Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dance around; save the world

by Deb Lewis, once upon a time:

I wrote once before about how dish washing has come to be my mental health moment. I light a candle, I make some tea or pour a glass of wine, turn on some music, take off my shoes, and do just the dishes I want to do. I use dish soap that smells great—LOVE that hot water...sigh. I never start out feeling like I *have to* do *all* the dishes. I think how I want to have clean dishes and do however many I feel like doing. I dance around a little. I plan my garden. I save the world. It's never just about doing dishes.
—Deb Lewis

Feeling "taken advantage of"
mostly-unrelated photo by Deb Lewis

Monday, June 29, 2015

Next week, next year, next century

early 20th century downtown building with early 20th century theater added on

People DO think of next week. They think of last week. But they're doing their thinking from inside their present selves.

Balance depends on the fulcrum. Be solid. Be grounded.
Be whole, and be here.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The surest path

Leah Rose wrote:

Learning to parent mindfully, keeping my focus in the present, making choices towards peace, towards help and support, is not, as it turns out, much of a gamble or a risk. It is the surest path to connection and trust.
—Leah Rose

photo by Julie D

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Living with the truth

Response to someone who wanted reassurance that unschooling would create success:

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

Every second of every day things happen or don't happen and there are consequences.

I would say if you don't want to gamble, don't unschool, but the truth is that everything else is a gamble too.

photo by Sandra Dodd, left over from playing a board game online—
click to enlarge it for candid desk details


Friday, June 26, 2015

Amazing life

Just live life amazed.

—Joyce Fetteroll
roadrunner on a big laval rock, against a brick wall
photo by Lisa Jonick

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Angels and devils

In my lifetime, every part of a hamburger and every part of pizza has been considered good, or terrible; will-kill-you or the best part of it. Even the grease has been reviled and then redeemed.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Safe and happy—how?

Eva Witsel wrote:

I can spend my energy on limiting my child's world so that he will be safe and happy or I can spend my energy on helping my child learn the skills to navigate our world himself so that he will be safe and happy. I think the latter has a better chance of success in the long term.
—Eva Witsel

photo by Sandra Dodd
(color photo, in daytime,
though it's spookily dark)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Huge and wonderful choice

little Kirby feeding ducks at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque

Robyn Coburn wrote:

Intentions matter. Guidance offered from the place of partnership and trust has a different feeling, avoids rebellion, and is just plain less focused on the trivial. Guidance means optional acceptance instead of mandatory compliance. Guidance means parents being safety nets, not trap doors or examiners. Guidance facilitates mindfulness. Directives shut it down, and may even foster resentment instead.

The idea of Unschooling is for parents to be the facilitators of options, the openers of doors, the creators of environments of freedom, and the guardians of choice, not the installers of roadblocks and barriers. Unschoolers are making the huge and wonderful choice to renounce our legal entitlements to be the authoritarian controllers of our children's lives, and instead choose to be their partners.
—Robyn Coburn

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a long-ago Kirby

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pleasantly surprised

I was asked:

Did your kids have rules like bedtimes, no candy before dinner ... that sort of thing?

I wrote:

We didn't have those rules, but our kids went to bed every night and didn't eat candy before dinner. It seems crazy to people who believe that the only options are rules or chaos, but our children slept when they were sleepy, and ate when they were hungry (or when something smelled really good, or others were eating), and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they were able to know what their bodies needed. I grew up by the clock, up at 6:30, eat quickly, bus stop, school, wait until lunch, eat, wait until dinner, go to bed. I had no idea that sleep and food could be separated from a schedule like that, but they can be.

Not so crazy after all
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cursive or joined-up writing

Here is a topic that doesn't apply to everyone. Nice!

"But cursive is faster," you might think or say. That's what John Holt thought. He thought it because that was the justification given to him as a child when people taught cursive (though he was old enough to have used fountain pens not just for fun).

In his book Learning All the Time, John Holt tells of having taught fifth grade and having explained to them what he "knew" about cursive writing. But three of those ten- and eleven-year-old children could print faster than the teacher could write in cursive. They raced. They timed it more than once. He discovered he was the fourth fastest writer in the room.

Brits use the term "joined-up writing" and theirs is a connected sort of italic script. Canadians use "manuscript writing", I think. Americans use "cursive."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More, and much more

Unschooling is more than just the absence of school. As we change, our perceptions change, and the perceptions of others toward us changes.

hand-spun and died yarn, hanging for sale at an outdoor fair

How Unschooling Changes People
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 19, 2015

Beyond normal

Being a good parent, not according to a list in a magazine, or vague memories of what grandparents might have thought or said, but being a good parent in the eyes of one's children, in one's examined soul, is a big thing most parents never even see a glimpse of.

We can go beyond normal.

photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Unschooling, Time and Energy

Someone asked:
Is Unschooling Exhausting?
My first thought is "compared to what?"
Is unschooling more exhausting than having a child in school?
Is unschooling more exhausting than doing school at home?

close-up of a banana  blossom I discovered by accident when I stopped to rest in a shade, on Maui

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Every word

If you think of every word you use, you won't be able to berate yourself with the voices of others.... Everyone has those little loops of voice in their heads. You can "simply accept" that or you can decide on a case by case basis which ones to keep until you die and which ones to start talking back to.

If you use language without careful examination, you won't be speaking mindfully. School-style responses and reports involve parroting back, sounding confident, using the right buzzwords. But to be truly original and thoughtful, each word needs to be the one one really meant to use. It's a different kind of thinking.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of birds outside Schuyler's house

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I can hear the bells

Rippy Dusseldorpwrote:

"I don't really look to other mothers for validation on how I'm doing as a parent. I look to my children and my husband. If they are generally happy, relaxed, comfortable and engaged,
four kids in costume with Nerf guns
I feel pretty good about how I'm doing....

"If I see signs of frustration or stress or uneasiness in my family, there are alarm bells going off inside me telling me I need to be kinder, pay extra close attention, have more ideas, and offer more options."
—Rippy Dusseldorp
photo by Julie D

"I can Hear the Bells" is the name of a song from the musical Hairspray. Rippy was talking about alarm bells; that song references an electric school bell (in the movie version, anyway). They seemed to match a bit.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Real learning

"Real learning, the kind of learning humans are hard wired to do, is about discovering connections between one thing and dozens of things. What those connections will have in common is interest."
—Joyce Fetteroll

 Korean drama action scene with swords, on a desktop, next to a laptop, same image

Real Learning
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The world as a museum

Be willing to be surprised where you are, to appreciate the unexpected, and to stop and notice something old or artsy.

What's familiar to you might be brand new to a child.
popcorn wagon from horse-drawn days, red and gold, with glass windows
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Question platitudes

Leah Rose wrote:

I've been thinking about that saying "All things in moderation." Next time someone says it to me, I think I might just ask them: "Do you mean we should have joy in moderation? Should we have peace in moderation? Kindness in moderation? Patience in moderation? Forgiveness? Compassion? Humility?"

Honestly, I used to think it sounded like a very wise and balanced philosophy. Now, the more I think about it the less sense it makes.
—Leah Rose

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 12, 2015

Attentive and sweet

Be attentive and sweet to your children. That might be one of your best healing tools.

photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The peace path

"Unschooling helped us both to really walk the peace path, and not just talk about it."
—Janine Davies

words and photo by Janine

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Light it up

Sometimes, part of a room can light up and glow for a little while. Try to provide that light, when you can.

Try to be that light, in a dark moment, when you can be.
"This little light of mine..."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 8, 2015

Emotional well-being

amusement park tower with spinning swing seats, with flags

Emotional health and emotional well-being are as important, if not more so, as physical health.
—Jenny Cyphers

Moving Toward Less Control, Concerning Food
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, June 7, 2015

More tortoise

Step by step is usually more effective than trying to leap across. More tortoise, less hare.
—Debbie Regan
Gradual Change
video by Sandra Dodd, May 2008, Alamogordo
with Holly (16) and Sandra speaking, softly, a bit

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Deciphering written language

Only the reader can decipher it.
. . . .
Cipher is from the Arabic word for zero, and has been in English for a long, long time. "To cipher," meaning to do arithmetic, is a word even my grandfather used, who was born in 1898 and lived in Texas. But why a "ph" and not an "f"? Because it came through Greek. Some Greek mathematician discovered the idea from Arabic, wrote it down in Greek, and it came to other European languages from that. "Ph" words in English are always from Greek.

To decipher something (like reading) means to figure out the patterns.

A parent cannot decipher words for a child. Only the child can decipher written language. You can help! You can help LOTS of ways. One way would be to gain an interest in the words you use yourself, and stop once in a while to examine one, its history, why it means what it means.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 5, 2015

Their unique needs

It helps unschooling and mindful parenting to be aware of your kids and their unique needs rather than treating them as generic kids with all the worst possible traits.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Completing circuits

church tower and bunker/cellar, near small river in steep Alpine valley
School served to prevent connections for me, but I overcame that, with difficulty. It is a problem my children never had. If Animaniacs completed a circuit for them between Magellan and WWII, well it's a circuit school would never have completed for me under any circumstances. If learning for fun creates more connections than "serious learning" did, I can no longer look at "serious learning" seriously.

photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Producing processes

I was lucky. When Holly was a teen, she loved Photoshop, and was good at it. Her interest has waned.

I was lucky that when Holly was interested, she "populated" an outline I drew of the words "Learn Nothing Day." I'm glad she helped me document the process. Although there is "a product" (that logo), I'm happy that it was a catalyst for Holly's exploration and learning and sharing.

When I was younger there was much talk of "process people" vs."product people." With unschooling, if the "product" is learning, then we can't separate learning from the thoughts and actions, discussions and input that spark and fuel that learning.

Maybe unschooling is a process to propagate processes.

About the creation of that logo...
As of 2020, there's a second version of the logo, which shows at the top of that page. The documentation of the older one is still there, and some other photoshop art by Holly.
image of art in progress by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Turning away, turning toward

Something BIG happens when a person turns away from selfishness to service.

Something HUGE happens when a person can care about another person more than about himself.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 1, 2015

Schoolhouse Rock times three

Noon, October 21, 1994:

When we got home I set the kids up with their food and put on the Schoolhouse Rock multiplication videotape. I was eating my burrito in the kitchen, reading a couple of pamphlets a friend had sent on "Michigan's Little Bavaria," and the biggest Christmas store in the world. I overheard Marty and his friend discussing infinity during a song about multiplying by nine. In a discussion like this, if they seem to know what they're talking about and they're happy with the outcome then I will stay out of it. If they ask me to mediate or confirm, I will. If I were actually at the table with them I might've led the conversation a little further, but since they were watching something with music, it would've been more distracting than helpful. If there had been more chicken strips in those lunches, they would have watched more Schoolhouse Rock. Just as the parts of speech section started, they were down to the French fries and, one by one, they wandered off to do other things, except for Holly who fell asleep on the couch.

Friday, May 29, 2015:

Kirby and Destiny passed by a rummage sale and bought Schoolhouse Rock on DVD. Nice find!

Saturday, May 30, 2015:

Keith and I were watching Saturday Night Live, which started off with a "I'm Just a Bill," from Schoolhouse Rock (live action against cartoonish background), and switched cleverly to being about executive orders. It was a repeat from November, 2014. I'll link it below.

The last two things happened Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, when looking for something for Just Add Light, I came across a 21-year-old article called "Pink Crayons," and a Schoolhouse Rock story popped up, coincidentally, so three in a row! Connections!


Saturday Night Live's "I'm Just a Bill"
(with commentary and the video, which I hope will play even outside the U.S.)

2020 note: The article above is still there, but if it's not accessible, here are the original cartoon and SNL's version.