RADICAL UNSCHOOLING…Day ? (Oh, who cares?)
The other day we talked about reading. What some people believe is the most important thing to teach a child. But today I want to talk about two that are just as important…or perhaps more so. Ones that schools do an abysmal job of teaching children.
- Critical Thinking
Let me begin with a story about what PanKwake learned yesterday (yes, even on Mother’s Day home ed still happens).
It was absolutely beautiful yesterday. Sunny and warm. And PanKwake’s body was on a ‘normal’-ish schedule. Meaning she was up during the day and sleeping at night. So it was an excellent time to get her out for a bit. One of her favorite things to do is the Potato Man.
It is this food truck that sets up on the Quadrant near the Swansea Market. And trust me they taste even more amazing than they look. And they only cost £2 each…23 flavors too. But enough of an advert for Twister Chips. Needless to say that next to Joe’s Ice Cream it is PanKwake’s fav. She was so excited about the idea, especially when Cookie Monster confirmed that he had seen the stand set up when he had gone out earlier.
Only one problem…PanKwake STANK to high heaven!
As I have mentioned before, right now she is going through a phase where she hates baths. Heck, even ‘normal’ teens and pre-teens do that. It can just be more intense with those on the autistic spectrum and especially those with Pathological Demand Avoidance since it is just another demand placed upon them.
Rather than to fall into the trap of making this an issue and I believe negatively re-enforcing the behavior, I have gotten creative. We do not make PanKwake bath/shower. Instead we take her to the pool…she will shower there…both before hand as the sign says and after…because the chlorine bothers her skin. And in between we use baby wipes especially if we are going somewhere or someone is coming into the house like a friend.
But as it gets warmer…well I think you can guess…
So I did the worst thing I could do…I made a demand. We will go when you wash up and change your clothes. I even ‘threatened’ her…telling her that she stank so badly that Potato Man would not serve her…the police or social service might be upset. She even accused me of yelling…just loud and firm voice. And the battle began.
Then I realized what I was doing. I stopped. I went away and I regrouped. I even got Cookie’s help.
I went back in the family room where she was hiding under bubble wrap. We broke the ice by telling her what a great hiding place that was. I did not demand she get out or talk to me. I just began to explain myself.
I told her that I wished with all my heart that the world out there was the type of place that would judge her on her character and her brilliant mind. But that it was not. It judged on appearances…and smells. That I was not saying that was right. It was not. Just that when we leave #HomeCrazzyHome, we have to know that.
I pointed out that it was not just her…but me and Cookie too. I even had Cookie tell her the story about buying a house. He had gone into the estate agent’s dressed as he always does in a t-shirt and holey pants. They had not wanted to even show him the place. So when he and his wife said they would take it, the agent was shocked. Even more so when she found out that he would be paying cash.
I pointed out to PanKwake that in #HomeCrazzyHome we are free to be who we are…without judgement. Long hair, beards, t-shirts…and yes, even stinky. But when we go out THERE…people judge us. Yes, it is shallow. But that is just the way it is.
I then told her that I left the decision up to her. That the Potato Man would be there for a while longer. I gave her an hour to think about it…re-enforcing that she was a good decision-maker and I knew she would make the right choice.
In about 15 or 20 minutes we were getting ready. Yes, washing up and changing clothes. PanKwake ate THREE of them.
Clearly, this was a lesson in values…ours and society’s.
Now, let me be clear…I do NOT think it is school’s place to teach values. That is the parent’s RESPONSIBILITY. But too often it is left up to the schools. And even when it comes to the one value that they SHOULD teach…bullying…they are failing.
Yes, even if PanKwake did go to school, I would still be teaching her our values. The problem is that she would be ‘forced’ to conform to others too. Perhaps ones we do not even hold with. Such as appearances.
But the lesson did not end there. AFTER Potato Man as we walked home, she and I discussed society’s values. I asked her to name the three that bothered her the most. Her response was priceless.
Most of them do.
So instead we talked about my three. Of course, judging on appearances was the first one. But my other two were 1) respect your elders and 2) the value we place on things. We had a great conversation lasting half the way home on the subject.
The conversation was better than many that I have had with adults or at dinner parties. Her logic was impeccable. And she is getting better and better at organizing her thoughts. She is confident when making her arguments. And doing much better at actually listening to other people’s too.
By and large, her critical thinking skills are that of a university student/young adult. Mayhap better than most…who were not even these skills in schools. But rather trained to do what other people wanted in order to please and pass.
So yes, RADICAL UNSCHOOLING is a life-style commitment that is a joyous responsibility…24/7…365…even Mother’s Day. Actually what better way to celebrate and honor this day than by sharing my values and ideals with my beloved PanKwake?
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