To be honest, I don’t quite know where to begin with this. Sometimes an event or topic comes along that is so disturbing that it is difficult to organize my thoughts around it. But I will try.
Let’s start with this: I am aghast. Appalled. Disbelieving.
Last week, a father of a teenage daughter posted this video on YouTube, intending to humiliate her for remarks she made about him to her friends on Facebook. The video ends with him taking a .45 and shooting 9 rounds into her laptop.
As bad as that was, however, it paled in comparison to the response to the video. Tens of thousands of people (literally – the number is probably higher now as the video has had almost 19 million views in less than a week) lauded this father’s behavior as model parenting.
In other news, falling scores continue to plague schools and more & more college grads find themselves in massive debt & out of work; forced to take $10/hour jobs making coffee or selling books.
Does it strike you that something is horribly wrong here?
At first glance you may think there is no connection between the father’s rant on YouTube and our floundering educational system. We like to think of parenting as separate from education & learning. We like to think of education as separate from everything – an entity in and unto itself.
Children learn all the time. It is a mistake to think learning begins and ends in the classroom. Parents are instrumental in their childs’ education, whether they want to be or not. Kids tend to model those around them, learning respect (or disrespect), generosity (or entitlement), maturity (or immaturity) – the list is long.
Watching that father rant on YouTube was initially very, very discouraging. How can unschooling families, who fully believe that children are every bit as deserving of respect, trust and love as adults, make any real impact in a world where so many people believe that the way to deal with your kids is through humiliation and disrespect? Unschooling families believe children, with the help of their parents, can direct their own learning, can become self-educated, successful adults without force or coercion. How can that compete with the sensational view of a father shooting his daughter’s laptop? (And I cringed, because it seemed obvious to me that the laptop was a stand-in for the daughter herself.)
The answer is that it must. Now more than ever we need viable alternatives to the ineffective, coercive method of education. Unschooling gives us that and so much more, including a model of parenting based on love and mutual respect. I am not saying there are no parents of schooled children who love and respect their kids. Of course there are. My own parents are a great example. But only unschooling addresses parenting and learning and life as a whole, inseparable and intricate as they are.
I want to end by directing you to a blog post by Jen at The Path Less Taken. It is eloquent and true, and no one has said it better.