I am a 40 years old psychologist traveling the world with my family. We have been away from our birth place beginning with 2010. We do not have a schedule, we just stop and explore the places we like most.
My wife thinks that my style of writing is like the newborn of BBC and Wikipedia. Well, let’s hear the first scream of the baby with this hot subject: unschooling!
I will start by saying that I’m a father of three.
In the beginning of my journey as a father, I was thinking very often and profoundly of the further life of my kids and which was the best way for me to guide them. What were the best values that would help them in life to be self centered and beautiful happy human beings.
“THE EDUCATION IN ANCIENT TIMES WAS REPRESENTED BY LIFE ITSELF. YOU STAYED AROUND THE HOUSE AND YOU LEARNED WHAT YOUR PARENTS WERE DOING.”
I didn’t have the answers at hand and I tried to find them into myself, where surprisingly I’ve discovered a big gap.
Psychologist, businessman, husband and not ultimately a parent were the roles that were defining me but not enough to describe the inner self. I’ve started to dig for myself and for them and find out that everything began with education. Let’s see in which sense.
There are several definitions around this subject which don’t quite transmitting the same idea but like a general common ground let’s say that education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits.
So the values, beliefs and habits are linear inputted into the children’s brain during the school period, with the help of the parents that are also a product of this outdated way of experiencing life.
But how did the humanity end up having a copycat way of learning?
Let’s take a look back in history to see what education meant and which was its purpose. In the history of education everything started with the development of writing. We won’t enter into the details but worldwide it was a period between 3500 B.C. and 1200 B.C. when we have evidence of different types of writings. The education in ancient times was represented by life itself. You stayed around the house and you learned what your parents were doing.
It was more like family passing its knowledge, values and beliefs. In that period of time, the family structure was extended and having multiple roles: work, to socialize, health and education.
It is interesting that the first schools in the history were not transmitting knowledge, they worked as a self development of the knowledge for a very personal experience.
For example one of Athens’ greatest schools of higher education, Lyceum, founded by Aristotle, was an informal institution whose members conducted philosophical and scientific inquiries.
Nothing was converted into knowledge and thus everything remained in the inquiry stage with endless possibilities for each personal self.
Another culture, another continent, the same approach. On the Indian subcontinent, in ancient India, during the Vedic period from about 1500 BC to 600 BC, most education was based on the Veda (hymns, formulas and incantations, recited or chanted by priests of a pre-Hindu tradition) and later Hindu texts and scriptures.
The oldest of the Upanishads — another part of Hindu scriptures — dates from around 500 BC.
These texts encouraged an exploratory learning process where teachers and students were co-travelers in a search for truth. The teaching methods used reasoning and questioning. Nothing was labeled as the final answer.
They were more focused on thinking about human goals (purpose, pleasure, duty, liberation), the nature of the self and the relationship of the individual with the society and the world.
But the industrialization came and transformed structures of the whole existence.
The family from extended became more nuclear and the human became a key component of the social body.
According to Emile Durkheim, considered to be one of the founding fathers of sociology, education is a social tool.
He says: “For each society, education is the means by which it secures, in the children, the essential conditions of its own existence”. Education plays an important role in molding the social being, including religions, beliefs and traditions.
So, we are at the tipping point of letting go of the questioning and rather focusing on a social development of the self. Not that is was not good, but as I can see it was and still is incomplete. Probably that’s why we have in our civilized world a big gap in defining and knowing of the spiritual self.
We are more into reason then into inquiring the very depth of our existence.
As a side story, very nice indeed is the Waldorf Pedagogy so well known on our times.
The factors that give birth to Rudolf Steiner’s ideas of pedagogy comes from the need of taking care of children of all employees from the biggest cigarette factory in Germany on those times, Waldorf — Astoria — Zigarettenfabrik.
In the chaotic circumstances of post-World War I and in response of the need of the industrial boom, in 1919 the first Waldorf School opened.
Back to my inner gap on defining myself besides the social denomination, I was asking myself: what am I doing to this kids? I didn’t know but I wished for them to have another development and guidance than mine.
I WANT THEM TO BE.
TO UNDERSTAND THIS SIMPLE AFFIRMATION AS A BASE OF THE EXISTENCE ITSELF.
I want them to have a passion for life. A simple passion like making shoes, the desire of expressing the truth through a shoe, a way of thinking outside competition and more centered to the beauty of nothing.
As the Taoist is expressing the beauty of life through WU WEI concept. It can be translated “do everything without doing nothing”. But this concept needs a kind of awareness, the awareness of pointing yourself in the universe as a universe.
From my perspective, the traditional way of education available for our kids is far, far away from guiding the self to reach this awareness.
In the end of this point of spiritual awareness, the school became pointless.
As a result, I thought to change the rules of the game. Now I’m looking at my kids as life partners. No more rules! In this way we are developing a natural common sense of being.
In this way when you do not follow strict rules and paths the attention grows and every simple thing becomes more interesting. We have free talks about respect, love, compassion, desires and human relationships. We are looking at the nature with more admiration, respect and not being a separate part of our existence. We wanted to change the meanings of the words: productive, efficient and progress with a gentle touch of humanism. In this way we put them into the light of unrestricted freedom.
UNSCHOOLING OUR KIDS: A TWO WAY EDUCATIONAL PROCESS OR SIMPLY CALLED LIFE.
You cannot unschool your kids if you don’t dedicate time to this new relationship, because it is a new form of relationship.
You will have to give space to this relationship without any kind of perspectives derived from thought and let go of the fears. You are stepping out from the known roads of life, memories, culture and create the environment for others to came into being.
Down below I’ve created a diagram with the 4 forms of parenting relating to control & involvement: traditional is following the learned structures of our culture, education, etc.
On the right side, not that is nothing to talk about but that’s not the subject of this post.
On the green left corner is our way, where we are involved because we are spending all the time together in an active life. There is a non control, because we are partners in discovering life and our philosophy is based on connection and not on control.
Another aspect of unschooling, besides that is not easy and is totally uncommon and probably illogic for traditionalists, is that it takes time and effort to find ways to meet the needs of everyone in the family and respect everyone equally!
It takes listening, problem solving and critical thinking.
It takes patience, understanding and discussion.
A lot of parents also have the fear that homeschooling/unschooling will require them to be teachers with expert knowledge that they don’t have and will never have. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, children use anything and everything as teachers.
Nowadays the internet has a great offer of information available and unschooled children use parents as guiding teachers for everything.
The parents have the opportunity to engage in the same learning “field” in a race for the answer.
It’s a beautiful journey and nothing to be afraid of!