When our first child was 6 years old we headed off to our very first homeschooling camp. At that time, we thought we were unschooling. Then we met our fellow campers who also described themselves as unschoolers. They were all very lovely people, friendly, accepting and welcoming but we knew immediately, we were very different from them.
My husband Andy didn’t have long hair. Our children didn’t have names like Sunshine, Rainbow or Moonbeam and they didn’t call us by our first names. We didn’t wear tie dye. We didn’t eat organic food we’d grown ourselves. We weren’t tuned into mother earth, and we weren’t on a quest to save the planet. We weren’t interested in building mud brick houses and living an alternate lifestyle. We didn’t plan to travel the continent in a combi-van… In fact, compared to everyone else, we were a very ordinary family, a family that didn’t really belong. If unschooling meant adopting a hippie way of life, then we decided it wasn’t for us.
It’s funny how we associate a particular word with a particular image. And if we don’t relate to that image, we close our minds to the idea. We judge those who are different to ourselves without making the effort to understand.
Years later we found our way back to unschooling. By that time we’d discovered what unschooling is really all about. Yes, there are many Non-Catholic free-spirited, alternate lifestyle unschoolers, but unschooling principles can also be adopted by Catholic families like us, whether we choose the hippie way of life or not.
Andy and I live a seemingly conventional life within the walls of an ordinary home, within a regular Catholic parish with our children. Except we don’t really live a conventional life. Regardless of appearances…
We’re unschoolers and for all unschoolers, life is very extraordinary.
If you’d like to know more about Catholic unschooling, I recommend Suzie Andres’ books: