The risk of unschooling


Just a reminder that I only use the term “Unschooling” (aka natural learning, life learning, life…) so others can stick us in a box, label us, and start to understand what that means.
I forget how strange unschooling as a concept must seem to those for whom it is new.  When I meet someone new, and get introduced as an unschooling parent there are many questions.

“Isn’t is a big risk?” is one.
Well yes.  Of course it is a risk.
I would counter that by suggesting that sending your children to school is a big risk, the only difference being that there is someone else, a system, to blame if  your child is seen as to  fail in any way.   (Which of course plenty of children “fail”  miserably  in the school system. ) If that is the only difference, and you live your life in an accepting and blame free way, then there is no reason to send your children to school, right??!

Unschooling is also an adventure.

It is also our lives and the lives of our children we are talking about.
For this I am prepared to risk everything, by doing the very best I can for them.
You can never get those 13 years of school-going back, or  their childhoods.  This is no dress rehearsal where if the school system doesn’t work you can go back next time and do it differently.  You know those poems that start -“If I had my life to live over again I would….” Well, you don’t, you just only ever have the NOW.

Is it OK to have your child in an institution for 13 years?
Especially if they are not happy. And  I meet a lot of children who actively dislike school.  The funny thing is that our culture is one where children are almost expected to not like school.  To not like their teachers or the work they do.  It is a part of modern pop culture there are tee-shirts reinforcing this, there are songs and jokes about it.
What does this teach them about the world?   About learning? About themselves?

In our homeschooling circles, most of the parents take their children and their feelings very seriously, that is to help them  meet their needs, keep them happy, help them to  make changes so they are happy.  If one of our kids is unhappy about something they are doing, then they stop.  We respect them, listen to them, talk about ways to solve the issue.

I am so glad I have never had to  tell them – “tough, you have to go and keep going for 13 years.”
It did take me two years to really hear them when they were at school – the older two asked regularly to be homeschooled.  I check in with Charlie too,  see if he wants to go to school.  Funnily enough he would be great at school, a  teacher’s dream as he is so organised, efficient, quick to pick things up, helpful….Still I am greatly relieved when he always answers that  -no thanks he does not want to go to school!

So I guess for me, seeing life in the big picture way I do, there is a risk in everything you do – getting out of bed in the morning, crossing roads, driving…… I love Helen Keller’s saying that “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”

I see no risk in loving my children, reading to them, showing them the world, talking, hugging, travelling, feeding them well, having adventures together and supporting them as they grow and begin to flutter in and out of the nest on their own adventures, taking their own risks.

So no, I guess not sending them to school doesn’t seem like a risk at all….

Life may be risky, but it is also beautiful, colourful and fun.
The colours of Spirits Bay – Kapowairua


3 responses »

  1. I so agree..we have a son who could do without school as the “system” does not meet his needs, excells in maths but hates school(hyperactive)..its illegal here and the full force of swiss central government will come down on us if we dont send him:(…also kids have to walk to school without parents from the age of 5… No parents are allowed to drive them, thats gotta be good for independance. We have a very strict set of rules for citizens and sometimes if u dont fit in the right “box” its problematic, maybe thats why our swiss alternative friends are all in NZ…Liebe Gruss

    • Gee it sounds like a police state there! Yeah the system is certainly not made to fit many, many children. All you can do is the great job at home you do, and enjoy those glorious mountains! (Or move back to NZ..?)

      • Its not a police state… As long as you abide by the laws…we rarely see the police and when we do they are all carrying weapons handguns(glocks to be exact) and sub machine guns…I love seeing them and the large army out and about it gives you a feeling of security. I had to join the army (compulsory for every male) when I became swiss but because of my age(was only 30 at the time) they didnt call me up. We have fresh snow so skiing isnt far away..

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