PAM: Welcome! I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Izaak Sibley. Hi, Izaak!
PAM: We connected through your partner, Holly, who is a member of the Living Joyfully Network, and I am really excited to learn more about your unschooling experience. To get us started …
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family and what everybody’s interested in right now?
IZAAK: Yeah. I worked in audio production, audio engineering and stuff. I worked at a studio in San Francisco for a while. This was just before our daughter, Q, was born. And then, I worked there for a few months after. And then it shut down, because a lot of the audio industry stuff was going to home-based before COVID happened. So, this was years ago. A lot of that stuff shut down. The one that I worked at shut down, so I decided to be the primary caretaker of Q, and then Holly would work from home and do her job while I looked after Q. So, I’ve been doing that.
Recently, Q has gotten old enough to where I can start looking back into getting into things that are work-related, so I’ve sort of gotten back into it. I’ve done a few voice acting things. And I’ve started learning about the stock market, which feels a little bad, but it is what it is. I’m also very into Dungeons and Dragons lately. It’s sort of been an outlet for voice acting practice as well.
Holly is a graphic designer. She works from home and has for quite some time. She is super into language. She’s been learning Japanese recently. Well, she’s been learning it for years, but she’s gotten heavy back into it recently.
Q enjoys video games, especially role-playing ones. She likes to go into Minecraft with her friends and set up role-plays so that she can role-play with them. Holly has also actually gotten really into learning about how autistic brains work, because, while undiagnosed, I am probably on somewhere on the autism spectrum and Q is as well, most likely. So, she’s gotten into that to sort of better understand us, I think.
PAM: Have you found that helpful? Her interest in diving in and figuring out how it works, that’s been helpful maybe for your communication, for your relationship, for just a better understanding?
IZAAK: Definitely. It’s one of those things, because I never even considered that I was on the autism spectrum for a long time, until maybe 10 or so years ago. We were like, you know, maybe. I was like, ah, I’m surely not. And then the more she researched into it, it was like, oh man. Yeah, probably. So, it’s been helpful for our relationship and just for me, understanding why things tend to work the way they do when I’m involved.
PAM: Yeah. I find that really interesting, because that’s something we have conversations about here, too. And because, with my kids and even with myself growing up, it was really okay to be yourself. And we just accepted and worked with and figured things out that worked for us. And yet, there’s also a time when it’s a bit validating to find that there are other people out and about in the world who experience things more similarly to us, who process things more similarly, et cetera.
It also adds value, too, at some point to just start to recognize, oh yeah. Look at these things. Oh yeah. That’s the way I look at things or I process things or how things unfold when I’m involved.
IZAAK: Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny looking back, because I’m a big Star Trek fan and I always identified with Spock and Data. And then looking back, it’s like, oh, that makes a lot of sense.
PAM: Big Spock fan here, too. Oh, that’s really interesting.
I would love to know how your family discovered unschooling and what your move to unschooling looked like.
IZAAK: Well, that was mostly Holly. She was sort of looking into different ways of how we were going to educate Q. This was before she was born, we were looking into it. And she told me about this and I was like, well, that seems okay. And then we started talking about it more and more. And at first, it seemed just like a curriculum-based homeschooling, the way it was initially described to me, that’s the way I understood it. And then, the more she described it to me, I was like, oh it’s not that at all really. And then, the more we got into it was like, well, yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Anytime I’m interested in something, I go and learn about it. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to do that just from the start. So, we did that from day one was the plan. And yeah, it’s been working out.
PAM: Wow. That’s really cool that you guys discovered it before. My kids were all in school by the time I discovered homeschooling. It was a number of years ago now. 2002 was when I first discovered it, so they were in school before.
It’s so fascinating when you look back at how we learn. So, we look back on our school careers, but we also look back even through university, it’s like, there’s so much that I learned for the test and no longer remembered. Couldn’t do it now if I needed to. I knew I could learn it again, but it didn’t stick. So, then you question, what was the value in that for me? Because I need to relearn it. Was there value in doing it then?
And then you start looking at the things that you enjoy, the things that are connected. Even if you learned them in school, but if it was something you found interesting, it stuck. And you could dive in so much more easily and pick up and learn so much more easily than when it was something disconnected.
IZAAK: Yes. I mean, school was not hard for Holly or me. Both of us were good students, got good grades. But my most valuable school time was in a gifted program in my elementary and middle schools. Those were the best school days for me. All the knowledge that I gained there was more real-world-based.
There was a class where we were like, okay, we’re going to learn how to balance a budget. And I was like, oh, that’s actually interesting to me, more so than, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”.
So, getting into that, it seemed to me that, why wouldn’t you want to learn things that you’re going to use? Because anytime I’m able to use something, I will retain it. But, like you were saying, I learned all these things for tests. I was a good test taker, but if I don’t do that, at least on a daily or weekly basis, it just sort of goes away and ends up never having mattered at all. So, anytime I was able to learn something that I can use, it stays.
PAM: Yeah. And what I love, too, when you think about kids growing up this way, the things that they’re interested in, those are the things that they’re going to keep doing. So, those are the things that are going to stick, and those are the things they’re going to continue to be interested in.
They’re going to weave through their lives and into their young adult lives, into their adult lives, because this is who they are. And they’re learning so much about who they are and things that are interesting to them. So, they’re creating this web of knowledge that is so unique and, in that way, so helpful to them as an individual.
One of my catchphrases around the house is, “There’s value in all knowledge.” So, I always like to say that, especially because when we were early in the unschooling process, it’s a little scary, because your kids start to get compared to other kids and where they are. And you’re like, well, she’s not doing that yet, but she’s doing these other things.
But then, she would be playing Minecraft. And a lot of people are like, “Video games are a waste of time,” and all that, which I don’t think. But then, then she learned to read from playing Minecraft. I’m like, “Haha! Value in all knowledge. There it is again.” So, yeah, just things like that. And then, especially, it seems, with Q and I, the sort of hyper-focus that we have, if we jump on something, we dive deep into it and then it sort of can branch off of that main course. And then you start learning about all these other little things. It’s really interesting to me.
PAM: Yeah. I find, too, that those deep dives into interests, especially when they’re younger, it can be such an interesting window to all sorts of things. Like you were saying, you deep dive into something and it connects over here, and over here, and over here, and over here. And reading pops up, because there’s just reading involved. And now all sorts of other things just bubble up, because you’re just looking through that lens that’s super fascinating.
And the different pieces you want to get to, you just pick up different skills along the way. So, almost any interest that you dive into can get you to all sorts of those, what they call “basic skills”. It’s not about learning to read, but if I’m deep into playing Minecraft, eventually I’m picking up some reading.
IZAAK: Yeah. And it kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier. If it’s something that you’re going to use every day, then it’s going to stick. And of course, you’re going to use reading every day, because there’s so much more to be learned if you can read.
PAM: Yeah, I love that. And I love your motto, what was it?
IZAAK: There’s value in all knowledge.
PAM: Yes, there’s value in all knowledge.
When we first come to unschooling, we value learning that happens in school, like subjects, as more valuable than everyday things. That’s something that we’re taught and that we absorb growing up, that what we learn in school is more valuable and that we need to learn that first before we can go play and do all the other things. But that all of it is so valuable and what they choose is valuable to the individual. I love that.
So, I am curious to hear what your biggest paradigm shift or aha moment has been so far on your unschooling journey. I’m curious how that came about.
IZAAK: It’s gotta be the reading thing. Just because, like I said, it can be scary to do anything that’s sort of outside of the populace norm. So, we jump into this. “Well, are you going to teach your kids how to do anything?” Well, not exactly. And then they’re like, “Well, how are they ever going to learn to read?” And you’re like, “Well, we think it’s just going to happen.”
When Q started learn to read, I don’t even know what it was now, but we were doing something and she read something. And I kind of looked at Holly, “Did you know she could do that?” And then it was like, aha! It is going to work. We were right all along. Yes!
Whenever she learned something that we didn’t say, “Okay, we’re going to sit down and learn this now,” whenever she learned something that we didn’t directly influence, that’s just a confirmation that, yeah, humans can learn without overbearing direction.
PAM: I think for me, each time that happened and I discovered something new, I thought of it as trust. I really came to trust the process more and to trust my child more, each time a little piece happened that was like, oh yeah. This is working. This is going to work. It was trust that I had and that was so valuable for the next moment when you start questioning and wondering, oh gee, how are they going to pick up that? And then you’re peeling back the layers. Why do I think they need to know that? And why do I think that would be helpful to them at this moment?
For me, another big shift was the idea that there’s some certain set of knowledge that they should have before a certain age, before 18 when they graduate or whatever. But to understand that the age at which kids learn things is really only important in the system because they only have a set number of years that they’re in school. We need to teach them that, so it just gets parsed out year by year by year.
But when we made that shift to unschooling, it’s like “just in time” learning. You learn it when you need it, when you’re curious about it, when you’re interested in it, when it comes up in your life, because you learn it faster, you’re more interested in it. And, like you were saying, it sticks. But we don’t need to worry so much about the when. Some little thing might come up when they’re 20 or they’re 25. Like the stock market, because it’s super interesting to me now, so now is when I’m going to learn it. The age thing kind of disappears.
IZAAK: And it’s totally intuitive, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re doing it.
Whenever Q discovers something new and I’m like, “Oh, I know so much about that. Get ready for an information dump,” then I stop and think, wait a minute, she’s not going to want all of that. And that’s the part that’s intuitive but doesn’t feel like it, is that people will learn things when they’re ready to learn them. And you can’t shove knowledge at someone and have them take it all.
So, it’s sort of a patience thing where you’re like, okay, well, I can tell her little bits about things and see if she’s interested in any of it. And if she is, I’ll tell her more. And then if not, she’ll probably get there at some point. And then, if she wants the help with that, I can help with that.
And it’s so intuitive, because everyone does it. Everyone gets into something and then to have someone to come up to them and just start spouting all the information, it’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m just on the surface here. Just let me get there. And it’s hard to be on both sides of that. It’s hard to be the person just learning it and feeling like, this is the part that I’m interested in right now. And then it’s hard to be the person who already knows all that and to try to hold back, like, okay, I don’t want to overwhelm you just yet.
PAM: I love that. I love that. Because that was something, too, that I recognized and actively focused on holding back. Because the other piece was that sometimes if I jumped in, so they were interested in something that I loved and I knew lots about, but in trying to meet them there, so often maybe they had come from a different direction.
And maybe they were going in a different direction. I just dumped a bunch of stuff on them that was basically meaningless, because that wasn’t the framework through which they were looking at that topic or that piece of information. And I just kind of kicked them off course. It took many experiences where they’d be like, “I don’t want to know that. I don’t want to know that.” And that was yet another layer, learning not to take that personally. That wasn’t a judgment of me. It was just not information that they were interested in in the moment. And so, there was a lot of work to do around that, too.
But when I could hold back and let them follow their curiosity, so often, all those little bits of that I had or wanted to share would come up in conversation, but on their timetable. So, maybe later that day, maybe through a question, maybe through a comment, conversation, but there would be authentic, real times when those things would bubble up, versus me going, “Oh my gosh! Yes!” and just doing a brain dump on them.
IZAAK: Yeah. It’s partially due to the fact that I was raised in the school system, so I was taught, “Oh, here’s how you learn. Let me tell you how to learn things.”
I’m a drummer and so, we had the practice pad out one day and Q started messing with it and I was like, “Haha! Let me show you how to do that.” And then I was like, wait a minute. That’s not how to do it, because when I was learning drumming growing up, it’s like, “Okay, we’re going to start with the rudiments. And this is how you play drums.” And then when she got it out, I was like, she’s just messing around with it. Just let her figure it out for a little bit.
PAM: Yeah, I love the music example. It’s really cool, too, because that is another area where we think there’s a step-by-step process, where you have to do this stuff in the beginning and then this, and then you practice this, and you move on slowly, slowly, slowly.
But my youngest, Michael, is very into music now, like over the last few years, and just leaving him to play along with the guitar. And then he brought the keyboard in and it wasn’t until a few years of him playing around himself, then he was like, “Oh, you know what? I’d like to try some lessons. Because I have some detailed questions and things I’m curious about. So, now I want somebody who I can talk to at that level.”
So, it’s really fascinating to see, even in the areas where we think, oh, this is something they need to do in a right order, so we need to start with lessons, and then move through that or else they’re going to pick up bad habits. It really, really doesn’t need to be that way. They can explore things in the ways that they’re interested in.
They can just play around with things for a while and they pick up so much through that. And then, lessons might be down the road. Or not. But it’s about their path and the way they’re learning things and how deeply they want to get into learning the thing. It’s so fascinating to follow their process rather than to throw one on top of them. Isn’t it?
IZAAK: Yeah. And it’s tough sometimes to hold back, especially like with the music example. Say I’m going to start playing piano or keyboard. And I would be like, “Well, wait, let me teach you all about music theory first, so that you know everything you’re going to be doing.” And then, well, maybe just discover some of it on your own. I think that it’s way more rewarding to figure something out on your own than to just be told it.
Growing up in school, that’s how I learned math, for the most part. I tested at a 10th grade math level in third grade or something. And it was because I could figure the things out on my own first without being told how they were. And then I got into higher math and I sort of stopped at the 10th grade level, because everything is like, oh, here’s the formulas you need. You just memorize them. I was terrible at that. If I didn’t understand why, then I couldn’t really figure it out.
So, if no one told me why, then I was just like, okay. I guess I’ll give it the best shot, but again, it’s tough to hold back from the, “Well, let me show you the scales. Here’s a C scale,” rather than just being, like, “Figure it out. If you have questions come to me. But if you want to just figure it out, go for it.”
PAM: Yeah. You mentioned music theory. This is very interesting, because that was one of the things that Michael really wanted to dive into once he decided he wanted to find some lessons and do that. But what it did was just, for much of it, give language and framework to stuff he had picked up along the way. So, it was just a few extra connections, like, “Oh yeah. Look at that bigger picture to all this stuff that I’ve been figuring out.” And it makes so much sense, because you’re putting together what you’ve experienced versus being told, this is the way it works.
Figuring something out and learning something is also figuring out all the pieces that don’t work and the ways things don’t work, because that gives you so much more context. I think of learning as this web, and if you’re just told, “Here’s the formula. Here’s the theory. Here’s the way you do it,” you just learn that little path of the web. You don’t pick up all the other pieces that explain the why behind it, the context behind it, why the other stuff doesn’t work. You know what I mean? Just a huge, huge difference.
And again, that’s why another piece when we come to unschooling is not judging or even thinking about mistakes or failures, there isn’t wrong. There is just discovering what works and what doesn’t work. And to try something out that’s top of mind and that you’re curious. “Hmm. I think this’ll work to do the thing that I’m trying to do,” and then you try it and it doesn’t work. You learn just as much that way, because you learn why that piece didn’t work. You have that connection and you pick up a little bit more from that experience and now you just try something different.
Trying things is so fundamental to learning, versus just being told, “This is the right path.”
IZAAK: Yeah, definitely. I took a music theory class in college. And at the beginning of the class, the teacher was asking what everyone wanted to get out of the class. And I was kind of worried about it. I was like, “Well, I want to learn some about music theory, but without being formulaic in the way I write music. I don’t want to lose the discovery part of it.”
PAM: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a huge piece. I love what you said before, how so much of it is intuitive. It makes so much sense. And yet we sell to stop ourselves from jumping in with so much. We have just absorbed, growing up, this whole idea of being productive, of doing things right the first time, of being efficient, et cetera. And I think that’s something as parents, as we’re deschooling, we’re playing around with so many of those ideas and coming to understand the value of those things.
I think that factory mindset, we need to be productive, we need to get things done efficiently and effectively and quickly, has really permeated everything to a point where that outlook on learning and on just living and how we make choices in our lives has really been detrimental.
IZAAK: Yeah. It’s weird, because it’s fun to think about discovering something that no one else has discovered, but with the age of the internet, so many things have been discovered, but we still long for that discovery moment. And if we just let ourselves discover things, even if they’ve already been discovered, it’s still very valuable, I think.
PAM: Yeah. And we still enjoy it. We still get that rush, because we’re discovering it for the first time for ourselves. And that connection is burned so much more in our mind and in our experience. Our understanding is deeper when we make that connection ourselves, rather than it’s just something that we’re told. It’s like, “Okay. Those go together.”
PAM: Yeah. Yeah.
Something else I was really curious to hear more about is how you and Holly have set up your lives around your choices to embrace unschooling, to spend time together as a family, and do things that you all find interesting and fun.
I’ve gotten a little bit of a glimpse through Holly. She’s in the Network, too. So, I would love to hear you talk about that.
IZAAK: Well, as far as setting up our lives, we didn’t have to do very much, because Holly’s worked at home for years. And then, like I said, I was going into the studio for only a few months after Q was born before that shut down. And I was like, well, I’ll just stay home then. And then you can still work without having to take breaks if something happens. So, it was a very smooth transition for us in that respect.
And then, we’ve always lived in a pretty small space. Right now, we live in a studio. I am actually in a closet. We each sort of do our own things, but we’re in a small space so that there’s no inhibition. If something comes up and you’re like, hey, I’d like to get input from the other members of my family. There’s not that inhibition to ask, because we’re just right there. So, that has been helpful for us, I think.
But we all play games together and stuff as well. Like I said, Q is really into video games, so we play some stuff on the PlayStation and then we play some stuff on the computers. Also, we played board games more before than we do now. We used to live in Tahoe. And about once a year, the power goes out for anywhere from a day to a week due to heavy snow. So, that would be board game week and we would get the board games out and the little flashlights and stuff and play board games together.
PAM: Very fun. And you guys have traveled around some as well?
IZAAK: Yeah. Holly and Q more so than I. I prefer to stay at home, but we’ve lived in San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, Chicago. We live in LA now. Q and Holly have been to Italy with Holly’s mom. And then, before Q was born, and we’re looking to go back in a year or two hopefully, we went to Japan, which was very cool. We think Q will really like Japan, because of the all the arcades and that sort of culture.
Holly and I are both from Oklahoma and Kansas, so we’ve been back there several times, but yeah, we’ve traveled quite a bit, I guess.
PAM: Yeah. That’s awesome. I loved hearing about that, because when we choose unschooling, as we try to create a lifestyle where we can support that, like you said, you guys live in small places, because you’d rather spend more time together and then you can take that small place and just go to all the different locations that you’re talking about and you can check those out for longer lengths of time, like you said, Japan maybe in a couple of years.
So, it’s just the things that you guys would find interesting. You want to take Q there, because you think she’ll really love it. You have that freedom to be able to be more flexible with how you guys just be in the world, versus feeling fixed in a specific location or with certain jobs. It just seems like you guys have chosen a much more flexible lifestyle, yeah?
IZAAK: Yeah. We definitely made the decisions to do that, but it’s also been somewhat from necessity, just budgeting and whatnot. But it’s sort of a combination of choice and necessity.
PAM: Yeah. And sometimes the necessity piece and the constraints piece, they don’t need to be negatives. They’re things that you work with, right?
IZAAK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Doing life, you get those sort of constraints sometimes in school, like, “Write a song, but only using this number of keys,” or whatever, and it sort of helps you to figure out ways to do things.
PAM: Yeah. Yeah. That is one thing we talk a lot about here and actually enjoy in certain areas, constraints. I find it helps me be more creative, because when I’ve got those pieces that are fixed, it’s like, ooh, now I can really play. How can I maneuver through all this stuff to get to where I’m hoping to go? So, we look at constraints pretty positively actually.
IZAAK: Yeah. Yeah. I think they’re cool. When it’s wide open, I’m overwhelmed. Like, where do I even start? But when you say, okay, well, you can’t do this part, it’s like, oh. Well, then. I think I’ve got a solution for that.
PAM: Yeah. It’s really fascinating, because on one hand, if it’s a constraint or something that we want to push against, absolutely. Yet there are lots that aren’t in our control, things that are just life things that are constraints. And so, it’s also super fun to work with them. I don’t know. I find that very interesting, because on one hand, it’s, “We’re unschooling. We can do whatever we want!” Yet there are practicalities. There is creativity.
It’s just been never ending fun. Things go sideways. Things go badly. Life is life. But when you’re open and creative and you’re just thinking about the possibilities, it’s fun to try to navigate through those things, to accomplish the things that we’re curious and eager to do.
IZAAK: Yeah. It’s just like any kind of puzzle. It’s like, if I’m given a puzzle and then told it is possible to solve, then I’m like, oh, well then, I will figure that out.
So, that’s a great lead into what is your favorite thing about your unschooling days right now?
IZAAK: I mean, it’s mainly just the fact that we are all able to do what we want to do and still have the support of each other in doing those things.
So, most days Q will get on with friends and do roleplays and that sort of leaves Holly and I to just pursue the things that we enjoy pursuing. And then if she needs something, we can easily stop and say, “Okay, what do you need?” So, that’s pretty easily the best thing about it, is that it allows everyone to do things that fulfill them and still be able to get help from other members of the family.
When we moved to unschooling and got deeper into it, it really felt and continues to feel like we’re a team. And we’re doing our things and we’re helping each other out and somebody gets more of the energy when they need it. Somebody gets extra space when they need it, all those things, but we’re just all figuring it out together.
It just felt so much more refreshing when we were dealing with the realities of who we are and the things that we do together, versus just an external idea of, here’s what parents should be doing and here’s what kids should be doing and here’s how things should look. It was so nice to be able to release that framework and really live together.
It was the same kinds of things, but when they’re actually bubbling up in the moment, it’s amazing how we can give 10 minutes a day, a week, when something comes up that’s really important to somebody. We can find ways to make it work for them. But we can really just be living together.
IZAAK: Yeah. The part that’s that feels really nice is that there’s no mandated curriculum. There’s no, “Well today, we’re going to learn multiplication,” and then nobody wants to do that. “Well, we’re gonna do it anyway.” It’s nice to not have to do that, because eventually, it’s gonna come up, because math is pretty important in the world. So, eventually it’s going to come up and we’ll be like, “Yeah. This is how you do that.” And they’re like, “Oh, cool. All right.” Without the constraints.
PAM: It goes so much faster, doesn’t it? When it bubbles up in the moment, they’re curious about it. They want to know something. Because it’s just come up in conversation, you don’t end up in that teacher voice. You don’t end up in the, “This is how I think you should be learning it or looking at it.” It just comes up and they’re curious and they’ve asked a question or two and it’s like, “Oh, this is this.” And they’re like, “Oh, cool. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense.” And then off they go.
I catch myself going into that teacher mode occasionally still, but she has some friends that go to school and they’re like, “Well, we do multiplication.” And so, Q will come ask us about it, because all of her friends are doing it. And so, we’ll start to teach her a few things about math concepts. And I really have to watch myself before I get too far into it.
And she’ll just be like, “What’s the answer to this?” And I’m like, “Well, you figure it out!” And she’s like, “I don’t want to figure it out.” I’m like, “Yeah. You’re right.” And then, eventually, after just telling her the answer to most of these questions, she’ll understand it. And then it’s like, oh, that’s how you’re learning. Sorry.
PAM: Oh, I love that. I love that, because she can definitely be picking up the patterns by getting the answer. So, following them and just answering their questions, versus, “Oh, I think you should be learning it this way,” and, “Show your work,” and, “You figure it out, and, “How do YOU think you spell that?” All those questions are actually getting in the way of whatever their process is. When they’re asking you a question, like, “How do you spell that?” or, “What’s the answer to that?” that is the most meaningful thing for them to get in that moment.
So, when we just answer what they’re curious about, that is so much more helpful than us presupposing that we know a better way for them to pick it up, because, like you said, after you’ve answered it a few times or however many times over how many days, weeks, months, “How do you spell this? How do you spell this?” they pick up those patterns. They learn those things, and eventually they put that picture together.
But they’re putting it together in the way that makes the most sense to them, not the way we think, or that would make the most sense to us. We all individually have different ways of learning and picking things up. So, to respect that we can just help them build the picture the way they want to is a big step.
IZAAK: That has probably been the hardest part for me. “Okay. You’re learning it differently than I learned it. I’m going to let this happen.”
PAM: Oh, that is interesting. All right. Last question.
As an unschooling dad, what piece of advice would you like to share with dads who are maybe considering unschooling or just starting out on this journey?
IZAAK: If you believe that humans are curious, then it’s probably going to work.
I don’t know if there’s any one piece of advice, especially for dads specifically, other than, trust that humans are curious and will want to learn things. And because of the world we live in, they’re going to pretty much have to learn the things that you’re going to need to learn to do every day. So, it kind of works out. It works out, because anything that you’re doing every day, you have to know how to do. And anything you’re not doing every day, you probably don’t have to know how to do. So, again, it works out.
PAM: Oh, I do love that. And that very beautifully rolls back on itself. If it’s something that they’re going to be doing every day, they’re gonna learn how to do it, because they’re doing it every day. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And to get to that point where humans are just curious and just living day to day is going to bring up those things and they’re going to want to learn things. Those are a couple of really fundamental shifts. I know they feel so basic, don’t they? But, like we’ve been talking about a lot, so much of what we pick up growing up ourselves is that learning is hard. Schools know what we should be learning. They know better than just what we’re living. That other kind of learning is more valuable than what we learn just from living.
So, there is a lot of internal work, self-reflective work, for us as parents, dads, moms, whatever, to do that really gets us to that real essence, that basicness, the foundation of unschooling. We learn what we do. When we do things is a great time to learn the things. And humans are curious. Full stop.
IZAAK: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s significantly easier to unschool now than say a hundred years ago, because there’s so much information that’s so easily and readily accessible should you get the urge to learn it. Whereas before, knowledge was gate kept by experts or libraries that may not be very close to you. You may have to walk several towns away. But now, if you want to know something, there’s no big obstacle to finding that information anymore.
And then making learning not a chore, making it not an experience that is something that we start to not enjoy doing. Because, going to school for me, all through elementary school and middle school, I was a very good test taker, so it was all great. But the longer I did it, the more the burnout started to approach, because it was, “You will learn this in this amount of time, the way we tell you to learn it.”
So, by the end of high school, I was kind of done with learning. I didn’t want to do it anymore. And anytime that the thought of learning something new came in my head, I was like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know if I can do that right now.” But going on the unschooling journey that we’ve gone through with Q, it’s started to make learning a good experience again, just because it’s not something that has to be done on someone else’s terms. I can learn what I want, when I want, how I want. It makes those discovery moments big again.
PAM: Yeah. I think that is another huge shift, because so often, you hear people graduating when they’re leaving high school or university, it’s like, “I don’t have to learn anymore!” That system is now fully equated with learning. And it’s entirely a chore and not fun anymore. So, anything that smacks of learning for many years can well turn people off and they ignore them, even if it would be interesting to them, because they have such a bad taste left in their mouth from the experience.
IZAAK: Yeah. I used to consider myself a person who doesn’t like to read. But I have found that I’m reading constantly. I just always thought that I don’t like to read, because I didn’t enjoy reading the books, because we were made to read certain books in English class. And I was just always, “I am a person that doesn’t like to read. Okay, I’ll take that.”
And then, like I said, I’m always reading. It’s usually articles or different things on the internet, but I’m constantly reading and I enjoy it. I just didn’t ever equate those two things until we started doing unschooling.
PAM: Yeah. That’s huge, because my husband’s the same age. “I hate reading. I don’t read. I never read.” And he is constantly reading forums and articles and all sorts of things online. And then, with one of my sons, “I don’t like books. I don’t like reading.” Yet, audio books, for hours and hours and hours, podcasts. There are so many ways to bring in information, but so many of us have grown up thinking, reading and reading books, that’s the only acceptable thing. Everything else is trash.
That’s what’s fascinating when you start unschooling and start peeling back those layers, there is so much that we’ve absorbed that just gets in our own way. When you take the time to just ask yourself some questions and look at it, it’s like, oh, you know what? That’s not really true. You can see what they were trying to do with it, but it’s not really true in our lives. And learning is fun and I’m reading lots and I’m taking in all sorts of information.
So, yeah, I think that that’s a useful thing for new unschooling dads to think about is just, be willing to ask yourself some questions and peel back some layers around it to really discover what it means.
IZAAK: Yeah, definitely.
PAM: Well, thank you so much, Isaac. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. It was a lot of fun. Thank you!
IZAAK: Thanks. I had a good time.
PAM: Yay! So, is there a place that people can connect with you online if they’d like to chat.
IZAAK: I don’t know. I don’t think so. I run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I post on YouTube.
PAM: We’ll put a link to that in the show notes if anyone is interested. That’s perfect! All right. Thanks again, Izaak. Have a great day. Bye!