A couple months back, another unschooling parent send me a link to his story and asked me to read it. I was moved and inspired by this great story, written through the eyes of a teenage girl! Although the story is not published here in its entirety we are supplying the links to the story below. After you read the story, come back and get the author’s perspective:
Read the story here:
1. What is Unschooling?
by David Jardine:
(Part 1 of the story below, but to read the rest of the story, please follow the links)
First days of high school, and children from the local primary feeder schools are mingling together. Some know each other, some are meeting for the first time, some are not meeting anyone.It’s still the first week, and the children have already settled themselves into favorite seats by this the second English lesson. The teacher calls the roll, and while doing so places a graded piece of paper in turn on each child’s desk. It is a project which the children had done in the first lesson, the task presented was to write a short story in the one hour provided.
After the teacher has finished the roll process, he notices one child has his hand up. ‘Yes?’ ‘Why have you given me such a low mark?’ ‘Do you think you deserved a higher mark?’ ‘Well.. it looks like most of the other kids have written only a page or two.. he is being generous here, most had written about half a page and a few children a page or so.. I’ve written 10 pages and yet I seem to have gotten a lower mark.’ ‘Yours was copied.’ ‘No it wasn’t!’ ‘Well not copied, but you’ve just written out a story that you’ve read.’ ‘I’ve never read a story like that.’ ‘Now you stand up in front of the class and admit that you copied that story!’
By now, some of the other children are speaking up, voices chiming in from various points in the room, ‘Leave him alone!’, ‘He does write stories’, ‘He’s always writing stories’, and then one girl’s voice with the strength of authority stops them all short with ‘You are not fit to learn with these children.’ The teacher, who had previously been cool, friendly, hip, suddenly turns stern and says to the girl ‘Get out of my class. Go up to the headmaster’s office.’ ‘You’ll be the one turned out of this class. Let’s have a vote.. all this rapid fire.. who wants this pretender removed from this classroom?’ Every youthful, energetic, stood over, sick of the hypocrisy hand shoots into the air. ‘You may well have already destroyed this child’s creative flair, this boy who you know nothing about, who you are humiliating and asking that we become complicit in your crime. So what if his story sounds like something you’ve read before. He’s only a kid.
‘The teacher, who after all had become a teacher for the noblest of reasons, to help children to learn and had somehow become co-opted into the machinery of child control, sits down in shock, and his eyes begin to well with tears. A few children begin to giggle and the girl says gently, ‘shhhhh, witness, witness..’ and the teacher sobs right there in front of them all, his eyes on the floor in front of him.
He finally looks up with a look of wonder in his eyes, looking at the girl who says ‘Witness the awakening of the child, and the shedding of the adult skin!’ and ‘Now, sir, you may be capable of learning with us!’
She turns towards the boy who is still standing.. perhaps she could have guessed he had been on the point of running from the room, slamming the door and going home to grow bitter and never write creatively again.. and says ‘Please, read it to us, I’d like to hear it’ and she sits down.
Still standing, the boy begins to read. His confidence is shaken and his voice halting and shaky, despite having all through his primary school years regularly read his stories to the assembly without any self-consciousness whatsoever. Soon enough though, the story carries him away and he becomes the characters being swept on their journey on some epic adventure. When the story reaches it’s end, he seems to come back to himself and sits down, looking a bit shy.
The girl says ‘I liked it, it’s a transport to the imagination. Thank you.’ The boy gives her an ever-so-nervous smile. He’ll be ok.The teacher gets up, walks to the boy’s desk, crosses off the 2/10 he had previously circled there in condemnation of the work, writes ‘A simple number will not suffice to judge this work, even if that were an ethical thing to do’ and draws a love heart around the encircled grade. He’s ok.
The teacher looks over at the girl who is smiling ‘What school did you go to?’ ‘Short answer? My family unschools. I’m here by choice, of my own free will.’ She has now stood up, put her few things in her shoulder bag and slung the strap over her shoulder. ‘Where are you going?’ The girl seems to light up, her eyes widen with an enthusiastic joy and she’s about to say something inspired then with a sigh she relaxes and says ‘Short answer? The bell went five minutes ago.. and with a wink.. I’m off to meet my music teacher!’
The class seems to awake as one with chatter, chairs shuffling, things dropping to the floor and one desk toppling over. The girl picks up the desk on the way out and places it neatly where it belongs and says ‘Y’know, if you want to generate any meaningful discussion in here, get rid of these desks, or at least place them in a circle! Seeya!’
2. Anti-school? No.. unschooling
3. Enough school yet?
4. Just how it is…
5. What is art, anyway?
6. Home is where the unschooling happens..
About the story:
The story follows a tweenage girl’s unschooling journey through family changes, brief experiments in various schools, friendships, travels and other life experiences. We are carried by her unique perspective into a world where learning is a by-product of being, where free from constraint and control a human being forms a beautiful relationship with the world around her, and an intimate knowledge of her innermost self. We witness her empowered engagement with people, groups, organisations and with the challenges life confronts her with.
Inspiration for the story:
Inspiration is drawn from many sources, primarily from the unschooling movement, which is largely a women’s movement and entirely a wisdom approach to birthing and supporting children as they require, being with them as they grow, a nurturing and nourishing relationship in every way.
There is a thread of wisdom throughout the story which is drawn from decades of the author’s involvement in Buddhist, Taoist, Zen and other wisdom systems. Other sources are the author’s life experiences and with schooling, deschooling and unschooling, experiences of friends and aquaintances in these communities, suggestions by friends, and from the imagination.
The story is written in present tense, which allows a connected separateness when relating the girl’s or other characters previous experiences. The story is designed to bring the reader to a sense of the now, to presence.
The style itself is also creative, and is of itself, the style of no style, as in Taoist non action, where the action arises without preconception, fresh and raw.
The story is intended as unschooling advocacy, however it is also intended to have no purpose, a work that engages the reader to relate, interact, possibly react and appreciate in their own way. It is intended to inspire, to ignite the reader’s own creative process to involvement with their own children and with their innermost self. It is an offering of love to the world in the hope it will bring more love into the world.
The intended audience is primarily anyone already or considering unschooling, though it may be of interest and perhaps benefit to anyone. The threads of wisdom and personal development may speak to a broad audience.
About the process:
The process is one of relaxing into a quiet space within. The external environment matters very little. Self-described as becoming one with the feminine process within, waiting for inspiration until the inner masculine is urged to create, just a little bit, sometimes a paragraph, sometimes only a few words before the inner feminine calls it back for nurturing, nourishment and inspiration. The energy for the process comes from dwelling with source, being with the source energy within, meditating, and the feeling is one of expansiveness, bliss. There is no research, very little spell checking or correction correction, virtually no editing whatsoever. It is very time consuming from an external perspective, but from within the process time is irrelevant, non-existent. It is blissful, draining and energising.
About the author:
David Jardine was a school drop-out drifter, doing much reading and having various life experiences for years before becoming a parent in 1995, a sole parent since 2001 and moving towards and into unschooling since then. He is involved in environmental work, has delved deeply and long term into the Chinese kung fu systems of tai chi and wing chun. David has had many wake-up calls, not the least being Lyme disease contracted from a tick bite in late 2011, which spurred a total re-evaluation of his life. David has always been introspective, knew his field is creative writing by 5 years of age, yet decided in his teen years he needed life experience first before writing about it, and this work represents his first outpouring of work.