more on unschooling and the essence of humanity

the post I  just wrote about “whole life unschooling” was actually a quick re-write of a more thoughtful and well-constructed longer post that I accidentally deleted.  or, my computer is an outdated piece of garbage, take your pick.  in any case, there were a couple of things more that I wanted to say and then I wanted to touch on the topic of newborns.

about my homeschooling philosophy, if I can be so bold as to call it such, as I said has more to do with the tone of my home and the amount of freedom I want the kids to have verses an emphasis on teaching them any particular skill set or subject.  the rest should flow pretty naturally, by my calculations (check back here in about five years or so to see if I’m still singing the same or similar tune).

freedom, confidence and support.  those are my main areas of focus and my biggest challenges.  in my opinion, and if my experience with parenting thus far is an indication, these are the hard parts, the real nitty gritty relationship every day struggles between a parent and child.  the pursuit of interests should be the easy part, or as I said, an after thought to the real meat and potatoes of what makes a person a self-directed lifelong learner, or rather, keeps people as such.

now what I didn’t say in my other post is that there is much self-doubt that goes into stepping outside of the box, if you will, in regards to “educating” ones kidzos.  it can be hard when you yourself were raised in the standard modern fashion and its all you know and most of the other people you meet with and interact with are also subscribing to that style of school.  believe me, it can start to feel like a rat race that you are dead last in real fast when it seems everyone is chomping at the bit to get some credentials under their kids belts asap.  the talk at the playground is all: whose kid can read and whose kid is in dance and signed up for astronomy summer camp and all that.  and though there are many articles I’ve seen recently written touting the underrated importance of a structure free childhood, all of those ideals seem to pale in comparison to real life competition when the rubber meets the road.

every once in a while, when the outside world comes knocking, when people like the person who was asking greg about homeschooling that originally prompted this blog post, but before that an intense discussion betwixt greg and I, begin raising eyebrows, it can make your resolve waver a bit to say the least.  it can be hard to stay the course, to even remember what your ideals were that led you down this rabbit hole in the first place, and leave you doubting everything.

besides the relationship part of all of this, what will probably be the hardest part of homeschooling/unschooling is the self doubt and the worry that come from taking a giant step outside of the box.

yet, if we don’t live by our ideals, there is much to lose now and regret later and life is too short to simply go with the flow all of the time, especially when it comes to something as important as shaping the next generation and the relationship with a person’s family, which some could argue is our only real legacy.

now, on to newborns, or as in the title, “the essence of humanity”.  what I mean is that I love newborns.  and not just because they are so small and cute and helpless and because of hormones and that insatiable desire to mother and care for children that seems to intensify with every passing year.  when I see/hold a newborn, I can’t help but feel that I am witnessing something so primal and pure and even sort of glimpsing back into the very beginnings of humanity.

some people say that newborns are basically very little physical and almost all spirit.  I might be inclined to agree or disagree but that’s not what I’m talking about.  what I mean is that a baby, a human baby, would be pretty much unaltered from the very beginnings of homo sapiens tens of thousands of years ago.  the way they move, the sounds they make, and their impulses would not have changed since the beginnings of man.  it really lets you get a glimpse of human nature at its most raw, completely untouched by culture.

and in a species so influenced by culture, it can be quite insightful to the real nature of humankind.  what does a baby want?  it wants to be held, above all else.  it wants to be in physical contact pretty much at all times with its mother.  it wants to be held tightly, rocked and shook and jiggled.  it wants milk, nourishment.  it wants to be comfortable, kept clean and dry and warm.  if it gets all of these things, it will never cry.

I think its worth thinking about this and what is our essence as humans.  what do we long for in our lives?  what makes us happy or unhappy?  where does all of the turmoil of life come from?  is there a clue there as to how we might create a more happy, peaceful and harmonious society in the future?

if so, doesn’t it need to start with our very beginnings?  with each of our births and before?  doesn’t it make sense that if a baby’s every need is met, that they will grow up in happiness and peace, confident that the world is a safe and secure place?  that they will become happy and peaceful adults?

you might think I am oversimplifying humanity.  life is complicated.  people are complicated.  but its worth a thought.  do we have an innate nature?  if not, why are all baby’s needs the same?  culture is a powerful force.  it can lead us in any direction.  why not towards peace and harmony?

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Author: Terry

Welcome! I am a Waldorf and unschooling-inspired homeschooling parent of three, ages 2, 4, and 7 living in the Lansing area of Michigan writing from the front lines of parenthood. Join me as I try to navigate homeschooling and bask in the craziness of life with young ones. Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by!

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