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Posts tagged ‘unschooling’

Learning to Be Alone

“If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will only know how to be lonely.”

Sherry Turkle is credited with saying this and I was magnificently struck by the profundity of it when I read it awhile back. I’ve given it lots of thought and the wisdom of it has settled in a comfortable and, I think, permanent place in my psyche.

What does it mean to be lonely? Read more

Thank you, Jamie Grumet

Jamie is an AP (attachment parenting) mom and was on the cover of Time magazine this past May, openly nursing her four year old son. While I did not read the story because I’ve just plain old learned from years of experience that mainstream news is not what I like to read, I was still very much aware of the brouhaha it caused. Apparently there’s lots of folks out there who find nursing offensive (ok, I knew that) and nursing a child beyond infancy downright abnormal. I also caught wind of folks who felt enormous guilt because they were not in alignment with nursing, extended nursing or stay-at-home mothering, which AP, of course, requires (you can’t be “attached” to a child if you’re working or they are in someone else’s care). Oh well, I can’t control anyone else’s thinking or believing or actions, but it gave me an opportunity to feel a soft, comfortable gratitude that I had had the profound benefit of AP with my three children and allowed my whole world to shift as a result. And, honestly, I was grateful to Jamie for being willing to expose herself to millions of readers … and Time magazine for choosing attachment parenting as their cover story (even though I know the motive was sensationalism which sells magazines, duh). Read more

competition vs. COMPETITION


I have tried but just can’t let this olympic season play itself out without voicing my opinion. I hate the Olympics. Hate should be capitalized, and I don’t even believe in hate. I believe in love but there is just not a single thing to love about this hideous tradition in sports. Read more

LIberation from Education

Do I honestly think education is a bad thing? No, of course I don’t. I just want it redefined.

Virtually everyone would agree that this thing called education is a requirement for living in the world, unless we prefer a solitary life on the top of a mountain communing with animals and spirits. (hey, that’s not a bad idea!) And education, after all, is nothing more than information, right? And the information we each take in will vary from person to person, as a function of each’s interests, past experience, dreams, inclinations, etc. Even when we’re trying to force feed education, as in assignments, classroom, coursework, etc., each person is still only learning what they are inclined to learn.

Conduct this experiment anywhere, anytime: take 10 people to play at the park, to a local museum, out to eat at a restaurant, to the library… whatever…wherever. Leave each person alone and free to observe, act, meet others, eat as they choose. Gather together, after the outing, and compare notes: I am certain you will discover the huge range of thoughts, interests, preferences, and of course, learning, that took place. No two people will emerge from an outing of any kind with the same “world view” on what took place, what they felt, what they learned, what they want to do more of. If you gave a test afterward, how could you even begin to determine what was valuable, much less to everyone … and what gives you the right to think your notions of “what should have been learned” are important or valuable anyway? How about asking each person instead what they felt was important or valuable to them about the outing. Let go of your preconceived ideas about right and wrong and realize that what each finds important IS important.

If you are a parent or a teacher, use each person’s guide of what’s important to help you continue to nurture that. For the person who met new friends and wants to see them again, honor the learning that takes place through friendship and interpersonal communication. For the one who loved all the details of the bugs and leaves or colors of the paintings, nurture their interest and curiosity in nature or art. For the one who preferred to just sit alone and daydream or read a book, get them more books or more daydreaming time! All doors to exciting opportunity, invaluable exploration and self discovery open when we are free to move about the world in thought and action with freedom-to-be.

This is just as true for teens and adults as it is for young children. Follow the interest, one step at a time and watch as doors open with options for incredible learning and growth and sustainability on whatever level is right for you.

When people have the freedom to immerse themselves in the things, people and places that are of genuine interest and value to them – whether you agree or understand it at all – they are growing, learning, blossoming, thinking… and becoming thoughtful and intelligent, resourceful and respectful of self and others. They are learning on their own terms how wonderful life is, how much there is to enjoy, what love is and what it feels like. These are the inspired benefits of education. And inspired education that can only take place when the learner is in charge.

Comparing Myself to Others

I’ve spent a good part of my life believing that this is what we do naturally as we maneuver the world and assess our beliefs, skills, talents, etc.  Everything and everyone from professional researchers to schools to religions to media of all kinds have us comparing ourselves to others and leaving us striving or wishing for something outside ourselves.  How does my “education” measure up with others I hold in esteem?  How many times per month do I have sex with my partner and is it “normal?”  When did my child learn to read or live on his own or blah, blah, blah and does it make him smarter or slower or … whatever?  Where do I live and how big is my house and does it put me in the middle class or upper class?  How does my body shape up as a middle aged woman and does it make me better than others or average or worse?  How much time do I give to charity and is it “enough?”  How much money do we make and is it enough for us to live on in our retirement?  What is retirement?  What is aging?  What is life?  Why can’t I just be left alone to think and act for myself, free of the barrage of dictates from others on what is right, normal, average or superior?

I’ve experienced the profound joy and release of letting go of this belief, this action.  I’ve given up mainstream media of all kinds and done away with “experts.”  Seeing myself as a sovereign being, one with maximum freedom to think as I wish, act only according to my internal dictates, has me feeling amazingly …… solid and unobstructed, centered and clear, peaceful and alive.  

All of a sudden it makes complete and total sense.  Afterall, no other life form of any kind in it’s natural state compares itself to another.  Newborns and young children of course never do.  Animals, birds and plants manage to thrive in environments without ever comparing themselves to their fellow animals birds and plants (well, they thrive until we destroy their environments anyway).  How and why did we wind up in such a miserable state of dis-ease that invariably results from our “need” to constantly compare ourselves to others anyway?  Even if we’re not feeling dis-ease, why do we keep allowing ourselves to be bombarded with the comparisons constantly made for us?   And why do we keep perpetuating it?  EEEK!

Most of us seem to agree with the notion that we are here in this lifetime to learn, grow, evolve, love and enjoy.  Can we accomplish all these things if we’re not comparing ourselves to others in the process?  As I allow birds and animals, newborns and young children to be my guides here, I have to say yes, unequivocally.  Is it possible to accomplish great things without the competition for grades, status and external achievement?  I think it’s not only possible but even MORE likely, as the absence of externally motivated pressure to compare and compete allows us much greater freedom to create, invent, love and otherwise follow our inner guidance toward right livelihood, experiment on our own terms and evolve exponentially.

How does this feel to you?  Do you think it’s possible to to understand the world, learn to communicate effectively, do useful/profound/sustainable work, get a “real” education, all without the influence of media, “standards,” competition and externally driven pressure to “succeed?”  I am loving the fantasy.

Is Sex the Most Important Thing?


I’ve always felt that connection to sexual expression is critical to one’s healthy sense of self, but it’s only been recently that I have come to consider that it might just be THE most important thing in our development, our understanding of life and our communication with it. Read more

Submission… yup you heard that right

There was a time when I felt revolted and rebellious whenever I heard this word. It always connoted male or parental domination and my gut response never even allowed me to open myself up, consider the meaning and dissect what’s possible with this word, this action. Read more

Mind Power

OK, so we all know about the power of the mind. We know about quantum physics and law of attraction, we know how Reiki masters can effect healing on the other side of the planet as easily as if they were laying their hands on someone. But do we REALLY know what our minds are capable of…. do we really? Read more

Home Improvement

Home. It’s a sacred place, or at least I want it to be. A place where I always feel comfortable, loved, welcome. A place that is a retreat for my mind, body and soul. A place to rest, rejuvenate and feel fully alive, all at the same time. For me, my whole world is my home. Read more

Big Happy Family… at what Cost?

When we become parents we dream of fun, happy times together… sharing enriching conversation around wonderful meals, taking beach vacations together and playing in the ocean and sand, gathering often, or even just occasionally, for meaningful celebrations. We like to believe that if we do everything right – love and nurture our children – that such occurrences will flow easily, naturally and rightfully.

I have spent 30 years loving and nurturing my children, watching, reading and thinking about the Big Happy Family and have learned that it’s not at all what I thought it was. Read more

Attachment Parenting

is all about commitment. My children were the ones who taught me all about it and how critical it is to sustainable health, wellness, psychological fortitude and the establishment of one’s BACKBONE – that critical element in the development of self that gives us resilience, confidence, self respect and a core internal belief that we are connected through love. Our backbone determines everything about us: how we take on the world, our curiosity, ability to try new things without fear, not give up, give unconditionally, love without fear of failure, trust and bounce back after a fall.

I believe that every woman, upon giving birth, feels a powerful biological drive to nurture and protect her newborn. If left to her own devices she will be drawn into an immediate and deep connection with her child, afterall it’s a simple preservation of the species drive. What happens to most mamas however is a rapid disconnection with their infant. Read more

Boundaries

Can we talk about boundaries? Everyone agrees that boundaries are important. What most don’t agree on is who gets to set the boundaries.

We all have our own sense of privacies, personal space, intrusive behaviors, etc. We all like to think we know what those are for ourselves, afterall it’s really all about what feels right and good and safe and empowered. What we never know is what another’s boundaries are. We make a mistake when we try to set the boundaries for another, especially for a child. Read more

rethinking… HISTORY

I have been puzzling over our education system’s desire to teach history for a long, long time, since I was a child. Not just war history, but any kind of history. Basically anything that has preceeded this moment. Not because it’s boring or largely limited to dates and dry facts, but because it just doesn’t make sense to teach it. Read more

Phooey to Gurus

As the founder and producer of the life-altering Rethinking Everything conference, I have had lots of folks over the years tell me I am their guru. I rebel against this! Heartily! With every cell of my being I rebel (and I say so). I don’t believe in gurus, gods, worship or idolatry. I am always left to ponder why so many folks seem to want, or even need, a guru of some sort to follow, emulate, fawn over, or …. use to justify their own inability to ask within the big questions, get the deeply intimate and profound answers and live accordingly. This is my dream for everyone, to discover their own heart. Read more

rethinking the nature of MOTHERHOOD


There’s a video making the rounds in cyberspace this week, I guess because Mother’s Day is cropping up, that was done to honor the roles mothers play in the precious lives of their children. A male friend sent it to me and called it heartwarming. Of course I was eager to click and watch; I am all about mothering and think it’s the most important job anywhere. I did and I was not only appalled but physically nauseous. Read more

God Loves Me Sometimes

_MG_0275

photo by Sarah E. Parent

Barb:
I have a sweet little friend in my life that lives nearby. She is just 7 years old and likes my dog and me and we take walks together. She is always happy and excited and she talks constantly. On a recent mile walk together she told me she had two birthdays. TWO birthdays!? I said. Yeah, I am 7 years old and 2 God-years old, she said. What is a God-year? I asked. I accepted God into my life 2 years ago so that is when I was born to God, she said. You mean you were not a real person to God until then? I asked. No! I was dead to God until I told him I loved him and accepted him in my life, she said. Read more

Presence… Controlled By Our Past?

Reflection Challenge -sooc
photo courtesy of bahamamadreamer

Barb:

I am in the middle of yet another autobiography, my favorite reading material. Right now in the story I am immersed in the author’s childhood and finding myself feeling really uncomfortable as her replay reminds me of my own. I am dissecting this discomfort deeper than I have before and discovering a fresh take on it. Read more

Truth and Consequences

tree trunk heart
photo by Sarah E. Parent

Sarah:
There’s a great conversation to be had about consequences. In fact, I’ve had more than one with friends, at conferences, and on the phone. It has become clear in these interactions that the term ‘consequences’ can be interpreted, or misinterpreted as the case may be, in different ways. In my unfolding as a mother and, indeed, as a person, the comfort of camaraderie has been sought, found, outgrown, and cherished – not necessarily in that order and varying according to the experience. What I have found with regard to the subject of consequences is that there is a distinct difference between the intent and style of those who recognize consequences and those who use consequences. Read more

Consistency is Debilitating

Barb:

A few people recently have been asking me about the value of consistency in child rearing, and, since I have strong feelings about this, I thought a blog post was in order.

What is consistency anyway?  By definition and action both, it means being bound by an idea, a should:  kids should eat dinner before dessert, they should go to bed at the same time, they should be treated the same so that they learn that this is the way things are.  Huh?  Does this really sound intelligent to you when wrapped up in a nutshell in this way? Read more

Bonding at Bedtime

sleep safety

Barb:

This ad I saw recently has been eating away at me. A wonderful story we recently published in our first issue of Rethinking Everything PARENT by Dayna Martin on her family bed has spurred me to chime in. Read more

I’m Not Proud of You.

no good job 

Sarah:

I’ll admit that this was a difficult concept for me to entertain or employ when I was first introduced to eliminating praise in my relationship with my kids by Alfie Kohn’s article Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good job!”  If you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to start there.  But I’d like to take it one step further. Read more

Are My Kids ‘Keeping Up’?

Sarah:

My kids are young – 7 and 9. The familial and societal pressure for them to ‘keep up’ and ‘succeed’ is great. One of the first questions I’m asked when I tell people we are life learners is, “how do you know they’re keeping up?” My children don’t go to school. They never have. We thought about it long and hard and then again. We’ve investigated every nook and cranny of our highly educated brains and it always comes back to learning through living. I’ve podcasted about our difficult and thoughtful coming to awareness of what our lives would be – are – together as our children grow. We are together. My husband and I sometimes step back and marvel at the constant learning that goes on for our children. Read more

Mothering Memories

Barb:

I’ve been having flashbacks lately of some of my treasured mothering moments. I am so grateful to have been a full time mom, so happy to have made a conscious decision to give up my fancy job and immerse myself in the wild and mysterious life of a mom. When my three kids were young we spent a lot of time in bed, not only at night in our family bed but during the day, reading, talking, laughing, eating. My kids used to love to have me crawl onto the bed with them during the day with a few apples, a sharp knife and a stack of books. We’d all cuddle together in a mound while I read and cut slices of apple for each of them in turn. They used to beg me to do this. I think in retrospect a big part of the fun was bringing a sharp knife to bed!

For years we had gnomes living in our back yard. My oldest son has always had a very rich fantasy life, in fact he still does. I even think it is the center of what makes him tick and function now as a full grown adult. Anyway, we got lucky because a nice little clan of gnomes took over our yard and for a long, long time they left us regular signs of their activities: teeny, tiny letters of their adventures that we’d sometimes have to use a magnifying glass to read, little sailboats they’d built to navigate our pool, tiny tools and handbuilt furniture, they even built a little house at the base of a tree. We never did see them but we sure knew they were there and they were a rich part of our lives for sure.

One other very fond memory I recall at this time of year was our regular campfire breakfasts. We built a campfire pit with tree stumps all around and used this for years. Our hands down favorite meal on the campfire was blueberry pancakes with butter and real maple syrup. You just can’t believe how much better a pancake can taste when prepared over an open fire. It doesn’t make any sense that this would be true but it is, I swear it.

2 mamas talking button

Sarah:

Ooh! I love this! My children are 7 and almost 9 so we’re deep in our memory-making years. In fact, we just now finished up reading Harry Potter aloud together before the kids settled in for bed. We’ve been doing this for a very long time and are on the fifth book of the series. I swear we’ve been reading this same book forever. It has 870 pages! No matter. We’re not in any hurry. For us, it feels like the characters are members of our family and family friends. We talk about them during the day and analyze different aspects of the story. Often, the kids will even speculate on aspects of the characters’ lives that we don’t experience through the words of the books. We will also often read the same books on our own. Because the characters become so real for the children, my husband and I don’t want to miss out on references and discussions. My son is an avid reader and recently read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. My daughter listened to it on her iPod and my husband and I are trailing behind reading the series ourselves. While traveling this summer, we were all so excited to see the exact replica of the Parthenon and statue of Athena in Nashville, TN. It was so cool for all of us to be giddy over the bust and statue replicas and make connections between the books and Greek Mythology.

In our family, we love mustaches. We share a fascination for them – an appreciation of the different shapes, styles, and colors of mustaches. There’s definitely a lot of mustache-related humor involved in our everyday lives. We decided, though, that we had to come up with a code word so as not to completely embarrass mustache-wearers as we pass. “Look! A mustache!” was embarrassing for everyone. My husband and I threw out several ideas for covert names. The children vetoed them all and went with “banana.” Yes, that makes it even funnier. We even have a sticker on the RV (we live and travel in an RV) that has a curled mustache and says, “This Is What Awesome Looks Like.” I feel like this is a commentary on our connection with each other. We have inside jokes- lots of them.

Fantasy is a major player in our household as well. We’d built fairy houses at the base of every tree, rock, and bush in our suburban home. The fairies would often come to visit the dwellings and would leave evidence of utilizing the ample facilities provided by the children. We’ve also built them on the sides of hiking trails as we travel or out of cardboard boxes with scraps of fabric, shells, and other random finds. When the fairies leave thank-you notes, they are written in tiny gravel or sticks or mulch. Often the only thing left behind is a dusting of glittery fairy dust.

Speaking of fairies, we have a tooth fairy who is, well, a little off. She is sometimes a day or two behind our travel but the children wait patiently for her as they understand it can be difficult to keep up with our adventures. When she leaves the money or trinket, she always leaves a note. I think the kids are more anxious to get the notes than anything else. Our tooth fairy is a phonetic speller. And her letters never go in a straight line. The kids love decoding her messages and keep them safely tucked away with their treasures.

Barb:

I am all warm and fuzzy now from all this tender mother child connection. Let’s share more in future blogs… and for those of you out there who have read this, how about sharing your favorite mothering memories with us?

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