I would be offering a webinar from 7 pm to 8.30 pm IST on 3rd June, 2017, where I will be in conversation with my dear friend Urmila Samson around the idea parenting where we grow ALONG with our children and enjoy this journey, with all its ups and downs. To know more about the event and register go to https://goo.gl/EoMPsX,
I am sharing a note from Urmila which is the inspiration of the webinar and could also become the points of discussion for the webinar.
“Have you ever thought what it would be like if you had never been to school? And hold that thought. Have you ever thought what it would be like if you were not taught any school curriculum at home either? No tests, no exams, no text books, no assessments or report cards…bags, time table, homework…
Imagine if you got to choose everything – when to sleep, when to wake up, what to eat, what to play…Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Well, this is exactly how my children spent their childhood. And millions of families around the world have made a conscious decision to not send their children to school.
The idea I present to you today is my version of unschooling called Whole Being Learning.
And the reason I think it is an idea worth sharing is in the hope that some of these unschooling practices can show what good education can be, and throw some light on myriad, I would like to say infinite learning possibilities.
What is Homeschooling: One way of going about this is homeschooling. One or both parents teach the child curriculum that they feel is most appropriate for their child, in ways that are suited to their child. The child is prepared for a board exam of their choice and suitability and they apply for colleges according to their chosen field of interest. They can wake up at leisure, have interesting conversations about everything happening in their lives and their thoughts, a loving parent designs a time table around their hobbies and interests, fitting in the studies which they teach their child knowing their individual learning styles. They have plenty of time for sports, music, art, play, creativity…and no time is wasted in doing things that are not relevant to them personally, for example, pages of homework writing or memorizing things that don’t really need to be written or memorized.
What is Unschooling: Another way of going about it is Unschooling. Unschooling children are raised in complete freedom to live their childhood without imposition of adults. They remain integrated – body, mind and spirit – without being distracted by what other people feel is better for them. When they are small, there is no curriculum, no studies, no assessments and examinations, no stress on learning reading, writing and mathematics. Unschooling parents are in a place of ‘not knowing’. We do not know what the future holds, we do not know our children better than they know themselves, we do not know how to educate them best. We trust that if there is minimal fragmentation through imposition from outside, that their inner wisdom will get a chance to grow and blossom. Unschoolers do not necessarily sit board exams or go on to college. As they grow, they may turn to academics which may or may not result in some of them going on to do exams and applying for college. The hope is that with or without degrees and higher education they will not take up jobs and professions that take the earth towards ecological disaster, but will do work, initiate social entrepreneurships or NGOs that bring the desired changes. We hope that they will create jobs for many many people in the areas where change is required.
There are several reasons why I would not send my children to even the best schools, four of them are:
Imagination: Our children spent their early years in pretend games, indoors when it was too hot outside, and outdoors when it was cooler. Except one summer when they spent the hot afternoons collecting dry grass to light fires. (Never quite understood that!) They planted trees with their father, played in mounds of sand and earth during house expansion, indoors the boys built cities out of wooden blocks and tiny cars, while my daughter built forests out of bedsheets, dupattas, stuffed animals and dolls…We didn’t ask them to ‘put their toys away’. These were not toys. These were ongoing, never ending alternate realities which gave free reign to their imaginations.
Everything in existence, tangible: roads, lights, sky scrapers, aeroplanes…and intangible: socio-political, legal, economic…systems as well as our thought patterns have been created by our minds. So everything tangible and intangible can be destroyed, modified or completely reimagined by our minds!
Inner Voice: The outside world tells us when to sleep, when to wake up, what to eat, when to learn and what to learn…and of course the only way to earn. And all the time our body, mind and spirit is telling us something else, and that voice becomes softer and softer till it finally gives up and goes away. Our own inner guidance goes away, leaving us fragmented. This is what we need to be afraid of. Not about the fact that our children are failing exams, or not getting into Ivy League colleges.
Deschooling the Self: I am often asked if I was ever afraid. Yes, often! There was a time when my boys played video games 24×7 for around five or more years. I was hysterical with fear. I got depressed. I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life that was beyond repair! Every unschooling parent reaches a turning point like this; when it becomes less and less about the children and all about the journey to the centre of the self; coming face to face with our own limitations, conditioning and deepest existential fears. At first I went the normal route: telling, explaining, scolding, nagging, manipulating, bullying, being firm, strict…Nothing worked. This forced me to sit in the fire and face myself, my wounds, my shadows, my behavior, thoughts and emotions. This process is often referred to as deschooling the self.
New eyes: Once I embarked on my inner journey to know myself, I began to see my children and the world with new eyes. I could understand my emotions better, so I was no longer consumed by them. I could understand my emotions better so I could understand their emotions and other people’s emotions better.
Whole Being Learning: Most unschoolers do not agree with the term ‘unschooling’. Everyone comes up with different words like Learning all the time, Life Learning, World Schooling, Free Range Learning… I call it Whole Being Learning, which in brief refers to integration or non fragmentation of the whole being – Mind Body Spirit, head, heart and hands.
My sons showed me a You Tube video a few years ago – Humans Need Not Apply – because robots are going to take over all the jobs and professions just as machines took over jobs of labourers in the past. During the next decade things are going to change even faster and more drastically than in the past decade. We need to raise children who are emotionally resilient, imaginative and creative with well developed minds as well as practical skills to deal with the turbulent times ahead. Plus dollops of humour and compassion!”
-Reflections from Urmila Samson for the AhimsaGram Webinar on ‘Growing With Freedom’. Join us at 7 pm to 8.30 pm IST on 3rd June, 2017.