E2 - The Unschooling Revolution - Nurturing Humanity & Freedom: With Erika Davis-Pitre
🗓️ Recorded September 23rd, 2022. 📍La Bizière, France
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About this Episode
What if you could completely transform your perspective on learning and parenting?
In this fascinating episode, we were thrilled to chat with our dear friend Erika Davis-Pitre, whom we met at the World School Summit in Granada in 2019.
Erika is one of those people you cannot help to fall in love with. Her smile and presence make you want to listen to her - and if you can make her laugh - it feels a little like when the sun shines. Erika not only helped Cecilia realize that she was a radical unschooler but also changed her entire approach to education and raising children.
After a talk with Erika, you feel stronger and more clear on why you do what you do - Erika is one of the people who have taught us most about what it means to be an unschooling parent and what the benefits are for the parents.
Together, we explore the concept of unschooling as an identifier rather than a definer and delve into the importance of principles over rules.
We discuss how unschooling means leaving the idea of physical school behind and embracing learning all the time, at all times, without any set of circumstances to define one's learning.
Erika shares her unique perspective on radical unschooling and the crucial role it plays in maintaining our humanity in a world that often strips it away from us.
Join us as we examine the incredible benefits of radical unschooling for families, relationships, and personal growth.
We dive into the importance of multi-generational, multi-age groups in learning and the freedom that unschooling provides in finding our individual contributions to the world.
Erika's inspiring story is a testament to the power of unschooling and the joy of self-discovery that it brings into people's lives.
Don't miss out on this enlightening conversation that could change how you approach learning and life.
Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband, Michael, are proud parents of four children - a daughter and three sons. They are also blessed with two sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and several grandchildren. Erika serves as a Board Member and Co-President of HSC, one of California's largest homeschooling organizations. She recently added another feather to her cap by becoming the owner of GameSchoolCon, a family conference that celebrates games of all kinds and is held in Southern California.
Erika is a sought-after speaker in the homeschooling community and has presented at numerous conferences and workshops across the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. She particularly enjoys discussing unschooling and its benefits, especially for teens. She is passionate about sharing the joy of unschooling and promoting diversity through this education style.
Clips from this episode
You don't have to be with 20 other eight-year-olds in order to be eight and learn.
“Once we let go of the system that educates us and informs us of how we should spend, how we should learn, how we should mate, how we should live, what class we belong to once we separate ourselves from that academically. Once we separate the fact that you don't have to be with 20 other eight-year-olds in order to be eight and learn.
You can actually be with a multi-generational, multi-age group and learn just as well. I say better than you are if you're stuck with a bunch of your same-age mates. Once you let go of that possibility, all the other possibilities kind of open up. So when I talk about that my goal is to maintain my humanity and to expand it so that I'm generous with it, I'm actually talking from a radical unschooling perspective because the first step into maintaining my humanity and expanding it is making sure that the people around me have the same privilege regardless of age.
- Erika Davis-Pitre
I'm going to be a whole learner
"Unschooling unhinges us from the academic ideal that learning happens between the ages of five and 22. As radical unschoolers, we have detached all sorts of learning, not just the academic learning requirement that happens only when you're young, but we've unhinged that from every learning.
There's learning when you're co-sleeping and when you're not forcing people to eat food they don't want to eat. There's learning, not forcing people to go to bed at bedtime. There's learning, not living in one place and having one place be home. There are all kinds of ways we can expand as radical unschoolers. It's not just education, although that's usually the jumping-off point.
That's usually when people say: “Hey, I can learn another way, and it doesn't have to stop, and it doesn't have to be in neat little categories like math and reading and science and all these little categories. I want to be a whole person, and I'm going to be a whole learner.”
- Erika Davis-Pitre
Unschooling a perfect match for attachment parenting
"I found unschooling a perfect match for attachment parenting. When you're doing something society encourages and your kids are good at it, it's like, ‘Oh yeah, this works'. But is it worth the expense of family time, individuality, and humanity?"
As we navigate the demands of modern society, it's easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing without questioning its impact on our lives and families. Erika Davis-Pitre encourages you to step back and evaluate the cost of conforming to societal norms and whether it's worth sacrificing the things that truly matter.
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Transcript of Self Directed Episode 2
E2 - The Unschooling Revolution - Nurturing Humanity & Freedom: With Erika Davis-Pitre
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there will probably be some transcription errors along the way 🙂
Jesper Conrad: We're here today together with Erika, whom we met back in 2019 in Granada in Spain, and she was just a blast to be together with. I had so much fun and we also learned a lot from her. And why do you like Erika, cecilia?
Cecilie Conrad: It's obvious. She's awesome. Erika, to me you're special because you convinced me that I was a radical unschooler. I didn't know at the time, but we had some conversations about unschooling and about the difference between unschooling and radical unschooling And I thought I was to the more soft side in a way. But I learned a lot of interesting things about myself because I have not been an unschooler, unschooling mom After reading a book. I've been more on the intuitive journey of just doing what felt right And then I learned all the fancy words afterwards, just like I think my my oldest child was maybe 10 when someone taught me the word co-sleeping. It sounded to me like a system or something difficult, whereas in our family we just fall asleep in one big pile because we're really tired and that's it.
Jesper Conrad: It feels natural.
Cecilie Conrad: There's nothing to it And, okay, unschooling is quite a handful and very much more difficult to get started with because it's yeah, it was not just natural for someone who has 25 years of schooling and comes from a family of academics. Yeah, and then I met you a few years down my journey And you're like so, it was just so such a relief And I think about you quite often, even though we don't talk that often because it takes my shoulders down, can you?
Cecilie Conrad: say that Yeah. So that's why we were like, yeah, we want to talk to Erica and record it Well two things that I think I will interject here.
Erika Davis-Pitre That's really important. I call myself a radical unschooler or unschooler just as an identifier, so that when I'm in a crowd of homeschoolers or a crowd of educators, i'm identifiable. But for me, it's not a set of circumstances or rules that you have to follow in order to become an unschooler or radical unschooler. It's just an identifier like I like. I like a breed instead of blue cheese. It doesn't define me. It just helps me to identify with other unschoolers and other people who are on the journey. So there's not a set of rules or there's not a way to be an unschooler. In my opinion, it's just. It helps for that understanding And it helps you to move along further on your journey. It's not a stopping point And it's not a beginning or an end. It's just. It helps you to define yourself to others. Now, as far as the self-identifier.
Cecilie Conrad: If you're an identifier or a definer, what was the word?
Erika Davis-Pitre So an identifier to others? Yeah, it's a great word.
Cecilie Conrad: Not a definer for yourself Exactly.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, and that's that's has been one of my problems with unschooling exactly this, that it could be some kind of strict set of rules and that would be a way to do it wrong. And then I didn't have the right to call myself an unschooler anymore And I just left the whole concept just like yeah, with with other, like isms. There can be this almost religious nerve to it that I don't like And, being very anochistic in my, my deep gene pool, it's. It's not something I read books about, it's just that I really dislike rules And, and exactly especially, authorities don't tell me what to do. I don't like it.
Erika Davis-Pitre Please let me think for myself. So so change that word rules into principles, and then it makes it. It makes it palatable Because for me, I'm I'm trying to get away from rules which are situational and can change and and leaning more towards principles which are your values, which don't change They, they grow and expand, but they are your core values of compassion, you know, helpfulness, love, friendliness, laughter, humor, do on to others as others do on to you. Those principles float over every rule. They apply in every situation, whereas rules tend to be defined in a moment or in a situation that can be whittled around, that can be changed, that can be manipulated, but your principles, your core principles, they don't. They don't change much. They, they bring you back to being human, being, a person that's in a community of other humans, if you're lucky.
Erika Davis-Pitre And it helps, it helps me to define unschooling in a way that doesn't restrict but actually expands my humanity. For me, unschooling meant not following rules, not having a set set of practices that you define you, but rather stepping outside of that box, looking at what works, rejecting what doesn't work, redefining what does work at different stages of your life, always growing and changing, always schooling yourself, about yourself, about the people around you. So unschooling to me as a definition means to live without bricks and mortar school, without a set set of circumstances that must occur in order for one to learn. Unschooling steps out of that paradigm and says you're learning all the time, at all times, and it never stops. It just keeps going on and on and on.
Cecilie Conrad: So, but unschooling with your I totally agree, obviously, but I'm just thinking unschooling is leaving the idea of the physical school, of the idea that we have this context and in this context learning happens, and then we have all the other contexts and they're like less important or less focused and less, have less whole, less value. But there is the homeschooling repetition of the school at the kitchen table, which is also leaving the physical school and maybe bringing things more in balance, and this is different from unschooling. So, in my opinion, i find one of the things I find really hard to wrap my head around with unschooling is do we have a goal, like so you say? so I'm saying this because you said looking at what works and what doesn't work Does work in order to achieve what?
Erika Davis-Pitre In order to achieve and maintain your humanity. So you're a direct participant in shaping your world. And however that looks. So, academics we focus a lot in Western cultures on academics, on the value of learning through a physical, direct process that happens between the ages of, you know, five and let's say, 30. Let's say, if you're going for your PhD or you're going to be a doctor or some other incredibly learned person, we give a finite period of learning And then after that, what happens? I don't even want to think about how we as a society have positioned ourselves to assume that learning happens during this finite time, in a finite space, with a finite set of of comrades, either in elementary, middle or high school, in college, in advanced studies. You, you, you learn, and then you stop being the learner and start being the teacher or the, the wise one, and there's a vast amount of time between When learning happens and when you become the learned, and then you become the teacher or the elder or whatever circumstance. When I look at unschooling first, it unhitches us from the academic ideal that learning happens between the ages of five and 22, say, for the average first of college experience. I'm unhinging that from that system. So there's the academic.
Erika Davis-Pitre The reason why I talk about us being radical unschoolers is we've detached all sorts of learning, not just the academic learning requirement. That happens only when you're young, but we've unhinged that from every learning. There's learning when you're co-sleeping. There's learning when you're not forcing people to eat food that they don't want to eat. There's learning not forcing people to go to bed at a bedtime. There's learning not living in one place and having one place be home.
Erika Davis-Pitre It's stretching and learning when we become nomadic in all kinds of situations, not just physically with our housing, but also with the way we work and the way we treat each other and how it works in relationships. There's all kinds of ways we can expand as radical unschoolers. It's not just education, although that's usually the jumping off point. That's usually when people say, hey, i can learn another way and it doesn't have to stop, and it doesn't have to be in neat little categories like math and reading and science and all these little categories. It's bringing it all together and saying I'm a whole person and I'm gonna be a whole learner. I don't wanna stop And the learning is not the goal.
Cecilie Conrad: Learning is not the goal, it's the benefit. One of my key points that I want to underline when I talk about unschooling is that now that I am a few miles down the road, that you've walked much further, i'm beyond. That idea of learning has to happen in a special context. But one thing that was maybe a little harder to get arrived at or pass through was the idea that learning is not the point. Right, learning is not the goal. The goal you said something about the goal is living your humanity. Maybe you want to unfold that a little more. So what is Sure? When you talk about what works and why we do what we do, you say humanity, and that would be interesting too.
Erika Davis-Pitre So a lot of the systems in Western culture separate you from your humanity. They give you a number, they give you a goal and they say that's the most important thing. So let's look at those goals. Most Western cultures want you to make a lot of money. They want you to participate in capitalism in a way that reinforces what you were taught about your humanity. So you're encouraged to buy, to own, to participate, with the goal of maintaining a system that really does strip us of our humanity. It makes us a number, it makes us a process, it makes us We get a dollar value. How valuable am I to the system versus how valuable am I to the person I live with or to the person that depends on me? So when I say unschooling for me radical unschooling, by the way I define them differently because I want as many people to come into the academic unschooling as possible, because that's the gateway.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, that's the gateway, you are the man to their humanity.
Erika Davis-Pitre That's it. That's the gateway. Once we let go of the system that educates us and that informs us of how we should spend, of how we should learn, of how we should mate, of how we should live, what class we belong to, once we separate ourselves from that academically, once we separate the fact that you don't have to be with 20 other eight-year-olds in order to be eight and learn, yeah, you can actually be with a multi-generational, multi-age group and learn just as well I say better than you are if you're stuck with a bunch of your same age mates. Yeah, once you let go of that possibility, all the other possibilities kind of open up. So when I talk about my goal is to maintain my humanity and to expand it so that I'm generous with it, i'm talking from a radical unschooling perspective, because the first step into maintaining my humanity and expanding it is making sure that the people around me have the same privilege, regardless of age. Now I'm at an age where my humanity is reinforced daily. I get to do whatever I want because I don't have young children that are dependent on me, and even my partner, who is very dependent on me in certain aspects. It's not critical, it's not oh, if I don't do this, this person doesn't survive Or this person might not have the best of outcomes. So when that was relieved of me because my youngest is 30 years old when that day-to-day responsibility was relieved of me, i finally get to a place where my humanity could be just about me. I could eat what I want when I want, i could do what I want. But because I expanded my humanity when I had small children, i've learned that the best part of me, in a humane way, is serving and being with others, being a part of a community.
Erika Davis-Pitre And I'm so happy that I learned that before freedom came, because if freedom had come first, i would have to dig in to find my contribution. I'd have to make an effort. Now it's effortless. Including others is effortless. Taking this call was effortless. It's not oh geez God, schedule-wise. It's difficult, but spirit-wise. It's expanding. It's my humanity expanding. It's me being generous with what I generously give. It's not extracted. It's not another process, it's not difficult for me, it's very easy.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, erika, there's stuff about my mind, about the word on schooling And, as you call it, a gateway. When I look back at my life, i'm one of those who really didn't listen super much in class but did a lot of fun projects, and I didn't go to university, i just kept making stuff I thought was fun And there is something about being on this travel. We are now 10 years down the road where I am like but is it on schooling? We are just living. But I think it's a good name for the gateway, because to me it seems like it's often there that people start to question the system. When they put their kids in school or in institution, they start to question what is happening. What am I doing towards my own offspring? Why am I putting them into this almost prison-like structure where they are in a very weird place with, as you say, people of the same age? And I will come to my question. I was thinking what's the question?
Jesper Conrad: No, no, no, there is a question, no, no. But I talked with some people about on-schooling one day and I said to them you know what, if I came in to, if I was invited to a party where there was only everybody there had the same age as me and was born in the same area, i would be totally terrified. I would feel like in a horror movie, like what is going on. But I'm like, have you searched for another word Or you're just, let's call it on-schooling and radical on-schooling, because for me some of it seems more like a philosophy.
Erika Davis-Pitre The reason why I don't call it something else is steeped in my African-American, black colored negro, afro-american and the inward experience.
Erika Davis-Pitre You're constantly renaming, refashioning, changing what I'm called and what I, how I exist in the United States And when I came to understand and recognize so much energy goes into redefining versus experiencing and living. I'm fine with radical on-schooling. I'm fine with on-schooling because I believe having that common language is important. So when I walk up to someone and they say so what's your story? It depends on context. If I come into a room and it's a bunch of schooled, academic, strong learners, i say oh, i was a homeschooling mom. If they question that further, i know there's an opening. Actually we were unschoolers. We didn't follow a scoping sequence, we didn't follow curriculum. If there's inquiries further, i say we were radical unschoolers.
Erika Davis-Pitre We applied the unschooling principles to everything. So there were no bedtimes, there was no half you have to eat, there were no chores, there were requests. We lived humanely, amongst ourselves. Was it ideal? Oh, absolutely not. There were times when the toilet bowl did not get cleaned and I was beside myself because I grew up with all females, so the toilet being clean was not quite in the mix of things. Because of the way I peed and the way I use the toilet Fast forward to my life, with three sons and a husband, toilet cleaning became a real sticking point.
Erika Davis-Pitre Now I could have made the rule that the people who pee on the floor are cleaning the toilet, or I could have come with them, act them with the principle of look, this harms me, it makes me feel less welcome in my own home. How can we as a collective, we make it so that I feel comfortable in this space? And we brainstormed and we talked about things when they were younger. It was really easy because everyone wanted to be cooperative, because we lived in a cooperative home, so it was easy to transition from really feeling neglected and unseen to actually making sure I was seen by saying what my needs were. That's what I love about unschooling for me, and radical unschooling in particular, is I didn't have to sacrifice what I needed to feel comfortable in my home. I was on equal par with my kids and my kids were on equal par with me. So they wanted me to feel comfortable in my home and I wanted them to feel comfortable, helping me feel comfortable in my home.
Erika Davis-Pitre So it's this huge thing, but I didn't call it anything else. You can call it cooperative living. You can call it when they were babies and toddlers. It was attachment parenting. We shared a bed. I didn't know anything about co-sleeping, i just we just slept, we just slept. It was against the norm of putting a kid in a room by themselves, in a cop by themselves. It was against the norm, especially with my oldest. It was completely against the norm. But all I wanted to do was get a good night's sleep and be able to take care of my kids.
Cecilie Conrad: It's not even about you. know you can come afterwards and say something about you know it's very good with skin contact, but no, it wasn't even that. It was just about sleeping. It's about sleeping. It's about being really tired.
Erika Davis-Pitre And you know what else it's about. It's about everybody getting to know what it is that they need at their core. So not having a bedtime, not having this arbitrary time when everybody had to be asleep, but actually talking about what needs to occur for everyone to get good rest. So we could have had people up all hours of the night playing loud music, entertaining themselves in a way that is comfortable for them. But then I would point out to them your parents need to make an income and we need to have good sleep in order to do that. So you've got to find a way that when nightfall comes for us which was quite late, even when they were young, it was quite late we've got to have quiet. So you've got to figure out how to do what you love to do without disrupting our sleep, and we talked about it a lot.
Erika Davis-Pitre The real benefit of talking about processes rather than just living them, just following the rules, giving people bedtimes, doing this, is you can honestly talk to your people and say I need this, how can you help me get it? And they help you. They don't feel like they're being punished. They don't feel like they're being taken advantage of, and when they do. they tell you get earplugs. I wanna be able to listen to my music. Can you get earplugs? They help you find the solutions when they're included.
Cecilie Conrad: And very often they see things from a completely different perspective. I get surprised very often by what they say, and when you tell this story, i also think about how unschooling for us. If there is one thing that really defines the process of being an unschooling family, it is I think we talk a lot. Yeah, we spend a lot of time having conversations with each other, hours and hours, and even when it's bedtime and we have this system or the way to handle it, that we sleep all at the same time. We all need more or less the same amount of sleep And as we live, we are so lucky It's like it's very highly impractical if someone is awake and someone else needs to sleep, so we just coordinate it and we negotiate it on a daily basis. Is it like about now, or should we wait an hour? It's not like it's not top down in any way, but then we at some point, we lie down with our blankets and our pillows and the conversation goes on. Right, you keep talking about things.
Erika Davis-Pitre When you have that as your core, we're gonna communicate, we're gonna talk. Well, it doesn't mean there aren't rough times. There are so many times I've lost my temper. I mean I am embarrassed by the number of times I just said look, look, look, this needs to happen this way. They need love. And then I recognize. I recognize I'm not just my present on my past, i'm not just what I'm trying to live for and live up to, i'm also. I'm also dealing with how I was dealt with and how I came to be.
Erika Davis-Pitre So I'm constantly re-educating myself and giving myself grace so that my kids know you can give yourself grace. It's not like you're one and done. You fall off the wagon and you yell and you lose your temper And then the whole principle is out the window and go back to authoritarian parenting and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. No, it's like I have to remember and recall, especially in times of stress. I'm gonna go back to what I was culture to believe is right And then I have to walk back to reasonable ways of living. I have to give myself back my humanity. I have to be forgiving and loving of myself so I can be forgiven and loved by others. Cause I think the biggest wall to radical unschooling is your belief that you don't deserve. You don't deserve, your kids do, but you don't. You can just go along. You can be the self-sacrificing person and it doesn't work well in that way. And you also have to give your people the space to reject you and to reject how you're living, which is very hard when you're perfect And when you invite. Yes, it's very hard to be. It's very hard when your people don't see your growth.
Erika Davis-Pitre I always, my husband and I are always having in conversation about how we're air, how we're so good at what we do. We're not recognized as working, it's just air. You don't say to yourself every second oh, i'm breathing, oh, i'm breathing. Look at that, i'm breathing. Oh, i'm still alive, i'm breathing, i'm breathing. You don't do that, you take it for granted. And that's the same thing when you live in a consensual, loving home. Sometimes it's not seen, it's just, it just is. It's your environment, it's your air.
Erika Davis-Pitre So you have to silently but subtly remind yourself that this is a living organism that needs to be recognized and acknowledged Because it's effortless and effortful at the same time. There are times when, wow, we run like a great machine. Everybody is satisfied and happy. And then there are times when you hit the wall because someone's not seen, because they've changed ever so subtly, but they've changed And they want everyone to see them. Without contributing to that site, i found unscaling a perfect match for attachment, parenting, for the way we parented. So I had two kids that always went to school bricks and mortar school for a number of reasons, mostly because it was societally acceptable And it worked for us. I'm gonna be completely honest with you When you had two parents working, school worked.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, it's a very practical institution.
Erika Davis-Pitre It was pretty darn good, even with all of its foibles. When you're doing something that the rest of society is doing and encouraging you to do, and you're good at it and your kids are good at it, it's like, oh yeah, this works. Then you wake up and you see all the effort going into maintaining that system, all the energy that goes into maintaining that system and all of the loss of autonomy that goes into that system. Then you begin to say is that energy? is that value worth the expense? Is it worth the expense of family time? Is it worth the expense of individuality? Is it worth the expense of humanity? Is it worth it? And we came to the conclusion.
Erika Davis-Pitre Maybe when the third was, i'd say 10 or 11, we'd start to say, no, it's really not worth it anymore. But how do you switch? How do you slowly recognize I want something different? Because it, like I said, we got a lot of props. We were very successful parents, as school's parents, we were successful. So how do you shift from success and go for something that's unknown, because we're talking 25, almost 30 years, we're talking a long time ago. And so when we started making the shift, oh, we were called all kinds of things. We were looked upon And in my husband and myself we had two different views of how education and how our family life was gonna look like going forward.
Erika Davis-Pitre So there was a lot of discussion, a lot of talk, but not a lot of discussion and talk outside of us, because at its infancy it was scary. It was difficult to not be encouraged. After 25, 30 years of being encouraged that we're the greatest things since Dwight's bread And you're doing fabulous things, to step away from that, and then our family members, their educators, felt judged Like well, it was good enough for you. What are you saying? What are you saying about the way you were raised? And I wasn't saying anything about the way I was raised. As a matter of fact, i think I was raised in a stellar way because I could recognize I wanted something different for myself. If they hadn't raised me well enough, in my opinion, i wouldn't have asked for anything different. So I was raised pretty well because I was able to walk away from the traditional success that I was presented with, offered and lived within. So, on the one hand, i didn't want that for myself or my children. Going forward, i recognized that I was raised to question so that I could fashion another life for myself.
Erika Davis-Pitre So it's not all good and bad. It's that amalgam of moving through your life, acknowledging your humanity, acknowledging your growth, acknowledging where you want to expand. I don't know if I have very many goals besides be a good person. I just want you to be decent. There's so many opportunities to be inhumane. There's so many opportunities to be successful by compromising your humanity. So for me to say my goal is to retain and maintain my humanity.
Erika Davis-Pitre It's huge, especially in this time of post COVID. We see it all the time A whole generation, a whole group of people are being disregarded. It's like if you die, you die, and then there's a whole group of people and a whole generation of people who you're in the sweet spot. Don't worry about those people, it's your time. And I'm like, no, it's never been. It's always been the interconnectedness, it's always been the humanity. It's never been someone's time over someone else's time. It's never been that way. So how do we get back to seeing each other as a part of each other? How do we get back to that?
Erika Davis-Pitre For me, unschooling returns us to that interdependence, even if it's only on a social, emotional level, in our family. It's a slow step back to that interdependence that needs to happen in order for us as a society, as a people, to exist. And now, when we're looking at climate change and all the things that are detrimental to the entire world, we need people who understand and recognize everything has to happen together. There can't be a segment over here that's living this way And a segment over here that's living that way. We all have to come together And I think the family unit, however it's defined, it doesn't have to be a mom and dad and kids. It can be whoever you bring into your household and you co-live and you coexist. We've got to be the people who are running things.
Cecilie Conrad: We've got to The family unit, step forward. What was it So? what I'm saying is that. So one thing I think is really important is to be able to live our lives outside of professional contexts, so that we are living and working and learning, and eating and sleeping in a context of love and of real life.
Erika Davis-Pitre And community. It's not enough that your nuclear family is doing well. It's expanding that ideal of family to include community. What I love about the World School Family Summit is you get to live in community. It's five days but you get to live in community and you get to experience other people's living in their communities. You get to see how many different ways you can plug in and be a part of a community And how the internet and other modes of communication help to expand that community. So I may not see you and your family in the physical sense, but every four or five years, let's say, or every two or three years, anytime we're on the same continent doing the same thing.
Cecilie Conrad: I'd drive really rather far if I was on the same continent?
Erika Davis-Pitre Yeah, but the Atlantic to consider, yeah, but even with the physical separation, you're still now a part of my community. I still think of you and your family as part of my extended family. So if I need something where you are, if I have a soul that's in my local community, that's in your preview in your community, and they have a problem or they have a joy or they have an experience that they want to have with more community, with more family, i'm gonna contact you. Oh, my son and his partner are in Normandy, or they're in Scandinavia, or they're in Spain, or they're in wherever you are. they really could use a good meal and to talk with someone in the community. Are you available? And if you are great, and if you're not, it doesn't lessen my inquiries in the future. I get it.
Cecilie Conrad: I just had a question. We gave a speech on an unschooled homeschool festival in Germany a few weeks ago And one of the questions we were given was if we lack or miss community. And I think that after I started unschooling- and even leveled up by traveling full time.
Cecilie Conrad: I've never had more and stronger community. Yes, the idea of community being a neighborhood, or what is it called in English, these places where you intentional, community, like people go live. For some reason, they go live close to each other to have community. Nice and good if it works. I'm not against it. It's just, in our life, traveling full time, we don't have a home, we don't have a residence anywhere, so I feel so strongly connected to the people that I'm connected with Absolutely. And I know that my children feel the same because we have these conversations 24-7 and they tell me about it. Yes, so it's more complicated than a physical being close to each other-ness, right, and I think that, exactly as unschoolers, when we live our life in a non-professional way, we meet our world from this perspective, it's really a non-institutional way.
Erika Davis-Pitre Yeah, because institutions have to have rules, barriers, boundaries. They have to have them, and an institution thrives on absolutely knowing when things are going to occur and when they're not going to occur, who's allowed in and who's not. When you don't have an institutional community, when your community is based on like, when it's based on love, when it's based on passion, when it's based on your sheer humanity, like man, you are such interesting people. I want you in my circle, i want to follow you, i want you to be a part of my community because you expand what I know of the world. You expand what I know of the world. So for me, community is such a vast, large thing. But even further than that, family is such a bigger thing, like.
Erika Davis-Pitre I have a young man that wrote to me. I hadn't seen him in, probably in person, maybe six years. He's applying to college and he had three personal references. So he says to his mom see if you can get in touch with Erica and see if she will write a letter of recommendation. And I didn't. I wasn't in on the conversation, but I know what occurred. His mom said probably, said I don't know, you haven't seen her in you know, five or six years in person. And he said the pinnacle thing that lets me know the way I'm living my life is so respectful of my humanity and someone else's. He said she always saw me whenever I was present. I asked questions, i challenged what she said and she always saw me as a valuable person in community. She elevated my questions, she elevated my challenges, she elevated them to her level. She never said, oh you're. She never diminished me, she never treated me as if I wasn't her equal And the only reason why she wouldn't write my letter of recommendation is if she doesn't have time. But I know she'll have time.
Erika Davis-Pitre So the mom wrote me and said you know Julian wants this. Would you be interested? And I said, oh, absolutely. Here's my number, here's my email. Let him know I'm ready. You know whatever he needs. He was so respectful I'm asking you to speak about when I was younger and I have very firm memories and I said so, do I, and absolutely all right, write you a letter of recommendation. That would be fantastic. I want you to achieve your goal. I want you to excel at what you want for yourself, just as if I saw him Tuesday, because that community sense, that sense of being seen and heard, is so important for all members of our community, not just the adults, not just the kids, but everyone. Now, this is a young man that's a good what 45 years younger than I am, but he saw me as a contemporary and as someone who could speak well to who he was, so that his foundation of who he is is well defined, and he had no hesitation in asking.
Cecilie Conrad: That's the thing It's. But I find it sometimes really hard to explain to people on the beginning of the journey. But it can't be explained, no, it can't. It can be lived and you can be left. Kind of try to shout you know, don't worry about community. Like the, like the, do they have any friends? And you're like, yeah, and I can give the whole thing, the whole song again. But I have to just put some courage into the to the beginning, yes, mother, and say obviously, and it will all be good and fine, it will be different, but it will be better. And in the same way, this community question it seems like in the beginning it seemed like I don't know, like I usually say, it's like walking through that closet with all those coats And then you then there's no back wall and there's more. Yeah, in the end you know it's a different world And it's best way to explain it. And this happened in reality when we started to be radical on schoolers.
Erika Davis-Pitre And it doesn't. It doesn't And the one thing I will stress, and I do say it doesn't guarantee success. It doesn't guarantee a good outcome. It doesn't. If your goal is to I want to be well connected, have children who, you know, appreciate me and appreciate our lives and all of that stuff, nine times out of 10, it happens. There's absolute appreciation. There's absolute. It's the joy fest. And then that 10% happens where it's not a good fit, where they're angry and they think they missed and they blame you for their untraditional lifestyle, making it hard for them to accept traditional whatever's. And that's okay too.
Erika Davis-Pitre This is not a guarantee for a good life. What this is is a guarantee of a good life that you're living and you're living as best you can for the time you have together And at the end of the day, they may not appreciate it at all, but you're totally satisfied that you lived a great, respectful life. So there's no guarantees And a lot of people at the beginning they want a guarantee. How is this going to be better than school? It isn't. There's no guarantee it's better. The only guarantee I had was I was present In a way I couldn't have been wasn't for my school kids. We were present in the younger two's lives. In a way we weren't in the older two And we were a very close and are a very close family. But the way I was present for the younger was completely different than the ones with the elders, because there was so much in between There was so much action.
Cecilie Conrad: What I usually say about, will it be a success? The question is more to the note that the idea of what success is will, for certain, change over those years of unschooling your children.
Cecilie Conrad: So the idea you have in the beginning of a successful unschooling journey will change. So there's no real reason to worry about it. If you're at some starting point with some younger children and you think, oh, will they become doctors and will they ever be married and will they know how to handle themselves And the worries you can have in the beginning they will change. It will be different worries you have 20 years later. So it's just some imaginary problem, this success problem, until you start talking about humanity. You start talking about core values, what's important, what's really important and how can we make sure we get that, and then we can fill in some fun and joy around. That was the important thing.
Erika Davis-Pitre Don't try to sell it. Don't try to sell unschooling, radical unschooling. Don't try to sell it If someone says what about this, what about that? For me, i say, oh, i sense those concerns and I have them all along and still have them now, because it never ends Growth, learning never ends.
Cecilie Conrad: So yeah, I try to sell it, but I still. I often get asked questions about it Like how do you handle this and how do you handle that? And I want to do it, but what would this and what would that? And then I usually just say you need to find out what's right for you and your family and I'm happy to help you find that out. So no, I'm not selling it. I think unschooling is for everyone who wants to unschool.
Erika Davis-Pitre Yes, 99% of the success at unschooling to me is wanting it to occur. Yeah, 99%. All the mistakes, all of the ways it could have been better, they're all going to be there. But if you absolutely want this life, if you want it like that, last bust of the night you're chasing it so that you can get back to wherever you're going If you want it, that's 99% of this. 99% is how 99% is. I want something different. I want something that acknowledges my humanity. I want something that maintains a closeness of my family unit. I want something that helps me expand community. All of that, all of that is such a small part of I want to do this. The how's, the why's, the who's, the will they be successful that all comes later And sometimes it doesn't look successful at all.
Erika Davis-Pitre It looks like, wow, how are they going to manage? And then, yeah, it does, it manages itself. That doesn't mean there isn't an happiness and comfort, a lack, because there certainly is. There is all of that. I, i, i hearken back to A saying that one of my great aunts said. He said all the time you know, the days are long, but the years are short Yeah, the days of worry, and It seems like you're not gonna make it. There's no serviceness of how is this going to turn out. They seem insurmountable. It seems like you'll never have that answer. You'll always be wondering And then, poof, yeah, it's like Oh my goodness, 20 years, twenty years have gone by and they've grown up and it's not perfect, but it is Manageable, it is Wonderful, it is connected.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, there's something about you saying not selling it. Part of me feels sometimes earlier at least like one of these converted non-smokers or just turned vacant where you just want to walk around and shout to everybody wake up, look at how. That's really strange. What's going on in the school and can you please come over here? it's wonderful over here. And I'm thinking about the balance sometimes, because part of me want to mission in a sense, because I really want as many people as possible to know the opportunities there, and sometimes it feels like the easiest way to open their eyes is to point at what is going on. But that is being negative against school and I don't want to be super negative against their choices, but to show the absurdity makes it easier to understand what is going on. So how do you handle that? Do you go out and mission?
Erika Davis-Pitre For me it's easy. For me it's going to conferences, it's going to summits, it's talking to people who are asking. I often remind myself, uninvited advice is criticism. So I remind myself, if it's uninitiated by the person you're advising, it's going to be seen as critical of what they're doing. So I try desperately to not be the person who is criticizing what someone else is doing by evangelizing about unschooling. So what I will do with a school parent who's having kind of a rough time, rather than say you should look into unschooling, i bring the unschooling to them. Here's a couple of ways you can make that time better. Here's what the teacher stresses under. Here's how you can alleviate that stress. Here's how stressful it is for your child. Here's how you can alleviate that stress. These are the kinds of coping mechanisms that a child in school needs. So I encourage them All of a sudden. I'm not a combatant, i'm not someone who's offering them something that's opposite of what they're doing. I'm a participant in them being successful where they are. Once you're seen as someone who wants them to be successful where they are, then you can start talking about alternatives And it doesn't seem like a criticism.
Erika Davis-Pitre So, first and foremost, if someone comes up to you and says for us it was the S word socialization. What about socialization? They have this idea that homeschoolers, unschoolers, were in the house just with their parents, which cracks me up. We should not call it homeschooling. We should call it car schooling, park schooling, museum schooling, because we were never at home. But that was the image that people had Evangelical Christian sitting at a desk talking about Jesus, staying away from the world. They couldn't imagine how big the world was for our family and for our kids. They couldn't imagine it. So, rather than beat them over the head with what our reality was, i would say think of it as being on a field trip every day. Think of it as experiencing education from that level of excitement every day. Think of it as being in the lab every day. Think of it as being in the shop every day.
Erika Davis-Pitre I always came to where they saw education and expanded their ideal rather than knock what they were doing. So, yes, i'm still the evangelical unschooler. I'm still trying to tell people this is such a great life and it would be great for you, but I temper it with where they are so that they can see the opening and they can be seen, because if you have three kids in school. That's a major undertaking. It's a lot of work to have three kids in school, and so I saw what they were doing, because I did it myself. The reason why I'm for me, i'm an effective speaker about unschooling and schooling in all the different ways, is because I've experienced them all And I know that if you have to do it this way, there can be joy, you can be connected, you can be. Everything can be true. It might not be radical unschooling, true, but it can be true.
Erika Davis-Pitre So point out to those naysayers or to those questioners what kinds of things do you do to make sure you have great community for your kids, because it can't just be school. So how do you make sure your children are socialized, your children have community, your children have good friends? I've always said all people, not just kids, but all people. All they need is one good friend. If you have 10, great, but you don't need 10 good friends. All you need is, yeah, just one, and it could be a sibling. We completely discount familiar friendships. We completely discount them. I don't understand why we do. If you have a lot in common, your personalities mesh. Encouraging that friendship is rocket science to me.
Cecilie Conrad: I have four children and I was asked this question in loads of times. Do they have anyone to play with? And I'm like, isn't that obvious?
Erika Davis-Pitre But at the same time, i didn't take for granted that proximity means friendship and means all these things. So you've got to balance it out. I didn't assume because they're close in age and they live in the same house and they have the same fabulous parents that they were going to be close. As a matter of fact, the opposite was true for a couple of my kids. Now, as adults, they're all very close, they know each other well, they can depend on each other. There are a couple of my kids I have four A couple of my kids. They're not close. They know of each other and they're there for each other, but they're not close for whatever reason, personality whatever. But they all know they can depend on each other and they all know that they have the support of each other. So if you're doing this big thing and you need someone cheering you on, there's no one that's going to cheer you on more than the Sibs and their parents. So they know that. But they also know it's okay to not be close tight, tight tight. They know that, that that is either welcomed or not, based on a whole host of things, not their lack. That's.
Erika Davis-Pitre The single most incredible thing for me about radical unschooling is the abundance It's the absolute abundance of time, of friendship, of love, of connectedness. The opportunities were endless for that connection And it wasn't based on a social strata or educational opportunity. It wasn't based on any of that, it was pure interest. It's like some of my best friends on Facebook are a good 30, 40 years younger than I am. Because we're interested in the same things, we get excited about the same things.
Erika Davis-Pitre My expectation is that, oh, i need to look for another older woman or man to share this interest. I can go to a 15 year old and say, hey, i see you're doing this, i want in on that And I'm perfectly comfortable with being rejected or accepted perfectly comfortable. The rejection to me says I'm the right kind of person because the person can tell me no. That means it's an open friendship, it's an open relationship because I can be told no, especially when it seems like I have power in the upper hand. If I get told no, i'm hurt because I really wanted it to happen. But I'm also pleased because I'm that kind of friend. I'm not the yes friend that's grumbled about later. But I'm also really psyched when a young person says to me sure, i'd love to have you do this, that the other with me. It's that yin and yang of abundance. I'm constantly looking for grace.
Cecilie Conrad: A lot of options and a lot of combinations of options And, as I said, it's like entering this fantasy world that looks and feels and tastes so different from the one that we had before inside the box. Are you sitting on a question?
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, I am No, no, no. It's because the reason we had the reason you're doing a podcast beside We Love to Talk To is also that there are some people who are fully out there listening. And for those of them who are like, oh, this unschooling, is that a road I want to travel? Is it right for me? What would your advice be to them?
Erika Davis-Pitre Two things, depending on where you live. If you live like, say, in the States, if you live in the United States, get to an unschooling conference, go to a conference. Make it your family vacation one year And don't just go during the day. I mean, if you can, if you can afford it, if you can work it out, go stay in the conference hotel. Just walk around and look at the connections and look at the way the people who are doing it, and doing it successfully, look how they move in the world. Look at the interactions. In Europe there's quite a few little unschooling pop-ups. There's conferences, there's camping trips. There's different ways to connect. I've been to a couple of them. So being around unschoolers in their natural habitat, that tends to do it.
Cecilie Conrad: That's the cold sleeping bed.
Erika Davis-Pitre That tends to do it. That tends to do it Also to join groups online. There are unschooling groups online on Facebook. There are Yahoo groups. There are all kinds of groups that talk about unschooling, answering questions in real time. I know of five or six unschooling groups that are on Facebook. A couple of them, especially the radical unschooling they're not hand-holding coddling places. This is how it's done kind of places. Walk through those places, don't say anything, don't contribute, don't just read. There's such a wealth of information from reading and looking at what it looks like.
Erika Davis-Pitre Don't look at grown unschoolers as the example of it working. Look at the people that are in the thick of it. Look at people who have teens that don't know if they're going to go to college or not. Don't know if they're going to open their own business or not. Don't know if they want to leave their parents nest or not. Look at the connection in making those kind of choices and decisions. Don't look at the successes. Look at the nitty gritty. Look at how those families live with each other and make decisions Based unschooling curiosity, on that versus. Oh, look at that person, she went to Harvard. Oh, look at that person, she went to Oxford or Cambridge. Get away from that box of looking at unschooling as a way to get to something Right. Don't look at the outcomes. Look at the internal workings. Look at how things are negotiated in families that are adjusting to changes in need.
Erika Davis-Pitre My son was completely different at park days than he was when he was trying to find his first job. It was a completely different animal. Looking at park day, that was all success, that was just glorious because there was nothing at stake. But looking at when he was trying to get his first job, that was a lot of work. That was a lot of work And the connection helped. So he didn't feel defeated. He didn't feel like I'm never going to get what I want. He knew that it was going to be work And he knew that his partners, myself and his family we were behind him 100%. So we moved through that transition easily. Even though it was hard on him, we moved through it together easily. So it's hard to tell someone who's in a system that's so different from the system we're in to tell them take the sleep because it might be better. But that's really the answer. It might be better, it's better for us. Might not be for them, might not be for us In a few months or years Exactly So.
Cecilie Conrad: The thing is also oftentimes it seems like when we answer this question that it's a lifetime sentence. Once you decide to go to school, there's no going back, and for quite a long time there is. You can go back if you want. I think maybe we have passed the point of no return, like our kids are now so much their own that I could say never, But, I think if they want to, yes, but I couldn't probably not tell them.
Erika Davis-Pitre Let me put it to you.
Cecilie Conrad: Now you have to go to school. They'd be like, okay, i'm not doing it, try to make it, but very long time you can go back. So if you decide to unschool, you can unschool for a while and then you can go back to homeschooling. And then you can even go back to school if you want to. It's not like it's something you, it's not like it's a two It you know. Reverse the decision if it feels wrong.
Erika Davis-Pitre Well, this is the thing. It's not even reversing the decision, it's moving into something else. So my by school or I call him because he went to school. He went to a Democrat free school. He was homeschooled, unschooled and then went to traditional high school and college. For him There wasn't a quarter life crisis because the whole time he was making choices and every choice he made was supported.
Erika Davis-Pitre So when he decided, mom, i don't want to unschool anymore, i want to go, i want to go to traditional high school, my first instinct was, oh my God, i failed. He's wanting to go. And then I calmed myself and said no, i absolutely achieved my goal. Because he's responsible for his education. He's responsible for those choices. All I can do is support those choices. So, rather than say, okay, you're on your own If you choose school, you've got to get grades in this step Together, i said to him what can I do to support you? I want to make sure you have the best experience possible. I'm not going to make you do your homework. I'm not going to be the enforcer of this. This is not. This is not my ideal. If you need help with your homework, if you want me to help you, i will, but I'm not going to be the person that says, hey, you got a paper, do blah, blah, blah. And I never had to be that person because he had chosen it.
Cecilie Conrad: We actually had a child who asked us to be that person. Yeah, we would come home from school. We have one child who's been to school, the oldest. She told us to stay when, when you know, she just wanted it was also, it was an alternative, free school, absolutely. And he came home and she said I don't want to do my homework. And we said, okay, do something else. And she said you know, you're the parents, you're supposed to tell me to do it and I don't want to do it. And I I'm supposed to be here in the kitchen with my tea and my sandwich and say I don't want to do my homework, and then you're supposed to nudge me and say, oh, you should do your homework. And we told her we can't do that because you know we're going to be honest with you And we don't care if you do it or not. That was a really, really weird experience.
Erika Davis-Pitre But you know what? I did? the same thing. I did the same thing that you did And I was the person that said Hey, do you have any homework? You probably want to get it done before you do something else. And that was the extent of it. Sometimes they want what they think is supposed to be. Anytime.
Erika Davis-Pitre I kid said you, as the parent, should do this, this, this and this. I would ask the question why do you think that is? And then they give me the examples and then I would tell them that's not the kind of parent I want to be. But if that is the kind of parent you need, why don't we work out a language where you get what you need, but understand and recognize it's not important to me, but if it's important to you, i will help you with that. So I didn't. I didn't say Hey, what are you doing? I didn't get confrontational, but I did say when they came in do you have any homework? You probably want to get it done before you do something else. Oh, thanks, mom. If they did it, i didn't care.
Erika Davis-Pitre But the number one thing I did when my son went to school is I met with every one of his teachers and said I really don't care. I really don't care. He's here because he wants to be here And I'm here because he wants to be here. But I am not your police. I will not enforce your rules. I don't believe in homework. I think it's antiquated and silly. I don't believe in failure. Every learning opportunity is just that a learning opportunity. Whether he gets it or not, i don't care. So, no, no, tom, none of that. I'm not going to threaten him. I'm not in the system. I'm only here because he wants to be here And I hope he walks away from the system. But I will encourage him and I will help him to have a successful experience here, but I will not be your enforcer.
Erika Davis-Pitre Do you know what it did for all those adults? They worked hard because they wanted to retain him. He was a commodity to them rather than a burden, rather than somebody. You know that they had to push scores, whatever They recognized. If he's not interested in engaged, nothing's coming to him For me. Oh, they were so engaged. It's been what? Almost 20 years since he graduated high school. I'm no longer in the town where he went to high school, but every once in a while I go back to visit If I run into one of his former teachers or anybody that had connection with him in high school, they still, oh my goodness, he was so engaged, he was so engaging, he was such a joy to have in class And I'm like thanks, he got good grades because he wanted to be there. He didn't waste time. He didn't waste time, you know, complaining about a paper, whatever.
Cecilie Conrad: I think this story is about another core word in the unschooling language, which is education has to be voluntary And, as I said before, have a child has been to school and taken, by now, several educations, and all of it was because she wanted to. That is a completely different game when, when you choose, you want to learn something and you choose, it's worth it. I'll go into this institution because it will give me these options and these experiences and this piece of paper that I actually really want to meet for something else I want to do, perfect. Then it's not about me convincing them or judging them or threatening them or anything like that. Your son's story is just like our daughter's story. Actually, it's very, very parallel.
Erika Davis-Pitre Yeah, it's funny, and he was very successful in high school and he's very successful at college and he's employed and he's honest. You know he's living his life the way he sees his life. There were times when we were questioned, you know, by by our unschooler you should have done this and you should have done that because it makes it harder for me to do this and it makes it harder for me to do that, and you know what that tells me. It doesn't matter how, how you live your life as a parent, a grandparent, a partner, friend there always will be something that could have been done, different, better, best. There always will be.
Erika Davis-Pitre I'm just secure in the knowledge that I was present and I was accommodating and I made, i made our families learning situation palatable and and encouraging and real by saying what do you need? I never hid behind the dogma When the kids said I wanted to go to, i want to go to school. More important than anything was my relationship with that kid. It wasn't being right as a radical unschooler, it was how is this going to affect the relationship with my kid because he only has one mother? He only has one mom And what do I want that to look like?
Erika Davis-Pitre Do I want that to look encouraging and helpful. Do I want that to look static and traditional? What do I want that to look like? And for me, it was the trust the trust he could do it, the trust he wanted to do it. I loved the fact that I was challenged. I loved it because to me, that meant I was the greatest mom on earth. Because they didn't do the way I wanted it done, they forged their own path. That is the biggest compliment to me as a radical unschooler to see them make different choices than I would have made for them or with them.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, erica, often when we talk unschooling we talk about the kids, But in my world it has opened so many doors And so the whole for me, my lust to learn, have reignited on such a big level. So, if we can talk a little about the unschooling, the joys for the parent, where were you biggest? When you look back in some years ago, you had a school, a teen in the house, in other words, you like that was the best. Of this is what I've taken from it. What do you bring forward?
Erika Davis-Pitre Quite frankly, the biggest beneficiary to our unschooling family is the relationship between my husband and myself, because the ability to give grace, if it isn't seen and lived by your kids, it's artificial. So when in the process of letting my kids make choices about themselves and where they wanted to be educated and how they wanted to live, i also gave that same grace and experience to my partner And he also gave it to me. So our relationship looks pretty traditional on the surface, but the underpinnings there's so much cooperation, there's so much being seen, there's so much opportunity for me to be untraditional in other areas that I've been able to take on different things Speaking at the World School Family Summit, all over the world, traveling all over the world, all over the country. I don't think that would have been possible 35 years ago in the traditional sense, because I didn't see myself as someone that could just take the bull by the horns and run with it And I don't know if I would have gotten the same kind of support from my partner to be out in the world. But what we learned by giving our children that kind of freedom and that kind of choice and opportunity, we were also able to give it to ourselves.
Erika Davis-Pitre So, oh gosh, we grew up, born and raised both my husband and myself, born and raised in Seattle, washington, in these states And a job opportunity came for my husband in Connecticut, on the whole other side of the country, some 3,000 miles away, and so we moved. My daughter stayed in Seattle because she was 19 and in college She had no interest in moving. But the three sons and I moved And two of our sons went to college in the Northeast, in Boston. They made a life for themselves there. I just did not. It didn't click with me. I'm not a East Coast person. The vibe is completely different. My self is completely different. But my spouse had a great job there and really took to it. He really liked New England. He liked living in Connecticut. I didn't. So I said to him look, i'm going to move back West and I'll come back East. I will come back East on a regular basis, but I don't want to live in the Northeast anymore. But he said okay, and find a place and I'll apply for a transfer and we'll work it out.
Erika Davis-Pitre Four and a half years we were back commuting. It was a commuter relationship. I was coming and going. I was back East every eight to 12 weeks. I'd be at the house for four or five weeks and then I'd be off again And I attribute unschooling for him seeing me for what I needed and not taking it as a rejection of him or a statement of our relationship Him just saying that's what you need, i'm gonna help you achieve what you need. It was so elevating of our relationship. It just it took it to the next level. He got his transfer.
Erika Davis-Pitre He ended up moving to San Francisco. We live in San Francisco. The last six years we've been here six years this month they have just been like magic. It's like every once in a while I pinch myself because there's so much support. There's so much love.
Erika Davis-Pitre There was so much effortlessness in the move. There was no angst. There was no don't you love me anymore? Who? you know all of the stuff that comes from when you're making different choices for yourself versus your partner. It was total connectedness, it was total support, it was total love And it was the greatest example for our kids of how this thing works.
Erika Davis-Pitre Doesn't matter how you educate your kids, it doesn't matter how you live your life. You can always be that person that 100% supports your partner, your family, your community in getting what their needs meant, and so they got to see that real time, and I got to live it real time, and so the joy that I feel in taking advantage of what I offered my children is the greatest gift I gave it to myself, and, by my example, all of my children and grandchildren now have that as the example. Do what you need to do to live your best life and to be connected to your people, listening to your people, making sure your people are happy with the choices that you collectively are making together. It's not just talk. I lived it, and that's to me that was the single largest gift of unschooling was that I unschooled myself. I gave myself permission to live better, to live more connected to myself. I gave myself that permission And in turn, it was a gift that I gave my whole family. So I'm just a beauty of it.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, is it? I feel very much like a disciple in this conversation. Yeah, usually we talk and talk, but this is great because you talk so much to offer, beautiful Thank you. I'm just thinking, maybe, even though I could listen for the next six hours, maybe, yes, yes, yes To all the gold and as we are in Europe six hours from now, would be quite late.
Jesper Conrad: Anyway, maybe we should wrap it up and then reconnect another day.
Cecilie Conrad: I think what you do is take two.
Erika Davis-Pitre I've got one thing to say And I try to say it often in person.
Erika Davis-Pitre I try to say it often in person, but definitely in a podcast. You do me such a great honor to ask me to speak about my passion. So I really appreciate it because I'm gonna reach a whole different set of group of people that are in community with me because they're in community with you, and anybody I'm in community with becomes a part of my community And their communities become a part of my community. So I really appreciate you opening me up to a whole new community of connection, of choice, of humanity, of love. Because, more than anything, what I felt from you and your family when I first met you was man, there's a lot of love. They have so much love and passion about love that they're gonna go far. They're just. It's like a you know, it's like a star. You're so bright and so welcoming. And when you wrote me and said, hey, we wanna do a podcast with you, that's just such a high honor for me Because it means that I touched you in a way and I related to you in a way that you both related to me. So I so appreciate you. And another thing for unschoolers, for schoolers, for parents please think about this When you're talking with your kids and I don't care how old they are get in the habit of saying this Do you wanna know what I think Or do you want supporting your ideals? Cause it might not be the same thing If they say I wanna know what you think. Be very honest, even if it's hurtful. Be very honest with what you think. If they say they want supporting their ideals, try to find a way to support their ideal. If you can't tell them that I would love to support this, but I can't go to prison now. Your younger siblings need parents As an example. Try to remember to pause When you're asked something, even if it's a great yes, even if you can say yes right away, even if you can say no right away.
Erika Davis-Pitre pause, ask them. Can I have a few minutes to think about it, so that they get in the habit of you being thoughtful, so they get in the habit of you not knowing the answer right away, because most young people children think their parents know everything. Because we answer so quickly. when we know yes or no, always pause. Hmm, can I think about that, even if it's a yes? Hmm, can I think about that, even if it's a no? Can I get back to you in a couple of minutes. I just need to think about it, it helps them model that behavior.
Cecilie Conrad: It's a very good advice. It also gives you a few minutes to think about it. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, Which, to be honest, sometimes you need that. You need it.
Erika Davis-Pitre And it doesn't seem odd, and they're not ready on the defense, because you've always paused to either say yes or no. So the pause when you really need it isn't out of the ordinary.
Cecilie Conrad: It's very valuable in those moments. So those are really good pieces of advice. I remember the first one from the summit where we originally met, when you said and try to do that with everybody in your life, not just your children, but especially your children. Do you need my support, or do you want to know what I think? Why not be the same? I remember you saying that.
Erika Davis-Pitre: And be honest. If they say I want to know what you think, even if they're going to get angry with what you think.
Cecilie Conrad: be honest, because the most important thing is to really I can always try to say it in a nice way. I mean, yeah, you can say it nicely, but be honest, i can try to do it, but I don't have to. So should we try to say goodbye? Yeah, i would like to say see you next time in the Erica podcast. Take two in a few months. Because there's so much to explore here with you. We could go on, but I think it might be too long. If we can.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yes.
Cecilie Conrad: Well, thank you so much for your kind words about feeling honored. It was hard to say thank you while you said it, so I say it now. And thank you for being our community, part of our community. We know we can rely on you, even with all the water and all the borders And a big inspiration. And thank you for shining so bright. It's a great thing to have someone like you in our circle.
Erika Davis-Pitre Send me a link to the podcast. Do any editing you need to do?
Cecilie Conrad: There will be none.
Erika Davis-Pitre Okay, then we definitely have to say goodbye.
Jesper Conrad: There will be none.
Erika Davis-Pitre It's been an hour and a half, so thank you so much for having me.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE
Have you read the latest articles by Cecilie Conrad?
Here you can find my latest writing - It is a mix of my blogposts and 2023 journaling. I hope you will enjoy it :)
Have you heard the latest podcast episodes?
🎙️New episode out every Thursday 🎙️
E19 - The Power of Connection in Parenting - A dialogue with Naomi Aldort
E18 - Ask Us Anything: Embracing Radical Parenting & Unschooling: A Journey of Trust & Empowerment
E17 - The Adventure Is the People: An Interview with the caricature artist Samuel KingDavis
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