Why Unschooling Doesn't Come Naturally
Over the years a question keeps popping into my head. If I lived on a deserted island and had no cultural influence telling me what to do, would unschooling come completely natural to me as a parent? Why do we need to learn how to unschool in our culture? If it is such a natural way for humans to learn, why do so many people think that learning has to be forced? When I ponder these thoughts I realize that most in our culture have lost instinctual wisdom as parents. We have lost an aspect of being human that is our birthright.
Most people today have never been given the opportunity to be authentic, pure and whole parents simply because of what we are born into. We begin our relationships in a culture that insists that an invisible barrier be placed between ourselves and our children. We have been plagued with ignorant advice and ideas generation after generation. Giving birth in our culture is more like buying a product or adopting a pet. The fact that a baby is a human is never really impressed upon us or focused on. We have been so far removed from the natural process that instead of well-wishes, we receive warnings, like the tags on electrical appliances from the moment our babies are born.
Some of the popular warnings for parents today are:
- Do not be too kind to your children because you will seem weak and they will walk all over you.
- Do not give them too much or you will make them greedy and materialistic.
- Do not let them sleep with you at night or you will ruin their chances of ever sleeping by themselves.
- Do not hold or touch them too much or you will make them too clingy.
- Make them go to school and obey or they will never learn.
- Do not allow a child to choose because they will make bad choices.
Unfortunately, these unfounded beliefs are so ingrained in who we are as a culture, they are the strongest messages that parents receive from the beginning. All of these "instructions" take away the joy, authenticity and purity from our relationship with our children. Today's parenting advice is so distancing it is more like instructions for "parenting-lite" than truly parenting. We are a society controlled by the opinions and advice of others, instead of looking deep within ourselves to find answers.
As a natural childbirth educator I am regularly asked, "If birth is so natural, why do we need a class?" My response is that birth has been taken away from women. We have disempowered women so much that we have lost the inner wisdom and confidence that it takes to birth naturally. Our culture has changed what birth truly is for women and their babies. Because of this fact, rather than passing down empowerment, we pass down fear through the ages.
I believe that the same warping has happened with our children and their ability to learn independently. The joy and ease of natural learning has been stolen from children, and so has the confidence that parents are supposed to have for them to learn. With this insight, I have come to realize that we have to undo so much to get back to the primitive, instinctual wisdom that we all have deep down. It is still there! We just have to slough off all of our cultural armor to get to it.
Our inner wisdom is still there. It is there underneath all the warnings and have-to's. Underneath all of the fear. Underneath all of the self-doubt. Together we can learn how to remove all of the cultural armor slowly placed upon us growing up. In order to do this, we must support one another on our journey to a more peaceful, authentic way of life. We can invite our true nature that has been crushed down, to reveal itself. First, we must be willing to allow ourselves to do something our culture is unaccustomed to, and that is to trust ourselves and our children.
We can remove our armor and stand vulnerable before each other, we can learn to redress our spirit with a new mindset. We are not alone! We can go through this journey together and wrap one another with silk ribbons of ~ Love ~ Trust ~ Kindness ~ Joy ~ and ~ Appreciation ~ for ourselves and for our children. We can relight our own flames of instinctual wisdom and begin again.
A La eche League Leader, Natural Childbirth Educator, doula, and writer, Dayna Martin lives joyfully in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Visit Dayna's blog