In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on July 17, 2009.
I’ve been soaking up Anne’s writings for a long time. She is one of the people I credit with helping me in our unschooling journey. This excerpt, from her Making Connections unschooling conference talk, is one of my favorites. Some of you have probably read it, but for those new to unschooling or homeschooling, it may be just what you need. Enjoy!
In our unschooling family, learning is nothing that’s separated, categorized, planned, judged, graded, or forced. It’s just a natural, joyful part of all of our lives. Because real, natural learning is in the living. It’s in the observing, the questioning, the examining, the pondering, the analyzing, the watching, the reading, the DO-ing, the living, the breathing, the loving, the Joy.
Real learning happens when our children make real connections that have meaning in their real lives. Real learning is not what we were told it was. It’s necessary for us, as unschooling parents, to make a shift in our perception of what constitutes learning. That’s sometimes difficult for parents to do because our old definition of education and learning is so deeply ingrained in our society and in us.
So in order to make that shift, we first just need to get out our erasers and clear away the old crap ~ because real learning is buried under that school definition of learning. Erase that away, and then shift your focus.
Focus on that connection with your True Self and focus on allowing your children the freedom to connect with their True Selves. Focus on that second connection ~ connecting with each other. Focus on living. Living joyfully. Live a full, rich, connected life with your children.
Focus on the Joy and allow your children to focus on the Joy. They are constantly and joyfully and effortlessly making connections within their own minds and hearts. Their body of knowledge that they possess within themselves has the chance to grow every day. What does that mean? It means with unschooling, they’re learning every day!
We also need to erase away the harmful fallacy that learning is something that can be forced. Real learning is nothing that can be forced upon another person. The connections have to originate within themselves. It has to come from that first connection. Otherwise, it’s not real learning. It’s temporarily memorizing something in order to pass the test.
John Holt once said in an interview, “Children are interested in the world, as far as they are able to get into contact with it.”
That’s our job. To put before our children as much of the world as we can.