"THEN Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:1-4

Friday, April 23, 2010

Now we're "outed"

Thanks, Good Morning America. Thanks a whole lot. Now there is like a moral obligation to post more about our schooling adventures...because we are unschoolers.
 Sort of.
I've always liked my friend Lissa's Tidal Homeschooling  moniker best. It fits: we're in; we're out; we're becalmed; we're paddling like mad. We're resting on the beach. But whatever we are doing, we are learning.
But that's the thing about unschoolers, defining them is like nailing jell-o to a wall.
The thing they have in common is their passionate desire to help their children follow their dreams, their destinies, the Call of God in their lives -- although there are many unschoolers who would argue the existence of God or call the Lord by some other name - like maybe Gaia. Those folks don't change reality, they just need to find Him in a different direction. Which is not to say that I agree with their assessment - I respect their right to exercise their free will in that manner and they, in turn, respect my right to live in such a way that they might become curious about the Gospel of Christ and our faith in Jesus and the Church. If given an opportunity, I speak. Otherwise, I pray.
There's a place where radical unschoolers abandon folks like me and the label slips off. I define myself by a set of beliefs called Catholicism. I totally believe that this is the best way to know, love and serve God. It encompasses everything I do - or at least I hope it does - this tradition of beliefs and teachings. I've examined this issue from many angles and I always return to the surety that this is Christ revealed to us in all the fullness of His humanity and divinity. It is rational - And so I teach this to my kids. They learn it and live it and so far they love it.
I am aware that they have the freedom to someday reject this. I hope they won't, but that freedom is given them by an authority greater than mine.
So I don't get to use the radical unschooler label.
I like Charlotte Mason's method and loosely use this method. Sometimes. As a guide.So I don't get to use that label either.
And I've always liked Classical Education - Latin, Greek, memorization. Some of my kids do this, some don't. The one thing we don't do is school-at-home. It just hasn't fit. Ever. My mom got sick and required care; we pitched in to help; a new baby came; we had a huge crisis in our family; Bud was out of work for five months; the Big Helps went away to college; Bud took jobs that required him to be gone and us to pinch every penny until it screamed for mercy; I had to get a job and work outside the home (but not be gone all day so we continued to homeschool);  life never stopped happening and we were required to live and flex and adjust and find joy and happiness and peace amid the wreckage of a few really tough years.
So really no curriculum ever fit perfectly. We use a little Sonlight, a little Catholic Heritage Curricula.
Or maybe we're Montessori learners. I love Dr Montessori's writings

Most days, we read, we play, we build with Legos, we plant seeds, examine flowers, identify birds,tell stories, travel here and there, do science, explore, explore, explore.
I don't know that I could ever quantify all that they know. I keep a running catalog of what I think they don't know and then - WHAM - they say or do something and I have to tick something off the list-of-places-where-I-have-failed-as-a-homeschooling-mother.
Thus we learn. Preferably without labels - even the ones that society thinks are good or important. We know who we are, and we endeavor to become more.

Here are some folks who shed light on unschooling:

Sandra Dodd


Unschooling Catholics

Resa Steindel Brown

Suzie Andres Homeschooling with Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling

I watched the GMA report. I thought that George S and JuJu were very funny. What schools did those two attend?  In a school children are not exposed to *different* or *diverse* ideas, opinions or materials. They are each given the exact same book and told to study the exact same thing as all the rest of the children. In the area of socialization, if they deviate from whatever the most popular children do, say, wear, think, they are scorned, mocked, shunned or bullied. But this is not a blog about what happens to children in public schools - or a generalization that such things happen to all in children in every school. You know what things are like in your local schools. And it doesn't impact my life any more.
I read this great piece by a friend of the family who was featured on the boobtube show. Mindful parenting, mindful homeschooling, doing things intentionally. Loving well and unconditionally. That's all we're doing.


  1. I have so considered not sending my kids to school, but I'm still searching and praying about it. I'm not sure that I have the right kind of "stuff" in order to be able to teach my children myself... but I understand exactly what you mean about the supposed diversity they are said to experience in schools. Just from doing a mother's day out program with Nadia twice a week for a few months was enough to teach me that being different or even independent is not always acceptable in classroom settings. I missed the Good Morning America thing, but I'll have to look into it and see what all they had to say.

  2. Living and learning, is such a simple concept and yet at times we get caught up with thinking we have to fill the children up like boxes with facts and information. All it really does take is love and intention. It's so simple and we make it so complicated. Thanks for reminding me why it is that I homeschool. Not to prepare my kids for Yale or Harvard, although we wouldn't be totally against that :), but we homeschool to prepare them for life and heaven. I need to remember to enjoy the process and not be focused so much on the outcome. When I enjoy the moments I say I love homeschooling. I need to stay in that place where I trust God to fill in the gaps. Thanks Joann

  3. The weirdest tutoring job I ever had was for a radical unschooling family. They wanted me to tutor math, but without teaching. The kids were actually forbidden to memorize! One thing I like to do when tutoring math is to make up games with flash cards, that they'd need to know their times tables to play. They were not allowed to play that game, because it meant studying and their mother did not permit them to do that. I wasn't supposed to teach them anything; what I was supposed to do was to make math "fun". It was a bizarre experience. I did a lot with things like transformations and reflections, and I used to make crazy addition problems on huge pieces of paper.
    But tutoring without teaching is ridiculous. People can take unschooling to absurd extremes! It's good that you don't go to such extremes.


About Me

Welcome! The most important bread is the Bread of Life. I am Catholic and do my best to know, understand and live what that means that I might "know Him, love Him and serve Him." My husband, Bud, and I have been married for 24 years and we have seven children. Because of his job, we travel the country in an RV with five of them, learning as we go.