As David Foster Wallace reminded us, fish swim all their lives in water that they remain completely unaware of. We, too, are immersed in oceans of unconscious norms and beliefs that make up the basis of our decisions. When pressed about these unconscious beliefs, they’re not easy to explain. Sometimes we don’t even have the language to explain them, much less any practice in using it. These unexamined beliefs have a powerful effect on our lives, precisely because they’re unexamined. But sometimes life hands you a little flip flop out of the water — your comfort zone — which gives you a glimpse of the water. And sometimes you’re conscious enough of that glimpse that you get curious and want to explore further. I’ve had my share of little flip flops. Enough to allow me a look at the water I swim in — my cultural beliefs, norms and standards — to try and understand why I do what I do, how my cultural baggage affects my actions. And that awareness has led me to make some decisions independent of the water.
Some of the non-standard choices I made as a parent resulted in successful outcomes. (Although how do you measure success, because it’s so subjective and things are always evolving?) I will say that alternative choices like attachment parenting and unschooling resonated with me from the moment I learned about them. As I learned more and practiced more, I found myself farther and farther from the mainstream. I’ve explored alternative health options, organic and local foods, educational alternatives and many things natural and basic. I guess of all those things the educational alternative (unschooling) is the one I’m asked about most because it is the least widely known or understood. Friends and family have frequently asked me to tell my story of unschooling, even just to explain more fully what it is, which I’m happy to do in case it is helpful to someone else.
So, as I’m working on that project, TrustYourChild will be a place for me to relate some of the guiding principles behind my unschooling choices to what’s going on around me now. It gives me a chance to dip my foot in the water (ha, another water reference), and float my ideas out to a wider audience (and another). This is all very new for me so I invite you to comment and question because that helps me know what is clear and what’s not, what’s useful and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t. For now, as Dory would say, “Just keep swimming!”
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