and maybe come back later, and the brochure says something about "Women on Air". "OH, thats Susan Lachman's show" says I, as Susan herself comes bursting around the corner to give me a hug.:)

Let me back up a bit though. I was driving up the road one day, many months ago when I flip on NPR (WETS up here in the hills) and hear an interview that grabbed my attention. After the interview was over, they play a song by the artist. The song made me cry it was so beautiful. They announced the artist would be playing at Acoustic Coffeehouse three days later.

And so I came to know the lovely Amy Steinberg with her passion for music and life. I met the equally lovely Susan Lachman that night, the very woman who had interviewed Amy and introduced me to her music.

I had to share about this new artist I had discovered of course...so I naturally posted about her at some of my unschooling lists. Emails started to come in from other states, thanking me for telling them about Amy and telling me of concerts they had attended. Every time Amy came back to Johnson City, she had met someone in another place that had found her through my posts! It was crazy and wonderful.

She made a connection with my dear friend Diana, who lost her daughter Hannah last year. In fact, she just played up in SD for Dianas birthday, an event I'm sure brought about more sweet connections.

So it was interesting to me, that I would run into Susan yet again, at just the right time. Not surprising, just interesting.:) As it turns out, she booked me to do a talk about chocolate on June 18th as part of the celebration of women's art. It looks like Amy might be able to make it up for a concert too. I am exactly where I need to be. Surrounded by brilliant and beautiful people who make life fun.

Serendipitous or fate? I'll let you decide....but it is amazing to me, how much the world opens up to us when we're trusting our own hearts and living the life of our choosing.

*The name of the art show is based on a poem by Marge Piercy with the same title.