Sunday, June 2, 2013

Unschooling Principles

"The principles of unschooling are that humans are born learners. That children will learn best when given the freedom to learn what, when and how they want.

That doesn't, of course, tell anyone what to do. Principles are what help us decide which choices support our philosophy and which choices run counter to it.

Some people hear the unschooling principles and see them as limiting, as preventing them from doing what they feel is best or want to do and equate that with being closed-minded. But we all have guiding principles that limit our choices to the choices that we feel are right. If we didn't have principles it would be okay to shoot our neighbor for running his table saw at 6AM on Saturdays! But we voluntarily limit our choices of solutions to that problem because we recognize that some of them violate our principles. (Or values or ethics or philosophy or get in the way of our goals in life.)"   --from the blog, Joyfully Rejoicing

 making "grass angels"

It looks like anything you might want to know about unschooling, and any question you might have, is covered at Joyfully Rejoicing. I recommend just looking at a few tidbits at a time and letting the unschooling philosophy slowly sink in.  The above explanation was an "aha" moment for me.  I was indeed feeling that some unschoolers are closed-minded and not thinking for themselves, just parroting someone else's ideas about unschooling. They seem rigid rather than joyful, refusing to continue going deeper, which defeats the whole point.

Dayna Martin actually covers this in her Radical Unschooling book as part of the journey in understanding the process. Some people may get stuck in that rigid spot and get discouraged, even give up on the whole idea. And unfortunately their policing may adversely affect others.  Dayna commented on the Whole Life Unschooling Facebook group that there is no such thing as "fully RU".  We are always on the journey, and it will look different for every family.

Radical unschoolers live by principles rather than rules, but there will likely be specific rules which naturally follow from one's principles. The principle of respect for one's environment as well as considerations of safety lead to a "no running in the house" rule in my home.  The extension of unschooling principles in education to all other areas of life means respecting the wants, needs, and personhood of children within each family's individual principles. Gentleness is an overriding goal. We don't want to be constantly questioning whether every little thing we say and do is "RU" (Radical Unschooling). That would not be authentic parenting.

If I say that we are Catholic unschoolers in my family, that means that the Faith not only permeates educational considerations, but that it informs every area of life. And it means that our Catholicism is radical, or "from the root".  We can be radical unschoolers, because this means that we follow unschooling principles within the peaceful borders (my designation for limits or boundaries) of our Faith.  It could even be argued that the moniker "radical" is redundant, because it is already implied by the label of Catholic unschooling. In fact, catholic literally means "universal".  Our definition of Truth and Freedom may be different from other radical unschoolers, but the point is living joyfully and in respectful partnership with our children according to our Truth, not someone else's.  It means living in Freedom by our own lights, shining within the brighter light of Christ.

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