Google+ Authentic Parenting: Don't Talk To Me About These Topics Three - Part III

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't Talk To Me About These Topics Three - Part III

This post is part of a three piece series, find the first part about my daughter's hair here and about me not driving here.

At seems as if lately, everywhere I am going, people only have three topics when talking to me... And they are all equally irritating.

1. My daughter's hair
2. Me not having a driver's license
3. Schooling

It doesn't matter if these are people I know intimately or vaguely, if I see them often or not, these three topics seem to pop up in just about any conversation I am having! And it seriously pisses me off, because people's attitudes about any of them tend to be very narrow minded and the goal of each of these conversations always turns out that they want to make me (or my daughter) do something, because obviously they know best!
So, you are warned. If you start about one of these topics, I may very well blow one day!

As my daughter has passed 'school-age' here in Belgium, more and more people obviously notice she is not in school and start wondering "how we do things" when we're over in Africa. It is generally known that schooling is a problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and that we live in very remote parts of the world.
People's worries are spread over these topics

  • are you going to be teaching her
  • how is she ever going to learn anything
  • what about social contact
  • what about high school, university...
With a lot of people, I don't bother specifying that we'll be unschooling, because, frankly, for many people it is too scary a concept and it would require too much explaining. I do not always have the energy to take up that discussion. Hence, depending on who I have in front of me, I reply that "we're going to do it ourselves". They can make up for themselves what that means, so I am not actually lying.
I have already discussed at large the many concerns people have with unschooling, so I won't repeat myself here.
I have already discussed a thing or two about social skills too. 

What bothers me most is that the majority of people who think she really "needs" to go to school, say so because she is so very sociable.
They'll say: "oh she likes kids so much, it's a petty she can't go to school", "how will she ever make friends" and so on.
It never comes to their mind that she has become 'so very sociable' without ever going to school. Why would we change a winning team. It also never comes to their mind that you *can* meet children outside of school. Congo is a country with one of the highest birthrates, so there are plenty of kids around, and they don't all go to school. Yet when I say that there are lots and lots of kids around, people tend to frown, to discuss this, as if hanging around with the local kids isn't social or something? So am I to understand that this is a race question? Are they concerned that she won't get to play with white kids? I'm not even going to address this because it's so far out it makes my stomach turn.
People also seem to forget that interaction with adults is also social. 

We are all so brainwashed by the idea of our age-segregated hierarchical school system, that we don't even consider social relations to be able to exist outside of it.

So the schooling thing... I understand that it is a concern for people, but please... think outside the box before you start bothering me with these preconceptions that have nothing to do with the reality and nature of mankind. 
I don't blame them. Homeschooling is close to non-existent in Belgium, so it is very *strange*. ANd unschooling is simple something people have never ever heard of.
It is just so sad to see how very very confined we all our by our (very recent) culture.



  1. It's funny how everyone seems to have the exact same worries about socialization and home/unschooled kids, isn't it? Never pausing to consider the wellspoken, confident child in front of them, who is also used to being addressed directly with issues concerning them, too

  2. Its always hard to parent outside the box. You know whats best for your daughter and your family. At first I didn't understand unschooling. But then, I read some more about it and allowed my son to lead me in his interests, and it makes since to me now. I wish I could have continued his education myself. But I had to return to work due to money matters. :(

  3. I have two non-schooling kiddos and get praised all the time for how they are experienced by grownups. You know, smart, social, empathetic, well-behaved, etc. I seem to notice people will then chalk that up to the kids themselves being exceptional in some way... or assume I'm a rigorous book-homeschooler (in fact this is so common I wrote about it for LL).

    So as much as I love, love, love talking about life learning, I think so many people's brains asplode, like you say. They usually find convenient explanations to suit their own biases and worldviews.


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