This is a guest post by Carolyn Blessington.
Late 2012, about when the world was supposed to end and more than two years before my first child was born, I took a class called REALationship 101 with a guy named Steve1. My boyfriend and I needed help communicating and working out our differences. So, we delved into Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC)2 and developed an awareness of our feelings, needs, and wants, and how to make requests (not demands) of each other. This was so helpful, which is probably why I am now married to my then-boyfriend!
But this class was more than communication skills. We went deep. Marshall’s philosophy changed me forever: “… We have been educated, for a long time, to fit within domination structures: to do what authority says. When you want people to be nice, dead people and do what authority says, the last thing you want them to be conscious of is the life within them. You cannot make a good slave out of somebody who is fully alive.”3
I knew then and there that I did not want to raise my future children to be “nice, dead people.” Desperately seeking to find an alternative to mainstream schooling that aligned with my values, I jumped down the rabbit hole that is the internet. Thankfully, I discovered unschooling and knew it was the way for me to raise my children to be fully alive human beings, as well as generous, loving, and compassionate.
In the meantime, there was much work to be done: deschooling. Yes, to be able to unschool, to trust in my children’s ability to learn naturally, I knew I needed to deschool myself. After all, I had gone to school for almost 20 years – more than half of my life! I realized I was too nice, but, fortunately, not dead; I had kept the fire of rebellion alive and well in my heart, so I was ready to redefine education, learning, and life in general for myself.
Deschooling myself was about following my interests no matter what, exploring them deeply, and allowing myself the freedom to be messy and imperfect. It was hard to try to be imperfect and to be okay with imperfection. It was also very difficult to be okay with moving on from passions that I had lost interest in. Shouldn’t I keep doing something till the very end, until perfect completion, no matter what? Nope! I still struggle with being messy and imperfect and losing interest in once-upon-a-time passions. But I realize that aligning myself with my passions, no matter what, is what gives me energy and enthusiasm, inspires me to serve others, and allows my expressions and creations to come from my heart and soul rather than a sense of obligation, duty, or guilt.
Inside the rabbit hole, I explored Sandra Dodd’s work4, read many articles like “We Don’t Need No Education”5, and learned how humans have traditionally raised children for thousands of years6. Learning about unschooling has been so fascinating and fun!
Around the time I was struggling with moving on after an expensive passion fizzled, I discovered Sue Elvis’ podcast. Most importantly, her podcast about being a multipotentialite. I could totally relate! I am definitely not a specialist and I finally felt like I was in good company. It was such relief to let go of my need to figure out my “One True Calling”!
After listening to a few podcasts, I adopted Sue as my far-away mum. Her mantra “trust, respect, and love unconditionally” helped me be more gentle with myself as I continued to deschool myself. And her enthusiasm for unschooling was contagious as I began an unschooling life with my daughter…
My daughter. So much love! She is terrifically 2.5 years old right now. Every day, she dazzles me with her energy, humor, and vibrancy. She is a fully alive, feeling all the feels, not always nice, impassioned human. Such joy and inspiration I receive from her!
Although we are still years away from “The Man” requiring me to keep records of her learning, I already feel like an unschooling parent. I even downloaded Evernote. Haha! I may as well start taking photos of her art and writing stories about her adventures now! Sue Elvis makes it sound so fun and I love supporting my daughter’s explorations, learning, and living life to the fullest.
Yes, I am already an unschooling mom. In preparation for keeping notes, I try to notice what subjects she may be learning about in any given situation. So that she can notice her own feelings and thoughts and come to her own conclusions about things, I make sure to give her ample time to experiment, observe, and explore without my interference. Since her body, mind, and soul need plenty of fresh air, sunlight, and space, we go on lots of wild nature adventures. And so that she knows what is out there, all the myriad possibilities in life, we try to see and do new things every day. I am excited to continue this lifestyle for many years to come!
Ultimately, what I’ve garnered from the learning I’ve done about non-violent communication, unschooling, and parenting; and from direct experience with my daughter, is that the most important element of raising a free, alive, happy, generous, and loving human being is to embody those qualities myself; to be a good role model and to live according to my values. I cannot impose anything on my daughter without harming her or myself in some way. My daughter inspires and requires me to be my best, true self. This is endless hard work, but so fulfilling!
- The Real Center/ The Art of Intimacy
- The Center for Non-Violent Communication
- Good Radio Shows/ Peace Talks
- Sandra Dodd: Unschooling
- We Don’t Need No Education
- Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods by Barry S. Hewlett
About Carolyn Blessington
Thank you, Carolyn, for writing this article for my blog. I’m so pleased I am your ‘far-away mum’!