What is 'on topic' on an unschooling support group?
by Beverley Paine
The question was asked what's 'on topic' for an unschooling support group?
We share all sorts of experiences, thoughts and opinions on this group and that's wonderful because it is through social exchanges such as this that we learn and grow: what stops that learning and growing process is judgment.
Replies that express judgment on another member's unschooling or parenting practices, or their beliefs, are not supportive. They aren't helpful. Approval or disapproval is not supportive.
Some topics naturally press people's emotional buttons: they are topics in which we have invested considerable emotional energy and feel very strongly about. We are ready to defend our views and opinions or feel duty-bound to promote the idea. We feel rejection of our views, ideas or opinions as personal criticism. We react defensively.
Conducted with respect debates are valuable as tools for learning and growing: trouble is, we're all at different stages of recovery from our personal schooling and parenting experiences and many of us find it difficult to not react defensively to comments that can be interpreted as judgments on what they say, do, and believe, their values.
So what's 'on topic'? I suggest that members ask themselves how much emotional energy they have invested in a subject before posting. Or ask why they want to post a comment on a topic. If the answer is 'very invested', or 'because others should know about this', perhaps the motive is less about being supportive and more towards promoting personal beliefs with the aim of converting others to the cause.
It's not the topic that flags some subjects as 'off topic': it's the tendency for responses to wander in disrespectful and non-supportive tones or content; and the potential for emotionally invested judgmental comments and reactions.
Once again, it's about support. Ask yourself, how will this post support others in their unschooling lives? Focus on the word 'support': being told something is good for us rarely feels like support whereas someone sharing how something worked or met a need for them, gives encouragement and reassurance. Personalise your posts if you are linking to an article - not just with a comment, but how the topic affected your unschooling life, how it helped to reinforce your unschooling practices and beliefs.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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