Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The All-Parent Meeting, and more Enlightenment

In which... a bunch of parents get together and I discover how truly diverse the Learning Centre population really is. And I discover that I am much more radical than I realized.

There I sat at this meeting, seeing many people in attendance I had no idea had children, let alone were homelearning families. Well maybe they're not. It became apparent to me that some of the families at the Centre see it as a form of alternative school. Which it is. And probably the closest form of school possible to having no school at all.

So at the beginning of the meeting the amazing, thoughtful, warm and creative teachers handed out a pile of papers, and many lists and schedules and forms, both in the pile and on the back table, etc etc etc... and I was overwhelmed. I don't think I'm overwhelmed because the way they do it is wrong, or because I'm just not capable of handling so much organization; I think I was imagining the centre to be much more loosely organized than it is. I know in my heart that what my children need right now is a safe community in which to hone their social skills. I also know that after they've managed to feel safe in a broader community, and have a more permanent social network, we will likely get out of the system.

I don't like the word system. I am afraid to be criticized and terrified of doing wrong by my children - especially because there are so many people who have declared to me that I am failing them by denying them a "proper" education. This is because the systems we've tried out weren't right for us. But when Taliesin was born my mother gave me the best piece of parenting advice I've ever received: No matter what anybody says, even me, trust your feeling. Know that you know in your heart what is right for your own children. I don't like the word system. It is not right for us. I have turned in my declaration of conscientious objection to vaccination to the preschool, and although I've faced no criticism (after all it's my own mother teaching, and she understands our reasons for objecting), felt like an outcast. I don't like systems. I have never fit into systems. Systems create outcasts. Systems are boxes, holding neatly arranged components made of other boxes, and scared and frantic souls bouncing around inside of them trying, trying to follow the laws that are made for all people, when in fact there is no "all people" -- just people. People who generally don't fit the systems.

I was reading the BC School Act, and it made me feel trapped again. Now I have to figure out how much of it I can ignore. I don't think I am an anarchist, but I'm certainly not orderly. I hope after a few years on this journey my family begins to have an understanding of who we are. Does this mean I am a "radical unschooler"? I don't want to be. Yet another title with rules and stereotypes that aren't necessarily in line with my beliefs.

I feel like the floodwaters are starting to break free and the walls of my static-world imprisonment are just about to come crashing down. Then what will I do!? I can't just dance around in the forest ALL the time, can I? (Maybe I will.;-) There's plenty to learn in the forest, after all.


  1. hmm...I've shared your feelings but I am not as ?brave as you are. I like boxes, I like square corners and concrete things. (that's the scientist in me...) But I think there is a way to be in the box and still march to your own drum. If you choose to be in the box, you can choose to leave it and return all at your own will. If you are confident in who you are - that box can't change you or your children.

    What you are doing E, is exciting and daunting and absolutely what you need to do. It is a fluid thing and will change when you need it to change.

  2. Thank you for your encouragement, N. I like being in a box, too, quite often. But I need the freedom to leave it whenever I want, and that seems to be what we've found, here.

    (And thank you for commenting! Woohoo! My first ever comment, here!!)


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