Long Summer

February 3, 2010

If there was no school

Filed under: Home School,Inspiration — by dbmamaz @ 1:44 pm

A month or two ago, I saw a phrase on line. It was something like: “Unschoolers: living life as if there was no school.” Of course, now I can’t find it – if you know a source, please provide it in the comments here! For some reason, this phrase really irritated me, so I kept running it around in my head.

I am not an unschooler, and my boys are not unschoolers. Really. they are SO much happier when I keep them busy. The older one likes a schedule, and the younger is happier when I make him do things, even tho he fights me on the transition in to a new activity. And i have trouble functioning without a schedule.

But i sometimes feel conflicted, because I really LIKE unschoolers. They are fun, laid back, less competitive, less likely to be pushy about their religion or lack thereof, and their kids tend to be very accepting. I like a lot of the philosophy about unschooling . . .accepting your kids as they are, listening to them, following their lead. But I just can’t live with the total lack of enforced curriculum. The ‘radical’ unschoolers I know will let their kids play video games all night and sleep all day. As a rule, not an exception! And yes, i know, there are unschooled kids who end up doing great in college. I’m not saying it’s not a valid choice, i just cant live that way – the thought makes me twitchy!

In some ways its like, you know, the rest of my life.  I always had trouble finding a group I really felt at home in.  I mean, I loved the hippies: they threw great parties, allowed me to explore various alternative lifestyles with no criticism, and I loved their clothes. But sometimes the total chaos and lack of responsibility drove me nuts. I loved the serious geeks: their games, their values, their humor mostly seemed like a good fit . . . but most of them eat junk food and are afraid of the dark woods and bright sunlight. Or the pagans . . . if they weren’t so in to that religion, I think I could really identify with them. And these aren’t just cliches, this was my life!

Back to that slogan. “Unschoolers: living life as if there was no school” (or something like that). It makes me feel like I must be crazy because I don’t WANT to live like there is no school, no matter how cool-sounding a slogan it is!

And then I remembered . . . in times when there was no school, or no state school, or no affordable school, or no schools open to particular individuals . . . plenty of people still studied books. Black slaves taught their kids to read from the bible, with the shades drawn, so no one could see. Poor kids borrowed books from teachers who took pity on them. My jewish ancestors so valued education that wives were allowed work outside the home in order to support the husbands in studying the Talmud. Studying is a FINE tradition . .. even without schools.

I continued to turn it over in my head. “Living life as if there was no school”. But, what if I liked school?

Well, maybe thats Ok. Each of us who home schools does it for a different reason. There are many DIFFERENT things we wanted to get away from, when we started home schooling. For some, it was mind-numbingly boring or frustratingly difficult seat work. For others, it was ‘values’ or bad teachers. Some wanted more academics, or less structure, or more religion, or just more time with their kids. For me it was primarily because my son’s emotional disability was not being handled effectively at school.

So when we choose to remove our children from the school system, we are free to choose what, if anything, we want to keep from the school model. Some don’t want to keep ANYTHING from the school model. But I think that, even if I’d never been to public school, I would still schedule activities for my children. I do so during the summer, and I did so when they were younger. It makes our lives run more smoothly.

So, I guess the final answer is, I CAN live as if there were no schools . . . but with books. and schedules. and discipline. And discovery streaming.



  1. Great post, Cara. and I think you “got” it.

    : )

    Comment by Traci — February 3, 2010 @ 3:20 pm |Reply

  2. Thanks Traci!

    Comment by dbmamaz — February 3, 2010 @ 3:24 pm |Reply

  3. You’re a floater. I was one too. I enjoy so many kinds of people but I always had trouble feeling a sense of belonging to any one group.

    You made some valid points about unschooling. I also know many that give their kids free reign. But I also know unschoolers who have no TV’s, unschoolers who spend all their time running from one activity to the next, unschoolers with children who love their workbooks. It’s all in how you do it! I was partly unschooling for years before I realized I was. The point is to listen to them, help them with their interests, and let them follow a rabbit trail every now and then.

    And thanks for your comment! It’s nice to know my family isn’t the only one with name confusion!

    Peace and Laughter!

    Comment by Cristina — February 3, 2010 @ 3:25 pm |Reply

    • The home school blogger who encouraged me to start this blog told me i’ll be a ‘cara’ homeschooler . . doing it my own way, when I said something to her about it at one point . . . Just Enough and Nothing More is her blog.

      Comment by dbmamaz — February 3, 2010 @ 6:24 pm |Reply

  4. I am still stuck on up all night playing video games and sleep all day. I don’t understand.

    Comment by ummtafari — February 3, 2010 @ 6:01 pm |Reply

    • I think there are 2 parts to it, really. First of all, some people are just night owls, and unschoolers want their kids to be true to their nature. Secondly, they feel there is plenty to be learned from video games. For example, some meet international freinds and pick up information about other countries and languages that way. There is analytical excersise, and some involve team-building. Chat is good typing practice. Often games inspires the kids to go on to research game strategy, or even learn to create similar games.

      But its not what I want for my kids . . and in fact, my kids, when left too long on video games, just get hysterically upset. They cant self-regulate. And besides, its just not how I want my home run.

      Comment by dbmamaz — February 3, 2010 @ 6:22 pm |Reply

  5. All that I can think about when you mentioned hysterical kids and video games is that infamous youtube video of the poor boy who went berzerk when his mother cancelled some sort of video game account. His younger brother recorded his tantrum. Did you see that? It was hysterical, but at the same time really sad.

    Comment by ummtafari — February 3, 2010 @ 6:29 pm |Reply

    • I did see it, two different people sent it to me – i only thought it was sad, not funny. He obviously had some serious issues and was not, imo, getting the parenting he needed.

      Comment by dbmamaz — February 3, 2010 @ 7:04 pm |Reply

  6. Well, I would agree it wasn’t funny, but hysterical in the sense of the meaning (irrational from fear, emotion, or an emotional shock).

    Nevertheless, it is also scary how people can be affected by material things.

    Comment by ummtafari — February 3, 2010 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  7. I’m not an unschooler either — it’s just not me. I need the structure, honestly, and while I know my boys learn a ton when left to there own devices, I also know they find some comfort in the structure I provide. They have plenty of choice within the structure (and they pick what to study for the term/year/whatever), and we switch gears as needed. I feel a bit guilty for not being as freewheeling as unschooler seem to be, but it’s just not me. And that’s okay.

    Comment by Sarah — February 6, 2010 @ 5:09 pm |Reply

  8. This might be where I saw it – its the top image on her side bar on the right: http://pomoyemu.blogspot.com/

    Comment by dbmamaz — February 24, 2010 @ 11:15 pm |Reply

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