Wow, now I am just trying to get everything together in my head--what an interesting discussion this is!
Annakiss, you'll probably be surprised to hear this, but your posts really, really resonate with me! I don't disagree with you at all. I think I wasn't very clear about how schools "create" kids that are impossible to be around. I just mean the same kinds of things I assume you're talking about when you say
|that school would gain them something to focus on and wear them out (not, of course, without dreadful side-effects)
And something someone else mentioned too--just the general extra stress that is inevitable with a schooling philosophy--kids feeling the need to learn certain things that other people dictate for them, the pressure to get good grades, to please the teacher, to go for the gold star, etc. Not to mention all the teasing, bullying, and other peer pressure stuff that goes on in schools. All of that just adds up to compound the stresses kids already
have! The stresses you're talking about, that come from just living in a world with other people!
I'm actually really, really glad to hear you and others say that you have these same struggles and confusion even though you consider yourselves "radical" unschoolers--which I don't think I really identify with. Like someone else said, I am really sold on the educational aspect of unschooling--the philosophy of child-led and natural learning. That's just so obviously how my children learn. And it was all reinforced a few months ago when my 5 year old taught herself to read. With seriously no instruction or teaching from me at all. I honestly don't know how it happened. I don't think she even knows what sounds all the letters make, I've certainly never told her. But she's reading, really reading, figuring out words she's never seen before and flowing really well!
But I've gone back and forth forever on how much, when, and whether to set limits on my kids about various things, but at this point, we do have limits we have set as a family about movies (2 a week), bedtimes (which are flexible and ever changing, but my kids do respond to my [very kind, very gentle, and very involved and interactive but nonetheless) 'parental authority' about the fact that there's a time for them to start getting ready for bed, and another time for lights out.
We're pretty free about eating, compared to most, but a radical unschooler would probably be appalled that I will offer an alternative (healthier) source of sweetness at times when my kids ask for something sugary. I do it kindly, of course, and considering their tastes, and they don't get upset about it, but yes, when I say, "Oh, you're looking for something sweet. How about xyz?" I AM effectively saying, "no, I don't feel comfortable letting you injest that much refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup in one day and I'm going to impose that limit on you."
I know this is going off topic, and I'm sorry (see my siggy!), but I really wanted to show you that I do understand about struggles with kids, about not knowing exactly what is right, about wondering and worrying and wishing someone would just stand over me and TELL me the right way to do it so there was no room for me to question! (But I know I don't really want that! Just like I don't want to do that to my children!)
Honestly though, I was a lot more confused, and had a lot more struggles with my older daughter, for much of the last year, as I went back and forth on what turned out basically to be an argument in my head between RU and just, well, whatever we're doing now.
I've tried various times to get behind the RU philosophy, but I just can't do it--not without eventually going crazy at some point, and I don't care what the real 'right' answer turns out to be, when you have a scale and you weigh "RU most of the time--with occasional bursts of insanity, witnessed by the very kids you're trying to be so free with" against "general child-led learning and a respectful, kind, and interactive approach to parenting that includes some (kindly given) parent imposed limits and instruction BUT . . . no freak-outs" well, guess which one comes out on top?
Not that I don't still get incredibly frustrated at times, or confused, and yes I still have times where it might be nice to run screaming from the house. But I don't think this beyond the range of normal (whereas I definitely was for a little while there!)
I am still learning so much, and I just know I will go back and forth more and more as we go. I am very introspective as well, and I honestly cannot stop thinking about these things. This is just where we are right now. It's what I
can handle, at this point.
Anyway, sooo sorry to go on and on. I don't know if I've even cleared up the confusion, or it even makes sense to you how I can agree with so much of what you wrote, not being RU, and also with what I said originally about schooled kids having more stresses=more
problematic behavior (not that that's the only way for problematic or difficult behavior to manifest itself!!).
I still stand by that, but from what you've said, and the basic fact that you believe unschooling is better for kids, it doesn't seem like you would disagree with me.