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RU's please educate us here

post #1 of 143
Thread Starter 
I'd love to read more about what you think is or isn't RU without taking away from the support thread for self identified Non-RUs.

So - if you have something you want to tell us about what falls under the RU definition for you, please do so here.

Thanks!
Karen
post #2 of 143
Well, since you asked... and since I suggested it...

For me, radical unschooling is simply about encouraging and supporting my child in following her chosen path in all areas of life, rather than only as far traditional academic areas. It's interesting that at some times she's seemed very "behind" in both academic and non-academic areas, and at other times she's seemed very "ahead." For example, I never pushed her to wean, or sleep in her own bed, or dress herself... so while she could dress herself before age 2, I often did it for her when she was 4 or 5, because it worked for both of us. I guess that's the other key - we did things in ways that worked for both of us, when they affected both of us.

I share my opinions, and if Rain asks me to help her with following through on something, like going running in the mornings or practicing French, then I'm happy to do so (and she does the same for me, FWIW).

I don't think expecting kids to self-regulate means expecting them to necessarily reach an equilibrium that I think it optimal... I think Rain watches too many reruns of stupid reality tv shows, for example, and I've thought so ever since we got cable a year or more ago...

It's funny - I think I started parenting and unschooling Rain this way because it was so hard to get her to do things she didn't want to do anyway - better to work with the raging bull than stand in the way, you know? - but because she listens to what I suggest and takes me seriously, I actually think I have a better shot of convincing her to change her course now than I would if I tried to make her do things.

Rain has the flu right now, poor chickie, and she's basically been sleeping and lolling on the couch for two days. I've become a lot more "directive" with her sick, because she just feels yucky and just wants anything that will make her feel better. So when she was coughing, I told her I was making her throat coat tea with honey, and I did. She thinks it tastes gross and wrinkled her nose, but she also trusts me to make decisions that will help her feel better, so she drank it.

That's all I can think of...

Dar
post #3 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
For me, radical unschooling is simply about encouraging and supporting my child in following her chosen path in all areas of life, rather than only as far traditional academic areas. .............. I guess that's the other key - we did things in ways that worked for both of us, when they affected both of us.
The same goes for my family as well. If we're both involved or affected we are both naturally interested in making things work. It's a process, sometimes a bumpy one, but it all goes back to that base or foundation that we've built over the years.

Quote:
I don't think expecting kids to self-regulate means expecting them to necessarily reach an equilibrium that I think it optimal... I think Rain watches too many reruns of stupid reality tv shows, for example, and I've thought so ever since we got cable a year or more ago...
Yes. I think sometimes people outside of RU might be misunderstanding is that we all always agree on everything or that we do things the same way. Dd watches a lot of things I'd never watch, I watch things she'd never watch, and Ds watches things neither of us would watch, etc. The kids like anime, for example, and I just would rather watch grass grow. Thank the heavens for multiple TV's and rooms in which to watch them LOL.

Quote:
but because she listens to what I suggest and takes me seriously, I actually think I have a better shot of convincing her to change her course now than I would if I tried to make her do things.
Right! My kids have a history of me treating them as people, not just a kids and therefore incapable of bringing anything valuable to a situation or conversation. They trust my intentions.

This concludes this section of "Lets quote Dar and say crap she's already said better than me!"
post #4 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
Well, since you asked... and since I suggested it...

For me, radical unschooling is simply about encouraging and supporting my child in following her chosen path in all areas of life, rather than only as far traditional academic areas.
Dar


for me the "radical" in radical unschooling is having a very, very open mind as to what "education" is and extending the idea of empowered, supported exploration & experimentation, that some unschoolers have around maths/ english etc into all aspects of life (or in my case– as many that my emotional baggage can deal with at any point in time).

Obviously its not radical unparenting – insert usual disclaimer about being proactive and supportive about health, active experiences etc – but really giving the child power to choose and explore decisions, interests & passions.

My journey has meant letting go of attachments about what my kids are choosing to do in a particular moment and what I want them to learn..

Instead these days i try to focus on:
  1. how can i best support their decisions/ interests (includes trying to work out when the best support involves butting out and doing nothing/ raising new ideas/ provide resources & info/ asking questions etc)
  2. thinking about context. Which includes my modelling, the physical & emotional environment (people, games, objects, foods i help to bring into the picture), and general influences & inspiration that my choices bring.

Its still a dynamic thing, so their choices, interests and actions impact on me and my thinking also ... but i have found that shift to focussing on helping to create an empowering context for all aspects of our lives, rather than thinking about outcomes for my children to assist my transition into the RU world.

arun
post #5 of 143
How do you guys balance everyone's needs in the family and stay true to the trust you have in your child? (THis may not be coming out right...I'm in a hurry! LOL)

For example, my dd likes to sleep in our bed. I like waking up with her but sometimes have trouble falling asleep with her and dh and the cat all on top of me (and we have a BIG bed!). Also, dh and I need our time too.

I have been trying various scenarios but someone is always unhappy.
post #6 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaraBoo View Post
How do you guys balance everyone's needs in the family and stay true to the trust you have in your child? (THis may not be coming out right...I'm in a hurry! LOL)

For example, my dd likes to sleep in our bed. I like waking up with her but sometimes have trouble falling asleep with her and dh and the cat all on top of me (and we have a BIG bed!). Also, dh and I need our time too.

I have been trying various scenarios but someone is always unhappy.
Sometimes solutions are easy and sometimes it takes a lot of creativity and trying many different ideas. I think the key is to be wide open about the possibilities for making it work. And it's going to be a very individualized solution. In your situation, *I* might add a twin bed next to ours to make it even bigger, or I might put the cat elsewhere, or I might get up and make some chamomille tea to help myself fall asleep, or I might explain to everyone that while I like sleeping NEXT to them, I don't like people on TOP of me...maybe none of these will work for you, but that's my point--finding what works for you all might not be something that anyone else has thought of yet.

And, while everyone, (babies and small children included) should have their needs respected and be consulted regarding solutions, when they're very small, the parent is the one doing more of the work. Not that the parent gets to decide, or gets more of a say, but the parent needs to be the one to find the solution. The kids participate more actively in problem-solving as they get older, but their needs are met, regardless.
post #7 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
Right! My kids have a history of me treating them as people, not just a kids and therefore incapable of bringing anything valuable to a situation or conversation.
I'm not trying to stir up debate here. I just want to point out that these types of statements are what leave many non-RUers cold. I am not RU, but I definitely treat my kids like people, and I definitely know that my kids have very valuable things to bring to conversations and situations. I mean, I wouldn't have had kids had I thought otherwise, kwim?

It's the either/or thing that we talked about in the other thread, where I pointed out that there seems to be an attitude of you either treat your kids with respect (the RU way) or you don't (every other way).

UnchoolnMa, I generally really respect the things you say, but statements like this seem really ... I don't know, conceited is not the right word, but, you know, like you treat your kids well and everyone else doesn't.

dm
post #8 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
It's the either/or thing that we talked about in the other thread, where I pointed out that there seems to be an attitude of you either treat your kids with respect (the RU way) or you don't (every other way).

UnchoolnMa, I generally really respect the things you say, but statements like this seem really ... I don't know, conceited is not the right word, but, you know, like you treat your kids well and everyone else doesn't.

dm
It's a sensitive subject. But if I said, "I nursed my children on demand" that doesn't imply that no one else does. If I say, "I respect my children" it doesn't mean no one else does.

Respecting my children as whole persons is a key component to our every day interactions. I want to help them meet their needs as they see them, not as I define them. I offer my advice, ideas, experiences, etc. but realize that what's true for me, may not be true for them.

I think saying "I respect my children" is a sort of shorthand when it comes to RU and encompasses the idea of self-determination and autonomy. (Again, we're back to definitions.)
post #9 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
It's the either/or thing that we talked about in the other thread, where I pointed out that there seems to be an attitude of you either treat your kids with respect (the RU way) or you don't (every other way).dm
i know this area can be full of land mines and that people feel judged (often because some RU advocates do judge). But ive not seen that happen on this board and particularly not from people such as UnschoolnMa.

The way i read that comment about treating kids as people, not kids was more about a RU paradigm shift that i certainly went through.

Often the way i try to implement RU principles with my kids now is asking myself, "would i say that to my partner in that way?" as a guide.

Whether it be in the way i offer advice, express frustration or give compliments. Still being age appropriate in language but the paradigm is treating them as an equal player and perhaps even instilling in them more power than they naturally have in such situations. (ive re written that bit twice and still have not made it clear enough... sorry)

so for example I would not say "its time for bed" to my partner if she was up late. But if i could see she was exhausted and stuck i might ask what was going on for her and if she needed a hand getting moving.

this is not inherently judgemental –*i do honestly believe that parents can treat their children respectfully and not come from this perspective. But often they are treating them more as children and offering more defined guidance and options... still with love and respect... but its different (to quote seinfield..."not that there's anything wrong with that!").

im not sure if that was the intention of that particular comment and perhaps if it was it could have been clarified... but that's the way i read it and i found it to be a useful point.

Its unfortunate that we are in such a charged context with some unfortunate exchanges happening on other lists in particular. It makes it difficult to post quick comments without explaining points to ensure they are not taken the wrong way.

I guess that means for some choosing words with sensitivity and occasionally putting in those points of clarification. For others it might mean reading posts and assuming that the poster had the best (non judgemental) intentions behind their words...

that sort of approach has certainly been my experience of this board to date

arun
post #10 of 143
hmmm... i finally read through some of the "non RU" thread that was mentioned... perhaps it is naive of me to believe that we could all live in peace, harmony non judgemental heaven...
post #11 of 143
I think it's just so hard in situations like this. Here we have a bunch of passionate women who feel so strongly about their choices, but don't have the time and attention to put tons of thought into their posts, and are usually talking to faceless cyber-people. So you have quick replies and defensive reactions and lots of heated emotions.

I know there are loads of really judgmental RUers out there, but there's lots of us who aren't militant, all-or-nothing, 'I love my child more than you love yours', unschoolier than thou, hardened jerks. Lots of us are nice people trying to clarify where we've been misunderstood and/or lumped in with heartless meanies.

It is really hard for me not to pipe up when I hear people misunderstanding what RU is, especially because I used to be that person saying "well I could never RU because xyz, and I need to PARENT my child." Turns out I had no idea what I was talking about, and was pretty much already RU. Why didn't I know the difference? Because every time people started to talk about the differences it turned into a flame war. I really hope that doesn't happen here.
post #12 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
Fortunately I don't think that unpleasant exchange represents the opinions of the majority of the RU's here.
I agree.
post #13 of 143
I really didn't mean to start an argument. As I said, I respect the things UnschoolnMa has to say, and I don't think she said anything with mean intention. But I do think that there are RUers who honestly believe that their way is the only way in the universe to treat kids well, and I do think that attitude sometimes creeps (or barges) into posts here.

dm
post #14 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by anne+arun View Post
The way i read that comment about treating kids as people, not kids was more about a RU paradigm shift that i certainly went through.

Often the way i try to implement RU principles with my kids now is asking myself, "would i say that to my partner in that way?" as a guide.
I agree with this perspective, and share it. (In fact, my DH has heard me rant often enough about the importance of viewing and treating children as people instead of just as "kids".)

But the thing is, sometimes my husband and I will tell each other what to do, if needed. If DH thinks it's okay to not wash his hands after going pee, or that just rinsing his fingertips under the water counts as "washing his hands", I'll tell him, "Uhm, no, that's gross. Go wash your hands properly." Or if my blood sugar levels are all out of whack from not eating and I'm acting all wiggy because of it, my husband will insist, "K, you have to eat something", even if I don't want to. So I don't think it's hypocritical or disrespectful of us to likewise insist that DS wash his hands after going potty or attend to his his basic nutritional needs (although, in DS's case, I'd use much gentler wording than "That's gross; go wash your hands." ) We may have to insist somewhat less frequently with each other than we do with DS, because we're more capable at our developmental level of considering each other's perspectives, but sometimes we do still insist when we feel it's important. It's a matter of us looking out for each other's well-being, even sometimes despite ourselves, and of living together as a family when the consequences of our actions affect others in the family (such as not washing our hands potentially making ourselves and others in the home sick.)

I don't know, maybe that just makes you glad that you're not married to me. But it works for us.
post #15 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milakais View Post
But the thing is, sometimes my husband and I will tell each other what to do, if needed...We may have to insist somewhat less frequently with each other than we do with DS, because we're more capable at our developmental level of considering each other's perspectives, but sometimes we do still insist when we feel it's important. It's a matter of us looking out for each other's well-being, even sometimes despite ourselves, and of living together as a family when the consequences of our actions affect others in the family (such as not washing our hands potentially making ourselves and others in the home sick.)

I don't know, maybe that just makes you glad that you're not married to me. But it works for us.
I do this too. And am still on the path of figuring out how to word things to my kids. I still end up saying, "Put your coat on," "Get dressed," "stop that," et cetera. I tell my husband what to do too and he tells me what to do as well. But our wording is certainly slightly different and intent changed.

It has taken me a year-and-a-half to start using the RU label to self-identify as I had a lot of the same anxieties that the self-identified non-RUers are pointing out. I too felt that I was being judged or that there was only one right way. Now, I think it's a process. I still have incredibly young children and they are pretty willing to let me direct them a lot. I hate to say that kids want boundaries, but I think that my kids don't necessarily want the entire world of possibilities open to them. They're not going out and getting jobs and buying their own food. We have lots of limits, but they're based on everyone's needs and not just mine. We just are in a process of learning to question every assumption we have. That's gonna take awhile.

I will say that on the other thread there were some implications that were unsettling and that did not appropriately depict what I believe RU is. I don't think I was just being sensitive.
post #16 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
I'm not trying to stir up debate here. I just want to point out that these types of statements are what leave many non-RUers cold. I am not RU, but I definitely treat my kids like people, and I definitely know that my kids have very valuable things to bring to conversations and situations. I mean, I wouldn't have had kids had I thought otherwise, kwim?

It's the either/or thing that we talked about in the other thread, where I pointed out that there seems to be an attitude of you either treat your kids with respect (the RU way) or you don't (every other way).

UnchoolnMa, I generally really respect the things you say, but statements like this seem really ... I don't know, conceited is not the right word, but, you know, like you treat your kids well and everyone else doesn't.

dm
I appreciate your honesty.

I do apologize if it sounds like I think I'm the best thing since sliced bread and you all suck. I absolutely don't mean it that way. I understand that people that do not parent like me love and listen to their kids, and I don't mean to imply that you are constantly disrespecting them or anything.

Do you think it maybe comes down to a difference in how we define respect in certain situations as well as our role as parents? I think it must.

Some of the things that parents see as respecting their children often strikes me as anything but. It's just a different perspective I guess.
post #17 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
I really didn't mean to start an argument. As I said, I respect the things UnschoolnMa has to say, and I don't think she said anything with mean intention. But I do think that there are RUers who honestly believe that their way is the only way in the universe to treat kids well, and I do think that attitude sometimes creeps (or barges) into posts here.

dm
Thanks!

I have seen the kind of thing you are referring to, and I agree that sort of thing can be frustrating. The "My way is the only way anything can work ever" doesn't lead to good conversation. I think saying "This is the way that works for us, the way that we find value in" is a much better approach.
post #18 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I do this too. And am still on the path of figuring out how to word things to my kids. I still end up saying, "Put your coat on," "Get dressed," "stop that," et cetera. I tell my husband what to do too and he tells me what to do as well. But our wording is certainly slightly different and intent changed.
We do things like that around here too. Heck, my Ds is almost 17 and just a few days ago I called "Bub, we gotta go... get your shoes on" upstairs to him. It wasn't really an order or anything, but it's just some information conveyed I think. I've told Dd "Put the cat in the garage so we can get the groceries in." Dh has told me "Get my hammer out of the box" and so on and so on.

The tone of voice has something to do with how we take it I guess, and there have been times that something will feel to short or too order like, and someone will say something about how they are hearing it. It's mostly okay though. We have a relationship that allows us to work this way. I try to word things politely. I try to remember how I'd want to hear it, but sometimes it just comes out how it comes out. Usually we trust that the other isn't trying to be a huge PITA or trying to boss us around.
post #19 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post

I mean, I wouldn't have had kids had I thought otherwise, kwim?

dm
I know a LOT more people IRL that DON'T respect their kids but still have them and continue to have MORE. I generally assume that parents on MDC respect their children, though I don't read a lot of other areas of MDC so I don't really know.

RU to me, has a lot deeper level of respect and trust. You respect and trust so much that you can accept when they make a decision that you wouldn't make.

For example: I went on a no plastics, no made in china, no TV, no fast food kick for about 2 years. Guess what my kids learned? They learned that *I* hate plastic, *I* hate MIC things, *I* hate TV, and *I* hate fast food and that *I* don't believe they are smart enough to make good decisions for themselves. I finally realized that all I can do is talk to them about MY choices, and model the choices that I make and let them have the freedom to choose. Because when they are grown they are going to do whatever the hell they want anyway, and I'd rather have a relationship built on trust and respect with my grown kids than have sheltered them from harmful things that they are probably not going to shelter them selves from as adults anyway.

OK, I'm working on a whole RU definition in a word doc, it's not ready yet so I'll share when I'm done:
post #20 of 143
eta: Xpost with you granolapunk... very excited to read your RU definition!
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I will say that ... there were some implications that were unsettling and that did not appropriately depict what I believe RU is. I don't think I was just being sensitive.
This is what I've been waiting to hear about. (hi anna!) I wish there were a way to discuss these things without getting all heated because I am genuinely unsure of the differences between unschooling and radical unschooling.

I would not have presumed to even call myself an unschooler until I (very recently) searched all over and read and realized that it is a very accurate description of our lifestyle. Furthermore it was very comforting to realize that I wasn't just being lazy, that loads of people feel that child directed living and learning is a very good thing. I really need the support of MDC mamas sometimes and I think a lot of people like me do also. Up until hearing about unschooling I honestly thought that there was something wrong with me for taking it easy about learning. I hid the fact that we didn't plan on using curriculums and that we spent more time doing "nothing" than doing "something," feeling all along that nothing really is something.

So far I have a very horrible list in my head of "the things that RUs do and think" and I bet none of them are accurate. I have tried doing some searching on the internet but keep coming back here hoping for a definition. It seems to be that no one really wants to (or can?) define it.

Perhaps that is what it is. An undefinable lifestyle which adjusts as needed to each family member. Or is there more to it than that?

Maybe, there are philosophies about it, and then there is the real living?

Any ideas? Anyone? TIA.
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