This week I’m sharing part six of the audiobook edition of my book, The Unschooling Journey: A Field Guide.
Last week, we covered stages ten, eleven, and twelve, ultimately reaching the holy grail of our quest: unschooling with confidence and grace.
Let’s do a quick review to set the stage for the final leg of our journey.
In Stage Ten, Accepting Others Where They Are, we ask ourselves, who still holds power over us? Why do we continue to engage with them on the see-saw of resisting their control and seeking their approval? What grows out of this deep, personal exploration around our need for approval is a feeling of freedom to show up openly as ourselves, mistakes and all, doing our best. As we continue to embrace this new level of self-awareness, we no longer feel the need to hide or apologize for our choices, nor are we drawn to flaunt them—we just live them.
In Stage Eleven, Cultivating Kindness and Compassion, we reach the apotheosis of our journey, which, for me, was all about finding the magic in the mess. As we contemplate what we’ve learned about judgement, temptation, and power over the last three stages of our journey, our understanding continues to grow, and in this stage, we glimpse the true nature of life. As we continue to heal from our past, old fears and hurts fall away, and their influence on our choices fades. As that weight lifts, we feel lighter and more open, able to find more creative and fun ways to navigate our days. As our self-awareness grows, we bring more of our true selves into our days. And as we learn more about our children, our connection with them deepens, and our trust grows.These revelations feed off each other, bringing an increasing lightness and depth to our days and in time we realize we are approaching the summit of our journey. We find ourselves able to reach for kindness and compassion more often. And, in my experience, so often when we choose to reach for kindness and compassion in the moment, we discover magic. The moment turns, and we find ourselves going places more interesting, more fun, and more meaningful than we could have predicted or even imagined.
In Stage Twelve, Unschooling with Confidence and Grace, we obtain the holy grail of our quest: we are truly and deeply unschooling. In myths and stories, the reward at the end of the journey is often represented by an object: fire, magical trinkets, priceless treasure, or elixirs of health or immortality. But after the trials and tribulations of our journey, the real reward isn’t material. We have journeyed to attain the grace of the gods and goddesses. Not to steal it from them, nor to trick them into giving it to us—it’s not a fixed commodity. But to come to understand, and therefore share, their perspective and their spirit. Their grace. The real prize we’ve gained is the knowledge of our indestructibility in life. It’s that understanding, deep in our bones, that enables us to move through whatever challenges life throws at us. Grace is the kindness and compassion that comes from knowing that we will endure. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if we can’t quite see it yet. And remember, having grace doesn’t mean we are perfect. There will be challenges that seem insurmountable. There will be temptations. In fact, understanding that we aren’t perfect is an integral part of our journey. We learn, ever more deeply, that unschooling—that life—is a practice. Each day, each moment, we can choose to reach for love, kindness, and compassion. To live gracefully with others.
And that’s where we left off last week! At the summit of our journey. And in this final episode, we enter the last phase of our journey: living unschooling. The unknown world we set out to discover now feels like home. And with our quest accomplished, we’re enjoying the fruits of our labour. Maybe for a while we think we’re done, but there is so much more to explore and learn! And at some point, we’ll choose to begin our journey back to the ordinary world.
And as we wrap up, I want to make special mention of the incredible illustrations included in the book, by the amazing Hema Bharadwaj. I love them so much, and Hema, an unschooling mom herself, joined me on the podcast when the book first came out to talk about the inspiration behind the images and share some delightful stories about her own unschooling journey. Our conversation ended up being almost two hours so I broke it into two episodes, 114 (Part 1) and 115 (Part 2). I encourage you to listen to them! And if you’d like to see the illustrations we’re talking about, I included them in the episode transcripts, 114 (Part 1) and 115 (Part 2).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast side quest, diving into the unschooling journey through the lens of the hero’s journey.
Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey framework, ‘The Unschooling Journey’ is a weave of myths, contemporary stories, and tales from my journey. It’s not a “how to” book—no two paths through the world of unschooling have the same twists and turns—yet having a general sense of where you are on your journey can bring valuable insight as you navigate the challenges that will inevitably appear. I share this book as a field guide to the stages and characters you are likely to encounter in some form on your unschooling journey.
And the print edition is also a journal! In the print edition, you’ll also find plenty of room to document your journey along the way. Hema Bharadwaj’s illustrations are printed full page for you to colour as you contemplate your journey, there are journal pages for writing down your experiences and clarifying your thoughts, and even blank pages for doodling and sketching.
You can purchase the print edition on Amazon, or find it on most other online print book retailers.
And for listeners who prefer interview-style episodes, for this last week I’ve selected episode 27, Ten Questions with Teresa Graham Brett, first released in July of 2016. Teresa is an unschooling mom with two kids, and she’s the author of a wonderful book, Parenting for Social Change. Teresa’s background as a social justice educator brings a unique and interesting slant to her journey to unschooling. In this episode, she shares some great stories and the fascinating insights she has gleaned along the way. Of course, the journey never ends, we’re always learning. And in that vein, we talk about adultism, the conventional obsession with control over children, ways to move to more supportive parenting, and much more.
Such a wonderful conversation!
This is the thing about control: when I controlled his access to everything—food, media, whatever it was—I was uninvolved because I had deemed everything he had access to, to be safe. So there was no partnership.Teresa Graham Brett