Sandra Dodd is a long-time unschooling mom of three—Kirby, Marty, and Holly—who are now all adults. She’s also the creator of the awesome unschooling resource, sandradodd.com, and I’m thrilled to have her back on the podcast. In this episode, we talk about the changes that we go through as parents as we live this unschooling lifestyle with our children, and the kinds of questions that people have along the way that seem to break down reasonably well into beginner, intermediate and advanced topics.
Quote of the Week
“No-one is ever likely to read my whole website and I don’t ever need them to. It’s not written to be read from one end to the other any more than a pharmacy is intended for someone to start at one end and eat, drink or inject every substance in the whole room. If you find a page that does help you, guess what? It will help even more if you read it again after a year or two. And if you read it after you’ve been unschooling for five years it will seem that the first time it was a black and white postcard and now it’s a technicolour movie. Because you’ll understand it better and you’ll see the subtlety and the artistry of what people wrote and maybe you’ll wish you’d been able to understand it better sooner.” ~ Sandra Dodd
Questions for Sandra
I recall when I was beginning unschooling, my days were typically a mix of learning about how natural learning works and starting to question a lot of the conventional wisdom I’d absorbed growing up. There are many ways that preconceived ideas and prejudices can limit people’s thinking and get in the way of moving to unschooling, aren’t there?
When you’re starting out, it can be hard to figure out whether to trust a source of unschooling information at first. What tips would you give to help?
You recorded a great 5-minute video a few years ago called “Doing Unschooling Right.” I want to share a short quote: “My definition for unschooling is creating and maintaining an environment in which natural learning can thrive. The environment I’m talking about—what we sometimes call an unschooling nest—is not just the physical home, it’s the relationships within the family and the exploration of the world outside the home by parents and children both. The emotional environment is crucial.”
We’re approaching intermediate unschooling here, where natural learning is reasonably well understood and now there’s a dawning realization of the importance of our relationships. As you say, the emotional environment is crucial so that our children feel safe and secure. Why is that so important for unschooling to thrive?
There was so much tucked into your definition for unschooling! Another great tidbit was, “the exploration of the world outside the home by parents and children both.” We’ve seen our children’s learning in action, and now we’re realizing the important role we play. Parents need to become unschoolers and that process doesn’t happen all at once. Can you talk about why that’s so important?
We do a monthly Q&A episode where we answer listener questions and we’ve had a few about the concept of strewing. That was originally your idea, so I was hoping you could share with us a bit more detail about it while you’re here.
Now I’d like to talk about the perspective of those who’ve been unschooling a long time—it’s a different mindset, isn’t it? It’s not just the intellectual understanding of the principles of unschooling but also the real-life experience of having seen it in action with your own family, and moving through different seasons and different challenges. There’s an expansive feeling of openness and release that comes. How would you describe it?
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
Sandra’s earlier Ten Questions episode
Joyce Fetteroll’s website: joyfullyrejoycing.com
Sandra’s page of other voices
Pam Sorooshian’s essay, Unschooling is Not Child-Led Learning
Sandra’s Facebook group, Radical Unschooling Info
Sandra’s webpage about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Leah Rose on moderation, on Sandra’s website
UK science fiction show, Black Mirror
Sandra’s daily boost, Just Add Light and Stir
Sandra’s yahoo email group, Always Learning
And last, but not least, Sandra’s website, sandradodd.com