Brave Writer Podcast: Unschool Undefined, and Other Home Ed Philosophies
In the raging debate about which philosophies of education are best, many of us feel batted around and inadequate to live up to the expectations of those ideals. There’s a reason why homeschooling parents live under a cloud of inadequacy. I address that head-on in this podcast. Tune in and feel relief!
The Seduction of Ideology
When we adopt a particular style of homeschool, we tend to be seduced by ideological purity – we hear the principles, we hear the ideals, and then we believe that the only way to get the benefit is to adopt it perfectly.
But here’s the thing… true ideological purity is impossible, or at least ineffective.
When you believe in a system first, you forget about the human beings in that system and you end up favoring the system over the human beings.
So to protect that radical ideology, whatever it is, you have to get rid of the people who can’t live up to it fully and we start to believe that the principles are perfect.
Find Safe Communities
If you’re ever in a homeschooling context that shames you for your personal experience, it is not a safe space. It is okay to have ideas challenged – but it should be done in a way that takes into account your emotional well-being!
Your kids won’t grow if you threaten them, right? Well you can’t grow if you feel threatened, either.
The Problem with Purity: We’re Complex!
No human being – and no family – can live up to any system perfectly because human beings and families are complex systems.
And there are three important aspects to being a complex system, as it pertains to homeschooling:
- Learning doesn’t happen without safety, without the ability to take risks – and that needs to be in partnership with supportive people.
- Social science shows us that each person is socially located, meaning you have a culture, age, race, region, native language, and economic framework. That has a real impact on how you perceive the world, so what might work for one family may work completely differently for yours.
- We are in process at all times; we are not static. We are constantly changing, growing, and adapting.
If we don’t have self-knowledge about our own complex system, the way we interpret the principles of these philosophies may not be practical.
3 Principles for a Healthy Education
These are principles that you can adopt that don’t have anything to do with a home education philosophy:
- Look for sources of inspiration!
- You need handholds. It’s almost impossible to follow inspiration and then not know what to do. If you’re suddenly inspired to learn about art, is the best way to learn just to go to the museum? It might be a starting point, but at some point it’s helpful to be taught about art appreciation so that you know more about what you’re looking at and why you’re there – and some of those handholds are pieces of curriculum!
- We need tools and models of implementation. In addition to a philosophy, you need someone showing what you’re learning about and tools to practice it.