November 12, 2007

The Doubting Dad

I ended my last post by asking for suggestions on how to handle a partner who's not exactly on board the unschooling bus, so to speak. I wanted to know how to balance my husband's need to see some Learning going on, with my desire to unschool our son. This topic is so important I figure it deserves its very own post. That way all the helpful suggestions I've been getting won't get passed over.

You can read the complete comments on my last post, but I'm going to paraphrase some of them for you here:

Heather from Embracing the Strange suggested I read Building an Unschooling Nest and Doing Two Things at Once on Sandra Dodd's site. She also recommended I take a look at Deschooling Caleb, a blog written by a mom whose son is about Jerry's age. Among other things, Heather also suggested delving into my own interests and sharing them with Jerry, and getting out of the house more. Oh, and she wondered if I had fully explained the deschooling process to my husband. (He says I have but I think I need to try again.)

Sheri from Matter of Faith suggested that I ease up on myself and allow my husband to take on the subjects that he's most concerned about.

Tara at Heartschooling thought I was on the right track by respecting all parties and trying to find ways to meet everyone's needs. She suggested keeping a log of what we do throughout the day and listing the educational value of each activity.

Nance Confer from Cocking a Snook recommended my husband check out these blogs written by a couple homeschooling dads:
HE&OS and O'Donnell Web. She also suggested the Homeschooling for Dads page on the National Home Education Network site. I found this comment, also from Nance, to be especially helpful:
"And, I hope this doesn't sound mean, but has Warren tried just hanging out and talking with your son. Not in a quizzing, annoying way. But in a nice, friendly, "getting to know you and not measuring you against any arbitrary standard and dang, but aren't you a terrific kid" kind of way.

And then he'd need to do that again. And again. And not demand to see some worksheet or test score or a book that was sufficiently "educational." But just keep on doing that and keep on really trying to appreciate your son.

And then one day, it will all click. He will walk into the kitchen where you are preparing dinner and trying not to listen and he will say, "You know, that boy is really smart. He just told me all about XYZ. And he had some good ideas about ABC. And he's funny!" Or whatever your son is.

And you will smile and agree because, by then, you will already have had the many chances during the day that Dads sometimes miss to see how terrific your son is.

And the more you can continue to deschool -- meaning lay off the school work (even if you think it doesn't look schooly, obviously your son knows what's up) -- the sooner all of this can start happening."

So, it seems like Warren and I need to take some time to talk about unschooling and deschooling. We need to have some philosophical discussions about school and learning and our own educational philosophies. I have a feeling this may take more than a couple conversations! In the meantime we'll both take Nance's advice to hang out with Jerry without placing judgments on how he chooses to spend his time. That should be a good place to start.

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