|Why Unschooling Doesn't Come Naturally
|by Dayna Martin
|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
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.
||Our inner wisdom is still
|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 Leche 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