It isn’t at all surprising that radical unschooling sounds pretty wacko to those who haven’t observed it in action.
First, it is extremely hard to explain it – it is a total paradigm shift in how we parent. We don’t just keep doing things the same way while dropping rules and punishments – there is a lot more to it, and the other changes are significant although more subtle.
Second, it is a long-term process and it involves giving up some things for the sake of other things which we value more. So, in the short run, it can seem pretty goofy. I get that.
But my radically unschooled kids (we had no rules and no punishment) are now 19, 22, and 24. They’re just fine – they’re better than fine. I think they’re pretty darn awesome people and, even by external standards, they’re all successful.
HOW we live without rules or punishment is what is important and what takes a LOT of discussion to really get across. I just think it isn’t at all what people who have rules and punishments think it would be like if they just dropped them.
Parents of school children think homeschooling would be like what they experiencing when trying to make resistant children do homework. But we all know that isn’t what homeschooling is. Still, we find that it is difficult to get that across to parents whose only experience with their own kids is in having homework battles. We have a similar problem in explaining radical unschooling to other unschoolers and homeschoolers. It really is just hard to imagine how it really works.
We’ve loved our radically unschooling livestyle – it has been sweet and joyful and extremely satisfying and we have no regrets. They kids were never out of control, never rebellious. We’re super close and the now-grown kids are helpful and generous and responsible and they really don’t quite understand why parents would punish kids – they don’t see any reason for it. They understand other ways of developing parent-childrelationships based on cooperation and collaboration and support.
So – not saying everybody should jump on the radical unschooling bandwagon. Just asking people to maybe not rush to judgment based on a tv segment or even on just a family or two you might happen to know.
Radical unschooling has come to mean extending the basic principles of unschooling to all kinds of learning – not just the usual academic subjects, but to learning to share, to clean the house, to take care of personal hygiene, and on and on. We trust our kids not only to learn to read but also to learn to eat and sleep. But not “on their own.” Not at ALL. There is tremendous parental involvement – being a radical unschooling parent is hard work (albeit great fun) and requires a lot of attention and awareness and it needs a lot of creativity, flexibility, and energy.