A confession from the first day of school

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  • Comment Link Sunday, 11 September 2011 09:41 posted by Urmila Samson

    For us as an unschooling family with three children, I learned to go with the moment. I learned to allow the child to miss what they 'may have enjoyed', rather than cajole, manipulate, whatever...The children did end up spending more time at home, but they learned about themselves and how to follow their own path; that no authority 'knows better than them' what better they should be doing with their moments in time and in life. It is not an activity filled life focused on the outer world, but more a living of each moment as the moment demands. In order to do this, I had a lot of unlearning to do, as Sarah has mentioned, and still do.

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  • Comment Link Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:45 posted by Sarah Stockholm


    Thank you so much for your comment, it has led to many thoughts for me and I truly appreciate what you had to say.

    For me the issue here comes down to unlearning what school, family and society at large have taught me that I (an adult) have more power and knowledge than a child. Therefore, I know what is best for them and can use coercion to make them do something. I know I would be grumpy and stubborn if someone was pushing me towards something I didn’t want in that moment. I would much prefer to let her explore her world in her own way and to honor how she feels in any given moment. Then, let her experience the consequences of not showing up to a friend’s house, making it to the museum before closing or being late for school. Perhaps, that will create the learning moment necessary to understand that timeliness has its place in our life. This I feel takes a great deal of patience on our parts.

    I think that for me to fully embrace this, I have some unlearning to do; I have some assumptions to question. Even if I believe my sister will enjoy something, am I doing her more harm by pushing her into something she doesn’t want in that moment? I feel I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to reclaim living in the moment and following my desires because I was schooled (by society, family and school) to ignore what I wanted in one moment to do what I was told instead. I think in the long run, that socialization is far more dangerous than missing a day with a friend or going to a museum.

    Thanks again,

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  • Comment Link Wednesday, 31 August 2011 14:15 posted by Aravinda

    Hi Sarah, as a mother of an eight year old I could vividly imagine everything you wrote. Although my daughter does not go to school, I find I have to do my share of coaxing and timekeeping (and threatening) to help her get to places that she wants to go. I sometimes think I should say, "if you want to go to ______, you need to be ready at 4 pm, if you need any help from me to get ready, let me know." Logical as it seems, I rarely do that - and I am not sure it would entirely be fair if I did.

    Somehow I don't want her to miss the things she enjoys, and in case I am also going, I know I would not enjoy them as much without her company, esp when I know that with some effort on my part, she would have come and would have enjoyed (and in most cases would not have wanted to leave either).

    If it is a party / playdate then there is the additional factor of having to call and tell the friend's parents that my daughter can't make it that may drive me to be proactive about getting us there, once we have said we would come. But in the case of museum or library or pool there is no such obligation that might instill the fear of the "consequences" that you describe.

    I think the real problem, in most urban areas, is that we have not managed to create a society in which it is safe for children to come and go on their own. As a child I went out to play, unaccompanied from the age of 6. I could go to the store, library and other places that were within 10-15 minutes walk and later bike ride. So coordinating activities and timings with my parents was not so necessary.

    If I could rest assured that my daughter could go places and have fun without my escorting her, then perhaps I would not feel the pressure to make sure she gets to places. (And if I did not pressure, she might not be so slow to get ready...) Right now I think I feel, if I don't make this effort, then she cannot go and if she is at home all the time she will not be a happy camper.

    Of course I don't know if your little sister likes school while she is there - many kids do, even if it is not, as you say, a conducive learning environment. I just wanted to say that the coaxing and cajoling that disquieted you might be a function of several issues beyond schooling / unschooling.

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