I used to worry about labelling our family as unschoolers. What if someone came along and said, “You’re not proper unschoolers”?
Some people don’t like labels. Labels can certainly divide us. Someone could say,”You’re not unschoolers but we are.” That might make us feel excluded, even angry, if we think we belong. Sometimes it can seem safer to keep our label to ourselves. Let people guess and just ‘do our own thing’. But labels can be useful. They do help us find like-minded people, people we can share ideas and mull over our thoughts with.
Labels have enabled me to find other unschoolers on the Internet. Not that I have made friends with many of them. No, I have tended to read quietly and not say much… just in case. I wouldn’t want someone to tell me I’m not doing things properly.
Would anyone really say such a thing? I think unschooling is, unfortunately, to some people, very black and white. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We could get the impression that there’s such things as unschooling ‘rules’, when really it’s all about principles. And is there such a thing as an unschooling expert? It can seem that way at times.
I used to wonder if I should check what these ‘experts’ say about a particular unschooling issue, before publishing my own opinion. They know better than me, don’t they? I wouldn’t want to post something that is wrong.
But I no longer worry about what other people think. I know we are unschooling perfectly. I can feel it inside. It feels just right. Of course I am speaking for my own family, for this particular moment.
It’s good to share unschooling with other people. I do like to read and think about other people’s ideas, and even modify my own thinking at times. We need to be challenged so that we grow. But ultimately I know that unschooling is something that can’t be learnt just from a book or a blog. It has to be lived. It changes over time as understanding becomes deeper, and even if we are all equally experienced, it will look a bit different in every family.
By reading back through my blog, I can see that my own understanding of unschooling has deepened over time. I used to apply the word ‘unschooling’ to education only. But I realise unschooling has spilt over into all aspects of our lives. It’s the way we live. Should I now label us as radical unschoolers? Are we ‘proper’ radical unschoolers? Perhaps I should find a radical unschooling check-list and see if we can tick off all the boxes. Are the boxes all ticked? I think so.
But no. I’ve just thought of something. Radical unschoolers don’t have chore rosters and we do. No, we’d definitely not be accepted into the radical club. Except I do feel we qualify. You see, our roster isn’t what it appears. There’s a very good reason for having it. I wouldn’t want to be judged before I get a chance to explain.
We are all quick to judge each other, aren’t we?
Are you a proper unschooler? I have no right to ask that question. It’s none of my business. Let’s just share our thoughts and our ideas, our friendship and our support. Let’s accept each other. Let’s love.
Because ultimately, I think that’s what unschooling is all about.
PS: I should mention I know lots of wonderful unschoolers. I belong to some good FB groups as well as a Yahoo group. The parents are friendly and accepting. These people aren’t the ‘experts’ I mentioned in my post, the ones I felt intimidated by.
PPS: I might talk more about our radical chore roster in a podcast. I tried to follow the unschooling ‘rules’ and they backfired. My children ended up teaching me something very important. If anyone is interested, I might chat about this in a future podcast episode.
And one more thing…
Have you seen my children’s novel, ‘The Angels of Abbey Creek’? It’s now available from Amazon!