Saturday, January 27, 2007


"I have to say that I do have one child that, hard as I tried, could not be unschooled. If left to his own devices, his day would be filled with video games and television. When I forbade those, he would just sleep or lay around outside. NOt an ounce of motivation about even a hobby. Scary.My other does very well with a more delight directed approach , thank goodness. At least I can enjoy it with one!"

This was a comment on a blog I read that was about kids being naturals at unschooling vs. "unmotivated" lumps. The person writing the blog "gets it". This commenter does not. It almost makes me want to scream, this ignorance about unschooling! I bet she "tried" unschooling, or her idea of it anyway, for about a week. And just as we would expect, when a kid is given freedom, after living with limits and/or imposed learning, he will choose what he has been denied first, until it is "out of his system". Then and only then will he be able to move on to other things. And only if you are making it clear with your unspoken language that he is free to choose. Any lack of trust from you will keep him doing the thing you hope he gives up, for as long as he feels you will take it away at any moment.

So, I bet, a week later, he is declared a failure at unschooling and is now back to the grindstone. All because the mom never learned to trust and never learned to see real learning. Because there was real learning going on with those video games and that TV watching. No, it did not look like a worksheet of multiplications problems, but I bet there was math involved. No, it did not look like a book report, but I am sure there was language involved. No, it did not look like a history/sociology/geography/art lesson, but I am positive there was something in that video game or on that TV that involved those topics.

And I bet he was having fun doing those things, or trying to with mom breathing down his neck waiting for the "doing nothing" to be over. And if he was having fun, he was learning. Quite literally, if our brains are infused with the feel good endorphins, our brains make connections better and faster. This is scientific fact. And this information is in the college coursework of all educators. Why else would "making learning fun" be the buzzwords of educators everywhere? They all know it to be true that fun=real learning. Sure, you can memorize and dump after the test without having much fun. But you did not really learn that stuff.

Without a deep understanding of what real learning is and an abiding trust in the drive of all people to learn, there can be no unschooling. That homeschooling mom was not unschooling her son then, and she is not unschooling her other child now. I really feel for that boy and what he learned during that short time of freedom. In addition to whatever he learned about through the games and TV, he learned that his interests were not good enough, that his mother did not trust him, and that he can't trust his mother to understand him. How sad for him. And how sad for that whole family to miss out on the awesome benefits of living and learning together in freedom, respect and joy.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like this person needs to get her kids back in school if she can't do anything with them at home. The parent needs to figure it out or give up and let someone else educate her child.

Zamozo said...

Miranda, I enjoy your blog and your insights on unschooling. I'm tagging you for the "weird unschoolers" blog game. Please see my blog: for details!

Sandra Dodd said...

This is going in my If I let him..." collection.

"If left to his own devices, his day would be filled with video games and television. When I forbade those, he would just sleep or lay around outside."

Once in a discussion I said "I'd be depressed too" in response to a long account of how controlling and disapproving the mom was, and how depressed her kid was. You'd've thought I had said she wasn't a good mom or something!! :-)

Some people can't even read what they just wrote, or hear what they just thought.