Joyful Liberation

Joyful Liberation

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So, last night I was asked by a good friend to come and talk about unschooling at a Salt Lake Home Educators meeting. SLHE is open to all homeschoolers regardless of style,religion, know the drill. Anyway, my first answer when she asked was no. I have never been to a meeting before and I pretty much new all the unschoolers in the community and I did not want to "put myself on the chopping block" so to speak. Turns out she wanted me to be on a panel of homeschooling styles. I thought about it for a while and reluctantly said yes. It was ok....but I realized (and I kind of knew this before I went but it was made very clear while there) that I was asked because in the majority of peoples eyes, I have unschooled my kids successfully because Aspen is in college. This has really had me thinking about success and how people view that term.
First of all, I do not unschool my kids they unschool themselves. We do not measure success by what you do, what you have etc. Are you happy? Are you doing the things that you are passionate about ? That is success to us. Aspen is doing the thing that makes her happy. That is not a reflection of what I did to her, it is a result of her choosing her own path in life and finding her own way to achieve the things that make her happy. College or not I would feel like the biggest failure to my children if they went through life drudging along to do what other people thought they should do. There are enough things in this world that you "have " to do. Why is there this expectation about school and college? Honestly, I grew up hearing "we moved here because the schools are so great" Needless to say, I had the worst education known to man. Such a terrible waste of my childhood! Now, I don't have a problem with schools on the most part, or people who send their kids to them. It is like my dear friend Elizabeth in Oregon said to me the other night, "they are just mediocre". There are kids in school doing amazing things that they love and they are doing great. That is true, and I have always said it isn't the school, it is about the family. However, I don't want to spend 180 days of my life, all day long sending my kids off to something mediocre just because most people say that is success. Now, being the unschooler that I am, if my kids wanted that then sure, if it makes you happy go for it, but in all honesty there are very few kids that find public school a source of happiness. Most go like myself, because there are no other options available and public school does a great job of making you feel like a failure if you choose otherwise.

It is just so interesting to me the opinion of success. The expectations that are based on that term. I see so many people treating their kids like they are little clones of themselves and if they don't follow the path that the parent feels they should follow then they have failed. That is so sad to me.

I have 4 amazing kids, not 4 little me's or 4 little David's......

I have Aspen, away at college at 17, studying creative writing, working at Subway (where she has been employee of the month 2 months in a row ;) ), collecting her dolls, writing her stories, drawing her amazing drawings.....What this kid has accomplished on her own in Oregon amazes me.

Joshua (15)who is always dreaming, designing, planning, plotting, the next big video game. The kid that loves everyone, always eager to help out, who comes into my bedroom everynight to give me one of his amazing "Josh hugs" and say "I love you mommy" Then goes into his room at 11pm to break out the bass guitar and amp and practice :)

Mara (13) whom I swear has this ability to cram more things into a day than anyone else I know. I am constantly amazed by this kids determination to learn something new. She writes the most beautiful music and blows me away with her guitar and piano she has been doing it all her life when in reality she started guitar 2 months ago. Her drawings, her theatrics (while exhausting at times are so entertaining!) her dance, her strength...

Willow who at 5 is the oldest soul I have ever known. I told David that the minute she was born. I could see it in her eyes, she has been here before. She has the most amazing ideas about life. I love hearing her views on things. She is never afraid to tell me how she feels....while at times this is exhausting, I would not want anything less. Her determination, her passion for learning is amazing. I love watching her figure it out.

How lucky am I that I get to be with these amazing people every day.

So if you are concerned that my kids are not going to grow up and meet your expectations, well, then too bad. My kids are happy and free and doing the things that they love, ...that is their success.


Stephanie S. said...

I appreciate this post.
I appreciate the "Pursue Joy" meaning of it.

I would have liked to hear your speech :), I'll bet you had a few moments where you looked flummoxed by others' thinking you were saying that you raised your children on a wing and a prayer, and it just "happened" that it turned out alright. (if they thought that) I could see you, "No, that's not what I mean..."

I think it's the life philosophy that mostly people can't understand - so many people believe that if you don't "make them", people will not behave, or be kind, or do anything at all.
Leaving it up to them would mean letting them go to straight to the devil. (figuratively and not)

Thanks for the reminder to pursue joy first!

Teri said...

:) Thanks Steph! That is exactly where I was coming from. Pusue joy, let the rest happen...because it will...

And yes..I totally felt that way ;) I agree, alot of people don't get it.

We miss seeing you guys! Seems like it has been ages...

Julie said...


I really enjoyed your talk:) I think most people just don't get that it is really that easy. Not easy in the sense that the parent does nothing, but the philosophy of just trusting your children and letting them lead the way. I guess you have to realize also the majority of us are products of the system and it's hard with that and all the other propaganda shoved in everybody's faces about how kids learn (even if it misses the mark by a million miles).

Anyway I'm glad you came, I really think you were an inspiration to some.

Melissia said...

I always thought you were successful because your kids are kind. Interesting how people can see things differently. Although, having two so young I also pull myself back from the edge regularly knowing that your kids are able to do basic things like read. I sometimes get all caught up in the thought that maybe I am not doing enough to help them learn stuff like reading and basic math. You have a happy family, a happy marriage, and are an incredible person I would say that makes you successful.

Beverly said...

I, too, have been the unschooler on "spectrum of homeschooling" panels. People seem really interested in it, but I feel uncomfortable when they're practically asking my permission to do it.
Nice about your kids, though. Mine are younger, so I don't have the same "street cred." Ha!

Teri said...

Thanks for you comments everyone! Julie, you are totally right, I know that everyone wants to do what is best for their kids and you get caught up in all the "cool gadgets" that are out there these days. I also know that lovely school bell that uses to ring regularly in my head saying "move on to the next topic please" Thanks though, I really thought I "fumbled" some of the that one..."you didn't know that you wanted to know something until you knew about it??" What??? I am sure I was a deer in headlights ;) I don;t even remeber what I said o her.. In my head I was think what the hell???

Melissia, you are so sweet and your kdis are amazing. I am amazed by the creativity in Willow and Ari....we are doing a good thing....

I totally agree Beverly! It makes me feel uncomfortable when people seemingly want permission to unschool. Now that I think about it, that has happened several times when I have been on panels!

About Me

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I am a mom to 5 amazing kids and married to my best friend and love of my life. We co-habitate with 1 cat, Asha, 2 dogs, Maggie May and Juniper Wren, a Chinchilla names Ozwald, and a Hamster named Fat Panda. We have lived in Salt Lake City for 13 years by way of Tennessee and Oregon. I love to be with my kids, knit, run, craft, sew, paint,travel, hike and play :) I love our crazy life!