So I’m sitting here this morning drinking my dark roast and listening to my fifteen-year-old daughter excitedly fill me in on a reality tv show she is watching online. My daughter is an INTJ (just liker her dad) and when they are excited about something, they will share every last detail about it. It’s adorable.
I had risen early to try and re-discipline myself a little, as 6:00am used to be my quiet reading time. My current a.m. choice is (for the second time around) Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun by Dayna Martin. So as my daughter gets up to go and make herself some breakfast and I read a few paragraphs, it dawns on me, like a light bulb coming on, that her choice to attend the public high school next year actually falls under the umbrella of unschooling. How? Why? Because it is her choice. She is choosing how, when and where she would like to pursue her education. She is choosing how, when and where she is going to learn.
She has been in the public school system before, and is aware of how it works. She is aware that there will be subjects she has no interest in whatsoever but because she is choosing to participate in the public school system, she will have to complete assignments and study for tests in these subjects regardless, because that is how the public school system works. She is going in happily, and with eyes wide open. But it is her choice. The same goes for her thirteen-year-old sister, who had teetered back and forth between staying home next year and going to Intermediate (Jr. High here).
I am not imposing this decision, this path of education on my daughters. And if I am going to be fair and respectful towards them, unless so much trouble and/or negativity arose from their decision to attend public school—which did happen in the past when one was not ready for what came with going with the status quo—forcing them to stay home would be just as disrespectful towards them as imposing school on a child against their will is.
Unschooling is trusting as opposed to imposing. Facilitating as opposed to “teaching”. It is my job, as their parent and “facilitator”, to step in with them. Support them. Be involved.
Choosing to attend public school is different than being forced to attend against your will. Unschooling involves trusting and respecting such a choice, and being there, close enough, to lend support and direction as needed. One of the blessings of being raised in an unschooling philosophy is that a child will never be made to feel that any time spent in the public school system is the be all and end all to their future. As with any other choice in their journey, it is an experience, and they will take what they can from it, and discard the unnecessary as life goes on.
This reality—this light bulb moment—brought me peace this morning. If you find yourself in the same boat, I hope it does for you as well. 🙂