I’ve been writing a lot more lately; writing about unschooling but also writing about myself. It’s been a really rewarding experience. Getting thoughts down really helps solidify them and also shows me patterns and re-occurring threads. One of the themes that keeps showing up this week is the idea of being guided by principles.
There are many unschoolers that have said it’s important to live by principles rather than rules. I’ve even written about this before but I only just realized this week how important it is to set out clear principles, whichever apply best to you and your life, and then let them guide your actions rather than looking to other people’s experience or advice. When it comes to raising kids, especially in an environment where we are embracing individuality and uniqueness, making choices based on other people’s experience can be incredibly damaging. Parents are different, kids are different, environments are different, seasons are different, the amount of sleep you got last night is different… you get the idea. Just like you can’t wear another person’s shoes and expect them to fit, you can’t expect to fit into another’s way of unschooling.
Instead of looking to advice or experience from others, forming a guiding set of principles can help keep focus on what’s important while allowing room for flexibility and breathing room in tough situations when making decisions about actions to take. For example, one of the guiding principles to my unschooling practice is to dismantle power-over dynamics between me and my kids. Another is to encourage a diversity of activities throughout the week. Another is to stay connected with my kids. These ideas are unique to my family because of how we all interact. My kids are on board with these ideas and also value them. They help guide me as a parent when communicating, decision making, and interacting with my family. I think these principles also help keep our unschooling focused on being intersectional and not slip into a bourgeoisie style of unschooling.
I think we all have principles that guide our every day actions but they may not be articulated. I value people over profit, simple living, and am anti-hierarchical. In the last two years, in discovering myself, I think I’ve really been solidifying my life’s guiding principles. Reading, learning, watching, and growing has helped me to better articulate both what I believe and how I want to interact with the world around me. I fully expect these principles to change over time as my landscape and values change – likewise with my unschooling principles. But I think it’s important to identify clearly what those principles are and share them with those close to me to help them better understand me as a person.