Grow In Complete Freedom

When people ask me what is this unschooling thing we are doing, I find it very difficult to answer. Not because I don’t know what I feel about unschooling, but because I am unable to articulate my thoughts into words. When you are an unschooled parent, you subconsciously know what it means to you. You can understand why you behave the way you behave or do the things you do given a situation with your child. But it is extremely difficult to explain to others who only understand school or home school.


Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this blog are just my personal ones. I am not saying if unschooling is better than schooling or home schooling. It is just my personal opinion at this point in time. No one makes decisions about children in a hurry. So whether you think school is better or not, I am sure you have done your homework in arriving at your conclusion.


Why is it hard to explain?

How should I respond when one asks me if I am worried about the child’s future without education? I know my kid will do fine. But from their perspective, without a formal education and degree, there is no way a kid can be gainfully employed. I get that, and I understand their perspective. However, I don’t feel education and degree and really necessary. I can’t say that I feel my daughter will do fine now can I? That is not even a concrete answer. I can feel whatever I want, but that does not help the kid get a job.


The same applies to socialization. I get asked this question quite a lot. I know my kid is socializing perfectly fine. But how do you explain that to parent who sends kids to school. For them, socializing is what kids experience when the kid goes to school to meet other kids. For us it is more about our kid interacting with other kids with all kinds of ages and socio-economic backgrounds. There are fewer kids to interact I agree, but this kind of social interaction is more fruitful in my opinion. The is quite hard to communicate to them. An opinion does not count now does it? They want concrete examples.


Heard my voice

I happen to come across the following video and then I felt like someone is just repeating exactly what I am thinking in my mind. She puts it so clearly and yet again, many schoolers and probably even home schoolers will not be able to comprehend.



Homeschooling vs Unschooling

The author starts off by defining home schooling and unschooling. Home schooled parents understand their children well. They guide and teach them but in a much more flexible way than you would do in a school. These parents can work their way around syllabus and curriculum based on the child’s interest and talents. There is no time wasted in extra things. Home schooling children go through assessments, tests and prepare for their board exams and eventually go to college.


Unschooling is quite different in that the parents come from a place of not knowing what the future holds. These parents come with the understanding that they don’t know their children better than the children know themselves. They don’t even know how to teach. But they trust that if they allow the children to be themselves, then the children will find an inner guidance which will take them exactly to where they are meant to be. I know I sound philosophical, but this is 100% exactly how I feel and the author was able to articulate so well.


Why is unschooling so hard to understand?

When you see a typical unschooled kid, you will notice that they seem to be wasting a lot of time. That is because these children play a lot. You almost never see them learning, or having a pen or a book in hand. But there is deep learning happening through the imagination and creativity in the play.


Another thing you will notice with unschooled kids is that they look very undisciplined. They eat when they want, sleep when they want, play with dirt and look shabby all the time, they don’t clean up their toys after play and the list goes on. They have no goal to learn, earn a degree, no plan to find a job or don’t even think of their future. No wonder parents with school going kids find it hard to understand. Schools kills this freedom and kills the inner voice which tells the kids what to do when. And the inner voice leaving is more worrisome than not finding a job.


You will also find parents of unschoolers doing weird stuff in the name of giving freedom to kids. For example there was a time when my kid would just watch tablet for several hours a day for many many days. We did not restrict her. Because we want her inner guidance to show her the way. We trust her that she will get over it at some point. Having kids is more of a learning for the parents than for the kids. We need to learn to keep our emotions in check. And other parents find this odd about unschooled parents.


Conclusion

Unschooling is very hard, not for the children, but for the parents. This is a journey where parents learn a lot more than the children. It is based on the assumption that we don’t know anything about children and they will be the guiding source for us on how to raise them. It is scary to embark on this journey, but we have to trust they know their destination and also the path to their chosen destination.


If we give freedom to children, you will notice that whatever they do, they do it with passion, focus and integrity. So you will not have to tell them to try and try till they succeed. They know it inherently. We know only about today’s world, but they know about the world that is coming tomorrow. We are worried about how they will find a job in today’s world. They want to figure out what they can do in tomorrow’s world.


If all of this was a bit boring and philosophical, enjoy a few laughs with this funny stand-up comedy on Indian education system.




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2 thoughts on “Grow In Complete Freedom”

  1. I thought about this subject quite a lot for the sake of my own kids and came to the conclusion that no one type of schooling (or unschooling) is better than the other, allow me to explain.
    As parents I’m sure we would want the best possible outcome (what is a ‘best outcome’? I would narrate in a short story below) for our kids when they grow up as adults, given that there is wide neurodiversity in kids and wide variation in how they learn, some learn in a visual-spatial-analytical way and some learn via auditory-sequential processing and for some a combination of both. ,
    Also , the brain has this amazing property of neuroplasticity, which is highly influenced by the environment it is in. Assuming we want our kids to be able to live in the society they want with self-esteem and happiness, if they are not able to adapt to the societal norms that they live in, either they need to move to society with similar values as themselves or develop coping mechanisms to ‘fit’ in the society they are in or end up with low self-esteem and anxiety.
    Also, the ‘inner voice’ may lead to the best possible outcomes or may not, it totally depends on the kid and the environment that has influenced the kids brain during formative years.
    A small story (about ‘best outcome’), 2 kids belonging to the same parents have grown up seeing their father cheated by the society. Both have developed in ‘complete freedom’ in their formative years with nothing imposed on them. One kid grows up with vengeance for the society and ends up as a robber, the other kid being neurodiverse compared to his sibling grows up as a kind compassionate doctor who goes on the build a crusade against corruption and influence the society positively. Both have followed their ‘inner voice’. Now, what would be the ‘best outcome’ for a kid from parents perspective? Its up to the parents to ponder. Do we want to influence the kid1 by preaching morals, values or rules to be followed in a society (which may still not guarantee the outcome that you think is good)? or we think its best for their ‘inner voice’ to guide them.
    Also, whether schooled or unschooled, people always gravitate to their core competencies for which wiring in their brain is the foundation. Also, there is no absolute freedom in this universe for anyone or anything, and stress is very much required for anything to function (including our brains) optimally. If the stress ( in the form of getting schooled, or taught to ‘behave’ or whatever it is which is not matching the ‘inner voice’) crosses the yield point of that particular individual then there is no recovery. If we liken the ‘freedom’ to the centrifugal force in the solar system, gravitation is the stress, both are required for the solar system to function, imagine if gravity vanishes suddenly and only centrifugal force (‘freedom’) remains, the universe would go crazy, similarly the other way round, the universe would collapse to a blackhole. Balance is the key.
    One thing is certain that no one knows what the future holds for kids whether unschooled or otherwise (neither the kids nor parents are aware). We all live in a Hedonic treadmill and that its been like this for ages I guess.

  2. I agree with most points that you make. No one really knows if unschooling or homeschooling or schooling is better for a kid. It is just our belief. The point I was trying to make is that there is someone else who exactly articulated what I am thinking in my mind. It does not necessarily mean I am right. Almost every parent want the best for their child and act based on that. The outcome is completely unknown beforehand. You play the hand you’re dealt. Thoughts can change. Today I am supporting unschooling, tomorrow I may support school 🙂

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