James and Taylor Davis both originally went to college to become teachers. Taylor did teach in an elementary school for a number of years, while James ended up playing poker professionally. Eventually, they settled in New Jersey and started down a pretty traditional path—until their first son was born. He has been their greatest teacher in many ways, inspiring them to start questioning everything. And so began their unschooling journey.
Quote of the Week
“Every minute that I spend living in that place of fear about whatever hypothetical thing I’m worried about might happen in the future, it’s just eating away at my time right now with my kids and with my family.” ~ Taylor Davis
Questions for James and Taylor
Can you guys tell us a bit about you and your family?
You both went to college to be teachers and now you’re embracing the unschooling lifestyle. Could you share with us a bit about that experience and what happened to change your course?
I was hoping you could tell us a bit about Camp Stomping Ground. What role has it played in your unschooling journey?
What do you do when you hit a rough patch and begin to doubt unschooling?
James, you wrote a great article that was published in the December issue of Tipping Points, which is the online magazine for the new Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Sometimes when people are first learning about unschooling it can seem like some “perfect” life for children, but I really loved how you described the real life of an unschooled child. You wrote:
“Our kids still make mistakes, but we help them work through their mistakes without shame. Our kids sometimes have regrets, but they don’t resent us for causing them to miss out on the things that are important to them. Our kids sometimes get angry, but it usually comes from frustrating moments while doing things are important to them, rather than getting angry because we are a barrier between them and their goals.”
I love that you brought up regrets because I think regrets kinda get the same bad rap that mistakes do. As parents, we can get caught up in wanting our children to have the “perfect” childhood and imagine that as no mistakes and no regrets. I think parents have an easier time understanding how mistakes can happen and not shaming their kids as they through those choices, but regrets can be harder to frame. If a child later comes to regret a choice, parents may feel bad, taking it on as their failure, thinking they “should have” insisted their child do, or not do, the thing at the source of the regret. But it’s really just more learning for the child, isn’t it? Regrets aren’t a failure on our part, are they? They are part of navigating life.
You mentioned to me that you’re both self-employed and spend about an equal of time with your kids. I’d love to hear how you’ve gotten to that point.
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
You can watch my talk, The Art of Unschooling, at the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference , which runs February 3-7, 2017 (that’s an affiliate link, but my session is free to watch February 3rd and 4th)
I’m also speaking at Unschooler’s Platform, an unschooling family conference in the Chicago area, February 13-17, 2017
RSA Animate video of Sir Ken Robinson’s 2010 talk, Changing Education Paradigms
The camp they founded with Laura Kriegel and Jack Schott: Camp Stomping Ground
Near the camp is the Philly Free School
Teresa Graham Brett’s book, Parenting for Social Change
James’ Tipping Points article, Why Self-Directed Education?
Taylor’s online community, created with Fiona Griffin: New Mama Project. It’s a “place for new moms who are feeling overwhelmed, guilty, anxious, or alone because they’re finding their postpartum days to be harder than they expected. We offer stories, information, ideas, planning and wellness tools, and connection to other moms who are in the same boat.”
Taylor on Instagram (private account but she’ll add unschooling families)