PAM: Hi everyone, I am Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I am here with Noah Tetzner. Hi Noah!
NOAH: Hi Pam!
PAM: Hi! Did I say your last name right?
NOAH: Yes, yes you did.
PAM: I forgot to ask before, usually I try to get that nailed down first. Anyway, a couple of months ago, Noah sent me a beautifully passionate email about how excited he is to be unschooling after having left high school last fall. I get questions pretty regularly about whether unschooling is viable if you do not start when kids are young and I thought Noah would be a great person to speak to that and I love the idea of sharing his story. So, to get us started, Noah …
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely. I am Noah, I am 17 years old, my family and I live in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We have always lived here, I have grown up here. I have my mom, my dad, my sister named Madeline, who is a year younger than I, and yeah, we have lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin our whole lives. I am currently in 11th grade, so a Junior in high school.
And from first through eighth grade, I was homeschooled by my mom and it was beautiful; my sister and I were both homeschooled. We were super active in the homeschool community, we were in all sorts of co-ops and geography fairs and we had a lot of great homeschooling friends and it was awesome.
Then when I would have been in my first year of high school when I was going into ninth grade, my parents sat down my sister and I and we had the conversation about possibly going to school. It happened to be a private school in Green Bay where I live, and I guess we just had that discussion because we were getting older and perhaps so many homeschooling parents feel this way, “I can’t teach my kids science,” or “I can’t teach my kids math, where are they going to get that? They won’t get it from me, they are going to need it from somebody else.” And my parents sent my sister and I off to a private school.
For the first year, for the most part it was good. I had the opportunity to showcase a lot of my passions in history, I had an awesome history teacher. But then there was a lot of negative experiences I would say, especially as I was growing older and really starting to discover for the first time my own passions and my own desires. Between being in school for eight hours a day and the massive amounts of homework, especially at what they might call an “academically rigorous” school, such as that one, there is absolutely no time for the things that I was passionate about.
I had the conversation with my mom. Actually, my mom brought it up. It’s funny because she had actually taken my sister out of school just because it was not a good fit. My sister was experiencing some self-esteem issues, she did not really feel intelligent, because her passions and desires were being oppressed there, and shortly after my mom had taken my sister out of school, would have been this past school year of 2017, and I was taken out in October, if I am correct. Yeah, my sister was taken out and then my mom had the decision to bring me back home and that was when she first discovered unschooling and she just thought it was the coolest thing ever. “Noah, look at unschooling!” And she was reading all sorts of books and one of the books that I love, it is on my shelf over there actually, I think it is called Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich, if I am correct?
NOAH: And my mom, that was one of the sort of gateway books that really led to us just becoming super passionate about unschooling, so I suppose that after that the rest is history and here I am living this joyful unschooling life and listening to your podcast and hearing of all the lives lived to the fullest by unschoolers, so this is awesome.
PAM: That is a really cool story.
So, when your mom came to you, you were still in school and she mentioned unschooling to you. So, when you left, you knew what unschooling was and you guys just kind of dove into that? Is that what you were expecting when you decided to leave school?
NOAH: Yeah, I suppose that was. To clarify, when my mom had decided to take us out of school, it was an interesting scenario because, and I suppose maybe I will discuss later why we were taken out of school, but if I am just sort of skimming the surface here, when she had decided to take my sister and I out of school, she had already discovered unschooling shortly after my sister was taken out. Then she was really showing it to me, and I discovered articles and books and John Taylor Gatto and all of these cool figures and I just really embraced this style and philosophy of learning never stops and just because you are not being taught by someone or being taught the things that somebody feels that you need to learn, you can still learn. So yeah, I was pretty familiar with unschooling upon leaving. It was pretty natural. It was sort of like I was being groomed to leave, in that sense.
PAM: Well that is cool to think of it that way. So, you were diving in and learning about it while you were still in school?
NOAH: Yeah, that is correct.
PAM: Yeah, and you are welcome to dive in as deep as you like, don’t worry about that. Was it learning about unschooling that excited you enough to choose to leave?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely. My parents always sort of left the decisions up to the kids, up to my sister and I, so it was very much my decision to leave school. Now my mom was really coaxing me, “Come on, Noah.”
PAM: She was excited!
NOAH: Yeah, she was very excited, as I know many people are about unschooling when they discover it.
I was like, “I don’t know, what about school? What about this, what about that?” You know, concerning myself with all of the outcomes, because at school they are obsessed with outcomes, right? “How are you going to support yourself upon leaving high school?” And after having a conversation with both my mom and my dad, my mom and I talking more about how I would embrace lifelong learning and my dad who owns his own small business, saying, “Noah, it is quite possible for you to make a reasonable income based on the scenario that you have, (he owns a small real estate business), right out of high school, so I do not really think that school would be deterring you from success,” if that makes sense.
PAM: Mm-mmm! Yes. So then, you did a lot of your deschooling then, while you were still in school. I guess maybe that kind of helped, because you could see what you were doing, day in and day out, as you were learning about it, so you could compare them right there as you were trying to decide, right?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
It is kind of an interesting, kind of a unique scenario, if you think about it. Because I had already discovered unschooling in those final weeks and months of my being at school, so you mention deschooling and I guess I will just touch on that.
When we came out of school, my sister and I, there was definite deschooling that needed to occur, just because although we had been homeschooled for eight years prior to me going to school, anybody who had been a part of a school for some period of time or any period of time at all, I am sure knows this, is that once you become part of a school, it is just so ingrained in your lifestyle. Waking up so early, going to school, coming back, doing homework, trying to please teachers and doing the same thing day after day after day, really becomes your lifestyle and it really becomes sort of your identity, when you spend so much time.
Who am I at school? What do the teachers think of me? What do my fellow students think of me? So, when we came back, we really just took it easy. Learning never stops and we certainly continued to learn, but it was always learning what we were passionate about and we still do that of course, but especially deschooling. We just needed to take a big exhale when we came out of school.
I would be interested to hear more about what those first weeks and months were like. Because, like you were saying, in school, you define yourself through the perimeters of school, right? You know, how are people seeing me, judging me, how am I doing by the standards and the expectations within that environment?
And then, all of a sudden, you kind of have to define your own parameters, your own expectations. When you all of a sudden have control of your days, like you said: all of a sudden I do not have to wake up early, all of a sudden I don’t have to be here by a certain time. And I remember for myself even, when I stopped work and started staying home, it’s like redefining yourself, isn’t it? Figuring out, what do I want to do when I am not being told what I have to do? How did that go for you?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
I just remember being in school, waking up at 6:30, getting ready for the day and I would be like, okay, I am going to get “this” done today, I am going to do this, this, this, and this. And I remember my list was never school-related, like it was never, ‘I am going to do this homework assignment.’ I was like, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if I could go for a bike ride today and get some exercise and experience some nature. Wouldn’t it be great if I could hang out with my friends on Skype or something like that and really spend time doing the things we love, playing our historical strategy games and doing all of these things, and you know I am going to read this book and I am going to do this.’
I remember that I would have this list of things that I wanted to achieve and I would go to school and I would be like, ‘Okay, after school as soon as I come home I am going to do this,’ and I would be like, ‘I should not be getting much homework today,’ but I just remember coming home after school and I usually had massive amounts of homework that restricted me from doing those things, but even if I didn’t have homework, just the exhaustion that I felt after the end of the day, you know, I just remember wanting to lie down on the couch essentially, right after I came home.
Being at home and having this freedom, it really allowed for so much extra time, which is such a beautiful thing. Because so many of us live such busy lifestyles but I think those moments where we get to reflect on ourselves and on our own dreams and our desires and thinking about just what I want today to look like, those are just such valuable moments.
I remember just having the time to do the things that I loved. Going for bike rides—waking up, the birds chirping, sun shining and going for these beautiful bike rides because that is just something I love to do. As well as I run a podcast—of course, a history podcast, I have always loved history. I had time to do that, I had time to read all sorts of history books and write things and you know, eventually I might like to write my own book one day, so I have sort of started outlining things for that and just you have all of this time, which is such a beautiful thing. It is not for one moment wasteful because you are putting it towards things that you want to do, you know, things that are of benefit to yourself and your family and spending time with your family which I think is just so awesome.
When I was at school my sister and I definitely grew apart, we had our own sort of friend circles and it seems like we were always sort of in a bad mood waking up that early. My parents—I did not really have to come to my parents for anything. I never really came to them for any homework related things. It was really creating distance between myself and my family, which, looking back, we are like, “Thank god that we live this life that we do today, thank god that that stage of our life was over because now we can listen to each other, we can help each other and we can really just learn to understand each other,” which I think is just so incredibly necessary when living amongst other people.
PAM: I love that, Noah, and what a great point.
I had never really thought of that; when you talked about how it distanced you from your parents, and your sister as well, but even with your parents. Because there are not really that many questions for when you are doing homework, right? Because homework is very structured. They have their questions and you know exactly what answers you are supposed to give. They have nothing to do with anyone else’s opinion, they have just to do with the textbook or what the teacher said. So even when you come home, when you are doing homework, you are disengaged from everything all around you. It is still all about school, even when you are at home, right?
NOAH: Right, absolutely.
PAM: That is so interesting, yeah.
So, did you have any trouble—because you were talking about how now that you were home you could do all the things that you had been wanting to do, you now had time for it, as you said, time is such a beautiful piece of unschooling, right. We do not realize how many extra busy things that we are doing until we start to get to choose what we do and we actually say, “Oh, is that something I actually want to be doing?” Oh, no I do not have to do it anymore, but then you also do not do the typical things that people are expected to.
So, did you have a time when you had to shift what you valued, from what school values and those type of accomplishments, to truly recognizing the value of a bike ride, for example?
NOAH: Absolutely, you know, I mentioned deschooling before and when I came home—because you are pounding pounding pounding, hammering hammering hammering to get these assignments that other people would have you do, done, essentially. It is so ironic because they are not benefiting yourself or giving life to yourself, if that makes sense; something that somebody else would have you do.
When I came home, I was just like, ‘Whoa, I have all this time now.’ And it was just like, ‘Wow, what do I do with this? What can I do with this?’ And if I am honest, it was sort of a rocky start at first when we first started unschooling, because I think both my sister and I were sort of in the school mindset in the initial weeks that we left. When we had conversations with my mom about what sort of things we wanted to learn after we left school, my sister and I very much had this approach of it needs to be structured like, “Well mom, we need to do this this this and this, because that is what you do to be successful” or something.
But no, it was rocky at the beginning. It was just we were still our old selves in the sense that we were not listening to each other. We really did not understand each other. I mean, a lot can happen in a year and we were at school for two years, and certainly a lot had happened, a lot of growth, like not in a totally bad way, but a lot of issues brought up. A lot of issues that some of us were carrying that we did not have any idea about because we were so busy focused on school.
Yeah, when we left it was a rocky start but we did not give up, we were determined to make this work because we knew that it could work and that it was the right decision. So, after a few weeks we really started—we had a lot of deep conversations, a lot of listening to each other, a lot of understanding, a lot of paradigm shifts. Yeah. And then after that, it was just such a beautiful thing. My sister really started blossoming, I feel like I started blossoming, my mom did as well, you know. We all started to pursue the things that we were passionate about, which I think is just so beautiful.
I think when you are young, that is just such an opportunity to do those things. I think this is just such a monumental time in a human being’s life, are the childhood and especially the teenage years. For so many, it is in those teenage years, the years right between childhood and adulthood that so much is lost because you are sort of whisking yourself away. Always focusing on the next thing, like, “Okay, by age of 25 I am going to be graduating college and I am going to work here at age 18 and I have to take all these tests” and it is like, “No, what do you want? What are you passionate about? What can you do for yourself?” There is so much opportunity and it is just all around us. So yeah, I think that is such a great thing.
PAM: Yeah, I think your point about those teenage and even young adult years while you are in college, because you are not allowed really to understand yourself or to respect your own wishes or dreams and passions. It is always for someday. ‘I will get through high school, I will get through college, and THEN I can finally make my own choices and do my own things.’ But by that point, after you are locked into a career—because at some point you had to make a choice about your college program—whether you like it or not at this point. Then maybe college loans, so you have got to get out there and get working right away, and you are just pulled through that whole thing. On college graduation you thought, ‘Oh finally, now it is my life, it is under my control,’ but you realize ‘Oh, there is all this that has come up,’ and again, have little choices.
NOAH: Right, absolutely.
PAM: Yeah, so you were talking about you and your sister for those first few weeks at home, were a lot of those paradigm shifts about figuring out ways to live together? Like you said, you guys understandably grew apart because when you went to school you were not seeing each other and as we were talking about, when you got home you were each doing your school things, so there was not a lot of having to figure things out together and live together.
I think that was one of the big things, the first few months when my kids came home from school. Even though they were younger, it was so much about us learning who each other was, like we really did not know each other.
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
PAM: Yeah, that was your experience?
NOAH: Yeah, and I just love how you phrased that. It’s like we didn’t know each other. We only knew ourselves and I think we were super selfish in the sense that it was very much like, “What is next for me?” or something like that. Always focusing on what we felt that we needed or something like that, but absolutely.
We really had the opportunity, like I said, just lifelong learning, and that is really what has happened since leaving school. When you are at school, they really teach learning as if it is a temporary thing. “Okay, you are going to learn about the ancient Roman Empire from this week to this week, and then we are going to move on and you are going to learn about the mitochondria in cells from this week to this week.”
We had some rabbits in our yard, some baby bunnies and it is spring here in Wisconsin where I live. It sounds like just a bunch of rabbits, but these bunnies and these rabbits had these babies and we actually have a garden and they had actually made a nest underneath a plant. We were just watching every day, the baby bunnies in there and the mom would come out and then she would bring food back for the babies and the next thing you know, they were running all over the yard and pretty soon they grew up.
I bring that up simply because we actually took the time to explore the life of rabbits and the life of bunnies. We did all sorts of research on what life like for a rabbit, what is the lifespan of a rabbit; all these questions you know, we read the classic book Watership Down which of course has rabbits as the central characters, so that was really an interesting way of understanding the world of these incredible creatures. I bring that up simply because that is something that we were passionate about. We were watching these rabbits outside and my mom is like, “Wow, isn’t that cool?” And I am like, “Yeah,” and my sister is like, “Yeah,” and we are like, “Okay, we are going to really just dig deep into exploring the life of rabbits” and we did it and we did not even structure it. We would just find things by ourselves and bring it up and “Well, I think this,” and making sort of nature observations.
I think learning is such a natural thing in people. Wanting to explore, wanting to learn more. You know, human beings have been learning for millennia; I think that is crucial to the existence of the human race as you know. When we needed to go somewhere faster and farther, we invented the wheel. When we needed documents and scholarly research and the bible and everything else more at the fingertips of people, we invented the printing press. We have always been learning new ways to do things and looking at things in different ways.
In school there is not that because I think we learn for two reasons. We learn because we are interested or we learn because it is a necessity. Like, when I started my podcast, I had to learn how to work a microphone and a mixer, that was a necessity, but of course I was passionate about it. I just bring that up the whole rabbit thing because that was just something we were passionate about and I think it was just so beautiful that we spent so much time on it but we really just learned so much because of it.
PAM: I think that is such a great example. So that was soon after you left school last year?
NOAH: Yeah, yes it was.
PAM: So, to me, that is such a beautiful example because when you first leave, you really do look at the learning that you do. Like, you realized, “Oh look, we did not come up with a formal plan or a formal outline for us to follow and we each dove into it.”
When you are first leaving school and you are changing that paradigm, you are really paying attention and that is when you know, “Oh look, we did learn tons about rabbits and we did not have it structured, and we still kept learning, and we brought fiction books into our learning,” which typically does not cross in school, right? That is all your non-fiction stuff, except when you are in English class, then you read fiction.
And that is just a beautiful example of that paradigm shift from school learning, to life-long learning—to learning is everywhere. A year or two from now, you will have another example like rabbits, but it will be like breathing to you, you will not even notice it. It is so important at first when you are deschooling because that is what helps you understand how unschooling is not about “not learning,” it’s just about learning in a different way, and you can see the difference.
Like, you will remember that rabbit story so long vs picking a class that you were not interested in in school. I bet you barely remember past the test what was there, so it is just such a wonderful example of the difference between those kinds of learning, right?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
And just learning in such a natural way. Isn’t that, as human beings, just so natural? I mean, to some who have been brought up with this whole school mindset, it sounds like such a radical concept but no, it is so natural. Everybody is so curious and everybody wants to learn. We are just sort of held back and told we need to learn what somebody said we had to learn.
I do not know who; I cannot point to those people who said, “You need to learn this, this, and this,” but yeah.
PAM: And a lot of that too, I think when one leaves school—especially when they are older, like you were—is uncovering that curiosity again. You have had to dampen that with school for so many years in that they tell you, “Well, this is what we are learning, and this is what we are learning, and this is what we are learning.” Like you said, you had all sorts of other interests but you were exhausted by the time you got home, that you barely got to touch on them.
So, discovering that rabbits are interesting, and rediscovering your curiosity to not only ask the questions that occur to you, but to actually follow through and, like you said, you were all looking up different bits about it. That is a big shift, isn’t it? From being told, to saying, “Hey, my curiosity is valuable. Is worth getting answers to,” right?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
What are some of the things you have been doing then, since October?
NOAH: Yeah, so it has really been just so great. So, I guess I will talk about myself first. I have always been a huge history fan. Ever since I was just a little boy, I have always just loved history; anything and everything about history. The Roman Empire and Medieval Knights and Vikings and Napoleonic time periods and the Victorian era. I have always loved history and I have always listened to podcasts. In fact, that is of course how I stumbled upon Exploring Unschooling, which I am a huge fan of, of course.
So, I decided, why don’t I take this passion of history that I have, and wouldn’t it be so cool if I could share that with other people who love history? So, I had this idea, I thought, “Well I could start a podcast. I listen to a lot of podcasts, why don’t I start one?”
And I did not know what to podcast about other than history, but of course my podcast is called, The History of Vikings, so it is about Vikings and Norse Mythology and that whole sort of era of history. I decided to podcast about that after I was doing some reading and discovered Norse myth and the tales of Oden and Thor and Loki.
That was definitely a journey in itself. Learning how to start a podcast, how to connect a microphone into a mixer, all of this technical stuff, which, I am like so not a technical person. But I figured it out because I was so passionate about it and I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of experts in my field on my show. I have had Oxford, Harvard, Yale professors who are experts on Vikings. I have also talked to some YouTubers, a lot of history YouTubers. My childhood was filled with watching various history YouTube videos.
The podcast is in a network now, it is listened to by thousands of people per week, it is just really special and I only started this podcast two months ago. And I have had this opportunity to connect with so many beautiful people you know. People have sent me emails, just asking “What was that name of Thor’s hall that you mentioned in the last episode?” Or, “You know, Noah, you might try learning some old Norse so that you can pronounce the names of the Viking gods in the native language,” and just exploring more of these interesting concepts. That has been one of the things that I have been up to, which has been super exciting.
My sister has always been a science girl, and one of the things that she started right away when we were unschooling is she really started diving deep into medicine. She really started diving deep into how the human body works and how different sicknesses work and animals and nature and she has always just loved that sort of thing. You know, she is on the track to becoming a doctor one day, so she did not really get to spend any time at all learning all of that in school and even in science class at school.
One would think somebody who liked science would enjoy a science class in school, she really didn’t you know, because she was behind in some areas, as in she did not learn the periodic table when she was “supposed to.” She has really been diving into that, which has been beautiful. So, we are really just both diving into what we are passionate about and what we love and sharing with one another our interests and listening and just having these conversations which is just so beautiful.
PAM: Oh, I love that. Yeah and that is part of, as you were saying, developing that relationship with her now, and once that, I remember you mentioned at the beginning, it was more “Me, me, me” as in you are focused on your own needs, but isn’t it cool how, as you get to know each other, and with your mom, how she is able to support you both and then you learned that it is not me vs her, that we all work together. That is a big paradigm shift; a big mindset shift, isn’t it?
And then all of sudden, everybody can support everybody else and then all of a sudden, they become interesting and you can happily express your interest in their interest and then conversations are just so exciting at that point, aren’t they, when everybody is just sharing what they love?
NOAH: They are. Oh no, that is awesome. Yeah, just everyone sharing what they’re passionate about. And, you know, my dad absolutely just equally with my mom has been super engaged in what we are passionate about. My sister has always had sort of a special bond with our dad, you know, so they have really been sort of digging into science together which has been really cool to watch. So yeah it is just really special to see that, which I know you do not see in settings where you are learning a set structure of things.
PAM: Yeah, that’s right. Because you have to look out for yourself in that kind of environment. You are expected to. Those are the expectations: “This is your job, you get these marks.” You are set up to only look out for yourself in that environment.
NOAH: Absolutely, and I think one thing that has just been so crucial in the ability to just focus on what we are passionate about, is the fact that grades are not involved. Now I mean for some people maybe grades work well for you because you like to have it as a way of keeping score, but I know for me personally, it has just been so refreshing to be able to leisurely read this book because I want to. I do not have to worry about taking away certain things. Like, I might take away certain things than a test might say. It has just been so awesome to be able to do all of this.
PAM: It really opens up your perspective, doesn’t it? Because, like you were saying, in school, you would read a book but there would be certain expectations as to the outcome and you would have to know and pick up those answers—even with fiction. When you are expected to answer their theme questions, their style questions, there was still an answer you were supposed to have.
Whereas now, because we are all individuals, from an experience like your podcast experience, everybody is going to take different things from it, right? Depending on where they are. Like, maybe it’s the pronunciation that somebody latches onto. Somebody latches onto geography. There is such a huge range of everything within your very specific Viking Norse history podcast, but you can see what so many people are connecting to, and now, all of sudden, all of those are valuable. There is not like one kind of answer that is more valuable than another.
NOAH: Absolutely, that is such an excellent point.
So, what excites you the most about unschooling right now?
NOAH: What excites me the most about unschooling.
I think just watching it all unfold. Just watching everything happen in such a beautiful way.
Like I said before, you know, so I am 17, my sister is currently 15, you know we are able to just have this time together. It is so beautiful to be able to go for walks with my mom and my sister and hang out with my dad and have discussions about what I am learning. Podcasting and just the real-world experience in podcasting for example. How do I have these discussions with these experts, and how do I get out the word about my podcast, how do I market my podcast, you know?
And listening to my sister, what she has to bring to the table, and it is so exciting talking about all of our summer activities and things. I guess what I am excited the most about is just watching it unfold.
We are new to unschooling—we have only been at it for like what, six months—but already it is just incredible what we have seen. And honestly, I am glad that I went to school for those two years, simply because I would not be able to appreciate unschooling as much.
I am so glad that I discovered this when I did because, as a young man, eventually I might like to have my own family one day, and of course I would embrace the principles of unschooling in raising my children. So, I think it is just so awesome that we have all discovered this lifestyle. It could not have happened more naturally.
PAM: Yeah, I mean that is the thing, it is a lifestyle, right? It is a way of living with the people in your family and it does not matter what age you are when you discover a different way of living with your family. So, it does not matter whether your kids are 8 or 10, or 16, 17, if this way of living together appeals to you, start it whenever.
NOAH: Absolutely, that is such an excellent point because you can really have discussions with people and engage with people no matter what their age is. Like, I remember when I was at school, I was definitely confined to friendships that were of my own age category. I could not really have these discussions with the adults there, simply because there was just this colossal disconnect, in the sense that you are this student, I am the teacher, you cannot say certain things.
But now that I am doing my podcast, like, I have definitely made a lot of friends who are way older than me, and some are even younger than me, so I am having these awesome discussions with people who are 10, 20, 30 years older than me, and it is just really incredible, there is absolutely no limits.
PAM: Yeah, and age is not a thing, you know what I mean? I mean, children are capable. When you are choosing what to look at, when you are passionate about things, you want to connect with others who have the same kinds of passions because that’s exciting and it’s enjoyable and their age is irrelevant at that point, isn’t it?
NOAH: Yeah, absolutely.
Somebody might say, “Well Noah, when are you going to graduate?” you know, inquiring about my age, and while the natural answer might be “18,” in my heart I almost feel like saying, “Well, I am never going to graduate because learning never stops.” I am going to be having conversations with my family for the rest of my life which is so awesome.
PAM: Mmm-mmmm the other point I wanted to talk about—because it stood out when you were talking about how you guys are sharing your passions. Your sister is sharing about her stuff, you are sharing about what you are learning with your podcast and history and your parents and their interests.
Is it something that you notice because, when you think about school, those are separate topics. Your sister is really focused on medicine, and you are really focused on history and podcasting, but I bet in your conversations, you are now seeing so many connections. Even between the things that she is talking about and the things that you are talking about. The world is so much bigger all of sudden, right, when you are not confined into subjects.
NOAH: It is, absolutely.
And it is hard to think of an example to correlate something, say Vikings in science but even just deeper than that, just in how we interact with one another, because since we all can see each other so passionate about something, that passion is so contagious, you know what I mean? Which is just awesome to see. So, like, I can get excited about science and my sister can get excited for me about history, and we can all get excited about rabbits and everything like that. There has definitely been a lot of like everyone has value to bring to the table and I just love our conversations.
PAM: Mmm-mmmm oh I love that, and there is something about just knowing that someone is passionate about something, and it excites you. Because I remember when my daughter was really interested in going to shows, like concerts. And I would go with her—at first, I was going because the situation was she was going to small clubs in the city and that was new to both of us. So, I wanted to be close by, so if she wanted to leave or if she was uncomfortable, I was there, etc.
But after the first few, when we were both comfortable, I kept going, I’m like, “Yeah, I would love to come!” because it was just so fun. These bands were usually kids that had just graduated high school and are finally able to tour with their bands, these small alternative bands. But they were doing what they were passionate about, they were finally free to start touring with their music and to me, like, she loved the music and I liked the music too, but it was just so exciting to see them doing something they were so passionate about. It is just so exciting to watch them, and inspiring because somebody pursuing their passion is inspiring.
NOAH: Absolutely. Yeah, it is incredible to see and there is just like—my cousin for example, loves magic tricks. He absolutely loves card tricks. He is always showing me new card tricks and I am just like, “Whoa, how can you even do that?” And I know nothing, I am just dumbfound at how it goes but it is so exciting to see that.
Then when I talk with some of my other friends, who we have kind of grown up playing, one of the ways that we really spent fellowship together was we both loved history. They were homeschooled as well, and we played sort of historical strategy games together where we were both commanding these armies of men. They were super detailed for people who know history, they have the details of the units and the different attacks and everything like that, and we could both get excited about that.
I know a lot of people, a lot of younger people that I know who are super passionate about video games and why, because the story behind the video games is just really exciting to see things like this in other people, I think.
PAM: Yeah, I am just so happy when someone is just excited about their day. About what they are interested in. So often when I meet other adults, I will just ask, “So what do you do for fun?” The hard thing is, is so often, they are like, “I do not have time for fun. I work and take my kids to school, and blah blah blah,” but I love planting the seed that it’s okay to have fun. To do things that are fun, and then when you find people who have passions—like you said, the card tricks—whatever the passion is, it is always interesting to listen to them talk. There is so much that we do not know, and they are so excited, I could listen to them for ages.
PAM: Okay, our last question here, Noah.
What piece of advice would you like to share with unschooling parents who are just starting out on this journey?
NOAH: Ah, I would say, to those of you who are listening, who are just starting your unschooling journey, first of all, it does not matter what age your children are, when you are starting this journey. It does not matter if they are you know, youngsters, toddlers, if you have just had children. It does not matter if they are teenagers or if they only have one year of, I guess you might call it, school left, I would just say do not give up.
Learn to listen to one another. These are your kids, they came from you, they love you and you love them. Learn to understand them. If you can, help them to get excited, really pay attention to what they are passionate about, and if you are passionate about something too, then they will take an interest in that. It is learning to listen and help your kids to think big and help them to dream big because I think that is super important.
And you yourself need to dream big as well, because there needs to be so much inspiration in your family, and that is how you live joyfully, in my opinion.
PAM: Oh, that is awesome Noah, I really love that. That inspiration, that listening to one another and just helping them pursue whatever it is that catches their interests and their passions, that is wonderful advice.
Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Noah, it has been so much fun, I really appreciate your time.
NOAH: It is my pleasure, thank you so much for having me.
PAM: And before we go, where is the best place for people to connect with you online? Where can they find your podcast?
NOAH: Yeah, so you can find my podcast, The History of Vikings wherever you listen to your podcast, iTunes, wherever. If you wanted to get in touch with me, I also have a website, which is thehistoryofvikings.com or if you are a Twitter person and you like Twitter, you can follow me on Twitter, @historyofviking.
PAM: That’s awesome. Thanks so much, Noah, have great day!
NOAH: You too, thank you.