Entrepreneur, Arizona, USA
My name is Pace. I have a wife and two kids; my boy is five, my girl is three. I run a small marketing consulting company in the financial industry. I’m lucky enough to work from home as an entrepreneur and pursue my dreams. The life I love is this: playing together with my family, learning languages, talking about religion and technology, meeting new people, and playing video games. We are unschoolers.
My family is the center of my world. I have awesome parents, and so does my wife. As kids, they let us do what we wanted to do. No curfews, no time outs, no punishments. They did that because they taught us safety and how to make our own decisions and they respected our decisions and helped us if we made mistakes. Growing up, they loved us for who we were, not who they wanted us to be. This made it a lot easier to accept radical, whole life unschooling when we finally got it.
We definitely wanted to parent the same way we were parented, but we had no idea when we got married or even after having our second kid that they would never go to school full-time. My wife and I both went through public and private schools, Kindergarten through 12th grade, but we never really fit there. We felt held back and boxed in. The classes were either too boring or too hard, and many of them felt like a waste of our time. Even so, that was the way people did childhood, so we didn’t really question it at first.
As young parents, we were anxious to learn about what our options would be. We knew we didn’t like our public education experiences, and didn’t want that for our children. Soon we found TED talks and other media by people like Sugata Mitra and Sir Ken Robinson, who explained that set schedules and lessons stifle creativity in children, who will naturally self-organize and seek knowledge with just the most basic tools at their disposal.
Then our kids started growing up and choosing things to learn. At the same time, we found groups online that introduced us to unschooling, and we realized that we were already unschooling! Just doing what we were doing, guiding our kids to learn motor skills, language skills, technology skills, was all we had to do… because they chose what to learn. I really want that dynamic for my whole life. I want them to have the freedom to pursue their passions instead of having their activities chosen for them forty or more hours a week. Their amazing and unique minds need to be respected with the freedom of choice.
I believe in zero restrictions on digital technology use for my family. We’ve seen the benefits far outweigh any possible negative effects it could have. So far our tech use has been a beautiful unifying factor for us, as it provides an instant connection to family members across the country and across the world, and of course a broad source of educational programming. And we are right by their side, watching, supporting, and learning with them. I hope that today’s generation of parents doesn’t lose touch with their children and grandchildren in the changing world that awaits us. Our children will know what to do since they are already creating that world that we’ll be living in. Let’s follow them.
Life, especially in the 21st century, is like an all-you can-eat buffet. You walk in every day and try a bunch of things. Most get into a routine of favorite foods and keep it at that, switching it up once in a while. Schooling, however, can be like having to go to a catered 3-course meal with tiny servings of the most boring foods that someone else chose that you don’t like anyway. Maybe you get lucky and you like a few things. Maybe you’re the type that likes everything they serve, but all the while you are kept away from the buffet of options you could have had. At the root of this is treating kids like we treat adults, and allowing them the freedom to choose what to learn.