Unschooling, Yoga, and raising children evolutionaries
Unschooling and my yoga path
A little over a year ago my husband, my child and I decided we wanted to live part time in Mexico for the next phase of our lives together. We committed to the vision by buying a small condo right at at surf break. We knew we were stepping outside the norm of education when we made this decision – as we haven’t found a school with a drop-in policy yet. We all like to ski and ride bikes and surf. Because I can work from anywhere, and my husband has a reliable manager for his business, we are location independent.
As we were making this decision – to live our lives outside of the norm – I was researching the unschooling philosophy. I was reading John Holt, and following Sandra Dodd’s unschooling blog. I was repeatedly struck by how similar the ramblings on unschooling were to the cutting-edge teachings of Craig Hamilton’s Integral Enlightenment Academy for Evolutionaries course I was a year two student in.
I began to “unschool” myself from the myths of modern education. I began to see my own life history in educational institutions in a new light. Many yoga teachers and Ayurvedic practitioners ask me why Yogahealer has always been a success business for me. The answer to that lies in this same vein. I decided to listen to my inner voice as the leading authority in my life. I made this choice in my mid-20’s. I sense I can raise my child to listen to her inner voice as the leading authority in her own life from a much younger age. I’m not anti-school. Indy will probably attend many schools in her life. But I am pro life learning above all else.
For those wondering what the heck I’m talking about, here is a passage from Sandra Dodd’s blog:
Can anyone explain to me “unschooling”?
It’s like “just say no.”
Just say no to school years and school schedules and school expectations, school habits and fears and terminology. Just say no to separating the world into important and unimportant things, into separating knowledge into math, science, history and language arts, with music, art and “PE” set in their less important little places.
Most of unschooling has to happen inside the parents. They need to spend some time sorting out what is real from what is construct, and what occurs in nature from what only occurs in school (and then in the minds of those who were told school was real life, school was a kid’s fulltime job, school was more important than anything, school would keep them from being ignorant, school would make them happy and rich and right).
It’s what happens after all that school stuff is banished from your life. SandraDodd.com/unschool/moredefinitions
Interview with Sandra Dodd on Unschooling
Despite her world-wide teaching schedule, Sandra was gracious to grant me an interview, and we’ve begun to plan a follow up. What strikes me most about Sandra is her desire to liberate families and children from the confines of structure above the freedom of learning. The term “life-learning” is more apt than unschooling in describing this way of living. When you meet someone who is engaged in their own learning … in the process of discovery, connectivity, in pushing an edge in their own awakening or intelligence, or perhaps even pushing the edge for culture, humanity, the planet .. you’ll notice they are alive.
The engagement in learning and the aliveness can’t be separate. Just like depression, disconnect and disinterest also can’t be separated. The drift I caught from Sandra is to be available to the opportunity of learning in a natural state. That for some of us humans, we’re ready to move beyond the confines of structure, grades, rewards, and simply engage in what most deeply interests us. The rest can be a distraction or even a roadblock.
Evolutionary Child Rearing
As a self-described evolutionary and a deep wisdom teacher I’m quite curious about what evolutionary child rearing looks like in the here and now. I engage in conversations, like this one with Sandra, to how others are living into this edge. A few reoccurring themes arise. The biggest one is availability. Simply being available in an open state, without pre-conceived notions of a desired outcome. If this sounds exactly like meditation, then I’m right on. Of course there is the secondary element of engagement. Available and ready to engage. I’ll come back to this in a future post with my friend Denise Ackert on a blog post of this title.
So, besides available and ready to engage, my sense is there are real life skills worth passing on to my child. My top 3 are:
- How to take care of your body so it will last
- How to make money doing what you love and contributing to the evolution of the cosmos
- How to be open and intimate in relationships with loved one
Your top 3 may be different. Write in the comments what your top 3 are. I didn’t learn 1, 2 or 3 in preschool through college, or the majority of my waking hours between ages 4-22. That is a fair chunk of my life, and an unfair chunk of what influenced how I developed. Not to point fingers or victimize my experience. Just to point out – the top 3 real life skills I value enough to pass onto my child were not found in my top-notch upper middle class 18 year education.
Giving Thanks to Teachers
That said, I know there are amazing schools out there, and teachers out there and that unschooling doesn’t and can’t work for most
people. I’m not even advocating it to work for most people or even you. And I do want to deeply give thanks to all of those helping raise the next generation. Sandra and I talk about this in the podcast, and talk about who unschooling works for.
And I also invite you to engage in reflection of what you have learned that has served you most in this life. What is worth being a representative of to youngsters in your life. What assumptions are held in culture that are worth challenging? And what are you deeply and curiously most interested in? This is the beginning of unschooling.
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RamaniPosted at 23:03h, 02 February
1. find god.
Lainie LibertiPosted at 23:10h, 02 February
This was a great podcast! My 13 year old unschooled son and I listed together, and every few minutes, my son said “yeah, yeah, uh huh…..” !
Cate StillmanPosted at 02:47h, 03 February
So glad. I’ve heard from a bunch of unschoolers that are in the Yogahealer community. I had no idea you all were out there. Please share your experiences in the comments here!
Cate StillmanPosted at 02:47h, 03 February
within and in the cosmos.
eJPosted at 20:09h, 05 February
this is my plan if I ever have children. kids are brainwashed into being in the rat race
living a peaceful existence and being able to be present in each moment is the most valuable lessons kids can learn and they are not always learned in school
Cate StillmanPosted at 12:49h, 06 February
I hear you… it does seem that way – even in the really good alternate schools there is such a huge push for college. I also see it in how I hear people plan for their kids college experience. I loved school and college – but not for the “education”. The options are going to get so interesting.
JessicaPosted at 18:18h, 09 February
I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but just wanted to connect and let you know that I’m an unschooling mama of 6, 100 hours through my yoga teacher training, and in love with my life! My kids learn at home for so many reasons, but the top 3 for us are:
1- to find and understand their connection with God (and family/ other people)
2-to learn HOW to think and HOW to learn without arbitrary testing, schedules, etc.
3- to deeply understand their unique missions in life and live them
Maybe my top 3 are really all the same thing, but 13 years into this homeschooling journey, I wouldn’t do it any differently. Somedays it is really hard to turn off all that societal conditioning that says we must drill math facts and move from subject to subject every half hour, but it is pretty miraculous to watch how naturally they learn and explore — even those math facts– when I stay open to all the possibilities their passions bring.
Cate StillmanPosted at 14:45h, 10 February
Glad to hear it. Especially if by God you mean the divine in everything.
Sherri ONeilPosted at 03:32h, 12 February
Radha Rani CrawleyPosted at 03:39h, 12 February
Radha Rani CrawleyPosted at 03:39h, 12 February
Sophia would be perfect for this!!!
Donna MosleyPosted at 17:15h, 21 February
I haven’t had the chance to listen to the podcast yet, but I plan to. I am drawn more and more to this idea for my 15 yr old daughter. She is highly intelligent and kind and delicate, but she also has motor skills delays and a learning disorder that makes traditional schooling difficult for her. She has told me for years, “mom, there are more important things than grades! I’m the smartest kid in my school, but I just can’t show it in that way.” It has really changed my thinking and challenged my assumptions about the way it “should” be (by traditional standards). Now she is doing high school online from home and doing much better, but I still feel there is so much more important things for her to learn to be happy in her life than just the curriculum offered. She will never be a college type of student, but I know that she can live a happy and fulfilling life taking the road less traveled and experiencing all the nuances and depths of existence BECAUSE she isn’t like everyone else. Most other kids her age will be following the crowd and living shallow and material existences. I want her to have more. I’m excited that I found your website today. I am just getting into yoga, meditation and healthful habits myself. I really feel that it will be vitally important for my daughter to learn these things too. Thanks for what you are sharing! 🙂
Cate StillmanPosted at 18:28h, 21 February
I love that you are able to hear her and nourish her as in individual. Living life outside the box is a blast. There is no going back.
DalePosted at 18:51h, 02 April
YYYYEEEESSSSSS!!!!!! Great interview Cate. It is so helpful to hear tidbits which resonate so well with how we are living. I appreciate the tidbits because I can internalize them and revocalize to the doubters. Sometimes it takes me years to put words to what I know, so it is helpful when others do that for me!
I look forward to the next interview!
Cate StillmanPosted at 19:03h, 02 April
So glad that was the case. It’s such a weird thing – to be at the edge of culture- and the language isn’t there yet and most people don’t get it because it’s different. I’m glad you’re a trailblazer and hope Indy can spend some time with your fam this summer.
We’re digging Mexico right now and just living life without needing to be so damn educated 🙂