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Unschool Thyself

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am currently learning line drawing.  I have never taken an art class (ever, not even as a little kid) but since my kids are demanding we draw together for hours at a time, I have gotten into the whole thing.  And ya know what? I am starting to think I could learn a thing or two.  So I am teaching myself some stuff.  This way, I am also a better drawing partner for my kids. They are both very keen on learning to draw and really invest time and energy on their work.  The least I could do is do the same :) and see where that gets me....


So here is a question for you guys: What are you learning?  

post #2 of 19



Raising chickens, though I've been doing it for 4 years now there is still so much I don't know.  We did fair this year, and it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for the girls.  We raised chicks ourselves this year--steep learning curve!  I read the Backyard Chicken forums regularly, guessing sex and breed (in my head, at least, I rarely post there) and learn 10,000 more things I never knew.  Looking to raising chickens for meat as well as eggs in the next couple of years.  I'm hoping to help my neighbors butcher their birds in a few weeks.


I'm not learning anything much separated from what the girls are wanting to learn.  There isn't enough time in my day right now, and I'm having fun learning the same things for now.  So, it's origami and caterpillars!

post #3 of 19
I also learned art. Then computer art -- using Microsoft paint, not a package that does most of the work for you. I love it! Undo really frees me. No more erase marks! Just click "undo"!

Then I got back into computer programing. Finally, with some pushing from my son, I got into writing. I really enjoy it!

Now to make money doing what I enjoy!
post #4 of 19

A few of the skills I've picked up since becoming a parent.


HTML, web publishing, simple scripting and php installations, digital media editing (sound, video, images).




Vegetable gardening.


Endurance sports. 


Backyard chickening.


Music arranging, orchestration, publishing.


Suzuki violin and viola teaching.


I've been a parent for a long time, so these things have been spread out over many years.



post #5 of 19

I've always been sort of self-directed.  I've taught myself to paint and draw with a variety of media, computer programming languages, web design, and sewing. More recently I've been doing woodworking and home repair, electronics, and trying to learn Mandarin.  I've also been reading a lot more on politics and social justice.

post #6 of 19

Typography and literature are my focus right now.  Lit can range from poetry to post-revolutionary Russian lit to classics (Dickens, James) to contemporary Irish writing to old favorites (Calvino, Didion, Woolf, Plath).


I tend to cycle through art/design pursuits, studying art history, studying various religions (a mid-century Hindu take on Christ is on my bedside table, neglected right now), international affairs, and environmental justice.


Mainly, lots of reading and inspiration these days - things I can do while nursing a toddler during his nap. smile.gif


Of course, I'm also always learning about cooking, unschooling, parenting, and home renovations as we go!


eta - brushing up on my French is favorite, though it so seldom figures in, that I make no progress redface.gif

post #7 of 19

Trying to improve my drawing abilities in preparation for drawing a graphic novel. I've also learned a variety of ocean-related facts in the course of doing research for the plot and scenery, since it will be about mermaids. I'm also trying to research how to convey story information through sequential art (I've been working on prose fiction since I was like ten, and there's a lot of overlap, but there are some differences... I'm having trouble finding resources for this).


I've been learning to code in C# with XNA so I can make video games. My "practice" game is almost done; hopefully it won't stay in "almost done" status much longer! I plan to put sound effects in for the first time tomorrow.


My quest to learn Japanese in a really lazy way is on the back burner. There's a Japanese video game I'm meaning to translate, and a short novel... I got part way into both, haven't touched them in ages.


Back when I had to take the city bus everywhere, I picked up a little more Spanish by reading the bilingual signs....


I like etymology. I always try to figure out the origins of fictional characters' names.


And of course, I'm here reading about unschooling. I don't have kids. I'm not even pregnant, heh. Well, I will have kids someday....



I also learned art. Then computer art -- using Microsoft paint, not a package that does most of the work for you. I love it! Undo really frees me. No more erase marks! Just click "undo"!


Ooh, I used to use Microsoft Paint a lot! The Windows 98 and XP versions though... can't stand the new one.


I remember making a tutorial when I was a kid. I just googled it to see if it still exists. It does, but it's barely functional and not helpful.


While the fancier programs have their advantages, I wouldn't say they do everything for you. Some people hassled me about using Paint because it allegedly made it so much harder, but depending on what kind of picture you wanted to make, it could be easier.

post #8 of 19

I learned to crochet several years ago.  Then a couple years ago I started with quasi art therapy and picked up some drawing/coloring techniques (no I'm not very good).

DS is starting to expand into science fiction genre, so I'm reluctantly learning about that :)

DS is on swim team and I'm learning all about swim drama and swim 'mom' drama on the pool deck

Over the years I've improved my cooking skills!

post #9 of 19

Piano, French and drawing right now.

Piano with my ds, drawing with dd, and French w/ dp (but it ends up being on my own, more often than not).

post #10 of 19

I am learning all about setting up a sensory room for dd. I will probably be taking a swing dance class, painting class, and a rainbow children class.

post #11 of 19
Some things I've been pursuing since becoming a mom...

Speaking Italian
Vegetable gardening & fruit & berry trees/vines/bushes
Studying history and politics
Canning and preserving
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Wow, you guys!  So much learning going on here :)  I am impressed.  I, myself, feel like I am putting more effort towards new things now that I am my kids learning partner!  So much to learn and oh such fun!  


Thanks for all your responses!  Pretty inspiring!

post #13 of 19

Recently we've been watching and having fun with Vi Hart's videos (thanks, Miranda, for the link from your recent blog post!)  We've been messing around with the hexaflexagons and playing with some of her math class doodle ideas.  Some of those doodles I was doing all through school, never knowing they had any particular mathematic significance, so I was feeling a bit miffed that I grew up thinking my mathematical potential was average and limited.  Not that I expected to be a prodigy, but I felt I've been totally misguided as to what mathematics actually entails.  Humph.  Whatever.  I also assume I would ever have been interested having my doodles mathematically analyzed.  Probably unlikely, so, oh well.*  But it has been cool to see some of the same doodles repeated.  And it has been terrific timing as far as the girls are concerned.


So, I'm back on the math track and hoping to come to a better understanding of all the things I've missed.



*I remember playing a game of Go at the Last Exit on Brooklyn Coffeehouse in Seattle in the 1990's.  At the time, Seattle (and therefore the Exit) had the best Go players outside Korea (this was before online games and the Go Center).  I was playing a game with another beginner, somewhere around the middle of the game, when one, then 2 then 3 or 4 of the highest dan-level players starting crowding around our game, muttering to each other quietly.  Then I made a move and they lost interest.  Really stressful!  And I apparently made the wrong move.  I should have given them the game.  I still have no idea what they were talking about.  


Yes, I'm bringing this back to any possible reaction to a mathematical commentary on my doodles.  I don't think I would have appreciated the attention.

post #14 of 19

I'm learning woodworking. Slowly. I build us a compost bin, I built my son a tiny bike ramp (I built ramps in High School) and now I'm working on shleves for a our basement. Useful and fun skill. 

post #15 of 19

I have learned a ridiculous amount about trucks thanks to DS.  I know what a grapple skidder is, that a bucket truck is also known as a cherry picker, and that there exists a German dump truck that is bigger than our house.  I can now tell the difference between a backhoe and a bulldozer, and a tractor and a combine (much to the amusement of my husband, who apparently thought this common knowledge).  


It has really enlivened our walks around the city - traffic is no longer part of an anonymous background.  I actually get excited when we see city/school buses, towing and UPS trucks.  Oh, and I never realized how much a mail truck looks like an ambulance until DS saw it's boxy white shape covered in red and blue and started making a loud siren noise. smile.gif

post #16 of 19

I'm building a play house with lumber from free cycle and redwood trees cut down for fire safety. It's a lot of fun. :)


Gardening--both food and flowers.


I have painted a variety of murals in my house and learned a lot from that process.


I do most of my home repair. That has involved a lot of new skills.


We are learning ASL and Spanish.


I ran a marathon after never running at all.


I wrote, edited, and published a book.


Gotta keep busy. :)

post #17 of 19

I almost forgot what has become a lifetime passion:


When I started hitchhiking around the states, I became interested in plants, first to learn herbal medicine, but my real passion arose when I began studying weeds and wild plants.  What could be better than free food and medicine?  It led to my love of native plants and ethnobotany once I settled down.  I started gardening, discovered Permaculture and studied that on my own for a while.  Started to look for a gardening job.  Didn't find one, but landed a husband luxlove.gif but that eventually lead to a gardening job, then to my own clients.  Started a book of all the plants (native and exotic) growing on our forested property.  That taught me something about real cameras.


For 2 years, I wrote a gardening column for our monthly community paper.  That was an amazing and humbling experience.  My father died unexpectedly, and I was never able to return to it.  Now I'm glad that was in the past.  I loved the process of writing, and finally learning to edit myself, but the writing never stopped in my head, and I found that less than relaxing.  I was happy to drop that obligation.


When all the craziness from moving and settling in has dies down, there is a group that works to restore the historic oak-and-camas prairies that are in the surrounding area that I hope to volunteer with.  Hopefully this isn't just wishful thinking.  There are some amazingly knowledgeable people working on those projects.


But for now, now the rains have returned we can plan and plant our gardens.  

post #18 of 19

I have also been unschooled (since 7th grade officially) so my kids' unschooling (30 years worth!) has always been an extension of my own learning. It is hard to define what is learning as separate from just living. International travel? 10,000 museum trips with YoungSon? Cooking and raising Guide Dog puppies with BigGirl? Raising parrots as a home business? Another home business sewing baby clothes? I read lots of science; epidemiology, microbiology, and evolution these days. I decided to learn to knit socks a few months ago. I took a course in teaching English as a Second Language over the summer, and am now teaching one night a  week. I am learning as much as my students! I took apart and reassembled a VW bug, just to learn how. I am constantly looking for trainings to support my work as a family advocate. My next active learning project will probably be growing bonsai trees. And I am about to write a book.


I cannot imagine not learning throughout my day-to-day life, any more than I can imagine a child going through a day without learning!

post #19 of 19

I love this thread and I just love you guys!  So much inspiration and learning here.  I can relate to so much that has been stated in this thread especially from mamarhu.


What I'm currently learning (the most) is:

1. Spanish(I've been *not quite fluent for far too many years (over 10) I'm really planning to become completely fluent in less than a year)

2. Parapsychology & Intuition (another thing I've been almost fluent in for several years)

3. Literacy Studies/Cognitive development

4. Guitar & Piano

5. Gardening/permaculture

6. Internet Marketing & Business

7. Publishing books

8. A ton about new *to me technology/computers/internet/software

9. Natural health/nutrition & Advanced Yogic practices (been studying these for several years)

10. Accountability (I'm not a natural)

11. Communicating & Compassion(something I am constantly learning more and more about)

12. Native American culture & languages (see 1. and 2.)

13. Cultural & Modern Dance


I need lots of things to keep me occupied and help me feel like I have a lot of options(read I'm not a natural at accountability) but I am just now accepting that this is the best way for me to learn, until I have the time and everything available to really, really delve into something and master it.  Things I was discouraged from doing as a kid, I am now doing.  A lot of these topics are topics I picked up on in my youth. Another thing I really want to get more into would be RV and bio-fuel conversion, horses and becoming a better swimmer.  Chess is something I'm sure I'll dive into sometime soon again and I'd like to learn how to do some basic fixing/maintenance of bikes and cars too.  


When I think of adults who know longer attempt to learn things unless they absolutely have to(and dread it) or because they feel left behind and old if they don't(like social media & other trends) it makes me quite sad for them.  I guess a side effect or maybe a pre-requisite for unschooling is a parent who likes to learn as well.  

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