Thursday, September 22, 2011

Idle Unschooling?

You have a comment from "Is Unschooling for You?" to thank for this post.
Referring to becoming an unschooler, the comment reads, "It's clear that I still have work to do. I'm much less capable of idleness, leisure, and enjoyment of things for their own sake than I thought I was."

The way I see it, it's not so much "idleness, leisure and enjoyment of things for their own sake," as it is being moved to discipline by the pursuit of your own interest.
To a child, play is work. They don't make a distinction. They don't go around saying, "I'm going to lie around doing nothing."
This is true of creative/inventive people. They get caught up in what they are doing... and time goes by in concentration and focus.. for the love of it.
Some times, the love of a thing translates into doing work that is unappealing, that is difficult, that is frustrating but they'll do it because there  is a bigger vision that is guiding the effort.
This is the spirit of interest-driven learning.

Of course, this also means that there will be lulls, changes in rhythm and pace, days of what on the surface seems like nothing much is going on- all good.

The comment also talks about having to "fight my own inclination to be a joiner when it comes to all of the extracurriculars."

My reply to this is that you don't have to fight. There is nothing wrong with joining others in a worthy event/class/situation.
We all need community and learning in community is one of the joys of being a human being. When I was unschooling all three of my daughters, they all loved going to 'extracurricular' classes.

Being unschoolers, we didn't think of the classes as 'extracurricular.' They were just again, interests we were following: 'art class, or girls guides, of swimming, or basketball.'
My one remaining unschooler enjoys many different activities- especially soccer! Thank goodness she is a 'joiner'!!
So, I'd say to anyone who is starting off, read more about unschooling, meet other unschoolers, go out join activities in your community that you find interesting, bring your children with you!


reynolf oliveros said...
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Anonymous said...

Of course unschooling does not mean being idle! That is the complete opposite. It amazes me how those who are new to the concept confuse not following a curriculum with just hanging about doing nothing!! Far from the truth!

Anonymous said...

Of course! I did not mean to imply that unschoolers are lazy or do nothing nor that joining activities is inherently bad.

What I meant was that I happen to be a person who loved school and was very much a self-starter, but but that I sometimes veer off into achievement-for-achievement's sake or become competitive in ways that I do not want to be. And, especially: I don't want my kids to get into an extrinsic rewards mentality or a sticker chart economy.

When I said "idle" I meant it in Tom Hodgkinson's sense of the word. He wrote, among other things, _How to be Idle_ & _The Idle Parent_; idleness, in this sense, is not pejorative. It's about getting off the hamster wheel, the work-buy-work track. He's against the protestant work ethic and training our children to be obedient, consumerist drones. It's very tongue-in-cheek, but smart, and not at all about "doing nothing." I've read alot about it, including Holt & Gatto, and I believe what they are saying. I don't think that being without a curriculum means just "hanging around doing nothing." Far from it. I have done the most learning & reading since I've been out of school. What I want for my kids is for them to love learning, as I do. I want them to find their own roads, their own passions. As a writer and an artist, I certainly know the value of doing what looks like nothing. There is value in idleness: ambling walks, cloud watching, making up silly songs, play. Idleness, means doing things not for a reward, not for pay, not out of obligation, but out of love. Being, rather than always having to do.

My older daughter has a very different tempermant than I do. I was always "game" to try new things, whereas she hangs back much more. My husband is the same way--an introvert, a homebody, somewhat of a balker--and he was pushed into activities & sports, and into working for extrinsic rewards and he resents this. So when I say I want to resist my own impulse to be a joiner, I mean that I don't want to sign my daughter up for more activities/responsibilities than she is ready for. I also meant that I have resist the pressure coming from the teachers & parents to do things like, oh, lining up the right way before entering the building, or keeping her out of school for the day, which many people feel is a radical gesture.

I have hesitations about unschooling that remain, but this comment is too long already. My hesitations are not because I don't believe in its value, or that it can work in all sorts of wonderful ways. I'll try to write my own post about my hesitations, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Some of my sentences in the above comment really rambled and problematic commas. Forgive me :)

rfs said...

@Liz- I really appreciate your comments! They are wonderful so don't worry about their length.This is giving me another post idea (In praise of Idleness- but maybe that is already the name of a book??). I love the take you are proposing. Keep up the comments. We are all growing and gaining in knowledge from our dialogue and exploration of what it means to be free of dogma!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Beatrice (if I may call you that :) ). I was feeling worried after my last comment that I was doing too much stepping on your blog's toes...!

Randy said...
Bertrand Russell has that title covered...

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