Anna Brown and Pat Robinson join me to chat about ordinary unschooling. They have both always unschooled their children—Anna’s daughters are about to turn 18 and 20, and Pat’s son is 16 years old. We talk about the idea of “unschooling success stories,” the impact of the conventional “independence agenda” which starts very young in our culture, the incredible value of ordinary unschooling days, and lots more!
Quote of the Week
“I just want to take my moment here to encourage everybody to think about how we communicate with young people and instead of asking about school or college or life plans, talk about their favorite book or show, or have they been to any good restaurants or do they have a favorite place to hike, how their week’s going. Anything that actually connects you with the actual person standing in front of you.” ~ Anna Brown
Questions for Anna and Pat
You have both been on the podcast before, so let’s just do a quick recap for new listeners. How many children do you have and how long has your family been unschooling?
There’s a tendency for people new to the idea of unschooling to seek out “success stories” in an effort to “prove” to themselves that unschooling is a viable option before they make the leap. That’s understandable. But the challenge with that is, it can set up expectations on our children to “find their passion,” or “start a business at 15” etc. I saw a quote the other day, “Homeschooling is private school for poor people!” That attitude can make life challenging for unschooling kids, can’t it?
I think a big part of this issue revolves around how we choose to define success. That question was definitely part of my deschooling process because when we define success more conventionally, by accomplishments, that can be at odds with the unschooling lifestyle we’re trying to cultivate. How do you guys define “success” nowadays?
So, let’s talk about ordinary days and ordinary people. Unschooling parents and unschooling kids going about their ordinary days. When we redefine “success,” we see so much more goodness all around us, don’t we?
I also want to touch on the unschooling kids who are doing things that look more conventionally successful. I think what’s so different is the entire unschooling ethos within which they are living. They are choosing the things they do, not because they can be successful at them, but because they are interested in them. It’s not about having others see them as “successful,” or being judged “better than others.” It’s not about what others think at all. It’s all about their personal aspirations and goals. It takes some unschooling experience for parents to understand this though, doesn’t it?
Another thing I’d like to talk about, which is another aspect of conventional expectations that are so often tossed about, is when teens turn 18. It seems to be such a significant age for so many parents. Right there behind a child hitting “school age.” And even if you’ve been unschooling for years, when your first child approaches 18, you may find new concerns popping up around this. Or you might find others are starting to share their opinions with you. Have you found this?
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
Anna’s website, Choosing Connection