Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Principles first -- Unschooling second

The headline on this blog post isn't meant to diminish the importance of unschooling. It's meant to establish the fact that I have to have principles in place first before I can determine if unschooling is the proper method for raising my child, Livy. I determined before her birth that unschooling was, indeed, the proper way to raise her.

In working out my principles in the early 1990s, I determined the propriety of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand that states four primary things: 1) reality is real and understandable to humans; 2) humans have free will and rational brains that can figure out reality by forming facts; 3) because humans can make mistakes while working with reality, they need a code of ethics (honesty, independence, integrity, etc.) to help guide their minds; 4) because humans are rational and work by a code of ethics, they are the only ones who know how to make themselves happy and are, therefore, entitled to be left alone by other humans and by governments.

Because of the above four true generalizations about humans and reality, I determined that the best way to raise my child was to honor her right to her own life, to not get in the way of her extraordinary fact-finding mission and personal trail to happiness.

I also expect her to respect my rights and others' rights as I respect hers. This means that there are rules such as "you've got to clean up after yourself," "noise levels are limited in a room where some don't want noise," "fix your own food, if I don't want to fix it," "always be honest with me," "do not take others' stuff or violate their right to be left alone," "don't expect others to share or do something for you simply because you wish it," etc. We have been talking with each other about these rules for years now, with me giving explanations many times on why I think they are objective rules of conduct for not only kids, but also for adults.

I don't see unschooling as "unparenting." An objective parent has much to teach and much help to give about the facts of reality and what is right. I see that as my role, with my longterm plans of helping create an individual who will be not only my bloodline writ large in her own way, but be among my best and dearest of friends for life.

That is what she has turned out to be so far, an amazingly independent, thoughtful, caring, insightful individual who knows that in order to be free to run her own life, she must recognize the same for others and their lives.

Livy is a joy.

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