I’ve been reading a lot about unschooling lately. I’ve read about it many times over the past 20 years of home-schooling, but I’ve never been able to quite get my bearings and envision it being a good fit for our family. I think I figured out one big reason why yesterday.

I joined a large unschooling e-group and did what I normally do in any new e-group: send a chatty hello email telling a bit about me, sprinkling humor here and there, and just generally being friendly. Apparently that was the wrong thing to do. I was definitely not prepared for the lesson I received in proper unschooling e-group etiquette in no uncertain terms. I was not supposed to introduce myself at all, but wait back and read emails for a few weeks until I properly understood the ropes and knew HOW to talk in the group. Wow. For a group so focused on a learning lifestyle based on kindness and compassion toward “learners”, I certainly wasn’t feeling the love.

And then it hit me. This has happened before. I’ve tried learning about the unschooling realm a few times in the past, and each time I’ve tried, I’ve been cut off at the knees by veteran unschoolers who don’t have the time or patience to deal with someone new to the idea. It makes me wonder how anyone is ever supposed to truly learn anything about this philosophy. And the thing is, I really LIKE the general principles behind it–but I’ve never pushed farther into it, and now I know why. I don’t want to “grow up” to be like that!

Last night, on a vague memory, I went back to my Yahoogroups that I have created and found a group I started (probably the last time I was bullied by a well-meaning but overly aggressive unschooling group) called Life Is Learning. I must have gotten really discouraged, because I did nothing with it after its creation and it has just sat there–for five years! Anyway, I got to thinking that maybe I could re-energize it and make it a place that would be welcoming to others (like me) who are just starting to peek into the world of un-schooling, de-schooling, lifestyle-of-learning, etc. and offer them a friendly and welcoming place.

One thing I’ve noticed about the unschooling groups I’ve encountered is that I haven’t seen many (any?) that are overtly welcoming to Christians–or at least to the expression of their faith. Most have been very clear about not having any room for religious discussion or having it play a role in group conversation. Well, I am a follower of Christ, and I don’t check that at the door for anyone or anything. So Life Is Learning will be a loving and welcoming place where non-Christians are welcome, but CHRIST will be the guiding foundation of the group, like He is the guide for my life.

I’m having a really hard time finding a way to vent the feelings of discouragement over the cold shoulder I’ve been given by so many unschoolers over the years, without being mean to anyone or casting a negative pall over unschooling as a philosophy or lifestyle. As I said, I love the basic principles, and can already see them working in our family after only a week.

I will say that one shining light has emerged since last night when I sat here at my computer ready to cry or scream or give up on unschooling altogether. Dayna Martin. I watched some of her YouTube videos yesterday and I have to say that is what kept me hanging in there. I friended her on Facebook and messaged her as soon as she accepted. She didn’t even get upset at the opener of my message “Are all unschoolers so unwelcoming?” but instead told me I am not alone in feeling brushed off by many unschooling veterans. I have to say that was quite a relief to hear. I had begun to feel like I’d stepped onto an unfriendly planet where the inhabitants wanted me OFF without delay.

So thank you, Dayna Martin, for your gentleness that kept me reading and researching and listening. I am hopeful again, and I’m looking forward to the joys this will mean for our family as we move forward learning together as a lifestyle rather than having education separated and compartmentalized from real life.

I’m feeling much better today.

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