E5 - A Black Dads Journey from Teacher to Homeschool Dad | Jae Williams
🗓️ Recorded October 6th, 2022. 📍Páramo del Sil, Spain
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Here you can read more about Jae Williams aka Black Dad
- Subscribe to his YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/blackdad
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- Follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackdadjourney
About this episode
There are not many unschooling dads out there; most often, it is the woman who stays home as the "homeschooling parent.” In our family, Jesper went to the office for the first 5-6 years of our unschooling journey, and it was first when we started our full-time traveling adventure that Jesper became a full-time dad — and even more so during the last year when he scaled down and stopped working full-time.
Jesper saw some videos from "Black Dads Journey" and knew he wanted to ask Jae to become a guest on our show. So here they are - two dads talking together about how it is to be a stay a home dad in this wonderful world of unschooling.
“All happy adults are actually unschooling themselves. That’s what they do; they’re following their interests, they’re following their passions. Why don’t we allow that for our children to experience that same kind of happiness?”
– Jae Williams aka Black Dad
Have you ever wondered about the challenges and rewards of homeschooling your children?
Join us as we sit down with Jae Williams, the founder of Black Dad's Journey, to discuss his inspiring transition from being a teacher to becoming a homeschool dad. Jae shares his passion for education, as well as his struggles and successes as a stay-at-home parent.
We explore the importance of building connections, finding the balance between passion and parenting, and the potential benefits of unschooling. Jae opens up about his own experiences in traditional education and how they shaped his decision to homeschool his daughter. His journey is a powerful reminder of the impact we can have on our children's lives as educators and parents.
After years of teaching in the classroom, Jae realized the flaws of how we school. Now he is an unschooling dad chronicling his journey on YouTube and Instagram. In his videos, he shares his thoughts on unschooling. He discusses some complex parenting topics, like being a stay-at-home dad, deschooling, setting boundaries in relationships, and building strong relationships with his children. Black Dad hope that sharing details of his own unschooling life will help others in their journey.
In this captivating conversation, we also delve into the challenges of giving up a corporate job to become a stay-at-home parent and how to create your own value and recognition. With Jae’s guidance, discover how to bring passion and creativity back to the classroom, whether it's in a traditional school setting or the comfort of your own home.
Don't miss this insightful episode that will leave you questioning the status quo and inspired to explore new educational possibilities.
As Black Dad says in his videos:
“Parenting while setting boundaries and respecting boundaries is something I have overlooked most of my life. But establishing boundaries is essential to building healthy relationships. Unschooling set me on this parenting journey, where I now recognize what's most important in developing my relationships with my children. Setting my boundaries and respecting their boundaries is something I have learned during this unschooling journey. This unschooling parenting style has helped me be more intentional with my parenting approach as I am building strong, healthy relationships with my children while breaking generational curses.”
“I have had to unlearn a lot during my deschooling (unschooling) journey. Parenting is tough, particularly when we need to unlearn some of the unrealistic expectations we have been conditioned to follow. My unschooling journey has shifted to a parenting journey where I recognized I need to find myself to truly help my children live purpose-filled lives.”
Clips from this episode
What to do when kids are hitting the “educational wall”` This is a question Jae Williams asked himself every year as a middle school teacher. Each year he experienced that the children didn’t want to learn what he should teach them. If was first when he experienced unschooling, he saw a way to remove the wall.
Do you respect people who don't respect you? - Why should it be different for your children?
Being a parent is about learning to listen to your child, learning who they are as a person, and how you can be the best parent for them. You cannot “parent” children in the same way - just like you cannot treat friends alike. People are different, and have individual needs, and different temperaments, no matter their age.
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Transcript of Self Directed Episode 5
E5 - A Black Dads Journey from Teacher to Homeschool Dad | Jae Williams
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there will probably be some transcription errors along the way 🙂
Cecilie Conrad: So we talk to people who inspire us and people we want to ask more questions, people who did something strange, like, for example, unschooled kids, or who, yeah, somehow hit a nerve within us. And today we have GA with us and it's actually kind of your guests.
Jesper Conrad: Yes, it's because on Instagram I saw some of your videos and what I like is the well another unschooling dad is always fantastic And for people out there listening, then your Instagram and YouTube account is called at Black Dad's Journey, and what I found really interesting and wanted to hear more about is your journey from a teacher to becoming a homeschool dad. I know you have made a video about it, but can you tell us what happened?
Jae Williams: Yeah. So as I start my videos, i say I'm Jay Will, a K Black Dad, and I started teaching. I've always wanted to be a teacher, even as a kid. I remember my mom would say like you have a teacher spirit or coach's spirit Actually, i coach as well on basketball And I remember like playing. I remember sitting in a classroom in the back of the classroom and seeing the teacher in the front you know, like teaching And I was always thinking why are they doing it like that?
Jae Williams: Like if they just did it like this, they would get so much more, you know, interest from the kids and people would be so much more engaged. The kids would be so much more engaged. And I always said everything that I do, i want to do it the way that I would have wanted to receive the teaching. So when I went into the classroom, i wanted to be the teacher that I feel like I've never had, or a combination of my favorite teachers you know whether they'd be my favorite teachers that I actually had in person, in real life, or people that I've seen on television, like, you know, robin Williams, you know, in the dead poet society or something like that And so I wanted to. I brought all these aspects together to just try to create this perfect little person, this perfect little representative of education and learning and love and respect and joy, because that, to me, was what learning was about And it worked And I loved it, and I loved it so much, like, even talking about this now I get these butterflies because you know that's how I felt every day going to school, like it was just so much joy coming to school and seeing those faces And you know initially so when you look at me, you know I'm tall, i'm about 6'4", almost 6'5" like 225 pounds, bald guy with a beard, right Like so, and I taught kids that you know, 6th, 7th, 8th grade, so you're looking at anywhere between 12, 13, 14, 15.
Jae Williams: And I have a very naturally I guess you could say intimidating presence about me And so you know I just stand up in front of the classroom with my bald head beard And to see the moment when they see that inside here is just so much love and care for them And when they realize, oh, this guy is on my side. It's just that building that connection was just so beautiful, like and that's, and I love that. I love that every single year. I love developing and cultivating those connections with the kids And with that you want to you realize. You know you guys have been married for a while. I've been married for 12 years And you know the most important things with you know a marriage, a commitment, a partnership is trust and honesty right. So you build these connections with these kids And you want to be truthful with them. You know, and so I remember I mean several times students have asked oh, mr Williams, you'll tell us the truth. Is this really important? Do we need to know about?
Jae Williams: you know, about this And I was like to be, you know, successful and rich and happy or whatever your goals are. And I remember, sitting there, i was like I want to say yeah, of course you know it's, but really no, it's not, because I was a history teacher. So I mean, we're talking about you know who the fourth president was. Like, most people don't know who the fourth American president was, i know, but it doesn't matter, you know. You know, you can live life without knowing Exactly. You can live life without knowing about the fourth president, right, and that's the thing that I was. And I remember one day kind of saying, no, you really don't need to know this, it's not about knowing as many facts as possible.
Jae Williams: To me, it was about at that point.
Jae Williams: I've evolved since then, but what I told them at that point was it's not about knowing the facts, these old facts, but what it is is to know the ability to learn these facts So you can be, get a better job and get a better career.
Jae Williams: And even like me saying that now, like I just feel so short-sighted I was like, wow, we're preparing these kids in childhood instead of enjoying childhood, enjoying learning and joining the things that they're passionate about, like even me, coming from a good place, i was telling them, oh yes, to do this thing, just to enter this rat race and to get this good job and to buy this house and to make this money, because at the end of that road you're going to be happy And it's not. You know like now, this black dad journey. It started with me just wanting to be a better father and be a better teacher, but it's evolved into so much other stuff, you know, and I just realized that happiness doesn't come from the things that you gain. It comes from a, a very special, intimate place that you have to at some point get in touch with, and most of us in the world today don't get that opportunity to really tap into that thing. And you feel like something's missing, and I feel like it starts off with the way we educate our kids.
Cecilie Conrad: It starts off maybe with so I think you hear the nerve that is strong, at least to me This living for the future this we teach the children, even from the age of five or six years old, when we put them down on the chair in the school. We teach them that what they do today, it's more important that they put do this so that in 10 years from now they will be in a better place, having more options or a better job or whatever. So most of the effort you put into your daily life should be in order to maybe gain a little more happiness 10 years down the road. And this living outside of the here and now I think that is one of the very big problems. Yet there is a balance to find. Obviously you can't just burn all your money today. So I was just wondering have you been putting any thought into this balance of how do we live in the moment and live for the moment? Yet we know the future does exist.
Jae Williams: Yeah, it's funny. Have I put any thought into it?
Jae Williams: You know, that's what you think about. That's what I think about every day And you know so. It is something you mentioned, you know, early in your intro with your journey and literal journey traveling the world. And you realize in traveling the world that the connections that you make with people, those are the things that are the most impactful, those are the things that really touch you And everyone has those things. I feel like the connections are important for everyone. I feel like we're, as a species, you know, as humans, we are very communal. That's why we are the surviving, you know, species of Homo sapiens, right, and something that.
Jae Williams: So, to answer your question, because I think about it every day, i think about it a lot, and what I really want to do is my goal is to figure out, okay, all right, as I'm going through this and I'm realizing, okay, money, house and and you know, having the two kids and the dog they're picking fence like that's not the most important thing, right? So what is the most important thing, right? And for me it was living a joyful life as consistently as possible, okay, so how do you get that joy? And I always all my videos, i always try to talk from my perspective and my experience. So how do I reach that joy? And that joy is by. I feel like all of us have a purpose and a reason for why we're here, and to me, that joy comes in fulfilling my purpose. When I so I was supposed to be in front of that classroom for all those years teaching those students, that was I was living my purpose in that moment, right, i was supposed to go through this path where this last year, i've been, you know, the home school or home unschooled facilitator and, and you know, enjoying this time with my kids and things like that. This is my purpose, right, and those moments, every day, that I'm living in that purpose that brings me that joy. And as long as I'm continually seeking and I'm a very spiritual person, not the most religious, but I'm a very spiritual person And to me, i feel that if I continue seeking what my purpose is and seeking that joy from wherever it comes, whether it's from the universe, whether it's from God or Allah, whoever you feel, or whatever you feel that is But when you continue in that path, that joy is there. And when you continue seeking truth, that joy is there, that happiness is there, and so what I do is every day and I don't I do not know all the answers. I'm probably I'm looking forward to this conversation to ask you questions as well, right, yeah, you know, but I feel that for me, i, every day I'm striving to become the best version of myself, right?
Jae Williams: One of the things in my journey is that I didn't have a father, so my examples of fatherhood were from outside sources. It never was intimate, So there's only but so much you can get with that, and I, so I'm striving every day to become a better father, a better husband, because that's another thing Didn't have that example. You know, i'm striving every day to do to, to see that balance of okay, or that flow of all right, am I working in my purpose? Am I working toward my passions and my interests? But I'm also taking care of my responsibilities of being a father and a husband, because these are things that I didn't necessarily have the best examples of, and I literally pray every day, literally every day, that I do that, that I am that support for for my wife, that I am that, that, that, that that leader, that guy, that support for my children, and trying to figure out whether it be reading books, watching YouTube, reading blogs, you know, trying to figure out, okay, how can I best balance this whole thing to live this purposeful life?
Jae Williams: Because I feel like I am on this planet. I am on this earth to leave a positive legacy and influence for my children, right, if I, if I'm doing this for these, my students who I loved, by the way, my kids, i called them my kids, my students that I taught, i loved if I was doing this and made this much sacrifice and commitment to them, like I obviously need to do this for my own children in my own home. So, so, yes, i strive for that every day, to find, figure out what that balance is. And if I've done a few different interviews and sometimes I listen to some of the things that I've done in the past and I'm like, oh man, i see my growth now, like I'm different, you know, and and it's kind of better than not seeing it.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, yeah, it helps.
Jae Williams: To me it helps with this whole process you know, and even some of my videos that I've done in the beginning it's you could tell where my focus was And and now it's. I'm not saying it's changed, it's just it's evolved and it's growing And and I'm just I can't wait till I'm 10 years in the game. you know, like, like you all, you know, so it's a beautiful thing.
Jesper Conrad: But yeah, i have some thoughts. No, no, no, it's because I think one of the reasons I think it's interesting it's it's about one or two years ago you quit teaching. How far away is it?
Jae Williams: One one one year, one year.
Jesper Conrad: Congratulations, thank you, but, but, but in my journey as this on school that, as I said, we've been down this road for for 10 years, then it's a big we were. The most part of it is on my wife, because I was out there being the breadwinner And I remember experiencing when we started to home school that it felt like summer holidays all the time. I didn't need to take kids to school or anything, or to a kindergarten And they were not burned out when they came home. But I was still, on many levels, not present father or I could have been more present. I could have loved to be there even more. And this after 10 years.
Jesper Conrad: This spring we took a big step because we looked on our economic and changed our life, and I had this very fancy job being interim CEO for an NGO And it just took all my focus away from being with my family. So so I took the step and said no to the job, and it has both been a really big pleasure. But, man, it has also been a difficult inner journey because all this identity I've built up about having on these different hats you know now I'm just like our money. We are in a lucky monetary situation, so, so part of me feel I'm not needed And that was really weird. And then to you taking the responsibility as the stay at home dad. I don't meet a lot of dads who are not even in unschooling and world schooling and homeschooling communities who are the dad who stays home. So my question is what my story is. It has been difficult for me, but I feel much, much better now after nine months.
Cecilie Conrad: In a way, you're actually further down the road than my husband was working all these years.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, I was working all the time, children handling this, can I say something.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, yeah, handling this, you know this. You make up your own reality. No one's telling me what to do, no one's telling me that I'm good enough, no one's paying me money, no one will give me a raise, no one will give me a sit me down and give me a gold star or tell me I could do this better. Or I did that very well, because what I do is live my life with the children, and I have to to make sure that what I do is what I want to do and what will make me happy at the end of the day, whereas my husband kindly made all the money for us, so he had to go somewhere and do what was needed at the job and could come back with some money. That was like a very physical needed.
Jesper Conrad: Evidence of me having value.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, proof that what he did added value, whereas when he came home you can hardly see what I've done because that was just you know. You know how it is. It's conversations, it's watching movies together, he's going for a walk, it's all the basic stuff like cleaning, organizing, making 100,000 meals and cleaning up after them. No one can see that at the end of the day And I think this in that way you're a bit further down, because my husband quit the job in January first.
Jesper Conrad: So my question is what reflection did you do of taking the career and putting it on the shelf, and how have part of your travel been there, being finding value now in your? not, there is no paycheck, but there is value.
Jae Williams: Yeah, it's been difficult And this, frank, it's still something I'm working through, because we put validation on the things that we do, a lot of validation on the things we do, and when you aren't getting that pat on the back from your colleagues or your supervisor or even the people you're serving in the workforce, you don't always get it. And you hear the jokes with moms. You know, like mom, you know, being a mom is almost, it's like, a thankless job. You know. That's why, you know, there's so much emphasis on mother's days and things like that, because every single day mom is there and they don't always get that thank you. You know they don't always get that pat on the back, they don't get that raise. There's never a raise, you know. And so you.
Jae Williams: So, as you transition into this, you know being this, i guess homemaker right, which I've never done before, obviously It's different because. So the challenge that I have with it is I'm very, very, very passionate with everything I do So, and sometimes I take it too far, you know. And so in the beginning I would I'm just being honest I would find other things to be passionate about than what I technically should be passionate about, right? So, because I needed the validation to look the way I wanted it to look, instead of being what it needs to be.
Jae Williams: And I give examples of that Even my YouTube channel. Like I would spend days just locked in my room working on my YouTube, right, instead of spending that time with my kids, right, instead of spending that time thinking of and creating different adventures and things for them, right. And then I shifted and then I would put I wouldn't say I put too much into them, but then it'll be all with them, right? So that's when you ask your original question how do you find this balance? It's like man. This is, but man.
Jesper Conrad: I've been on this.
Jae Williams: I've been on this like they try to find balance for the last 12 plus months.
Jae Williams: But, and it's in and you know, and then you do, and then you always ask in these questions of why? right, i think that's the number one unschooling thing is asking those why questions? okay, so why did I put myself so much in this YouTube channel? Why did I do all these field trips and things like that with the kids and stuff And where I was like cause it got to the point where they didn't even wanna do it but it looks good to do? you know what I mean.
Jesper Conrad: It's like oh so we.
Jae Williams: So Tuesday we're doing this, and Wednesday we're doing this, and Thursday we're doing this, and it's like, and everybody said, oh so what are you doing?
Jae Williams: Oh, so we went to this museum and we tour this place and we did this, yeah right, and you're doing all this stuff for like okay, and then it's like all right, is it really for them? Is this what they really wanna do? Am I really following their interests and their passions? Or I'm doing this because it looks good for a dad to say, oh yeah, i'm a stay-at-home dad And I make YouTube videos, and you see, all these amazing things my kids are doing every single week, right? So there's a struggle there, and you, so I, take a step back, just take a step back and realize, okay, all right, let's focus on what's most important And those connections going back to what you're saying those connections building that relationship with them, with me helping guide them in their relationship with themselves, understanding that all of their choices have consequences. And when I say consequences, i'm not just talking about bad things, i'm talking about good things as well, right? So you know, and these are things we kind of focus on all the time and we talk about and we have these conversations And the most amazing thing that's processed is that my wife, she's kind of she's the reverse role, so she's like you, jasper, where she's the main breadwinner, and so she comes home and she's been so supportive in this journey that I've been had with the kids And I know I don't do it the typical homeschool or unschooling mom way right, i'm a dad, so I'm gonna do it different, right, and I'm a little more hands off but distant, and but we still have these conversations and connections And it's not me micromanaging their learning. I don't like that approach. Like I said, if I'm gonna do this, i'm gonna do this the way that, the way that it feels the best for me at this time, and I know that's even gonna grow and evolve as we do it. And but she's been so supportive And we have these moments where so me and her, we like to go on these walks and we have these moments where we go on these walks and we have these conversations And we see it's like man, our kids are so amazing, like she. We just went. We had a little Conrad moment, right.
Jae Williams: So we went to Alaska recently And and man, it was so awesome. It was so amazing going to Alaska. I've never been before. We took a helicopter ride to a glacier. It was just so beautiful. It was just, it was fantastic. If you haven't done Alaska yet, that's someplace, you, you?
Cecilie Conrad: definitely you have to. We haven't done Alaska, we haven't crossed the Atlantic Ocean yet.
Jae Williams: Oh my goodness, you gotta make it over to our side, it's coming, it's coming. There was a perfect problem.
Cecilie Conrad: At some point that stopped us.
Jae Williams: But we are coming.
Jae Williams: And so we went on this trip and it was so amazing And to see our kids, we have so much joy And, and you, it was so many times that people will come over and say oh man, your kids are so respectful, your kids are such good kids, and blah, blah, blah. And I was like oh, thank you. And this one lady said this she stopped us literally in the middle of dinner, came over and said your kids are so respectful. And no, she said your kids are so well, well, well behaved. And I said you know why? And and and she says why. And I said respect. She's like yeah, yeah, yeah, my kids respect me too. And then she walked away and I was like no, she doesn't get it. No, no.
Jesper Conrad: I respect them.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, cause I respect them right.
Jae Williams: And it's it's interesting just how people think with those kinds of things. But but yeah, i'm going on a tangent. I'm sorry.
Cecilie Conrad: I made you think about all these days. we have some museums where we've just experienced a hundred thousand times that you go to a museum and our children are actually interested in being there, so they, they, tap them.
Jesper Conrad: What's the custodian Yeah?
Cecilie Conrad: like person working there. They tap them on the shoulder and they're like so why, what's that on that paint? I don't get that. Or what's that handle there? What, what can you explain please?
Cecilie Conrad: And then this custodian starts talking and then they ask more questions. Sometimes they can stand for like 45 minutes talking to someone working in the museum And afterwards they come like to me or my husband what's with your children? These are really weird children. They're really interested and they really get it And they really, they really want to be here. This is a this is a new one And very often you enter with children and they get all scared.
Cecilie Conrad: You see the custodian's eyes go like this and they're like monitoring, oh, will they ruin the painting or the whatever it is? And and then it's the reverse, that they are there because they like being there, and I just think this is a very It's a very common thing that we have tried many times, just like you say, sitting at a dinner table, maybe at a restaurant, something, and they get noticed the children for behaving differently And I don't even like the word behave, because it's like the Danish translation is really bad because it contains the word acting like something you do to make people believe you are handling your life in a special way and behave as kind of you know.
Cecilie Conrad: Now you behave yourself And it's actually. It's their presence. It's their natural presence in life. They're not talking to the custodian to impress anyone. They are talking to him because they want to know what he knows. And in the restaurant, when they sit and they eat nicely and the no smartphones on the table and we're having a good conversation, laughing and all these things. They're not doing that because I taught them to handle life like that to behave. They're doing it because it's nice to have a nice dinner together. Like you say, respect. It's just because they enjoy the situation And I think that's very different. And maybe that lady who says, yeah, my kids respect me too, they can sometimes be hard to cross the barrier and explain what's actually going on.
Jesper Conrad: There's a fun thing sitting with a teacher, jerry that when you talked about your kids out and being together with them and Cecilia talked about the field trips. I've been wondering about these field trips. You know, when we meet school classes on a museum, often we're like oh no, could we go there a day where there isn't school classes? And I've been wondering why are they running around and screaming like that? Because it's really weird to me. They are in a place where they could enjoy it And what I read was that they live a very, very controlled life. They don't decide when they go up in the morning, they don't decide when their brain is ready to learn, and then their whole life is scheduled. And then, if they have a field trip, it's like freedom, maybe for half a day, and yet maybe I would just also run around and screaming. So I'm trying to understand why do they end up in that place? And I think it's because of the control.
Jesper Conrad: A question to you as a teacher and passion and motivation is when I talk with people about that first meets on schooling. I'm trying to explain to them well, we actually don't school, we don't even on school, we are just living our life. But when you look at school. Sometimes, when you look at it, it's a weird construct that you are going there as a child And now you need to be passionate about a subject, For example history, and you only need to be for 45 minutes or maybe one and a half hour, and then you need to be interested in something else, and that is very difficult for the brain to switch like that. So, and I'm just what's the question?
Jesper Conrad: The question is just how has it been to be on the other side and trying to catch these children being there in the environment, giving it to them, And then now living outside that box of how education is and looking at it and seeing your former self? it must be a transition.
Jae Williams: It is So like I talked about in the beginning how I was so passionate and I love teaching, right, but I always said I didn't like school. I never liked school. Even as a student I didn't like school. And so when I was a teacher, the same things you just described. So we would have before the school year would start, we would have teacher development days right, where you have like some person doing a seminar basically telling you how you can be a better educator, a better teacher, And I remember a couple times there was representatives that said basically exactly what you described.
Jae Williams: It's the brain is very difficult to be focusing in on one task and be interested and motivated for one task for longer than for a certain amount of time, and then the shift and switch to go to a completely different task, that where you have to really concentrate and focus in on it right, it takes time for even adults. So children it's even worse And I remember so they're saying this. I'm like, but we do this every day, like for 180 days, so why are we expecting? it's almost like we're setting them up for failure. So it was a time in my last couple of years teaching when I was just so confused And I remember going to my principal about it and I said you know, you heard what he just said. So why don't we, let's do something different? Because I was at a charter school, which in charter schools there's a lot more flexibility with how you can do your curriculum, even your school days and stuff like that. And so I said why don't let's do something different? you know, and I remember his response was he said no-transcript, those things are pie in the sky As long as colleges are requiring certain requirements and high schools are requiring certain requirements. Because I was a middle school teacher, he was like middle school, we're gonna require these requirements because we have to meet our student body needs, to meet what's needed for high school. The high schools, students need to meet what's necessary for college. And I was like man that is, i just feels like so short-sighted, like we're only here to prepare people for what I think a lot of people are starting to realize this a flawed way of putting a person in a position of success and growth by just everything's about going to college, going to college, going to college right, and so on the flip side.
Jae Williams: So when you get to the other side of it and I've told this story before, but a friend of mine used the term unschooling. They said she said I unschool my kids. And I said, oh, you homeschool your kids. And she's like no, i unschool my kids. And I was like what was that? And when she described it to me it was like that's it. That's the thing that I've been thinking about, because every time I'm in the classroom I've said this in one of my videos like I felt like I was tricking the kids into learning and they loved me. My kid literally saw a kid in Costco the other day. I don't know if y'all have Costco, oh yeah, no right, but saw a kid in Costco the other day and just a smile on her face like oh man, mr Williams, blah, blah, blah. I haven't taught her for like three, four years, but it's like and it happens all the time Like I really built a strong connection and love with these young people And to like, sorry, i went on a tangent. What was I talking about?
Cecilie Conrad: I was saying I think tangents are what we have here.
Jae Williams: Yeah, i love it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was going to a point man.
Jesper Conrad: It was a good one too, the friend mentioning unschooling and the Oh yeah, that's it.
Jae Williams: Okay. So my friend's mentioning unschooling and I was like, that's it? because I built such a strong connection with the kids. That's why I said the Costco thing, because I built such a strong connection with the kids and they loved it. They loved my class, they loved me. My parents would all the time say, oh, my goodness, you're my kid's favorite teacher. I was. All the teachers knew too. I was the favorite teacher, right, and it wasn't because it's funny similar to what the young lady said to me when I was eating with my family on our trip is because it was about respect. Even then I knew it was about respect. I always gave the kids respect as if they were my peer And I treated them as such. And so we built these connections and I yes, i did get them to want to learn about history and want to learn about this and to do these things.
Jae Williams: But it was coerced, right, it was forced. And even with that love that they had for me and I had for them, there always came this point in the year where it was like, yeah, i don't wanna do this, i'm not interested in this. I love you, mr Williams. I appreciate your class, i see what you're doing, but I don't want it Like I'm not. I rather do something else And I never could figure out how, academically, i could get them past that. And I will talk to veteran teachers and they'll say, oh yeah, that's just it. Say, why wait what? Why are we just giving up on that? Yes, kids are gonna hit their wall. They talk to we talked about it as teachers all the time. Oh, the kids, they're hitting this wall, they hit their wall, they hit their wall. And then I'll say, okay, what can we do? How about we move the wall? Like, why is the wall even there?
Cecilie Conrad: You know what I mean.
Jae Williams: Don't push them into that wall Exactly, even though pushing the wall like open the doorway, something like give them a ladder to climb the wall.
Cecilie Conrad: When there's a wall, maybe you can change direction.
Jae Williams: Exactly exactly. And so when a friend of mine mentioned unschooling and she described it, it was like they removed the wall. They're not pushing them to a wall and there's no wall there in the first place. They're just free to learn and to grow through life. And it's like what's the best teacher's life.
Jae Williams: And when I think of myself, so I wasn't the best student, but I was a good student, if that makes sense. So I was an honor roll student, make great grades, but I was the jerk in the class, like a lot of teachers that liked me, you know, always cracking jokes, interrupting class. I was just annoyed, knowing, and I only did well academically because I'm really big on connections, right. So if and I was speaking to one of my players recently but if I knew the person who made the test, i would get at least a B, but probably an A on it, because I was just I'm so good at connecting with people, so I know what you're looking for, right, and I would just give people what they're looking for. I didn't know the information. I have no idea how to do the Pythagorean theorem or how to balance and make sure C's and stuff like. I don't know any of these things, but I learned it And I know I got an A on those tests right.
Jae Williams: And when I now I think back is okay. What are the things that I do now as an adult And why am I good at them? And every single one of those things I know this isn't for everybody, but this is for me. All the things that I'm good at now or what people would say oh man, you're really good at that, blah, blah, blah, blah. I learned through living. I didn't learn in a classroom, i didn't learn by a teacher teaching that to me. And when my friend mentioned unschooling and talked about, you know, just the process of living and following your passions and your interests, and I was like so that's it, that's the way, because I'm that guy who would lock himself in a room just to learn how to code so I could make the best website. Right, i'm that guy like I've done that before. Right, it was my space at the time.
Jae Williams: I don't know if you guys even remember my space Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, i was man, i was, yeah, yeah, i think so, yeah, but you know, i would be in there just literally two days, just locked in, just trying to learn how to code. You know simple code, central. You know HTML to make the best MySpace page, just cause I'm competitive and I was interested in it. You know, and I learned how to code off of that.
Jae Williams: I've never took a coding class my whole life. I've never taken people don't believe this. I've never taken a video editing class or anything like that. Like, so the videos that you see, that's purely from a novice, that's just an unschooler. Like I've just unschooled my way to doing this whole thing And I was like, okay, if this has helped me become the person I am, that I like I think about okay guy, you know. But why don't I want that? you know, i want to get allow that for my children, to give them that kind of space, that kind of latitude, not put that wall in front of them and then force them to smash into it and be like, well, yeah, kids hit that wall, so yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: So I'm getting really curious. now You're telling me about actually having, for the most part, a great time as a teacher being passionate, having great relations with the children, probably loving the contest content.
Jae Williams: Content yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: Sorry of what you're teaching And okay, you have these problems about. You know, maybe there's something with the structure, maybe you don't like the school as an institution, maybe when they hit the wall, do you want to push them, Do you want to give up, do you want to let it through, but for the most part it's you're passionate about it, so you're not unhappy as a teacher, as I hear it. And then I've heard this story about this woman who said oh, we just unschool, we just live our life and do whatever we feel like doing. Is there a moment Like, is there? I remember this day when I said, no, i'm not going to do this anymore. Or is it more of a pause? What?
Jae Williams: happened. It was a process, because it was a slippery slope. It started. I read this book Most Likely to Succeed I read it like in a day right, and I'm not a reader Most Likely to Succeed. It's about these innovative school programs and that are around the US And they're basically talking about how automation is going to be coming and, in order to be successful for the world we're going to be living in in 2030, people are going to need to be creative, going to need to be able to collaborate, things like that. It's not an unschooling book, by the way. It's more on the side of let's find more creative ways to educate our kids. That's the gist of the book, and so I started on this slippery slope, probably by maybe three years before I actually stepped away.
Jae Williams: But the moment is funny because my wife and I were just talking about this moment, the singular moment when I was like it actually was her more before me, which is funny Because we, like I said, we collaborate, we communicate And, even though she's not in it, she felt it. And so we were on one of our walks and we were talking about our daughter, because our daughter at the time was in kindergarten and she really liked her teacher. But we were already seeing the tricks. They're like how do I get out of doing this assignment And how do I avoid this assignment? Or I don't need to do this. This isn't graded, blah, blah, blah, but it's something you like Like. She likes math and numbers And I was like it's something you like, like, why are you? you know what I mean. And we didn't like that. We saw, because my wife and I, we both saw it's like OK, i remember when I was doing playing these games just to navigate school, and we didn't like that. And this is what a teacher she likes. And we were talking and she was saying, because it was near the end of the year, she was like so for first grade, what if she doesn't get a teacher She likes? And she's already playing these games with someone that she does like and respect, right, that likes and respects her. What if she doesn't get a teacher she likes? And I was like, oh man, because I think all of us, or at least most of us, has probably had that one teacher. It was like it just wasn't it for them. And I've seen it go different directions, right, i've seen it where that kid goes to a place where now they're labeled as the bad kid, the troubled kid, and they get in trouble all the time. That almost was me, like I was that kid.
Jae Williams: My fifth grade teacher was that for me, where I was in what they call it in-school suspension all the time And which is like I told you, i was an A-B student My almost most of my schooling life, at least in the latter years, my early elementary, i struggled, but my latter years I excelled really well. And so fifth grade I had that teacher who just put me in this box that I was the bad kid, that I was the kid who caused all the disruptions and labeled me. And I didn't realize it. But I was fighting against that label. I didn't even know it yet And it just felt wrong. It's like wait, why am I getting in trouble all the time? And it could have put me in a bad place.
Jae Williams: And luckily my mom she basically stood up for me and stood up for my rights as a young child, because I grew up in Georgia, southeast Georgia, so we talk in the country when you picture overalls and you know that's where I'm from And there might have been even a little bit of a race thing with the two.
Jae Williams: But I think it's more than that, to be honest. And I was like OK, my daughter has a lot of my qualities, and what if she gets that teacher Right? Am I going to be able to be enough of what my mom was for me to help her through that? And my wife was like you know, wait, why are we making, why is this the argument? Are you going to be enough of a parent? Why are we putting our kid in a position where they could go through this kind of trauma period? Yeah, yeah, and we're already seeing the signs. And she was like no, i don't want her to be there, i don't want her to go to school, i don't want to be the luck of the draw if we get a good teacher or not every year.
Cecilie Conrad: Is she the oldest of your children?
Jae Williams: Yeah, she's the oldest.
Cecilie Conrad: So now she's seven.
Jae Williams: But at the time she was five And she says yeah, we're not doing this luck of the draw thing. And that was the moment when it was like, all right, we got to figure something out. And that was the moment when we shifted to say OK, we're going to homeschool. We just didn't know how, i didn't know at that point, i didn't know it's going to be me, i thought it still was going to be some other way. But we was like, yeah, that's the easiest way to. One path is a straight line right, the path of least resistance, and that's the path that just made more sense for our family.
Cecilie Conrad: So yeah, I still didn't get the turning point, I think.
Jesper Conrad: It was. should the daughter be sent to school?
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, I get that I wanted more drama, I think.
Jae Williams: Yeah, stay together, stay together, no.
Cecilie Conrad: I said Oh, you wanted more dramatic.
Jae Williams: It was the moment.
Cecilie Conrad: But the moment is realizing. you try to work around something, How can we handle this problem? And then you realize why do we even create this problem? And that's when you decide to not school your children. OK, I get it now.
Jae Williams: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why Yeah? I guess it's not a sexy of a story, but No, I think it's good.
Cecilie Conrad: I like it.
Jae Williams: I can add drama, dramatic music No no, no, no, It's not No. I'm sorry, no, no, no, it's fine, it's fine.
Cecilie Conrad: No, it's all good. It's all good. We had something similar. Basically didn't we Like, so for us it was our second child. Our first child is now in her 20s and she was in school. She was in very alternative, very hippie-style school. Make up your own program every Monday, evaluated every Friday. All kids of all ages all together. Teachers just facilitate.
Cecilie Conrad: I was very close to unschooling school, but still a school, still an institution. We still go there every morning and leave every afternoon. So but our second child, he just said I think this school thing it's probably not for me, might be good for all the other kids, but I just feel he's very spiritual and very close to himself, very honest, very peaceful and very nice. It was not making any drama about it, he was just saying wow, i don't think, i really don't think it's for me. And he said it many times in the months up to school start. And in the end he said mom and dad, when are you gonna listen when I'm telling you it's not for me? It's like you try to distract or talk about something else. Every time I say it, I'm telling you the school thing is not for me. And it was actually really powerful. And yet we tried, because one of us not me- That's the.
Jesper Conrad: There was nothing wrong with school. It didn't break me, kind of dad you know.
Cecilie Conrad: So we tried for a while and our story, like our turning point, came with some drama basically. So we tried for a while. He didn't like it, he didn't want it, and then you have this. I have the feeling that you also have this like curtains being pulled aside, the de-schooling you call it, coming back to zero, like you take layers off, and we had a curtain pulling experience because a friend of mine died And we went to the funeral and she basically she died from the same disease, the same cancer that I survived. So it was like very, very confronting And driving back from that funeral, it was like maybe several curtains And we said what are we doing? Why, what's this? Why don't we just live with passion the life that we have? So that's our, our initial story.
Jesper Conrad: But what?
Cecilie Conrad: we had to take care of. Yeah, i know, i know, but I have a short one which is A pattern coming, Because we just last time we spoke to Laini Liberty and it was the same thing we said. We have to talk to you again, Yeah, yeah, but one more thing before we end.
Jesper Conrad: Then, what you said reminded me, with your daughter, the taking home to responsibility. The first time I met that because, of course, you feel like parents, you're responsible. But we had our son in a vault of institution when he was small the kindergarten And I was. We were then trying to involve ourselves in the institution and stuff. We were in the whatever it's called.
Jesper Conrad: But one day yeah, the board is called but one day the leader of the place, she said to me well, if your kids are here more than four, five hours a day, it's more my kids than your kids. And she said it very nicely And I was so provoked by it I was like what? And it took now, today, i agree with her, but I was so pissed because it really hurt me. But it's the best hours of the days people give away with their children, where they're fresh, where they're out there, and today what I'm thinking about on schooling and what it felt for me getting the kids home, was this okay, it was actually a fun thing. I remember with our oldest daughter who was in school. She asked me something, And it's something academic, and my answer would sometimes be go ask your teacher about that. So I was outsourcing, helping my daughter with her questions. And then when we started homeschooling and they turned into unschooling, i was like they asked me stuff. I'm like shit, we need to figure that out together.
Jesper Conrad: No, we actually have to answer that first I cannot outsource the no, no You could say go ask your mom. Yeah, yeah, I do that sometimes still.
Cecilie Conrad: Your mom probably knows that Okay.
Jae Williams: Okay, we could go on forever.
Cecilie Conrad: Man, I have like eight questions on my notepad here that I didn't even ask. No, no, no, it's been great, It's just I think we have to do take two in a few months, Just like with everybody else we talked to.
Jesper Conrad: It's like one hour. I love that, but for people who wants to hear more from you, where should they go?
Jae Williams: All right, so my first spot is my YouTube, which is Blackdad. So if you go youtubecom, backslash blackdad and then on Instagram it's black at blackdad journey. Twitter, same thing at blackdad journey, and, yeah, that's where you can reach me.
Cecilie Conrad: I would highly recommend it. I enjoyed your videos.
Cecilie Conrad: And I think they are very, very honest and powerful And I think congratulations on how fast you go on this journey. If it's only been one year, i mean, oh shit, that was a flat, i'm outdoors. I think you're doing great stuff with your personal journey and with sharing it. When we started out 10 plus years ago, there was not much info out there, so sharing it I think is very important And I'm sure that also it reflects back on your own. You know you become more precise.
Jesper Conrad: And also as a dad. We're growing up without a dad, which is a bigger problem in this stage than in Denmark, where we are originally from. But to go out and show others that you can be a homemaker, as a dad, and be there fully, it makes me proud of you. Thank you, man.
Jae Williams: Thank you, thank you. Yeah, i just wanna just try to reflect honesty and truth in my journey. I try not to be preachy because I always said, okay, 10 years from now there's gonna be another J Williams who's stepping into this journey and maybe he'll come across a couple of my videos and he or she come across some of my videos and that'll help inspire them to make that leap. So that's kind of my purpose for this whole thing. So, yeah, thank you, i appreciate that.
Jesper Conrad: But to everybody listening and watching the video, go check out your wonderful videos. And thanks a lot for your time.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE
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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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