Showing posts sorted by relevance for query work. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query work. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The parts that fascinate you

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Real learning looks like doing a billion piece jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you'll work on a dragon down in the corner. Sometimes you'll work on a cat in the center. Sometimes you'll work on the bits that are red. Sometimes you'll work on the frame.
statue, toys, M&M dispenser at a car boot sale display
Eventually you'll discover what connects the dragon and the cat. You'll work on whatever interests you. And eventually there will be a rich collection of individual bits that form a bigger picture. But since it's a billion pieces you'll never do the whole thing. You'll just do the parts that fascinate you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Becoming solid

When people first come to unschooling, when they want to be unschoolers, they're basing this on something they read that resonated, or someone they met that they'd like to be more like, which is the way I came to it, but I don't think it will really stick, and be solid in that family or in that person's way of being—in their behaviors and their thoughts—until they see that in their own children.

Until you're doing it not because you think it will work, or because you've heard it will work, or read it will work, but because you've seen it work.
. . . .
Until people get to that point in unschooling, they could relapse. They could easily forget that they wanted their kids to be more like someone else's kids.

But once they get to the point where their confidence in unschooling is not faith in other people, but certain knowledge, direct experience of their own children learning and being at peace, and of the parents learning to see the natural learning that happens when kids just draw for hours, or just play video games for hours, or ride their bike, or play with the dog—when they start seeing those things as equal in learning value, to things that look academic, then it's hard to relapse from certain knowledge.

20:45 in the sound recording of the interview at this link
photo by Emma Marie Forde

P.S. By the time you get to that point, you probably won't want your kids to be different, but the comparisons are normal before deschooling, and can fade as unschooling ideas permeate and pervade.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Learning by experience

"I think respectful parenting is similar to learning to ride a bike. The bike, gravity, pavement all provide feedback on whether you've got it right. Or right enough to work. And then you work on refining it. And you don't forget because it's learning by doing.
Learning through immersion. We don't make them do it right. We help them think through the problem, provide information, and help them as they try out solutions. It's often the less than optimal solutions -- as long as they aren't going to injure themselves or harm others -- that are the most instructive because they can see *why* other ways work better. They can see and experience the consequences and the learning is far deeper than being told how to do it right."
—Joyce Fetteroll

"You are nuts!"
photo by Lydia Koltai

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Home and relationships

"'I'm working so hard on my marriage!!' doesn't mean a whole lot if you're putting your work in the wrong areas. And honestly, I find that all the 'effort' I put into my marriage is fun, and makes me happy. It is so good to know that our home is a place my husband wants to be, and that I can do things to help him be happy."
—Aiden Wagner
Aiden was writing in a discussion on facebook (linked below), about the importance of caring for marriages. Because many unschoolers have seen their marriages strengthened by the principles that make unschooling work well, I saw easily that it could be about parenting:
"I'm working so hard on my parenting!!" doesn't mean a whole lot if you're putting your work in the wrong areas. And honestly, I find that all the "effort" I put into my parenting is fun, and makes me happy. It is so good to know that our home is a place my child wants to be, and that I can do things to help him be happy.

Aiden's comment in context
(if you go there you will see I started the quote in the middle of a sentence)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 19, 2023

Unschooling can prove itself

If both parents are enthusiastic and excited, unschooling can hardly fail.
. . .
It won't work unless people want it to work, and make the changes necessary for it to work.

Unschooling can prove itself if it's not thwarted.
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, August 20, 2018

Ideas about unschooling

Writing about my writing:

I’m trying to pick ideas up and turn them over and see if they work, how they work, how they might be tweaked to work better.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Unschooling can prove itself

If both parents are enthusiastic and excited, unschooling can hardly fail.
. . .
It won't work unless people want it to work, and make the changes necessary for it to work.

Unschooling can prove itself if it's not thwarted.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 30,
which links to
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, August 22, 2016

Play as work

People like to say that play is the work of children

Why think of something as "work" when it's light and fun? When you see that learning can happen all the time, play can be play.
photo by Brigita Usman

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back to work!

Learn Nothing Day is over. If you wish it were not over, and you need more time, click here.

Otherwise, the holiday is over, so get back to work!

But wait...
Learning should not be work.

Get back to fun!

But wait...
You were probably having fun yesterday.

I will quote something, and recommend a book.
When a server in a restaurant asks me, "Are you still working on that?" my reply is, "No, I'm still enjoying it."
—Dean Sluyter

You might like his most recent book:
Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction.
I have paper and audio. His voice is very soothing.

Twenty years ago I found his first book, used. Even the name is entertaining:
Why The Chicken Crossed the Road and other Hidden Enlightenment Teachings from Buddha to Bebop to Mother Goose.

At the bottom of that page, I recommended that and another of his books, and there are links, there, if you're interested. Poke around his site.

photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, June 7, 2021

If ideas are scary

I’m not trying to be scary. I’m trying to pick ideas up and turn them over and see if they work, how they work, how they might be tweaked to work better.
Always Learning, a discussion on writing, in 2018
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The simplest details

Ren Allen, in part of a response to someone who was defending not wanting to be joyful all the time:
We have the ability to choose gratefulness in any situation. For me, this has been life changing, though I still have a long ways to go! And I have tried very hard to take the words 'have to' out of my vocabulary.

Some of you may feel it's just semantics, but it's empowering to see everything I do as a choice.

When I'm getting ready for work I have caught myself saying "I have to get to work now" and stopped myself, saying " I CHOOSE to go to work and I need to be there soon." Simple? Perhaps. But sometimes the simplest details lead to more mindful living. The richness of abundant living is in the details.
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Work hard and happily

When I was a child and was assigned chores, I learned to do the job in a rudimentary fashion as quickly as possible. My kids never learned any such thing, and when they work at jobs, they work hard and happily.
photo by Jill Parmer

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


In a response to the Always Learning discussion list, I wrote "The principles of unschooling and natural learning work the same regardless of a child's talents or abilities, but parental posture (emotional, behavioral postures) can keep unschooling from working well."

The other day during a discussion with half a dozen other unschoolers, some from France and some from England, I said that much of my writing was untranslatable because it had to do with English. This might be such an example.

The word "posture" is usually used to tell a child to sit up straighter or to stand more gracefully and impressively. But posture can be relative to something else—a wall, a chair, or another person. Posture can be very subtle, too. Posture can be biochemical. It's possible to read anger in another person's hands or the speed of his facial movements. It's possible to see love in the way a mother picks up or touches a baby. Or it's possible to see frustration, or resentment, or fear, in a parental reaction.

I don't think this will be easily translatable into any other language, but for unschooling to work, the relationship of the parent to the child needs to become so clean and clear that the parent is being, and not just acting. This might involve physical posture, but also thoughts and feelings, reactions and clarity.

It won't happen all at once, and it can only begin to happen when the parent understands that some postures are better, and others are harmful to a better relationship with the child.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a wifi modem set in the only window between the old part of a very old French farmhouse and the newer part. There were countless places where that modem would only have worked in one half of the house, but one perfect place where it could work throughout—an old window on the stairs between the top two floors.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Holly took a picture of a reflection of me. I don't think I would have seen this, but Holly has an artist's eye. My face is on the hills, between the lake and the sky.

Marty can pack a car in a most efficient way, and remember all sorts of emergency or "just-in-case" equipment and provisions. He is helpful, funny, musical, and sweet.

Kirby has lived away from home for over three years now. He has a job with benefits, extra overtime, and nice, new gym. He has lots of friends at work. As he can wear whatever he wants to work, his desire to dress up was unfulfilled, so he bought a nice suit to wear to parties. He recently purchased a very nice car, without any parental assistance on financing. (We offered, but he wanted to establish credit.) He paid $5,000 down on that car, to the chagrin of the finance desk at the dealership. He has no student-loan debt whatsoever.
Is any of that "success"?

"Success" might be as ghostly and insubstantial as that image of me in the photo above. It can look nice, but how permanent is it? How warm? How strong?

Look at the immediate benefits of your decisions.
Look for the good parts of today.
Look for the value in this moment.

The ideas above grew too large for this format,
and have been expanded upon at
photo by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

When I grew up

When I was in first grade I decided I wanted to be a teacher.

All through school I paid attention to what teachers did and how, and why (when I could figure that out, which was pretty often). And I asked the other kids what they liked about teachers and what they didn’t. So I learned LOTS and lots about how learning works and what factors work for different kinds of people.

When I was older, 13/14 or so, I wanted to become a missionary (still teaching-related), or to work at a magazine. And it seems all those rolled together are what I’ve become. I write, and I help people have happier more peaceful lives, and it’s all about learning. So in a natural-learning way I’ve been working up to this always.

I wrote the above in an online exchange for Mothering Magazine in 2007.

Recently, I remembered another writing-related profession I had seriously considered for a short while in my late 20's. I had read that the Hallmark Cards company was hiring writers, in Kansas City. I thought I could do that! I knew nothing about Kansas City, and decided I didn't want to move, but while I thought about applying, writing mushy or funny or inspiring words to go with an image sounded easy and fun.

When this blog was already ten years old, I remembered the greeting-card thoughts, and saw that Just Add Light and Stir is much like a greeting-card collection. Some are funny, or mushy, and many are inspiring. Some are seasonal, and some are about babies. With over 4,680 posts, I guess I have inadvertently written some greeting cards.

The top section was originally published in 2021, with a video. The permission to use that video was forgotten about and the organizer said no, when I reminded her. That post said "...with over 4,000 posts" but today there are 4,687. Thank you for reading.

Just Add Light and Stir on my site
The snowglobe image above was by an artist at Fiverr in 2017.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Empowering Others

Helping people learn to find their own answers is vastly superior to distributing answers on demand. . . .
Empowerment is a principle, not a rule. Learning to examine one's own life and needs and beliefs is necessary for unschooling to work.

These quotes were about unschoolers helping other unschoolers, but the ideas work with parents and children, too.

Younger Keith Dodd and his baby Kirby
photo by Sandra Dodd

Totally lifted from September 20, 2010
so that I can go back to bed to recuperate from a long, hard week.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Work or play?

The best moments are when an activity might look like work, but it feels like play.

It can happen to anyone.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm not guessing.

I'm confident. I'm not guessing unschooling can work, I know. I've also seen how it can fail, through my correspondence and discussions with so many other homeschooling families.
I'm not hoping that kids can still get a job without fifteen years of practice bedtimes; I know they can. (And they would've been "practicing" for the wrong shift anyway.) I don't conjecture that kids can learn to read without being taught, I know. It's happened at my house, in three people's lives.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Just because it *can* work doesn't mean that a family can't fail. If you're going to unschool, do it well. Find your own confidence. Help is available.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sweetness in teens

Once upon a time, in 2006...

A story slightly involving allowance, but a snapshot of how kids who aren't desperate for money can act:
Two of Marty's friends were going to pick him up to go run around, but they ended up staying here. Then another friend came over to see all my kids. Then a friend of Kirby's from work came over. I hadn't met her before. She was nice. So my three (14, 17, 19) plus four more (17-21) were all having a great time laughing and looking at stuff on Kirby's computer and around our house, and Marty's big Lego Viking village, and so forth.

They decided to go out for ice cream and then to see "Over the Hedge." I asked Holly if she needed money, and she didn't. (She saves her allowance up.) Every other person there has a job. Outside of Kirby possibly having an interest in the girl from work, there were no couples. Two of those kids do have steady others, but didn't bring them over. So it was four teenaged girls, four teenaged boys, no romantic tension (unless Kirby and new-girl; didn't see any).

And here's the big success part. They asked Keith if he wanted to go. I didn't know they had, when Marty came and asked me if I wanted to go. So they would have taken me, or Keith, or both of us, with them.

We separately thanked them and declined and found out later they had asked us both. Pretty sweet!

We didn't "teach them" to invite their parents to the movies. One advantage of our not going was that then they could fit into the big van and didn't have to take two cars.
photo by Sandra Dodd,
whose kids are not teens anymore, but are still sweet,
of a movie theater in Austin, unrelated except for the movie part


Monday, November 6, 2017

The learning and the beauty

"It's all about that mind shift isn't it? It applies to so much in how unschooling works or doesn't work. If you can't see the learning and the beauty, you will have a hard time unschooling. It seems to work best in all those small ways that add up to the bigger picture."
photo by Chrissy Florence