LIVING JOYFULLY NEWSLETTER
Issue #20 | August 31, 2013
AUGUST’S THEME: The Unschooling Lifestyle
It’s been two weeks already?? LOL! I hope you too are enjoying your days!
I had a great time at my Mom’s last week, spending a few days hanging out; meaning swimming in the pool and reading on my Kobo and eating yummy food and watching PPV movies with the kids. And then there’s the something I always enjoy rediscovering: that it only takes a handful of days until I’m itching to get back to blogging and writing and the learning that’s on my plate! It’s a wonderful reminder that I don’t need a vacation from the life I’m creating, just some time to swim and chat more deeply with my Mom—it’s all part of my life.
It’s always fun to explore my thoughts surrounding this month’s theme. Unschooling not just academic topics but as an all-encompassing lifestyle philosophy has been, and continues to be, such a wonderful experience for my family. And writing is also a great opportunity for my own growth. Sometimes what I write is what I most need to hear and remember in the moment—that’s why it’s bubbling to the surface in the first place. 🙂
ON THE BLOG … this month
Would me doing the bulk of the upkeep in our home be “spoiling” them? Letting them “get away” with something? Shouldn’t they be “taking responsibility” for our home? As I mulled that over, I eventually came to disagree. In fact, it dawned on me that choosing to do the work myself to meet my own standard of living is a good example for them of taking responsibility.
Another interesting shift happens when our children know they are free to make their own choices. Their perspective moves from feeling like they are “getting away with something”, to honestly evaluating their environment, the circumstances in the moment, their goals, their options, and then making what they believe is their best choice in the moment. They take ownership and responsibility for their actions.
I wanted my children to have a basic amount of money to play with. Remember, the best learning feels like play. What next? Interestingly, having their own money helps remove you from the equation when they want to purchase something. That means they aren’t always asking you if they can have something—casting you in the role of judge, pronouncing verdicts of “yes” or “no”. They have the control and the choice—they do the real thinking. And the real learning.
LET’S TALK ABOUT … Leo Babauta’s new blog at unschoolery.com
I’ve been reading and enjoying Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog for years. Last year I learned that he and his family were unschooling when he wrote a post titled The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling. It was fun to discover because from his writing over the years I’d thought he’d be someone who would really get unschooling.
Well this week he started a blog about unschooling at unschoolery.com—I love how his excitement and joy with unschooling shines through! The website also has a community section. It’s a new format for me so right now I’m trying to get a feel for how it flows.
I thought I’d share a few wonderful quotes from what he’s posted this week.
“For me, school mostly drove out the joy of learning, and taught me that learning is boring. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how fun learning is, and this discovery has led to incredible things. Why make learning boring? It should be play! It should be joyful!”
~ from What Is Unschooling?
The discovery that learning is fun is a huge piece of the deschooling puzzle. The idea that “avoiding learning” is not hard-wired into our DNA but something we learn is pretty hard to fathom the first time we come across it—it’s pretty much recognized as fact in conventional society. Yet this attitude is mainly a product of the way conventional school treats learning: as an activity that is hard and that children must be convinced and coerced to do.
Learning at school often is hard. But it’s not because the act of learning itself is inherently hard; it’s because the student has no control over what they are learning—they are obligated to follow the curriculum. Learning flows naturally when children (and adults) are doing something they find interesting.
“Learning isn’t compartmentalized. School teaches you that you learn certain things during certain boxes during the day. This is wrong. Learning happens all the time, and all kinds of learning are mixed together. Is going to the park learning, or play? It’s both.”
~ from Principles of Awesome Unschooling
Another key piece! The delineation of subjects is arbitrary—in the world things are inter-related. Play is learning. And we’re learning all the time.
“Will her channel be a runaway hit, or filled with film masterpieces? That’s beside the point. She’s creating. She’s learning. She’s knock-me-down excited. That’s what unschooling is all about.”
~ from The Excitement of a 7-Year-Old Creating Her Own Youtube Channel
He makes another great point here: drop the expectations. If your goal is to help your child live and learn, then whatever you imagine might come of their activities in the future is irrelevant—it just gets in the way. Over the years when I would share with another adult something my child was busily interested in at the moment, they’d so often extrapolate it into a career in the next sentence. “Oh, he wants to be a game programmer then.” “She can become a photographer, that’s a good job.”
The goal of trying things out is not, especially for children, to find a career. It’s for the learning, for the experience. It’s living. As parents, our goal with unschooling is to help them find the excitement and joy and determination and learning that happens when they are deeply engaged in the flow of an activity. His daughter is excited! She’s learning. As he says, that is the point.
I love seeing different voices sharing unschooling ideas in their own words and from their unique perspective. And I’m very glad Leo is sharing his. 🙂
LIVING JOYFULLY … with unschooling
Michael’s episode of Splatalot aired on YTV in Canada this week! He filmed it last summer over two days and had a great time. And bonus, he won his episode and was crowned King of Splatalot.
Looking back now, its role as part of his stunt work journey is pretty clear. I recall our conversations when he was deciding if he’d apply. At the time he had recently begun talking about exploring stunt work and we chatted about how the experience might give him a better idea of what that world is like. That he’d get a chance to see how he felt when the cameras were rolling, and how the day flowed.
Obviously, he did decide to apply, and was selected to participate. And by participating, he learned some cool stuff. He got some first-hand experience with filming. With having to memorize a few lines of script in a few minutes. With getting tossed around a set. With the waiting between takes. And no matter how it turned out, it was all good because that was what he was looking for. Tying it into what Leo said above, the experience and the learning is the point.
And in the end he really enjoyed it! Since then we’ve continued on that path and he’s been training monthly with a great guy who has done some stunt work in both TV and film. No matter how exhausted Michael is after one of their sessions, he is always grinning from ear-to-ear. Whether or not he ends up working as a stunt performer, that is the point.
And this weekend is full of karate demos at the local Fall Fair, six of them over Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be spending the day at the fair on Sunday—I lovewatching the demo kids in action. And a huge country fair is pretty fun too. 🙂
Wishing you and your family a wonderful weekend!