There is something refreshing about an unschooler who is content with what they do or don't do. Many claim to be unschoolers, meaning "someone who doesn't educate in the traditional sense;" but there is such a pressure to conform that even many unschooled people still feel like that have to do certain things to advance their learning. This, or they somehow feel they need to show that they are learning through the use of a program, or preconceived process.
The Unprocessed Child shows us that it is possible to learn without following someone else's design or someone else's ideas. It can be scary for some, but for others it is a taste of the kind of freedom we all long for but are always trying to shake off the bonds we have from years of programming. Life without formal schooling-who says formal is truly formal anyway? We do this because it was "always done this way." This is sad, but true. In many cases yes, but not this one.
This is the story of Laurie Chancey and how she was raised in a radical way; different from most parent child relationships at that time. How she had some doubts herself, but in the end, as a teen, realized how right her mom was for doing what she did. She learned just how blessed she was to have a mom who trusted her own instincts on how to raise a child. It was her heart, and an inspiration by the book, Summerhill, by A.S. Neill. The thoughts that were forefront were that "outside compulsion" is the wrong way to teach. Children will learn what they need to learn by "inner compulsion," and freedom to choose what to do with time. Instead of being told what to do day in and day out, unschooled children have balance to their lives, they are living and learning both in the good and bad. It's all part of the flow of life.
Ms. Fitzenreiter believes that one of the reasons this choice is beneficial is that you get to know your child. When children are in an institution all day, they become someone who isn't always a pleasure to be around when you do get to be with them. But when you are there experiencing life together, learning from it, you grow close. It is one of the most beautiful benefits of a life lived without school.
She covers the topics of deprogramming, independence, criticism, peer pressure, socialization and many others. Using her own experiences, she shows how each question is handled, how each "theory" is dealt with. Sometimes the only reason we second guess ourselves in our choices, is that we are preprogrammed to think there is a concern when there isn't. Nevertheless, she addresses these issues and shows how simply and beautifully they are processed-even in an unprocessed way. Her goal is to show how we can change our ways of parenting, and be relaxed in our approach to raising our children.
This book has many ideas that might not be comfortable for everyone, but none of us homeschool our children in the same way. The author touches on all areas of life, and even in spirituality, believes in allowing the child to "find their own way" as far as religious conviction goes. Her description of their church experiences made me sad because of the hypocrisy she witnessed, but also showed me my own errors, and how even though we know in our hearts what is right and what is not, we still go astray, even in our best intentions.
There is a comprehensive list in the back of the book of other authors who espouse this lifestyle, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn. I do suggest reading them to get a fresh perspective. We all tend to get in a rut; no matter how 'free' we want to be in our home schooling. She says "I wish all parents would create an atmosphere conducive to being friends with their children." And to that I would just add, "Amen."