Monday, December 1, 2014

Explaining Unschooling

Yesterday, we were at my dad's place for lunch as he had a friend and co-activist from the UK, over for lunch. He was a warm old man with lots of endearing stories about his family and grandchildren. Amongst many other things that ranged from government policies to activism to social boycott to corruption, we also discussed unschooling. Because he was fascinated by what we were doing with our son.

We had almost the usual barrage of questions, with the only difference this time being a keen interest on his part (unlike many others we have faced) to understand what it was that we were doing and how. Here are some:

So do you follow a currciulum?

You must have a hard time being at home and taking care of all of your son's learning?
What about pushing him to learn things that he does not like learning? Don't you see a need to do that?

There is just so much out there in the world in terms of knowledge. It is impossible I agree to give him a taste of everything. But what about learning things that he needs to know if he has to get into the real world?

What about physical fitness and sport? Do you do anything to encourage and actively engage him in something like that?

What about getting into university or pursuing higher education? Would he not be required to sit for exams then? Will they accept him without his taking exams or without certificates? What about subjects like calculus? Subjects that you may not be able to teach him?

I loved the questions! Not only for being questions, but because the space that they were offered in, opened up and cleared up so many things. Life has a knack of being efficient - getting so many things done with minimal effort! For one, we have not sat down and answered questions that were perhaps simmering inside my parents' hearts. We have shared our points of view and beliefs in passing as and when some queries came up, but not in this way. Perhaps the need did not arise. Perhaps it was not the right moment for that. I don't know.

Both my husband and I believe that time is a great healer, and so many a time, when we have had arguments or misunderstandings amongst ourselves or with others in the family, we have just laid things to rest. And they have been sorted out on their own, with time, after the in-the-moment outbursts. It has often worked well for us. So even with explaining our decision to homeschool our son, we just informed our parents, briefly explained why and left it at that. We never felt a need to defend our decision or clarify things, unless we were asked to explain something by them. And so this moment today, came after many years into our journey into homeschooling.

We sat down and shared our points of view with him and what we believed in. For once, it felt so so good to have my husband speak up and share about our journey from his heart, while I added my tidbits when I felt drawn to do that. It was freeing to just sit back and listen and watch in silence for most of the time.

Although his questions were addressed and answered like we usually do, I realised that the mojo of unschooling or the living and learning journey is TRUST and SURRENDER - both of which are so hard to get across to someone who speaks from their mind-space. How does one tell and make another understand how to trust their children and life and yet live in this 'real' world? How does one 'show' people how unschooling works - because there is really nothing to 'show', and most of the time we are not 'doing' anything? If someone were to come and spend a day with us, it would surely seem like we actually do nothing! Almost all our learning happens through simple conversations, or in the silent pauses, in meltdowns and heartaches, and the simple nondescript ordinariness of everyday moments, flowing seamlessly into each other. That is where the inspiration is.

And this trust and surrender to each moment is the hardest part of the process and journey to transfer or transmit to another....quite impossible. And yet, I feel that this is the essence.

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