Deschooling and the Myths of Education (Episode 246)
Deschooling - The Education of Letting Go
So you want a new perspective on education? It may be your first step isn't school at all, but "deschooling". In this episode we debunk the myths of what we deem as "successful education" and talk about going back to the root of what you desire with your kids.
Check out our podcast episode on this topic here!
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I break down the concept of "Functional Education" at this link. Ultimately,
Functional education is a “whole mind” approach to learning. It’s taking learning beyond individual subjects and timelines to a full life-long learning approach.
Just like Functional Medicine looks at mind, body and soul, "functional education" is a life-long learning approach that integrates total learning and communication. The focus isn't on a perfect cookie cutter approach; it's looking at each individual family member and learning some valuable tips and insights to foster a positive learning environment regardless of where your children are getting their education. (Like it or not, you ARE teaching your children, even if you're not a homeschooling family).
What Does Education Look Like?
What do you classify as “education”? Is it education, or entertainment…or both? Do you have to lay out a full curriculum in order for your children to learn? One of the big caveats I give to parents is to not plan out their whole schedule, but allow for the serendipity and opportunity of course-correction as you grow and learn.
Thank you for the resources you opened up to me and for encouraging me to see our family’s non-traditional path in seasons that come and go, some more quickly than others. Remembering that each decision we make doesn’t have to be etched in stone forever and ever has been one of the most liberating things for me as we try many options in our learning, living, and expanding.
Creative Mama of Two
Maybe school looks very different for a season, or nothing like what you know of as "school" at all. Maybe you're creating on the fly, or working toward something that will likely open up other doors you can't fully predict just yet.
Traditional Vs. Unschooling
It might be most helpful to break down some distinct differences in an unschooling approach vs. a traditional school approach. While I might use the most extreme sides of education - public school vs. unschooling - your family can find what works for you, while still keeping these concepts in mind:
What Checkpoints Am I Following?
Many of us grew up thinking that there were a series of checkpoints to be followed - you have to do x in order to get z, and you have to check off each developmental milestone at a specific time. Many of us saw school like this:
- Memorization = Knowledge
- The way you enforce learning is to test, test, test
- For life to run smoothly, you must standardize it (if everyone reaches the norm, everyone is “educated”)
- TV is for “lazy” parents
A great book to open the door to how growing and learning can take on many forms is Courage to Grow .This was written by the creator of Acton Academy and is a powerful book that introduces the concepts surrounding the Acton model...which I believe is essentially organized unschooling through a school. It's an excellent read to explore the Socratic method, how to be your child's "guide", and look at what educational options you may have.
What trips parents up is when they pull their children out of a system that isn’t working for them, bring them home, and then duplicate the same system because it’s all they know.
What About Creativity?
When was the last time you opened up to a full day of pure creativity with no agenda? When was the last time you allowed for some alone time to innovate and stretch your thinking? How are you fostering a growth mindset and resilience in your daily life? In the video below, Sir Ken Robinson shares his Ted Talk on how “Schools are killing our creativity” - this continues to be one of the most watched videos. Education is organic - it grows in our everyday life.
Are You Creating a "Climate of Possibility"?
Does memorization really equal knowledge? What if you created a “climate of possibility” in your home, like he talks about in the video? Are you open to exploring and discovering with your children?
When we think of business, it's all about how we're interacting with others - we use trial and error, analytics, A/B split testing, whatever - to learn about what works, what doesn't, and adjust along the way. You keep trying. That zest and zeal to learn and grow - that’s what’s valuable. Tap into your curiosity and drive and see what happens.
The foundation is critical - it is more important for you to have a relationship full of trust and connection before you embark on your child’s learning experience. The core here is your connection with self, environment and others.
Yes, it may be time that YOU break your old habits - deschool and get a reset.
As you deschool, keep in mind how old your child is - have they already been in a school setting and have a bad attitude about it? Are they brand new to “school” of any sort?
Get into your child’s world and explore:
- What delights them
- What motivates them
- What shuts them down
- Where do you stand in their life - what is your relationship?
- Define how the new educational feeling looks - what do you want it to feel like?
Add a weekly check-in to your family routine - just to connect and see where everyone is at in life.
Take a personal inventory - “Is this who I want to be?”
But What About Their Interests?
When we addressed this way back on episode 40 of the Mama Says Namaste podcast, I shared this listener question:
How would you encourage and facilitate self play, exploration and creative imagination for a kid (5) who fixates on video games outside his age range? (He doesn’t play them at our house, but has exposure at his bio mom’s and has friends with older siblings who talk about it)
Trying not to be completely ANTI, but it’s impacted how he plays.
He loves legos and being outside, but pretty much anything he plays with turns into somebody “getting” somebody or re-enacting a video game. Am I being overly sensitive to his boy-ness?
Are you giving your child opportunities to explore different roles…even the negative ones? Are you looking at all the ways they are learning, and what they are being exposed to/inspired by? Sometimes it's not about squelching the behavior or focus we don't like as much as it's opening your child up to other options and interest they don't even know. Pay attention to where the true attraction is - is it really about a video game, or focusing on what "older kids" are doing?
Practice “deschooling”. Try throwing the idea of what “education” is out the window, and just be with your child. Pay attention to what climate of possibility you have in your home. What learning opportunities crop up?
And remember, if you’re liking what you hear, we want to hear from you!
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Here are other blogs, podcasts and articles that may help you learn more about what we talked about above!
- Are You A Different Drummer? (Episode 39)
- Why I Believe In Functional Education For Our Future…and what that even is
- Raising Confident Kids – Speaking to Adults (Episode 245)
- How To Parent – and Teach – Along the Way (Episode 244)
- The Unschooling Parent (Episode 194)
- Unschooling: Facilitate Self-Led Education Like a Pro
- Educational Resources For Parents
- Learning at Home The Socratic Way – Special Guest Samantha Jansky (Episode 158)