Monday, January 3, 2011

Is unschooling too big a gamble?

Would school seem like less a gamble to you?
Would buying a curriculum seem like less a gamble?
Moving to a fancier neighborhood, or to a country not involved in any wars?

I cannot make my children's lives good. I can't ensure their success. I cannot make a tree grow. I can water it and put a barrier near so Keith doesn't hit it with a lawnmower, and ask my kids not to climb in it while it's young.

I could destroy that tree, all kinds of ways. I could do it damage. I could neglect it. But I can't predict where the next branch will grow, or whether it will double in size this year or just do 1/3 again of its height. Not all years' growth are the same.

I could mess my kids up and make them unhappy and keep them from having access to things, but I cannot make them learn. I can't make them mature. I can give them opportunities and room to grow, and food and water and a comfortable bed.

I can't guarantee anything for anyone else, nor for my own family. I know what does damage, and I know what might help.

from the page "Huge Gambles (or small gambles)"
photo by Holly Dodd


  1. Thanks for that last sentence,"I know what does damage and I know what might help". I REALLY thought I knew what might help when I took my daughter out of school seven years ago. And taking her out of school was a huge START. I joined and read some unschooling lists and couldn't believe what people were writing. It wasn't that I thought anyone was rude, but that what they were suggesting was so...different! It seemed pretty far out there, and I was still so school-y. She was OUT of school. I was away from all the volunteering there. We WERE going to radical unschooling. Soon. I was changing things as fast as I could. But deep down I was still so conventional about so many things. I got off the unschooling lists because it was just too much to take in! It was radical! But I kept reading different parts of your site (and Joyce's) every few days. I printed things out to carry around when I was away from the computer. We were able to move to where there were unschoolers to hang around. But then we tried a really different kind of alternative school for six months, because I still was not quite seeing "IT". Really seeing 'it' took a long time. I'm just, in the past couple of years, feeling mostly confident that I have left all (?) those old ways behind. I truly understand now what I fought earlier. I understand why you are saying what you SEE when people write to you, what their *words* are saying, what their actions are saying, and what is written between the lines. I kept hanging on to dd's labels until I finally got it, that you meet your child WHERE THEY ARE. You don't look at anyone else's child or anyone else's parenting. You don't look at where any other child is, nor care what any one else thinks. I'm happy for my almost grown child that I made the effort to change, to stop listening to the conventional world. I wasted time insisting it was okay to just do part of it, or most of it for a while longer. And I held on to my exceptions because our situation was "a little different", and you people wouldn't quite understand if I tried to explain it to you. Well, that was then. Now I can say that you (the list owners and the other really wise people who participate) - Thank You! You DO know.


  2. Thankyou, I needed to read this today.I KNOW what does damage too.I have been there myself.I have seen it with my eldest.


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