Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Question Of Authority

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Question Of Authority

On many an unschooler forum, I have seen discussions turn to the question of authority. One of the lists I am on was even wondering if they should keep the list closed to parents who have unschooled for a number of years, or who have grown unschooled children, or who have been unschooled themselves.

Personally, with only one child who is merely two and three months, I do not qualify as an authority on unschooling, at least not by those definitions. Frankly, I don't consider myself an authority on anything, I have merely decided to share this parenting journey with all of you and the considerations I make along the way.
DOes that mean I should not be allowed to discuss unschooling topics? Should I be silenced? Should you all just stop reading this and go somewhere else, to some blogger who has more 'authority'?

Is authority a matter of how many years?
How many kids (I have had my share of "you have only one child, you'll see when the second one pops up"). What if I only wanted the one child, would I then be forever doomed to be an ignorant unschooler? Would I have to forever hold my peace because I could never have anything constructive to say?
Is it a title you can put in front of your name?
Is it a formal education?
Is it about how many books or articles you have read?
Is it about how many hours you have spent considering the topic?
How many articles you have written about it?

I do not think authority is any of those things. I think people should make up their own minds about what they are confident about, which fields they think they have mastered, no matter how or in how much time they have done it.

The question I ask myself is shouldn't we - as unschoolers - unschool the definition of authority at the same time? We know that everyone is different and everyone grasps concepts at their own pace, and where it may take someone years to reach a certain depth and understanding of a topic, it might take me minutes, and vice versa.



  1. One idea I find useful is the concept of "journey". Thank you for sharing your journey with us, we can learn from it. YOU are the ultimate authority on your journey, and insofar as it includes unschooling, that means, you are the expert on your unschooling adventure. Many aspects of what you write are resonate with me and my journey. Your journey demonstrates a high degree of reflexivity. But I'd hesitate to use terms like "authority" too much, as no-body else is an authority on my journey. Others can enrich it, and their self knowledge can spur me to further reflection; I can learn. But "authority" - yes, let's unschool that word.

  2. I have struggled with this as well. I am a schooled mother of a 19 month old. I was not an attached child and bottle fed. So, I feel like I have some catching up to do because the way I am raising my son is WAAAY different from how I was raised and schooled. I always wonder why some people think they know everything. Doesn't that take the fun out of learning? We are ALWAYS learning and I want my son to know that. I find myself becoming more and more in love with unschooling, so I want to learn all there is! Some people do think they have all the answers, though. Usually, there are no right answers :)

  3. @melanie love love love your comment. You've hit the nail on the head. Authority is just a fiction of the corporate and educational world, everyone is an authority on their own journey and yet everyone has a lot to learn from one another


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