Friday, May 31, 2013
In Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun, author Dayna Martin establishes trusting children in their learning choices as a basic tenet of unschooling. The learning going on in her home is primarily passion-driven. I take no issue with this; in fact, I applaud it. Radical unschooling extends the unschooling educational philosophy to other areas of parenting, including trusting one's child regarding considerations such as food, media, TV, video games, bed times, potty training, etc... This is where the parameters get murky for me; in some cases I see the connection to trust in natural processes, while in others the distinction isn't clear. The main point of radical unschooling, to me, is love, respect, and gentleness toward children. It is peaceful, mindful, intuitive parenting, not a cart blanche of personal freedom.
Suppose, as a Catholic mother, I do not allow my child to view pornography. This might be interpreted as not trusting my child and trying to "control" him by some radical unschoolers. Is radical unschooling, then, to be understood as the complete abnegation of parental authority? In her blog, Dayna distinguishes between radical unschooling and permissive parenting, stressing that these are not one and the same. She advocates guiding children and providing them with relevant information, and believes in hands on parenting and in trusting your inner guidance in raising them. There seems to be room here for an authentic expression of values.
Therefore, if I value moral safety and believe that pornography viewing would harm my child, setting a limit in this area actually promotes true happiness and freedom and is an exercise of the parental vocation given me by God. Since "limits" is a hot button word in the RU community, let's think outside the box and use a different moniker. I suggest peaceful borders. Think in terms of an enclosed garden, a sanctuary, or if you will, a domestic church. The borders are there not to wall you away from the rest of the world, but to provide protection and a safe haven for contemplation and the building up of qualities such as self-possession and discernment. Here you can listen to your inner voice and connect with Truth.
Can I promote "peaceful borders" and still be a radical unschooler? I can call myself whatever I want, of course. But the primary definition of "radical" would back me up if I did: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root. Interesting that we have here a correlating garden image! The garden speaks of fertility, growth, and natural cycles. "Radical" does not have to mean extremism or fanaticism. Radical unschooling implies rootedness. It does not have to be a complete rejection of all tradition or authority. It does not have to mean allowing children to do whatever they want, whenever they want, although that is the free choice some may make. We can pick from the garden of radical unschooling those areas of flexibility that make sense to us, that speak to our hearts, and that are for the good of our children and our families. We can take what we like and leave the rest. It is okay if some fruit is forbidden.