Friday, November 10, 2006

Unschooling and being a Christian

Originally posted Feb 2006

Just before my unplanned hiatus I received an email from a homeschool mom who wanted to know how I could square being an unschooler with being a Christian. This isn't the first time I've heard someone question whether the two are compatible, but it is the first time I've tried to come up with an answer.

So what does it mean to be a Christian parent? The simplest way for me to answer is to turn to the Table of Duties in my copy of Luther's Small Catechism. There I find these words:

Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6, 4.

I fulfill my vocation as a Christian mother in many ways, including but not limited to having our children baptised, regularly attending services, and doing catechesis together. Part of our vocation as parents--whether or not we are Christians--is to see to the education of our children. We have chosen to homeschool, and, in the course of our homeschool journey, to unschool.

I think that some people equate unschooling with having no discipline. They assume that unschooled children are allowed to do as they please in all areas of life. There very likely are unschooling families where this is true. However, I have a number of unschoolers among my acquaintances who--like us--require quite a bit from our kids and are unquestionably in charge.

Our unschooling does color the way we live our lives. My children have a great deal of autonomy in choosing what they will read and how they will spend their time. We don't have set times for "english" or "social studies." But there are things that they have to do. They have to bathe & brush teeth daily. They have to do their chores without me nagging. This includes dishes, laundry, bedrooms, their bathroom, and cat care.

They have to take part in family catechesis and attend all church services. (As yet, no one has complained about this.) If they make commitments--to a team, choir, job, etc.--they have to fulfill it.

If I ever see that unschooling is not working for one of my kids, we will do something else. Because I *am* ultimately in charge. Unschooling was my decision not theirs.

So, yes, the short answer is I do think it is compatible with being a Christian.


Carol said...

Dear Jane, I have 8 children from 19 to 4 and have always homeschooled. I have always deliberated between unschooling and a more traditional approach.Not a good thing as it has bred insecurity in my children as to which one we are. I am afraid to let go and "put them in charge", I am also afraid I won't be able to handle everyone going off in their own interests - how will I keep it together and be there for everyone if they're doing different things? I feel it will stress me out even more trying to hold it all together. O r maybe trying to hold it together is what is stressing me out anyway!! Thankyou for your article.

Carol said...

Dear Jane not sure if you got my email address so am sending again.
thanks Carol