The Uproar Over Unschooling
In case you didn’t know, our family are unschoolers. And in case you’ve been out of the media loop (lucky you), there has been quite an uproar over unschooling in the media the past few days.
It begin when a wonderful unschooling family was very poorly portrayed (through biased editing, condescension and lack of time) on a Good Morning America segment Monday morning. Such a backlash was received (from both the unschooling community over the obvious bias and the community at large over the perceived “hands-off” approach) that GMA invited the family back the next day for a mere 6 minutes of explanation.
Too little, too late on GMA’s part.
The damage had been done Monday morning and the media and public are steaming over something they have barely bothered to understand. (Some examples of both sides of the reactions here and here and here and here and here and here.)
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the media coverage.
For one thing, we have nothing to hide. My son is intelligent, sociable and well-rounded. My state of residence covers my right to unschool, as well as my parental right to raise my child as I see fit. And the more publicity unschooling sees, presumably the more people may become aware of alternatives to what might not be working for them.
On the other hand, there is a lot of fear that such blatant misinformation can lead to serious outcry and a diminishing of rights as lawmakers seek to regulate the crap out of us. That is not something I would want to see, nor something our family would take lying down. We’ll fight tooth and nail to live our life free of oversight, just as we would support anyone else to do the same. After all, you can’t expect to maintain your own rights without also maintaining the rights of others. Most people understand and agree with this.
So, why – in a presumably free country – do so many people freak the hell out when they hear about people observing their right to learn without school?
It has nothing to do with our rights, our children or with what is legal.
It’s more personal than that.
Every time I tell a person that my son is learning without school or that I learned without high school, it rubs against everything they’ve been told as children about the necessity of school.
And, for some people, to admit that school may not have been necessary to be successful in life requires them to admit several things:
- That an enormous amount of time was wasted doing something they didn’t enjoy simply because someone wanted them to do it.
- If it wasn’t necessary, those forcing them to do it were either lying to them or uneducated themselves. And being educated by an uneducated person can make a person feel pretty uneducated. To admit they were lied to is to admit ulterior motives were in play. And no one wants to even consider those points.
- They could have enjoyed every day of their life doing what they love. And they could have learned to define success by happiness.
- They will see everything in life is a choice; whether it’s a choice to go to work because you want a paycheck or a choice to follow the law because you want to stay out of jail, it’s still a choice. And sometimes it’s easier to not take responsibility for your own life.
- They have to admit that children are not second-rate citizens, that they should not be treated as inconveniences, that their opinions matter and should be taken into consideration and that they are indeed an oppressed group.
- And to admit #5 means to admit they were once treated in this manner, too. And who wants to remember the times they were talked down to, told their interests were not important, forced against their will to submit to disrespect, shamed or ridiculed, made to feel a burden or punished for honest mistakes?
Unschooling and non-traditional parenting is a threat to society, indeed. It threatens to awaken us to the injustice happening right beneath our noses. It threatens to shake our culture into a new era of ingenuity over conformity. It threatens to force us to treat all human beings – even smaller ones – as people with rights and respect them as such.
Our family is proof that it works. Our friends are proof that this works. And there is a huge, wide community out there to back us up.
So, what about you? As an unschooling family, how do you feel about this media coverage: good or damaging? As a non-unschooling family, how do you feel about our treatment of children in our society?
New to these ideas? Check out these books, which all cover an alternative to living and learning with children*:
*These books are affiliate links through Amazon. If you buy any of these books, or anything else through these links, you will be contributing to our family and the continuation of this blog. Thank you for your support!