Title: 18. An Unschooling Experience
Author: Marta Obiols Llistar
Genre: Memoir, Unschooling, Parenting
Publisher: Argyle Fox Publishing
When early childhood and elementary teacher Marta Obiols Llistar became disappointed with her local school system, she took action. Disillusioned with the so-called normal life, she embarked on a journey into a new life of unknowns.
In her memoir, Obiols tells of her endeavor to unschooling her three children until the eldest turned 18.
“Mama,” Afrika said, "I'm not learning anything.”
The short sentence shocked me. My daughter was a seven-year-old first grader. I don't remember wanting to learn anything at that age. Why wasn't she happy just being a kid? Why did she want to learn?
Good for you! my little seven-year-old self thought. But then the grown-up in me kicked in. My mom instinct to protect took over. How heartbreaking that this seven-year-old little booger wanted to learn and wasn’t given the opportunity. She craved knowledge and wasn't getting any at her public school.
Afrika went on to explain that she spent a lot of time with her arms crossed on the table, head down. Because every time a kid behaved badly, the whole class was punished. For punishment, everyone had to put their heads down.
Hearing this was the last drop. It was time to leave public school and jump on the homeschool bandwagon.
Announcing my kids were learning outside of the school system reminded me of announcing we were adopting Konji. A few family members, some friends, and several acquaintances criticized our choice. They were very curious, but they were also scared about our choice. Many told me to my face (and perhaps said it behind my back) that they didn’t like our choice.
Just like adoption, unschooling required an exhausting amount of explanation to validate our choice. Because simple-minded people have a hard time understanding that life has different paths, they only understand their way of living life. Any other way is not only strange to them, but wrong. Adopting my son and unschooling my three children have been two of the best decisions of my life. These choices have actually improved my life by making it easier, richer, and simply better.
Every homeschool family has a story about why they chose their particular path.
Some decide to homeschool because their child was problematic in school. Some choose to homeschool because their kid was bullied or diagnosed with hyperactivity. Some choose this path because they were bored as children when they were in school, and they want something different for their kids. Others homeschool because they want their religion to be the main focus on their kid’s education.
My story was a series of unfortunate—or rather, fortunate—events. I came to America looking for adventure, and I got it. Becoming an unschooling mom is like being a teacher, special ed teacher, full-time nanny, researcher, therapist, manager, and more. The list goes on and on, and I am so glad I get to do them all!
This book focused on unschooling. But its purpose is not to teach you how to unschool. Rather, it is to show you what unschooling looks like in one particular family. If you want to learn how to unschool, I strongly suggest John Holt’s books or other books more specific on how to unschool. We’re all different, and the more you read about unschooling, the better understanding you'll have. My book is my personal story as an unschooling mom.
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Marta Obiols Llistar is a Catalan immigrant, former public school teacher, and current unschooling mother. With a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education from Blanquerna, Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, she’s spent the past nine years homeschooling and then unschooling her children. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their three children.
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