Friday, March 17, 2006

Unschooling: The Gift of Mindful Living

People in our western culture are searching. Yoga mats are on sale at Target, Thich Nhat Hanh sells out books and lecture halls, magazines with names like "Simple Living" and "Organic Style" fly off the racks. As a culture, we are seeking mindfulness, the ability to live in the moment, to fully embrace life.

Yet, this is the very thing we steal from our children.

Our children are born mindful. They know with every fibre of their being how to live in the moment. They know how to feel deeply, express their true emotions. They are in touch with their inner child. They still are their inner child. How is it then, that we turn them into us? Into people who need rubber mats and breathing instruction, insightful monks, and magazine articles to figure out what our children already know?

Yes, we take our children, living mindfully in the moment, and we force them to turn outwards, away from what they know is true and right. We put their minds to chopped-up subjects like "math" and "history", divorced from the real world, we prepare them for future "tests", and we place them in environments so mentally confining that they begin to distinguish among themselves on minutae - what brand of jeans someone is wearing, what kind of car their parent drives.

Some of us do this intentionally. Without a constant stream of willing consumers coming out of our system, our economic house of cards might just collapse. Some of us prey on this system, selling everything from designer purses to tooth whiteners to people who have lost the ability to focus here, in this moment, on what is truly important.

But most of us do this unintentionally. It was done to us, we perpetuate it on our kids. Even as we seek to regain our own internal compass, we are removing our childrens' compasses from them.

Unschooling is a gift. It's a gift of wholeness, of mindfulness, of a child's birthright to continue to live according to their own internal compass, to not be forced off course to waters so far and strange that they may never find their way back. Unschooling lets them retain what is rightfully theirs, an ability so spectacular that most of us only glimpse it in small, brilliant bursts throughout our lives. The ability to live, right here and right now. The ability to believe that what is in one's heart is true and right. The ability to focus on what is meaningful and important. The ability to follow one's heart. Unschooling is a gift, and I am grateful.

1 comment:

Latha said...

Hello Robin,

I had seen your posts on yaaps when my son Viyan was born (almost 6 years ago). After being in a really exploratory child care place (I am a single mom-sole breadwinner), he is kindergarten and hating it (unlike his daycare in the past). So I was looking at unschooling options and came up on your blog. It is wonderful to read about your family adventures and see the 'grownup' pictures of your happy kids. I would love to talk to you offline. Would you please email me ?



PS: I hope you are enjoying your travels.