In the last year, Trystan’s love for nature has really grown. From trekking barefoot through the forests of New Hampshire, to foraging for stones in the natural waterways of New York, to swimming and kayaking, to building survival forts from only what the natural surroundings provide, to climbing (and sitting a spell, I might add amidst) the trees on our property, I love to be a spectator of it all!
As a self-professed “tree-hugger” his connection to the trees especially intrigues me.
Just yesterday, I got this magical shot of him in the tree and I couldn’t help but think back to when he was a little boy mimicking his favorite hero, Peter Pan.
And then, today, it occurred to me that there may be a parallel that can be drawn between the fictional character of Peter Pan and most radical unschoolers. Mind you, I take a relaxed approach from J.M. Barrie’s depiction of the character (more narcissistic and vain) and present more my take, my perception of the character; the essence of Peter Pan, if you would.
So . . . Here are my thoughts:
~Peter Pan is all about enjoying himself. Always having fun, always laughing. He famously said “to die would be be an awfully big adventure” but he first says “to LIVE would be an awfully big adventure”. Unschoolers live a life with that sense of adventure. With a view that life is to be cherished and enjoyed. That we are here to make the most of it, see the fun, don’t take things too seriously. Living is learning! It is a natural by product of digging in and embracing each moment we have.
~While there are certain boundaries and laws to be abided, for the most part we live a life of freedom and spontaneity.
~We live our lives with less fear. I think this is for two reasons:
One-Having their natural inherent desire to learn encouraged and stimulated rather than squelched (as unfortunately it can be in the public schools system), unschooled kids love to learn. My experience has been that when my kids want to do anything (play an instrument, learn to play a game, forge a sword, you name it) they become avid self-sufficient researchers, equipped with the feeling that there is really nothing they can’t learn if they only set their mind and heart to do so. In reference to my kids, I recently had someone refer to them as “incredibly intellectually curious”. I think that term so adequately describes so many of the unschooled kids I have the pleasure to know. With their desire to learn intact and the freedom and space to learn what they want to the extent they need and want, they are afforded knowledge and with a better understanding of things, their courage is amplified.
Two- from the very beginning, unschooled children are given the message that we are perfect as we are, that all we will ever need is already within us, and we are encouraged to believe in ourselves. Peter Pan may be seen as being cocky but perhaps he is simply confident. With our confidence intact, we are able to live life more courageously.
~People tend to think of Peter Pan as being reckless and irresponsible but I think it takes great responsibility to run an entire island, lead an entire band of lost boys yet still manage to create a sense of community and comradery. And then, let’s not forget the great ingenuity it takes to outsmart Captain Hook.
Unschooled kids are incredibly self-sufficient and contrary to what some think, are very responsible. They also make great leaders and yet because they are encouraged to see the world as a community they can contribute to, they are also excellent team players. And I have yet to meet an unschooled kid who hasn’t blown me away with their creative thinking and ability to outsmart any situation.
A few of my other favorite quotes I think so aptly apply to the unschooling philosophy:
“Never is an awfully long time.”
And finally this:
Peter Pan’s story is one based on the magic of our dreams, the fantastic places we can go in our imaginations and the belief that dreams are real. Neverland, itself, exists in the realm between sleeping and waking. In the movie Hook, Tinkerbell tells Peter (who incidentally has now grown up): You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
I can’t speak for everyone’s household but in our household, we encourage each other’s dreams and promote the thinking that our dreams should be something we reach for, that we can be living our dreams right now. Our dreams can indeed come true and that the sky need not be our limit!