Un-Wednesday: Attrition, Facilitation and the Role of Parents

I am one of the admins on an Unschooling Facebook page. Yesterday I shared an article about ways to avoid unschooling attrition. Today I find myself contemplating the response of the people who follow the page.

First of all, the post was seen by around 1,500 people and only received 10 “likes”. I’m not really looking for likes but when most of our shares receive more positive feedback than this I think it speaks to how well received the information was. What I mean is, I don’t care about not getting likes but it does make me curious about why more people didn’t like it.

Perhaps the people following the page have younger children or, better yet, they already have this figured out. It’s a great bunch so I’m going with the latter. 🙂

But the comments make me think there may be other reasons. There were only two, which sometimes happens and isn’t as revelatory as the lack of “likes”. So, it wasn’t the number of comments but the comments themselves that gave me pause. They really made me think about my role as the parent of unschooling teens. (Btw, this is one of the reasons I love being an admin for this page; so many opportunities for introspection.)

The first commenter questioned why parents would be worried about attrition. The reasoning was that teens are capable of making these decisions and parents should be fine with it. I do understand, from an unschooling perspective, where this commenter is coming from. Unschooling is all about trusting children to know what’s best for their individual needs and I not only respect but wholeheartedly agree with this idea. However, this does not mean that as an unschooling parent I’m completely hands off.

I am not my children’s teacher but I am the facilitator of opportunities for them. I’ve written multiple times about what that means for us so I won’t go into again but if you’re interested you can read about it here. What I do want to go into here is that I know that the ideas I put forth in that article are just the tip of the iceberg. I am constantly on the lookout for ways I can better facilitate for my kids and I found some of the ideas in the shared article really helpful, especially as my kids grow older and their needs change. I didn’t agree with or connect with every idea but I found some valuable kernels of information. Ultimately, if my kids decide to return to school I’d be okay with it because it is their decision. But I want it to be a decision made from a place of confidence and excitement, not loneliness or boredom.

The other comment on the share was from a grown unschooler who expressed that she and her sister hadn’t had a problem with boredom and while she didn’t elaborate her ellipses seemed to question (and perhaps I misunderstood) whether this was really an issue for unschoolers. I am genuinely glad to read about someone who isn’t having an issue with boredom and am also eager to read more about how they avoided it. Because the bottom line is that everyone of us is having a unique unschooling journey (that’s kind of the point) and therefore the challenges and successes will be different for all of us.  I am happy (and probably also relieved) to read that not all unschoolers will face these issues. But that doesn’t mean that some won’t and therefore the issues need to be addressed.

One final thought since those commenters may be reading, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to criticize anyone for positing these questions and observations. I LOVE that the larger unschooling community pushes me to dig deeper. I use this blog as a place to do just that, dig deep with big ideas. I often worry that people (whether I’m expanding on ideas from online or real life conversations) reading it will think I’m talking to or about them and that’s never my intention! I’m just trying to clarify for myself and hope that someone else can relate. 🙂

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