Friday, August 7, 2009

More on 'For the Sake of Our Children' by Leandre Bergeron

...children integrate into adult life when they are given the opportunity. I believe this what they want to do naturally and what school works so hard at systematically preventing. School is so absurd! How did we ever manage to phase our own children out of our lives and daily activities? How did we ever decide to deliver our children to strangers with questionable skills during the best hours of the day? (p. 83)

So says Leandre Bergeron about the manner in which his daughters learned to cook, bake, garden, book keep, raise animals, run a small business, drive tractor, butcher, read, write, sew, play piano and paint.


Bergeron's words describe exactly what I would describe as my primary reasons for keeping my children out of school. School is absurd. And standardized curriculum followed by standardized testing is the ultimate absurdity. As if some lackey at the Ministry of Education should have a say in how and when my children learn about reproduction or how the European explorers and settlers trampled over North America or the mysteries of global warming. Yikes.

"..strangers with questionable skills..." Well that definitely describes Partner-Guy and I as elementary school teachers. And yet our culture perpetuates that it is perfectly normal to hand your children over to a stranger everyday. I can't do it. I won't.

But my brain and my heart do get a little concerned for my children when I compare Bergeron's experience with his daughters to the current lifestyle of our little family. Bergeron was a well-travelled, well-educated, well-off guy by the time he had his children. He owned a 60-acre farm. He renovated a farmhouse, baled hay, raised chickens, geese, sheep and cows (for eggs, meat and milk). He owned a natural food store and supplied it with organic, hand-made bread baked in a wood-burning stove. He grew a substantial garden.

By contrast, our lives here in Toronto are pretty dull and boring. Too much shade prevents me from growing a garden. Animals are out of the question. I don't run a business. In other words, what are my children really going to learn at home with me, especially if I fully embrace unschooling by not teaching them (academic) lessons? It's a conundrum, that's for sure.

Wendy Preisnitz editted Bergeron's book. She is also the editor of Natural Life Magazine and the owner of Life Media. Her daughters never attended school. They learned as unschoolers as their parents created a publishing company and a magazine. Like Bergeron, Wendy Preisnitz gave her children a pretty amazing childhood from which to learn and grow and flourish.

I believe in it, but I'm not convinced I am capable of giving my daughters as rich a life as the daughters of Bergeron and Preisnitz experienced.

So what do I have to do? Move to a farm? Start a home business? I have plans to do both, but is it enough? How hard do I want to work? How green do I want to live? What would my lifestyle look like if it were to become completely authentic? And what if it takes me 5 more years to figure it out? Or 10 more years? Anna is already 5 years old......

In some ways, simply sending my children to school and just going back to my job would be so much easier. It would require no thought. No explanations. It would be mainstream. It would be normal.

But it would not be authentic.

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