Unchool: Joy, Love, and Unschooling... - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-16-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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I'm aiming for something richer-- fulfillment--
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I guess I think of joy as a more superficial and less thoughtful emotion, where as happiness is deeper and fuller, and more considered. I'm joyful when someone surprises me with an unexpected gift, but I'm happy when I contemplate my life and my friends and my community.
I think I was having an issue of semantics... these definitions of fulfillment and happiness ARE my definitions of joy. You have probably noted the irony of my username in this thread but the "seeker" part is as important as the "joy" part; it's not something that just happens in my life as I blissfully float along, I actively seek it through fulfillment, strong family ties and friendships, sense of community, etc. Glad I decided to pop back in because that clarified a lot for me.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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The idea I get seems to be that everyone with enough economic and social privilege to do so should just opt out of the system
I'm not sure what you mean here.


I think that most of us pursue many different things in our own lives, not just one thing. I believe that to enjoy the life we've been given is to live is the best way to fully appreciate that life, making the most of it.

~Tracy

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I was referring to the educational system... school and school-think.

And your last statement really exemplies the sort of hedonistic mindset that I just can't understand...

 
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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...A lot of unschoolers I've run across seem to write and talk a lot about Joy and Love and Freedom (and they always seem capitalized) and Dreaming and Manifesting and that sort of thing... and there's a lot of discussion about how wonderful all of this is, and how happy and joyful the families have become.... and there's nothing wrong with that, of course, and it sounds like it's working for them...
Thoughts?
I think this thread has become a bit divided - with shiny happy painted on one side - and non-shiny on the other. I am not sure it is that simple.

IRL I am quite positive and quite happy - and yes, I cultivate it and want it for myself and family (if I insert a happy smiley ill the non -shinies boo and hiss, lol?)

It is not that I am unhappy - it is just that I do not want to read or write about it online. There just isn't much to say. Yes, I am happy - so??? Sometimes it almost seems like a conversation ender. What is there to discuss with someone who is happy and at peace with everything? Not much.

I come to MDC to discuss ideas, to vent, to problem solve etc. I do not want shiney-happiness inserted into my vent. I am not opposed to celebratory or joy filled threads (bring em - I will probably even particiapte!). I just do not want it everywhere. To be fair, the inappropriate (IMHO) insertion of shiney-happiness is not pervasive on MDC - but it does happen.

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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When I was talking about the "work ethic" earlier I didn't quite capture what I was referring to. I think in our culture it comes from the whole Puritan background of this country, the feelings that to enjoy ones self is wrong. The term hedonistic has very negative connotations. It means the pursuit of happiness as the most important thing in life. I think our culture goes too far in the other direction (think Europeans). Guilt is prevalent. So often we are made to feel guilty for enjoying ourselves, hence the coined phrase "guilty pleasures". It is sad. It is emotionally healthy to be happy. Do you want your children to grow up to be happy, joyful adults? I do. And so I try to model that.

I don't think that being happy is mutually exclusive with working toward social justice. Obviously it isn't since you are happy and also work toward social justice! :

I think it is splitting hairs to say that you'd rather have your family be "fulfilled" than happy. I mean really think about it, can you be fulfilled if you aren't happy? And can you be happy if you aren't fulfilled?

Dar, it sounds like working toward social justice and what not really resonates w/you and your family. Perhaps you expect to find more of that in the unschooling circles, and just don't? You mention that you have many good friends that do not unschool. Hopefully you find enough folks that you do connect with. Perhaps you should seek out others who put forth the kind of energy, time and resources that you and your family do on working towards bettering the world. It sounds like maybe this thread has helped you focus really on what the issue is with why you don't feel like you really connect w/unschoolers. Or at least it helped ME to understand what you really meant (I think).


~Tracy the hedonist

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Old 06-16-2009, 11:56 PM
 
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The idea I get seems to be that everyone with enough economic and social privilege to do so should just opt out of the system
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I was referring to the educational system... school and school-think.
It isn't accurate to say only those w/economic and social privilege can opt out of school.

~Tracy

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Old 06-17-2009, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
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It isn't accurate to say only those w/economic and social privilege can opt out of school.

~Tracy
I think it is.

And I say that as a single mother living below the poverty level.

 
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:13 AM
 
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Are you saying that even though you are a single mother living below the poverty level that you still have enough social and economic privilege? Does that mean relative to others in the world, in other countrys?

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Old 06-17-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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It isn't accurate to say only those w/economic and social privilege can opt out of school.

~Tracy
That's 100% false.

I can give you just *one* example: I volunteer in a family homeless shelter, and folks with children past infancy are not allowed to recieve benefits without working or putting their kids in school or childcare.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:18 AM
 
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I can give you just *one* example: I volunteer in a family homeless shelter, and folks with children past infancy are not allowed to recieve benefits without working or putting their kids in school or childcare.
Oh, I see. Yeah, I guess for a lot of folks school is free child care. It would be great if all parents could be subsidized to be home with their clildren. I know I sure wish I could afford to quit my job.

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Old 06-17-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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Oh, I see. Yeah, I guess for a lot of folks school is free child care. It would be great if all parents could be subsidized to be home with their clildren. I know I sure wish I could afford to quit my job.
A homeless shelter is not a home.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:40 AM
 
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A homeless shelter is not a home.
I'm not quite sure exactly the point you are trying to make. What should one do who had chosen to have children yet is not able to put a roof over their heads?

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Old 06-17-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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I'm not quite sure exactly the point you are trying to make. What should one do who had chosen to have children yet is not able to put a roof over their heads?
That makes us even, as I have *no idea* what your point is.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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I work three days per week and my children are in child care (a babysitter comes to our house). Yet my children are not in school. My oldest is 7.

~Tracy

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Old 06-17-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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My point was that even people without a lot of social or economic "privilege" can unschool their children. It isn't just the rich and powerful who can opt out of "the system". That's all.

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Old 06-17-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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I guess I consider it a privilege to work to support my children, but that isn't the privilege you are referring to.

But I don't consider myself privileged that my husband and I came from, by most standards in this country, nothing, got ourselves through school, worked our butts off to have good jobs, carry no credit card debt, got help from no one, pay for everything ourselves, are owed money by both sets of our parents, have NO ONE else to fall back on for anything, not even babysitting, much less finances and give to charity on top of it. Everyone should be so "privileged".

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Old 06-17-2009, 03:29 AM
 
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One of my favorite people, authors, really, who is a real-life example of an upbeat, contemplative person who really does things to make this world a better, more peaceful place is David Albert. Oh, yes, and I believe he would be thought of as an unschooler.

His daughter Meera has a CD and has performed benefit concerts for causes she dearly believes in. David is a Quaker and is constantly working for the benefit of all humankind. He inspires me! Check out his updated site, his "good works" page to see a little of what I am talking about.

As for being bothered by eternally sunny unschoolers, I do know I have come across a few people online who seem to gravitate to "always feeling good" or seeing unschooling as the path to "Nirvana", even to the point of stuffing feelings and problems; I choose to respect them in their journey towards finding meaning in their lives and I just enjoy the ups (and downs!) of the reality of my own life and my children's lives. IME, if I didn't have and fully experience the downs, the ups wouldn't feel so good! I also know that I only see a very small part of who someone is and what they believe in snatches, so I keep that in mind before dismissing them altogether (including the too-optimistic anyone's). I take from them what I feel rings true with me and leave the rest.

It's taken me a long emotional road to come to my own place of peace, and it saps my energy to think about whether or not I like or agree with someone else's viewpoint, especially when it's something as personal as an interpretation of unschooling for one's family. Don't know how clear that was...getting ready for bed. Yawn!

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Old 06-17-2009, 03:35 AM
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I think there is a real "work ethic" in this country and in the mainstream, the ethic that makes people work 60 hour per week, the idea of "no pain, no gain", the idea that you must.work.hard.for.everything. My feel is that some folks have gotten over the mechanics of that, but haven't gotten it out of their systems entirely.
I know an unschooling family in which the mother doesn't exactly "gush" about joy and happiness, but talks about it quite a bit. All of their kids are teenagers. The family lives in a house owned by a grandparent, and I'm not even sure if they pay anything to live there.

The father has a job. I'm not sure what he does but he doesn't make great money. The mother is able-bodied but not employed. They qualify for state health care, which they receive. I know they work the system, as I've overheard the mother talking about it at group events.

I don't think you need to work.hard.for.everything, but I don't believe that others should foot the bill for my happiness. I don't work 60 hours a week, but as long as I'm able, I'll pay my own way and teach my kids to do the same.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:30 AM
 
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I guess I consider it a privilege to work to support my children, but that isn't the privilege you are referring to.
No, that is exactly the privilege that was being referred to, but not in the abstract sense you are thinking. There are real-world advantages that allow you do what you do. Being born white, American, heterosexual, able-bodied, etc. grants one certain immunities.

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Old 06-17-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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I'd love to read an unschooling blog that talked about this kind of thing and as a very very beginning unschooler I'd love to see what activism looks like in unschooling families. Surely there must be families out there who volunteer and go to protests and enjoy learning about/discussing/combating inequality and injustice? What if you start a thread here encouraging people to share what activism looks like in their unschooling household?
Ooh! That's us! My kids are young yet, but see us at a peace rally, voting, volunteering (or talking about it in this case) for our local Food Co-op which strives to serve the low-income community and promote sustainable food choices, volunteering for City Fresh, an organization which brings local, sustainably grown foods to urban areas to provide excellent food choices to low income families, and at the Mother's Day Peace Picnic. It'll get more prevalent as they grow, but just in the last year my volunteer efforts have increased exponentially. They don't do a whole lot of actual work yet, but they're there for it, which is important.

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Old 06-17-2009, 10:59 AM
 
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Our children come into this world. We are resposibile for their education. If they go to school, we, as parents, decide to share that responsibility with the school. We may also choose to share that responsibility with community centres, tutors etc. But it is primarily our responsibility . As USers it is certainly our childrens responsibility.

Hence on one level I do not see HS as a privelage - but as a right.

--------------------

On a completely different level, I know I am privelaged to be able to HS my kids. There are many families that have circumstances (either of their own doing or not) that make HSing a really poor decision. I am privelaged that I do not have those circumstances.

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Old 06-17-2009, 11:30 AM
 
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Ooh! That's us! My kids are young yet, but see us at a peace rally, voting, volunteering (or talking about it in this case) for our local Food Co-op which strives to serve the low-income community and promote sustainable food choices, volunteering for City Fresh, an organization which brings local, sustainably grown foods to urban areas to provide excellent food choices to low income families, and at the Mother's Day Peace Picnic. It'll get more prevalent as they grow, but just in the last year my volunteer efforts have increased exponentially. They don't do a whole lot of actual work yet, but they're there for it, which is important.

Very cool.
We do similar stuff - we've started a Kids for Peace chapter which included a peace rally for kids, started a food sharing program for our UU congregation, volunteered for river clean-ups and community park clean ups, done an informal visiting programs at the senior's centres around town, raised money at Christmas craft sales for Kiva and for a local old growth forest program. This year I'm running a reusable bag making day for our hs group's older kids and we will hand them out free of charge at a grocery store and donate some to the food bank. I'm working with a few other mothers to put together a social justice program/group for kids which will include at trip to the ME to WE day, discussion groups and speakers and a cultural/religious exchange discussion. My kids have an informal shovelling/raking brigade for our elderly neighbours. I run a low cost soccer league for 50 kids as an alternative to our city program which is insanely expensive.
But we aren't unschoolers .
Homeschooling has absolutely opened my eyes and changed the focus on our lives in many ways. It has given us a community that is made up of like minded people willing to act on issues that are important to them and to teach their kids through example the importance of action and not just introspection.

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Old 06-17-2009, 01:28 PM
 
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I don't think you need to work.hard.for.everything, but I don't believe that others should foot the bill for my happiness. I don't work 60 hours a week, but as long as I'm able, I'll pay my own way and teach my kids to do the same.
Yup, right there with you. That is why I WOH 3 days per week, my dh works full time, and has a side business. I certainly wasn't trying to say people shouldn't pay there own way. Just trying to say it isn't a sin to enjoy oneself.

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Old 06-17-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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I wonder if people of color feel that they weren't granted the "privilege" of white skin. To me that attitude sounds demeaning to them. Again, just because they may not have everything they deserve in life, basic human rights, material things or whatever, but that does NOT mean I should not have what I have. We don't need to all be down to the same low level. It does not have to be a zero sum game. The ideal would obviously be to elevate everyone to the same great level. This is utopia. But some work toward that goal, like Dar. That is great. Right now I'm taking the very best care I can of my littles, they are part of the world too, and they deserve the best mom possible.
Peggy McIntosh (famously) said it better than I could: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

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Old 06-18-2009, 11:36 PM
 
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This thread is being returned. Some posts have been removed. It's OK to disagree, but please do it respectfully and don't take issue with another poster on the thread.

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Old 06-19-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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Peggy McIntosh (famously) said it better than I could: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html
Thank you for posting that!
Karen

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Old 06-19-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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Very cool.
We do similar stuff - we've started a Kids for Peace chapter which included a peace rally for kids, started a food sharing program for our UU congregation, volunteered for river clean-ups and community park clean ups, done an informal visiting programs at the senior's centres around town, raised money at Christmas craft sales for Kiva and for a local old growth forest program. This year I'm running a reusable bag making day for our hs group's older kids and we will hand them out free of charge at a grocery store and donate some to the food bank. I'm working with a few other mothers to put together a social justice program/group for kids which will include at trip to the ME to WE day, discussion groups and speakers and a cultural/religious exchange discussion. My kids have an informal shovelling/raking brigade for our elderly neighbours. I run a low cost soccer league for 50 kids as an alternative to our city program which is insanely expensive.
Cool! How old are your kids? Mine are only 6 and 4, so their involvement is very very minimal at this point.

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Old 06-19-2009, 02:07 AM
 
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Cool! How old are your kids? Mine are only 6 and 4, so their involvement is very very minimal at this point.
11, 8, 8 and almost 6. They are very involved and amaze me with what they come up with on their own. Sometimes the hardest part is keeping up with them and finding a balance.

I find volunteering and activism with kids to be tricky as we often have to create opportunities and find ways to make them meaningful, rather than just have them be a token effort- and my kids are able to make that distinction.
One strategy is to find ways to make things theirs or facilitate a connection - so we visit the seniors home where my mum works, plant trees at "our" nature centre where we do a lot of programming, work with people at our UU congregation etc so that 1) the kids see a connection between their efforts and the potential outcome and 2) we are more welcomed as the kids take it seriously and work hard.
Many of the traditional volunteer options in our city aren't open to kids or families so working our community connections and organizing things ourselves have been the best option for us.

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Old 06-19-2009, 03:34 AM
 
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Our kids are similar ages, also: 6, 4, and 2. (Well, similar to Annakiss, I guess!) I have brought them along to breastfeeding meetings, a nurse-in, and picnics supporting local breastfeeding groups--they've been "lactivists" since birth

I think activism is an attitude and outlook as much it can be a "resume" for what we've done. We've found small ways to work it into our lives; I see it more as part of an outward focus and realizing that what we do matters and there are needs we can meet rather than trying to be part of something artificial, like a "movement". But that's me and How I translate it.

Sometimes it's as simple as a pp mentioned, doing yardwork for someone who needs help, or bringing another mother a meal who just had a baby, making gifts for a needy family for Christmas, helping a mom with breastfeeding or babywearing questions, just listening to a new mother who needs to talk, inviting a family that is new in town over to play, etc.
Modeling compassion for our kids is so important, and I've noticed it's made a difference for mine already. It encourages me that there are always small ways to make life meaningful for ourselves and others if we look for it. It doesn't have to be overwhelming or take over our lives (unless we want it to!)

I see lots of homeschoolers and unschoolers carrying out various forms of service in the community, even if it's bringing donations to park day for the local womens' shelter. Roots and Shoots is a neat organization I looked into, maybe when my kids are a little older, but there are groups with younger kids doing projects and one can start their own group. Scouting is another opportunity to reach out and serve others, too.

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greenthumb3 is offline  
Old 06-19-2009, 10:12 AM
 
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Rallies are not my thing, but it doesn't mean we are not into making the world a better place. My kid is not even 8 yet, I am not going to drag him to a homeless shelter or put him to work scooping mashed potatoes onto plates at the soup kitchen. My sister is the most involved and community-minded person I know and her childhood was as joyful as it could be. She started volunteering when she was 14 (with no prodding from anyone) and it's been just amazing to see all that's she has done to help others. She is 22 now and is doing the Teach for America program which is really hard to get accepted into.

I do not spell joy with a captial J or use ~~these symbols~~ or care about the law of attraction. I do think my DS is the cat's pajamas and that unschooling is wonderful, but I will tell all the funny, clever stuff he says or does and how great it is to unschool to my mom, not to whomever will (however reluctantly) listen! If unschooling moms want to trade stories of their great days and their children's wonderfulness why shouldn't they? What could that hurt? What does someone else's inability to relate to it have to do with anything? If I can't relate to something, so what? It's not all about me.

I have little interest in debating the finer points of unschooling. If I want to leave a book in the bathroom I'm doing it, I don't care what other people leave behind in the bathroom.


eta: I wanted to let it be known that it's not that I think rallies aren't important. One thing I like about the French is that they don't take stuff lying down. They take to the streets and let their voices be heard loud and clear.
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