Thursday, November 3, 2011

Interest-Led Learning, 30 years later

This morning, I read a wonderful interview that Lauren Fisher did with Maureen Tully.  She unschooled her children back before it was widely known, so she has the benefit of looking backward on the benefits and pitfalls of this type of raising kids.

Interview here.

A few of the highlights to me:

Unschooling is “a person — of any age — learning goodness, cultural literacy, mercy and wisdom from the process of growing in a rich family and social environment.”

I admired her candour in advocating a certain level of boundaries within the “radical unschooling” mindset. “Being graziers, making our living out from beef and wool, as well as having dogs, cats, peafowl, chooks, etc., we understand critters and came to understand children. We believe that without a loving home, parents who love and respect one another, and a climate where children are guided to have love, mercy and respect for their parents and siblings, that parents gradually lose control of their family, and their children end up holding them in contempt. It’s so sad to see the hopes and dreams of the parents fade into the misery of loss and emotional distance, and the children become harsh and demonstrate entitlement.
“There must be a leader, and if not, the children will assume the role. And without life experience and much mercy, they will be unkind. We’ve seen hundreds of families go down this path. It’s heartbreaking after seeing their high hopes. No boundaries is a ‘vain philosophy’, and isn’t the norm in any culture for a very good reason,” Maureen is adamant.
At the same time, Maureen thinks that unschooling has a few natural pre-conditions in order to succeed. “It works only where love and delight in learning is the natural way the parents live,” she says. “And the parent must truly want to grow and learn and mature, and be ready and confident to guide their children in that path. It won’t work if you are a house divided and if you’re putting on an act for the church and your friends. Children know — they always ‘suss’ hypocritical parents and soon despise them.”
Anyone seriously interested in unschooling will want to read the whole interview.  I found it tremendously helpful and encouraging.

1 comment: