Once upon a time, when my kids were toddlers, I spent a lot of time thinking about our dreamed-of life as unschoolers. I did a lot of reading on unschooling theory, neuroscience, and attachment theory. I talked to everyone about this path who could offer me some insight, and generally tried to prepare for the responsibility of taking on my children's learning. In general… yeah, I was over-eager and uptight. And, I'll admit it, a little afraid. Afraid of bucking the system, afraid of having to de-school my own expectations, afraid of screwing up. So I did what any ex-academic does when confronted by a problem… I did even more research.
That is how I spent the first several years of motherhood, but as time wore on I got to witness the natural learning of my two littles unfolding before my eyes, and I calmed down a bit. They learned complicated things with ease. My oldest taught himself to read, via Shakespeare (!), at the age of six. My youngest drew dragons at age three and knew the names of rare animals (coati, vontsira, hirola) that she learned seemingly by osmosis. They are not gifted or unusual. This is the way of things, and it happens in unexpected ways, each kid unfolding into their unique self, right before your eyes. I let go of my year-by-year plans and ideas about proper modes of pedagogy, and generally relaxed into learning as a life exploration. I also began to turn my reading and thoughts to de-schooling myself more than anything, because clearly I was hanging on to ideas about grade-level, performance, social expectations of success, and educational force (i.e. compulsory education). I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with these part of myself and in our culture more generally.
While I had no particular dream-profession or specific vision for my children's life and no desire to pigeon-hole them into what they might become, I found that, while I wished to unschool, I was still very interested in living/exploring broad modalities of thinking in our family life as a way to encourage my two children to explore it more fully in theirs. I began my work as a Transition Town activist in our community, started an alternative currency, and generally began to open my mind up to a much more broad understanding of what encompasses a "successful adult" not only in our culture now, but in the changing world we live in -- and if I know anything it is that changes are coming.
When it came time for me to declare our homeschooling selves to the State of Pennsylvania when my son turned eight, they required a goal-setting document for the year to come. I submitted that, but also went one better… I compiled all of my broad dreams and ideals about raising children (over the course of their early lives, from childhood into their teen years and beyond) into a "meta-goals" document and submitted that as well… just for shits and giggles.
The district completely ignored it. (What did I expect them to do with "lifetime goals.")
Every year, for a few years, I continued to submit it along with my affidavit. And they continued to ignore it. Eventually I stopped submitting it, and it sat deep in my homeschooling folder for years, unopened.
Recently I opened the document again and read over it, preparing to send it to a new unschooling mom as a reference. I thought I might share it to my wider community as well. What would you add?
Our young people