Thursday, January 14, 2010


Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

~Kahlil Gibran

My path, like most, has been full of ruts, curves, and hill climbs. But sometimes there is that soaring along—that floating that accompanies the downhill ride—and I am exhilarated.

For me, leaving home and taking my first steps as an adult on my own were exhilarating. And before that, falling madly, hopelessly, and wholly in love with Scott. Discovering the joys of cycling and climbing. The birth of my first daughter, and then the second. Most recently, it has been the choice to say no. No, thank you, we have decided not to send our daughter to first grade. She will stay home instead.

This path was paved a little smoother this past week. I had the opportunity to attend Sandra Dodd’s Unschooling Symposium, and to listen to the insight and experience of several Unschooling heavyweights: Sandra, Pam Sorooshian, and Joyce Fetteroll, and their children—all of whom are adults now. There were also the Unschooling parents who have been doing this a while, and some who are just starting out. And then there was me.

The insights of these lovely, experienced Unschooling Parents were much what I expected. Unschooling is not difficult, Unschooling takes commitment, Unschooling requires love, and patience, and a willingness to see more than just the schooling part—to see that this really is about life. It is about the kind of life our children will have, and about how we choose to live with our children. It is about so much more than just “homeschooling.” But I knew all that already. I didn’t need to attend a conference to reinforce that in my mind.

The real insight came in my first interaction with Holly Dodd. Nothing more than simple conversation over lunch. But what struck me profoundly was how well-spoken this 18-year old is…how clear, and bright, and engaging. She spoke with well-oiled ease on the subject of Unschooling, as much any one of the main presenters…more so! The final day of the Symposium, the young adult Sorooshians, Dodds, and Kathryn Fetteroll were the presenters. Their discussion was enjoyable. I brought my girls and we enjoyed an enchilada dinner after the talks.

The conference was inspirational, and I can imagine that larger conferences with a variety of speakers would be different but also enjoyable. The small size and ability to interact with everyone present was a bonus for this conference. In reflecting about what I listened to and how the lives of these Unschoolers are rich and joyful based on their decisions and choices in how they have decided to live their family lives, I was able to settle into my own thoughts and know that we have made the right choice. But, like any choice, this choice has alternatives. It may not be fixed, it may not be forever, but at least it has been made mindfully. This is not our last-ditch hope for our kids’ learning…we did not come to this point out of desperation. This is a decision that feels powerful and totally off the grid.

And the learning continues every single hour of every day.