Saturday, September 5, 2009

Some thoughts on unschoolers fitting in

Coming home from the Northeast Unschooling conference, we talked about the conference for most of the drive. While talking about the workshop Even More Different, with Erika Davis-Pitre and Kathryn Baptista, and about how so many unschoolers don’t feel comfortable about telling people they unschool, I realized that unschooling was only a part of why I felt different. I also don’t feel comfortable with the people at home because I have to pretend to be something other than I am to be accepted, and usually I don’t pretend.

So many people are happy to have their children go off to school in the Fall, I've always said that I would miss mine! Parents talk about how awful the teen years are, I love talking with my daughters and their friends! I've heard so many homeschooling parents talk about how hard it is to get their kids to do the assigned work, I say why not just unschool! It makes me different. It doesn't mean I'm not accepted by the people that I know, just that they don't understand where I am coming from, and much of the time I don't understand them!

Everyone has a public face to fit into the “village” they live in, and my public face is not very different from my private face, so I tend to feel that I don't fit in much of the time because I am not hiding my differences. As I read Eli Gerzon’s post (thanks Eli!) I realized that there are probably many unschoolers who feel the same way, especially if unschooling is not their only difference. They unschool, but that's just a word to most people who aren't doing it, not a philosophy. If someone asks what unschooling is, you may start telling them about your philosophy of life if you want to explain unschooling adequately. You can say your children learn at home without a curriculuum, and many people don't want to hear more than that, but if you elaborate you start talking about your values. You talk about respecting children and trusting that they will learn what they need to. That is a foreign concept to most people, and it may make them uncomfortable because they don't trust their children, and they may feel judged by you. If you say you talk with your teens, they may feel guilty that their teens don't talk to them. Other unschoolers don't need these values explained, they share them.

That may be why I felt so comfortable at the conference. The people there might not understand all of what makes me, but they understand enough that I still felt more accepted there than I do anywhere else!

I'll be posting more about the conference as I get it all sorted out in my head, but for now much of it is all jumbled together.

until the next time,