Lately I’ve been thinking about the term Unschooling. Every time I use it as a hashtag, I cringe a little inside. I guess because I prefer to think of our lives as not requiring school at all. My daughter learns at home and learns what she wants to learn. I guide her, provide resources and experiences for her, and follow her lead.
It’s that simple, really.
Why do I feel the need to label this as Unschooling, rather than simply life? Maybe it’s a matter of being part of a movement I’m passionate about. Maybe it’s a snub at an institution I strongly dislike, being that of the public school. Maybe it’s the lazy way to try to connect with others of similar mindsets. I’m not entirely sure.
That said, I’m growing away from the label. I’m slowly learning that I don’t need this label to fit in somewhere in the homeschooling realm. I’m learning that “school” really has no place in our life and therefore “Unschooling” doesn’t either.
I’m not educating my child at home to take a stand against school. I’m doing it because I believe in my heart it is best for her and for our family. I’m not intentionally trying to Unschool my child. To do so is an oxymoron anyway.
It got me thinking about the fact that the very word, “Unschooling” requires the opposite: schooling – in order to exist.
Perhaps, as I have done in the past, I’m mincing words here…pureeing them to pulp. Words are kind of my thing. I love words. Words matter. Words are attached to feelings and fantasies, purposes, and ideas…they matter, and I want the words I use to have purpose. I don’t want to simply follow the crowd, even if that crowd is a crowd of rebels. If you’ve ever watched the movie Fight Club, you may remember the part where Robert dies and the men from the fight club begin chanting his name over and over again, like programmed machines. They created the fight club to rebel against a system, but became part of another system, with its own set of rules and problems.
We see this every single day, in every single area of interest.
Even in homeschooling, unschooling, and schooling.
All of them have one thing in common: schooling.
Is this a bad thing? Of course not, but for me, I really want to simply do what’s right for my daughter, without slapping a trendy label on it. Does this make sense? Am I really just overanalyzing this?
I probably am.
It’s because it means a lot to me.
Freedom means a hell of a lot to me.
Freedom of thought.
Freedom of education.
Freedom of speech.
Freedom of choice.
When we become part of any movement, we begin to conform to the rules of that movement and if we don’t stop to consider our motives, we’re losing sight of the big picture.
Why did I begin to label things as Unschooling?
Because I wanted to make a point: “We don’t need no stinking’ school!”
Okay…where did this come from? My own experiences as a student, where I did the minimal amount of work necessary to get honor roll and that was it. I didn’t care otherwise. Most of the work was exceedingly boring, unrelated to my life, and rather brainless, really. This is also from my experiences as a teacher and how schools (from the struggling schools to the “excellent” schools) are nothing more than training facilities for testing (tests which are invalid, ineffective, and pointless), and I saw the effect this had on the children.
I wanted no part of that. However, as I have been reflecting on what my daughter is doing – no, scratch that – on how I’m reacting to and sharing with others what my daughter is doing, I wonder if I’m even getting across what I intended to.
My philosophy is: we don’t need school. However, I cling to habits that have been drilled into my brain.
It’s part of the indoctrination I had as a child and as a young adult – that school is a necessity, that accountability is crucial, that performance must be assessed and measured in order to be valid, that a child must be controlled, molded, and formed into something someone else has deemed acceptable. Anything short of that is not education, but frivolity, and pointless activities that are dangerous to the child in question.
It’s hard for me to let that go, but I’m working on it.
It’s easy for my daughter. She does her thing each day. When people as her about school, she tells them, “I don’t do school” and leaves it at that. I have to ease the adult’s confusion and concern by telling them she’s homeschooled. Why I feel the need to do this, I have no idea. Perhaps to avoid having officials at my door….America the free.
Then again, I’d welcome them. Look what my child is learning is a couple hours a day, on her own. Compare that to the kindergarteners who are in public school for 7 hours.
Now, piss off!
I can’t help it, my rebel-nature won’t die and in all honesty, I don’t want it to ever die.
However, I’m growing ready to let go of the need to attach school to any of it. We don’t do school. We “don’t need no stinkin’ school” and I’m getting to the point where I no longer feel the need to compare what we’re doing to what schools are or are not doing for other children who are forced to attend.
To compare something to another implies that there is esteemed value in the thing we are comparing our something to. Right? To compare what we are doing at home with what schools are doing suggests that I still put great value in what schools are doing.
But I don’t.
Schooling doesn’t serve children. It serves them up to the Economic Machine, making slaves of the majority.
PS. I know this is not a nice post. I know it’s very political. I know it’s venomous, but it’s not untrue. I’ve been in the system – I’ve seen all sides of it. You may not agree with what I’ve written and that’s okay. We needn’t all agree. What we do need is discussion, and to take pause when we’re doing something the majority is doing. Nothing is good for all of us, but something is good for each of us.