E8 - "Honey, I'm Homeschooling the Kids" - A Conversation with Robyn Robertson
🗓️ Recorded January 17th, 2023. 📍Casa Nina, Sampieri, Sicily, Italy
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- Website: https://imhomeschooling.com
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About this Episode
What happens when you step off the beaten path of traditional schooling and embrace the world as your children's classroom?
In this episode, we are joined by Robin Robertson, a homeschooling and unschooling mom who shares her family's journey into alternative education. Discover how Robin and her husband were inspired to pull their children out of the conventional school system and provide them with unique learning experiences through travel and unschooling.
Robyn is the host of the popular podcast "Honey, I'm Homeschooling the Kids," which is dedicated to providing resources, support, and inspiration to parents who have decided to homeschool their children. With years of experience as a homeschooling parent, Robyn has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with her listeners. Her passion for homeschooling and her commitment to helping families succeed in this educational journey has made her a trusted voice in the homeschooling community. Through her podcast, Robyn has created a platform where parents can come together to learn, grow, and connect, all with the ultimate goal of giving their children the best education possible.
Explore the ever-changing landscape of homeschooling in Canada and the challenges that come with choosing this unconventional path. In this episode, Robin offers insightful perspectives on the differing regulations across the country and emphasizes the importance of sharing stories and encouraging others to explore alternative education methods. Dive together with us into the unschooling philosophy, the challenges of explaining this lifestyle to others, and the necessity for adults to let go and allow children to lead their own lives.
Robin also shares her children's successes and how they've thrived in leadership roles through their one-of-a-kind learning experiences. We discuss the significance of giving teenagers the space and time to grow, explore, and mature on their own terms.
We hope you will enjoy the episode as we challenge the traditional structure of schooling and celebrate the boundless possibilities of alternative learning paths.
Clips from this episode
Normal is that what everybody is doing, or is it what is natural or right?
It is not necessarily natural and right because everybody else is doing it. For millennia what we today call normal would have been considered insane. Locking children up in schools, telling them what they should be interested in and when. For 95 % of our species’ time on earth, self-directed learning was actually the norm. We will dive a lot deeper into this subject in an upcoming episode where we will interview Darcia Narvaez.
This clip from our episode with Robyn Robertson just made me think of how If you look back at how humans have lived together as small communities, then learning evolved naturally - knowledge wasn’t taught - it was learned.
Age segregations negative effect on children’s social development.
One of the most often asked questions to a homeschooler is, “But how will they learn social skills?” But this is not a problem - quite the opposite.
One of the major benefits of homeschooling your children is that they don’t grow up in an age-segregated world - they interact with people of all ages regularly. When they don’t need all those hours in school, they also have proper time to do their inner work.
We discussed this with Robyn Robertson in our podcast ‘Self Directed.’
Age segregation can have a negative effect on a teenager’s social development:
- Stunted emotional intelligence: Adolescents need to interact with people of all ages to develop empathy, understanding, and emotional intelligence
- Lack of role models: Age segregation can also mean teenagers have limited access to role models outside their peer group. This can limit their exposure to people with different perspectives and experiences, making it harder for them to develop a sense of identity and purpose.
- Limited learning opportunities: Segregating teenagers from other age groups can limit their learning opportunities. For example, they may miss out on learning from older people with more life experience, or they may not be exposed to new and challenging ideas from interacting with people of different ages.
- Social anxiety: Adolescents not exposed to a range of social situations may feel anxious or uncomfortable when in new or unfamiliar situations. This can lead to social anxiety and make it harder for them to make friends or engage in new activities. Overall, age segregation can limit teenagers’ social development in several ways. Adolescents need access to a range of people and experiences to help them develop into well-rounded, socially skilled individuals.
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Transcript of Self Directed Episode 8
E8 - "Honey, I'm Homeschooling the Kids" - A Conversation with Robyn Robertson
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there will probably be some transcription errors along the way 🙂
Jesper Conrad: Hey Robin, good to meet you. The reason we wanted to chat with you is actually because I had a great laugh when I saw your Instagram handle honey, i'm homeschooling the kids. It made me think back on. This was an early 80 or 90 movies. I don't know if that was. That's why right.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, honey, i shrink the kids, yeah, my kids love that movie. Yes.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, fantastic I think maybe I also made you think back on the moment when I said honey, i'm homeschooling the kids, and you were like wait what?
Jesper Conrad: Exactly the same For us. It was like that I'm normal kind of dad. Now we are 10 years down the road of unschooling, so so I'm used to be the standard I used to be the standard guy coming from a suburbs thinking what's that homeschooling stuff? that's kind of weird, and it seems to me it's the women who are more progressive in taking it in this direction. Was it the same in your family?
Robyn Robertson: Oh, yes and no. In the beginning it was my husband's idea actually. We wanted to go traveling. We'd always talked about traveling with our kids. My husband and I traveled quite a bit before we were married. When we got married, we actually were living in two different countries and then came together, and one to get married and then went back to two different places, but it was something we always wanted to do with our kids. And then, once we were married and we started having kids and we kind of got to a point where you know, you're here, we had bought a house and we were doing our you know normal thing down the path and we needed to make some changes.
Robyn Robertson: And my husband was the one who suggested like why don't we take them out of school and go travel now? Because if we don't do it we could just continue and this will never happen, kind of thing. It might work to solve some of the things that we needed to fix And it was kind of like we can try and if it doesn't work, then we just come back home and continue on, and if it does, then great. So we did. It was his idea and he said, you know I was, i had asked well, what about school? Like, what are we going to do?
Robyn Robertson: And it was his idea to homeschool originally. He said, well, we can homeschool them, like it will work, you can do it, no problem. You know, i have confidence that this will, we can do it. So it was really his idea. He was a catalyst for it all. And then as we began and began to homeschool and stayed away longer, longer than we had planned, then we started kind of evolving into unschooling And it was just seemed almost like a natural progression, i guess, as our kids got older and, you know, more independent and just the lifestyle that we were living, it fit. So that's kind of how we got into it.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, i think for us it was kind of the same, or I was the nervous dad who that respect, it was not the same. No, no, but the sliding on schooling.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, from homeschooling to on schooling.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: It's an external progression for a lot of people. You think you have to homeschool and then you find out, oh, it's actually an unnecessary waste of time And then you just start living, which you can call on schooling if you like. That's right. Don't really talk about it anymore, except when we do these podcasts and yeah, I hear you. You know you're not playing to people who don't know us, but we do live as if schools didn't really exist.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, that's not a thing.
Cecilie Conrad: But I'm curious as to the. You talk about home and traveling and going out and coming back. So where is home?
Robyn Robertson: now Home now is Canada. Northern Alberta, Canada Actually it's where we live is fairly remote and rural But if anybody knows, the area is called the peace country, north peace, So the closest may be. Some people might know Grand Prairie as the closest center. So like very area might know? it at least. Yes, yeah, natural resource heavy kind of area. Most don't know it, but that's where we are in Northern Alberta, canada.
Cecilie Conrad: That's home right now And you stopped the traveling, you came back to living in in a more permanent home or we did.
Robyn Robertson: We came back to Canada and we actually my husband's family is here And that's what we weren't. This is the first time we had ever lived here in this location in Alberta in Canada. So we came back from South Korea actually is where we were before we came back to Canada And we thought this would be a stopover for a few short months as we continued on in our journey, and it's turned into eight years that we've been here now. Long stopover, a long stopover which it you know it worked out as it needed to work out and we're happy here, and so that's that's how we got to this particular place. But we we thought we would probably move back to Canada and relocate somewhere else in Canada, not exactly here, but this is, this is where we are. So we haven't been traveling like we were. We would do trips like in a year kind of thing. So before the pandemic and everything shut down, our last trip was Australia And we actually got home just as everything closed and everything shut down, lucky you.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, so that's kind of how we've been doing things now, and then I mean I can share more. Now, you know, our oldest is 16, he'll be 17 this year, our youngest is 13. And they, you know our oldest has been he lives away from home for probably more than half the year. He's done that since he was 14. So when he is home, we kind of now just enjoy having him with us for the time he's here. And yeah, so we haven't. Actually he just got his new passport in the mail yesterday, so you know we can, we can start looking to going places again, maybe when when he is, when he is Homer and around us again. But that's kind of how it looks now. So at the moment we're enjoying our family being together again.
Jesper Conrad: We started our travels five years ago And until that we had many, many years in Copenhagen with Danish windows. And now our oldest is. We have a grown up, Almost 24, but our oldest who traveled with us on full time, He just turned 17. And it it when we we have these talk where it's like, how long time do we have the lift, where he wants to keep traveling. But as he has been traveling from he was 12 till now, he, this is his youth, This is what he is used to most of all. So, so we hope that we have a couple of years more on a full time basis before his he become like more like a satellite, dropping in from now and then.
Cecilie Conrad: Well, it's hard to predict.
Jesper Conrad: It is absolutely, and that's also we in Denmark. it's normal, you know, to move away from home the day you turn 18, almost right, and people think that is normal. And now we are here in southern Italy where you live home until you, almost until you marry, until you go to university.
Cecilie Conrad: So it's just you finish university.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, so, so. so, normal is just very weird sometimes when we look at it.
Robyn Robertson: I like, yeah, normal is very weird, depending how, what our normal is. It's true, we think that a normal has to be a certain way, but yeah, depending where you are, normal can be very different at each place.
Cecilie Conrad: And we have to step out of it to think about What kind of normal will we accept as something we also would call? I mean, normal is, is that what everybody are doing, Or is it what is natural and right? It's not necessarily natural and right just because everyone else are doing it And we call it normal. And then we connote how do you say it in English? Conute here. So we mean by normal that if it's normal, it's right. If it's normal, it's natural. If it's normal, we expect everyone to do it, And I think that's one of the most important things we learned from moving around that we can invent normal.
Cecilie Conrad: Our normal, was normal for us, and maybe it's just normal for a chapter, like now. You've had a chapter of an eight year stopover and it's one chapter of your life and you've had other chapters and they all are equal. It's not like just because I used to live in a bus, traveling in a big red veteran bus. It's not and I don't want to do that now. It wasn't wrong to do it when I did it. It's just not right right now. So I think that's one of the conversations we keep having. So what's what's right for us at this point in time?
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, i agree Absolutely.
Robyn Robertson: I think, for the point in time, i, you know, in some ways I'm a little bit envious of you still traveling, because I do find that, or I found that when we are traveling, just because that is just different from many being different, you're just kind of in that flow, more, more so than being here, like where we've stopped for quite a long time, you begin to be surrounded by a certain kind of normal or acceptance of what's normal, and it starts to seep in to you as well and to our family.
Robyn Robertson: Right, and it's true you saying that because I think, well, what is seeping in this very normal to us now, because that's our environment that we've been in for such a long period of time, wasn't always that normal for us and it's not normal for other people as well. It's nice to to be on the road and because I find when you're traveling you're also very present, you almost have to be. When you're in a new place, new language, new space, new food, everything is very new You're that much more in the moment. Well, when you're somewhere for a longer period of time, you can start to become a little bit. You know, it's just you almost take for granted those new experiences or those differences that you know that you really take in when you're on the road as well.
Cecilie Conrad: So yeah, i totally agree. I also think that when we travel, we get to find a really nice balance between habits and everyday life and adventure. Because when, when we sometimes stop for long and everyday life takes over, we always cook this kind of pasta, whatever we get these habits and they take over and it's like we have to do the laundry before we can go for a walk. Whatever kind of rules we make up for ourselves. It's kind of like a trap.
Cecilie Conrad: But then, on the other hand, when we break free and go and everything is new, it can be a little too much, overwhelming chaotic and we need to find where is, where are the habits that we we actually enjoy holding on to, so that we stay on the path of the life we want to live. And and what is just? you know, this is how we do when we're in Sicily, or this is how we do when we're in France, but it doesn't have to be like that all the time, and I think that trap is really hard to get out of staying in that place. So that's one of the big advantages, but maybe you can find a way around it. Just sleep on the couch now and then do something different Go sleep in the car, yeah yeah, yeah, we still still looking for new experiences and different things around us within our environment.
Robyn Robertson: For sure, connecting with people who you know maybe you know that's how I always find is meeting people who maybe that in your current environment and people around you wouldn't always connect with, but but that we connect with.
Jesper Conrad: One thing we did before we started our travels we we invited people to stay with us. We had young people as workaways or woofing kind of stuff, and it was a way of getting the traveling indoors without being traveling, and it was also a fantastic experience just to have the extra hands in the kitchen, you know. But then also the young people coming with their whole life story, and we are almost in contact with all of them still And it's it was really wonderful way of starting to travel full time without being on the road.
Cecilie Conrad: When I think that it was a good way of breaking normal. Oh yes just have a new person at home.
Jesper Conrad: And they are very different from you sometimes, and that's OK, it was nice It was nice. It breaks up for your normality spectrum. One thing I am always curious about when we talk to people is why are you sharing? I know why we are sharing. for me It's there's a combination.
Cecilie Conrad: One of them is asking a question, not answering it yourself.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, that's right, she's clever.
Cecilie Conrad: So why am I social media?
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, the whole honey. I'm homeschooling the kids. What's going on? What are?
Robyn Robertson: you doing with it. So I started that because I at one point I was, i had so many questions and I was trying to find answers and connect with others. When we first started traveling, we actually first moved to Jamaica because my dad is from Jamaica, and so we actually moved to the island and we moved in with my dad And there I tried to find other homeschoolers while we were there and I just could not. I actually met one mom who was an unschooler. She unschooled her kids, but her kids were now like in their late 20s and gone, kind of thing, and so it was great to talk with her. But finding other families that were homeschooling was really difficult. And of course you begin and you're like but what you know? I wanted to know all these things.
Robyn Robertson: And as we continued and changed and I still had questions, we came to Canada and I love listening to podcasts, because that was a first, and I would always say to complain to my husband like, oh, i wish there were more podcasts on homeschooling and unschooling and alternative learning, and you know this kind of thinking, and because I was just wanting to observe more information.
Robyn Robertson: And so finally he was like, why don't you just start one yourself and then you can bring it to you.
Robyn Robertson: And we had friends as well who lived in Florida, that were homeschooling, that we were connected with And that mom and I were going to start a podcast together And it turned out it didn't work out for her, but I just continued, and that was the beginning was really to get answers to my questions and start building a community, even if they weren't right there with me, that I could connect with people around the world and different places and hear their stories.
Robyn Robertson: And I think the biggest thing about hearing others' stories and sharing those stories is that, like for someone like me at the time and still continuously is it's inspiring And it's important to hear those differences because, although our lives may have a lot of similarities, we still have unique differences and we can take and learn and try, but also be inspired to know that, okay, there are people who are forging that new path, who are taking the leap, who are facing those big fears, who are doing something outside of that. You know quote unquote normal, and this is what it looks like for them. This is what they've overcome, this is what they're working through, this is what they've received from it, this is what their kids, because everyone's always like. Big question is how are the kids going to turn out If?
Robyn Robertson: you don't do this thing, that everyone else is doing, the sure path that guarantees this, this and this, or supposedly guarantees this, this and this. You know you're taking this gamble with your kids, like what happens if it all goes down the drain, kind of thing, and I think it's important to share the stories of others who are doing something different And to know what it looks like, because it's scary, there can be it's a big unknown. It helps when you know that you're not the only person stepping off that cliff right, that there's other people. There's like a lagoon that's beautiful down at the bottom that others are playing in, exactly That other people have taken the leap And so that's how it began and that's why I continue, because I do think it's important.
Robyn Robertson: We hear so much about that other, you know, well-worn path that's a guaranteed route to certain things And usually people are discouraged from leaving that path, really discouraged.
Robyn Robertson: I've worked in private education for years.
Robyn Robertson: I've worked in public Actually, i work now in public school governance So I hear a lot about that side and how much you really are discouraged not to leave that path.
Robyn Robertson: And I find, even if you're immersed in that, you almost don't know that people like us even exist, that our kids are out here doing these things And it's you're discouraged from leaving that worn path that way, because if you don't know about it, if you don't know that kids are actually following their interests, that they're actually out in the world, that they're experiencing things, they're working jobs, they're creating, they are taking downtime, they're doing the things that are very different from the mainstream path and they're still great people, they're still adding value to the world, they're still positive, they're you know, they're what they need to be there themselves and they're still able to exist and grow and even though they've never lived with school, that it's possible.
Robyn Robertson: So you know, that's my biggest thing is that we have to share more stories of what it looks like, in that it's possible because you know how to encourage others that need it or need that. You know that that encouragement to take, to take that chance or to try, even if it's for six months or a year, that there are other possibilities that are out there, at least knowing, i think.
Cecilie Conrad: so. I started blogging like 11 years ago about this alternative lifestyle, and now we then social media came and now podcasting, but it's the same. I I found I have the exact same story. There was like close to no info out there. I was like two or three blocks and it was all Americans. And you know, being in Europe, it was like okay, thank you very much. But I'm somewhere else, in a very different context, in a country with like so we have five, six million Danes and there were like three or four families homeschooling, that's it. Wow, it was like you know, yeah, so we were like really the odd ones out when we started.
Robyn Robertson: Really the odd ones out.
Cecilie Conrad: Really like okay, this is crazy, even though in our constitution it's a right. It's like it's a right. It's not like an option You can find like a leap somewhere. It's a right. The word homeschooling is in my constitution. I didn't know about it And I have very nice education, so it's I don't know. The lack of info was huge and being from Europe, it was even smaller. I mean, if you were in Las Americas and well, so I have the same agenda. I just want to put a little light out there in the darkness, because when I was looking for answers and when I was looking for someone to talk to with my fear and my doubt, it was very lonely. It really was. It's different now. It's very different after COVID, even more different. I mean, loads of people homeschool now.
Cecilie Conrad: It's also different Not sure always in a good way where we come from, i think people have taken the school home more than it's less of a free thinking mind and more of a I can do better, and then they do school at home just better, and And yeah, well, that's another story. But I would like to ask you, how is I mean, how? what's the climate in Canada? I have no, not the weather, but, like for homeschoolers, i'm not interested in the weather, no, but you know how many people homeschool. Can you find anyone to hang out with? what's the political situation for homeschoolers? how are you doing over there?
Robyn Robertson: So homeschool in Canada it's very different depending what province you live in. The province I live in, Alberta, is probably from what I hear. I know one homeschooler in Denmark And what she tells me. There's some similarities where here in Alberta you it's become actually more open but usually have to report that you are a homeschooler and you have a kind of a facilitator who checks in with you, kind of thing. The one thing with reporting now now they've actually passed a new kind of educational law where if you want to just report to the government that you're homeschooling and that's it, say I'm not connected with any school or board, I want no facilitator, I want to be free, That is, you can do that. Now With the reporting they do give you numbers And I think here in Alberta we probably have a population in our province of about over 3 million in our province and it's I'm trying to think, maybe like there's over, well over 10,000 homeschoolers in this, this province. But the way they govern it across the country is different. Quebec, for Montreal is, for example, is the strictest. There's a lot of limitations where you're not allowed, you only can follow the curriculum if you homeschool. They have very strict measures. It's not as open. So that has changed. Other places it's more open but homeschooling is quite large, Like there.
Robyn Robertson: There's a lot of homeschoolers in Canada but I think it's just pockets of certain places where you have a large amount and less in certain places.
Robyn Robertson: And you know the political climate, the actual climate changes things. Here where we are in rural Alberta, I think traditionally there were a lot of homeschoolers that people just didn't really know about because people live so far apart And it's so remote that for some it was just easier because you're, you know where we live for kids going to school they get on the bus and they are on the bus for 45 minutes to an hour to get to the closest town to go to school early in the morning you know wintertime and then in the at night. So I think some chose just for ease to homeschool over the years. There is very religious pockets and different parts of our province who are homeschooling and then you have others who, like you said after COVID, who are now, are now taking the choice, but others who were like us that just you know, chose a different path and it worked well for them. And yeah, there's there's a very active community in our province, for sure.
Jesper Conrad: Wonderful And you said earlier when we talked about homeschooling and your choice and wanting to share it, where you mentioned the word the gamble, that you're gambling and we everybody are, of course, gambling with their child's education And it just struck me as fun that it's. It would be. People would think I was very rude if I met a person. I said oh, why are your kids there in school? Oh, do you dare that? Do you dare that gamble? because it is. I mean, if I've looked at some of the Danish numbers and we had a talk recently with Peter Gray who looks into the statistics of how the anxiety level and depression level among students, i'm like actually today I wouldn't dare, but it would not feel normal for people if I went and asked them that. So I think it's fun that it's people believe it's okay to ask people who take another choice that, but it's maybe just the price of being the odd one out, you know.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, yeah, it is a gamble anything that you do, i think, really, because you don't know, there's no guarantee, there's no absolute certainty in anything that we choose in life, right? so? and that's even going to school, absolutely, you, you don't know what I mean me and my.
Jesper Conrad: I have two siblings and we have the same school and we have three very different kind of experiences because we had different teachers. I was lucky, had good teachers. My brother's teachers they were shitty and there was too much bullying in his classroom, and it's the same school. So I mean, even that's a big gamble.
Cecilie Conrad: But the thing is, if you follow the mainstream path and you send your kids off to be looked after by someone else throughout most of their childhood where we come from, it's normal to let go of them before they can even walk, and you know. You leave them at eight in the morning, you pick them up at four or five, something like that the whole childhood, and that's normal, and if it turns out bad, you can always explain that it was the shitty or the bullying or something. But if you do it yourself, then it's your fault, isn't it? Yeah, and then that's not very nice.
Cecilie Conrad: I mean it would be nice to just kind of hide behind something, and I think that's the big problem and that's actually also the reason we very rarely let our children speak in these podcasts and ask us anything that they would have to stand and be this perfect example of a human being. Just because they, because they are homeschooled, then everybody are looking at them like there's purple giraffe and and they have to perform like the, the most amazing, and it's not fair, not fair, i agree.
Cecilie Conrad: Be allowed to just be who they are and life will take its turns on them. And do you come out perfect? that's a big question. Some people become professors, others become happy, and it's not necessarily the same. But the homeschooled children? they are first row to be criticized and to be looked upon and to be judged and to have to defend their childhood, and and and so. The same story goes for the parents. We have to perform in in a kind of a little bit too much way and we have to let go of that idea that it's my fault. It's not necessarily my fault, maybe it's not even a fault. How can we know that?
Robyn Robertson: I agree, i think that's one of the hard things with social media, because now especially, you know, i think I've been sharing less about my kids because they're like we're just living our life, you know. You know they don't want to be on display. There's a lot of request, though, from people saying we want to see your kids more and you know things like, which is nice, but at the same time, i agree, it's like I just they just want to be themselves and not have to feel like they're trying to measure up to the standard of a successful home school child kind of, and if they don't, then they're going to feel pressure. We're not doing this for them to feel pressure to to look a certain way. This is just us living our life and and and I find that's also it's interesting to, because people want to see more of what we're doing But, like you said, it's not even in school and we're just living our life And it's kind of like you know, do you really want to see us like, like my son getting up this morning and getting dressed and packing his lunch and going off to work? like he's gone today? I'm not going to see him till the end of the day kind of thing. Right, you know it's, it's nice. My, my daughter is going to go and get her hair cut today and you know, do a few. Then they're going to go to volleyball practice tonight and you know she's going to. I'm sure she's up right now reading a book in her bed and you know it's.
Robyn Robertson: I could relate all of those things, and a lot of times they you know people want to hear well, how do you get the learning from that? how do you know that they're learning by? And you know I think they don't want to have to complain that this is how they're learning through living their everyday life as well. You know, people want to hear the story sometimes, but they want to hear it in a certain way to prove something. When you're like you, like you said, you know you don't want that responsibility, that being at fault or proving something. When can you just live your life? And you know we're just trying to be the best that we can be.
Robyn Robertson: I really do feel that people are doing the best that they can, and everybody's best looks very different as well, but yet we think it all has to look a certain way. Well, no one is at that standard. We. We complain that we don't want our kids to be standardized with education. Yet we set this bar for every family to be standardized and look a certain way when nobody does. We all come from different places and experiences. We live our daily lives very differently And you know it's interesting that we try and want to see our even homeschooling families measure up to a certain way when you know we don't even live our life that way. So it's trying to fit into the standard. When getting to the standard invite you might have to do this and this and this, but we're way over here.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, it's also very often when you get these kinds of questions, people want to know where's the learning, what you do, what does a normal day look like? I've had that question 1000 times what does a normal day look like? and I'm like I don't even know what that question means. Yeah, the thing is You'd have to let go homes.
Cecilie Conrad: Unschooling as a philosophy and and the answers to the philosophy comes from Well now our oldest kids can explain it, obviously, as they are almost adults, but it should come from the parents and it is the kids. They don't have a problem not being in school. It's the adults who are schooled into the idea of schooling. What has this whole matrix going on and this whole fear thing going on, that need to let go and let the children just live their lives? because if you do look at a quote, unquote normal day or let's say we take a random sample of 15 different normal days and look at our lives, it looks like weekend. I mean, it's right, it does.
Cecilie Conrad: And it's only when you, when you think it over and understand the philosophy and what freedom, personal freedom really means and and and see the full picture that, that you can understand how unschooling can be something equivalent of education or maybe something better, where it's just looking at what they do in a normal day. It wouldn't. You wouldn't learn anything from it. That's why we've refused 1000 times. Also, when journalists wants to, you know, come into our lives or do an article or come filming and we just want to see what you're doing and it's not interesting. I mean, that's not interesting. It's how we think about what we're doing, and maybe it's what we're not doing. That's interesting and how that unfolds when you do it year after year after year, living this life of inventing your own meaningfulness Absolutely, which is really annoying, wouldn't you wish, robin, sometimes it would be very easy to explain to people how this works.
Robyn Robertson: Yes, I do, yeah, and some people do get it because in some ways they've been searching and wanted it for themselves or their children for all their lives, but they've just never been able to see it or connect with someone who's doing it or can talk about it. Sometimes I get people who are like, oh my God, like that's what I wanted. Or, you know, i begged my parents to take me out of school and do this, but we just weren't able to do so, or you know. And and then some some don't, because, also, i find sometimes people are a little bit upset by it because it pushes buttons for them and it's their own internal buttons of you know, it makes them uncomfortable And you know, sometimes I find you know that is, you think it's you are being wrong about, and the immediate reaction is to make you wrong.
Robyn Robertson: Right, it took time also to realize that and, again, letting go and just being okay and finding our own path or own way, and getting to there where you realize, okay, it's actually not me, this is about them And I'm not even saying something, but just how we are being, our family is being, or what we are happened to do or not, do I think that's a big thing. What we're not doing is really uncomfortable for a lot of people, and very uncomfortable.
Cecilie Conrad: It makes sense. It makes sense. Yeah, it's mostly sense. That's where the past me, the salt answer, comes into the question. We just change the subject because it's not the right person to talk to about this and I don't want to annoy other people with my lifestyle. I don't want to totally talk about something else. It's more when someone really wants to know, but they are too close to the school way of thinking and I have to spend two or three hours explaining the philosophy of homeschooling and unschooling and personal freedom and living in an environment of unconditional love and all these things And they keep coming back to. But how does a normal day look and how do they learn and how do you, how do you know, and and I?
Cecilie Conrad: But then we had we had a very interesting conversation also in this podcasting. Someone was it? someone said you have to think about. Sometimes people need to get the information 27 times, absolutely The one who is saying that for the 11th time and it feels like a waste of time, but it's not, because that means the next person can be the 12th And at some point they get to 27 and then they get it.
Jesper Conrad: Because this is been so so.
Cecilie Conrad: I get so annoyed with people and then they don't listen when I answer.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, that's right, or it just is not. Computing it's not, they're not understanding. It's like it's like water and you say that in English. You know I have a great, a great experience now. My, my current work as a public school board trustee is a governance level and in public education, and so I live in a small community so I get a chance to just, you know, i know a lot of community members, a lot of teachers and educators, and you know a lot of friends before I came into this role and they, so they feel comfortable asking. You know, i'll see someone. I remember there's someone I knew and we were at a party or a gathering and she had asked me about and she was a teacher and very I didn't realize until she asked that question how she was very much about following the steps and checking things off, and you know she had asked me a question about homeschooling and the answer that I could see that it was like I did not know, that, like I thought it was only this way, i had no idea.
Robyn Robertson: She, you know, and she had said, i, i didn't know that families could do that, you know what she had asked me. She's like I just didn't think it was allowed. But now, okay, and she went away from that conversation, this kind of obviously a bit more open. But she come, come, has come back to me time and time again, again, you know, coming up with that kind of like no, but this shouldn't be okay. And then I'll just ask Robin about it then And she'll ask me and I'll explain, you know, and then she'll kind of go away like, okay, you know, it can tell her mind is turning, but she just needs a lot of time to process it. And then she'll come back again and ask, and but what about? you know, what about high school diploma? but what about, like, what is this, what about? you know this and you know I'll explain. I'll explain things from our experience, our, you know what our family has lived and why it's possible, because we're living it this way. But I see it slowly open more and more. But it's also very slowly opening more and more And, like she said, i've just never had a chance to ask anybody about it. Who's been able to share this information with me? So, yeah, it's. You know, some are ready to hear it, some are just learning. You might be the first opening ever and it might not be until 10 years later that they might see something that that, oh, that reminds me of that conversation. That's right. So this is how this is how this looks after this. So, you know it's, there's a lot of openings.
Robyn Robertson: I think that we're also offering and sharing the stories. But, yeah, it's, it's also hard when you're not sharing the stories. Now I think there's more stories being shared that are normalizing it. We go back to the word normal, right, because there's more people doing it in some ways, but it's still. It's still different And it's still. You know, people, not everyone is exposed to it, not everyone is even searching. It's not going to come up in their feed about homeschooling or unschooling. It's going to come up about how to get your kids to their homework at night, how to make sure you have them in bed by nine o'clock, how you can get them to be in the school year, how you can get extra tutoring to make sure that they're the top of their class. So you know, people are also being streamed into this. Only, this kind of environment And I think like, like your family or our family, is so absolute. Think how different. That is right.
Robyn Robertson: I think of like, say you, you lived in a northern Canadian, so you lived in none of it in the far north. You know my, for example, i have a good friend. She is an educator, she's an unschooling parent, she's been a principal and a teacher. Her early teaching jobs were in. Her first was in Nunavut, which is like the north north Arctic, and and she had said, when she came in and she was talking about this lesson, about building a garden and wanting the kids to build a garden with her, and she was excited because it was hands on and all this sort of stuff, And she got a blank stare and there was no engagement. And so she finally took some time for her to realize in conversation with the students that they don't garden because they live in the Arctic.
Robyn Robertson: A garden is not going to grow. They don't know what a garden like. They've read about a garden but it's not real for them. They've never seen it or experienced it. Like the community goes out on their seal hunts and well hunts and they store the meat for the whole community. You know, in a certain place and it's a very different, like you're driving your schedule most of the year, you know you're not driving a convertible around, you know getting things flown in because there's no access. It's a very different they just if you're not, if you have no relational experience, sometimes it's just hard to comprehend some things. So, yeah, it's, it's an interesting path and it's also, when you hear so much about even talking about unschooling or living our life, everyone wants to relate it to how it looks or doesn't look like school And I find, like you know, articles and interviews, it's how does, why are you not doing something like school or how does this relate to school.
Robyn Robertson: But it's about school. It's about like parenting, it's about our relationship with our kids, more so that than anything, and it's about trying to step into that understanding of I can have a relationship with my children where we are in a conversation flow, where we're creating environment that's safe so that they can share and be open, and that's the priority over making sure they get a biology class, you know, maybe if they want one, great, but you know the priority is having that conversation of you know them saying, okay, this isn't what I'm interested in or this is what I would love to do. I'm looking for help or support and feeling comfortable suggesting something that may seem really different. And you know, it's so much more about building that environment of connection, of independence, of experience and practice of life. Then it is trying to look like school And really that's not what school is.
Robyn Robertson: School is not about that. The framework and structure of school has a very different purpose And you know, so much of the conversation usually is like we want to homeschool because school is failing our kids. It's not meeting at school. Actually, school is meeting at school. The purpose of school has not changed and they still are trying to fulfill that specific purpose of creating a specific kind of citizen in a specific way.
Robyn Robertson: And the structure of school does not allow, you know, does not allow, a small connection of community. There's so many layers and check marks and balances and benchmarks because of the structure. Just that's just the way that school is built and made. You have me, obviously, depending where you live, you have, you know, the population who vote in a certain government that they feel responsible to. They said they campaign for something, so they want to be accountable for this. So then it's passed down to the next layer, then it's passed down to, you know, a school board trustee, to administration, to principals, to teachers, to the last person on that ladder are the kids. Honestly, the way the structure flows, the kids are the bottom layer. So there they just make a result even.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, that's right, they know, I think that's the most horrible thing.
Cecilie Conrad: It's all the hours we steal from the children. They pay with their time. They do never get back.
Robyn Robertson: But you know the other thing as well as being realistic about it, school also serves a purpose of taking care of your children while you work. You know school is there to. It's combined with our economy, with our country's economy, with our country's purpose of having a certain world or a certain instance, and you know it really now goes hand in hand. Because children can go be contained somewhere for the work hours, so parents can also feel better that you know you're working, you're providing for your family so you can live. Your kids can't come to work with you that's not okay in our culture or, you know, for most places. So they need to go somewhere. So here's this place where all the other kids, everyone.
Cecilie Conrad: It's an agreement, it's a big We make up this fantasy story, that we do it because then they will get this amazing academic education that they need, which they, of course. Yeah, you have to feel better about, about that choice.
Cecilie Conrad: Cover story Yeah, that's right. Often it's not true. Even write down in a plan that they learn all these amazing things but they don't when, at the end of the day, they they don't learn all these things. Maybe they have to learn it, they should learn it, it's in the test but nobody really takes it with them.
Robyn Robertson: So no waste of time, yeah, and you know. but also you think about that purpose of what school does doing. You know it's that time there is. They have to fill that time. When you have children for eight hours in a day, that time has to be filled somehow and you have to. You know, in our, in our way that we're viewing, then it's also like it has to look like it's productive as well.
Cecilie Conrad: You have to write the alphabet 500 times. Yeah, my children literally learn to write letters with a pencil by doing it once. Right, yeah, they don't have to fill out that whole book. I mean, they're not stupid, it's just yeah, do it, and then you've done it, and then you know how to do it. It's not rocket science, but in the schools they have to sit kids down and then they do it for hours on it. It's a waste of time, It really is, It is.
Robyn Robertson: But then when you think you have a classroom of 25 kids let's say an average classroom, 25 kids everyone is at a different space. They're coming in from who knows what. You know what every child has come into school that day from as well. And you have to. You know you have your mandate as a teacher that you have to finish something for that year or that week or that month, And so you know the easiest way to get a large group of people to do something, and you know that what within that structure is to follow that structure of top down.
Robyn Robertson: This is what we're going to do. This is continuous practice because maybe these kids get it and they only need it this time. But these other ones, because they're not, they don't enjoy it, Maybe they, you know I know a lot of kids. Actually we don't realize that just their fine motor skills of holding a pen or pencil for a certain amount of time, their bones aren't even ready for that. So you know it's not even about their motivation. Physically a lot of kids aren't even ready to do that over and over again.
Robyn Robertson: And so like they just to get used to that structure you have, they're starting early to kind of drill it in so that you just become, you just accept it after a while, right to your body gets into that. And this is what I got to do. I got to come in, sit down, get my book out, get my pencil out. How many times like here, you know, there's a kind of like get ready, make sure you're in your desk with your books, open your papers out and your pencils ready, Like that's a common, you know, and you hear that's drilled in, like I can see because it's drilled into you, And after time you just do what's drilled into you without even questioning it as well And saying that that's like kids.
Robyn Robertson: There are so many ways that if you want them to be writing or if they want to be writing that they can learn those skills. And it's also hard to you know maybe a sandbox where they can play with their fingers and build things or just learn to building Lego and learning their fine motor skills, or like painting instead or doing different things. Like that. When you have a big class to get all have, all those kids do and you yourself, as a teacher, have the specific mandate on you, They have a hard. It's about control, right, So it's hard to control independence.
Jesper Conrad: And so I thought, robin, how do you combine that fire that certainly lives inside you for helping as many people to see what on schooling, home schooling, living a self directed life as a child can do with your work for the public sector or the school system? Can you bring some of it in, or do they look at you as an odd one out, where it's like is he trying to break us down from the inside?
Robyn Robertson: I think it's probably the odd one out, always for sure, but I knew that coming in, that I was going to be the odd one out.
Robyn Robertson: I think I go into it not to say that I don't get frustrated I absolutely do or discouraged or angry. I have gone into it and try and remember that in so many I'm the person who is the example or showing that it can be different in more ways than one. I'm that person because I'm that odd person out coming in It's, it's okay. Actually, i know of times where this is look different and this is how it worked out. And with my work with the community, with homeschooling community and self directed learning community, i have a lot of those stories and experiences and things shared with me now where I can say, actually it's not just my family, it's this family, this family, this family. Here's an example. This is actually no, it doesn't look. If you do, don't do it this way, it doesn't turn out this way and here's how I know. So I'm. You know we talked about that conversation now sometimes were the first opening. I've gone into this knowing that for many people I am that first opening And they might not be converted or they might not change their mind right away, but at least they, through me, they've been able to see something different And I know. As much as I like to keep my kids privacy and I do share some things You know about what they're doing and they they will, like they've done q&a's, they've. You know I have a Patreon where, you know, my kids have come on and asked your questions and things like that, and so I know they're comfortable to do that. But at the same time I also realize especially in our community is small community that my kids are an example of doing something different for many, because it's not just me talking about it. Many know my kids and they're like Oh well, actually I know these kids are, you know they're able to be leaders and still get it.
Robyn Robertson: And even though they've never attended school, my daughter plays sports. One of the things is, my daughter plays school sports And she's a great athlete And she's like, you know, she's leads her team and her, you know her coaches are teachers and they've chosen her to be captain and she's won awards. And you know, and they tell her, you know, even though she's never been in that specific stream, she still, she still is, she's able to follow directions. You know she's able to practice, she practice. I know, surprise, surprise, she's kind of encouraging and they, you know you're a leader, you stand out And that's why we're asking you to lead this team. You know, and she has, you know, those things where she understands that she loves she's a volleyball player, she loves it, but she also has the time to practice.
Robyn Robertson: You know, the kids are in school. She's at home practicing her drills And she I don't she wants to she's at home rewatching games and like understanding what they missed and how the plays are going. She's watching higher level games to understand, you know, and so she, even though her path is different, she's then excelling at something where most mainstream kids are in. So it's like, how does that happen? And so in some ways, it's also they are a bit of an example that you know.
Robyn Robertson: They they're nice kids, they're happy kids, and that does, when you go out and your kids are kind and they speak to adults and they shake your hand or you know things that you know they ask questions, it gets noticed, right. And then when they're like, so what school do you go to? I home school, okay, so what's your? you know, my friend and I, who's another unschooling mom, our kids are friends and and we were laughing because, you know, i'd said there was someone who would ask you know my daughter what her favorite subject is And she'd I didn't know what she was going to say. She said math And most people math and kind of caught them off because they're like you like math, i really like it. Like I like math, i like like the challenge of numbers, i like solving, and it was like they didn't ask her any more questions because they were actually stumped that someone said that they enjoy math in that way.
Robyn Robertson: And they just kind of were like Oh, okay, you know, so, yeah, so that's how I is. A long answer to that. That's how I do that role.
Jesper Conrad: One of the things I I well being able to give this gift to our children to live like we do. I'm very happy that we are that, but one of the hidden benefits I hadn't thought about was the personal learning journey for the parent I have, i mean it. I just learned to knit. I just learned to knit. Yeah, man, 48 now and always was like yeah never happened. And then then our daughter was like come on, dad, it's time, Let me show you how to do it. I'm really shittiest still, but I can't.
Robyn Robertson: You're good for a beginner.
Jesper Conrad: Yes, okay, i'm good for a learning process.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, you gotta start something.
Jesper Conrad: It's, it's among the personal developments I've never would have thought I would become a knitter and I look forward to making my first scarf at some time. But but that said, then sometimes I'm like, okay, wonder where I would have been in my life if we haven't turned down this homeschooling, because it has, it has given so many gifts and because maybe it's because we need to ask ourselves questions all the time about okay, okay, we're doing it like this, why are we doing it like that? And it's just it's yeah. It's one of the greatest things I believe for parents to say.
Robyn Robertson: It is. It's one of the greatest things, is one of the hardest things I find too, and I find many times that's why some parents don't continue the journey, because it becomes too difficult for them. It can be confronting, right, because all of those things you believe through totally confronting, all of a sudden it's that you have this mirror being held up to you And everything you thought should be a certain way and everyone's proved it to be a certain way, that's like all that truth is gone. You know it's something different and it can be scary and working on ourselves at. I mean, that is life, but it it's difficult. We're kind of that personal learning journey, right. So yeah, it's one of the greatest gifts, but it's also the work to be put in.
Jesper Conrad: But what you put?
Robyn Robertson: in is reward.
Cecilie Conrad: I think it's been amazing And we've been doing it for what? 11 years, something like that. Now I think yeah, it's been confronting. I've been scared shitless several times about their future And sometimes I've been very frustrated, but mostly I find it amazing. I love to learn with my children. When it's finally something you could, that looks like learning. I just love to do all this nerdy stuff of someone asks a question and then we spend a week looking for crazy answers, and it's so much fun.
Cecilie Conrad: It's the best way to do it. I love it. It really is. It's not the purpose at all. It's just like part of the life that we live together is that we get curious on things and we start to investigate And I am beyond the agenda thing now. I think in the beginning I would still have the filter over this is math or this is history, and now it's just fun. It really is fun And it really is a privilege to have time to study. We realize that as well. We have to make money, we have to move around, we have to do the dishes, there's all these sleeping to do and showers take time and all of this. And do we really have three hours to sit down and study French? I mean, where do we find it? Now the phone rings again And finally getting that time really is a treasure and we all love it. It really is.
Cecilie Conrad: What do you do in your free time? Oh, i do an Islamic art or totally the reverse of school children who just wants to chill and we chill all the time. I don't know. Do we chill all the time?
Jesper Conrad: No, no, but when they have time they want to do stuff.
Cecilie Conrad: The focus time is just the. That's what we do on Sundays. That's the good times.
Robyn Robertson: And I think that's the time, is the other gift right And being able to spend the time, and then that is part of the personal learning journey, for the parents too, is that time where you're not rushed and having to fit something in, you have the time to explore, be curious, and I think that's a big thing that kids lose is that joy and curiosity, because it's kind of hammered out of them And that shifts their like being in life and the way they live there every day. Being curious and joyful is a game changer.
Cecilie Conrad: It really is in so many ways, but I think the most important thing we get from this lifestyle, or the children get when you compare it to school children, is that while they own their own time, they actually have the inner space to mature. It's okay that just the processes of inner life of children growing their presence in this life, on this planet. they grow their personality, they handle the inner changes. We have three teenagers at the moment and there's a lot going on And honestly, they wouldn't have time for high school. They really need the hammock and the novel and some peace. Sometimes we even can, we say that out loud Sometimes we even just do everything for them. We cook and we clean and we do all the dishes, laundry, everything. And is it fair? Maybe not, but they really need their space. It's so clear to me. sometimes they just need to sleep And to hang out, to binge, watch TV series, just have some pulsing time.
Cecilie Conrad: So let all this inner thing happen, just let it happen. We don't even have to talk about it or evaluate it, or. but how? if we were stealing eight, 10 hours of their day by schooling them, how would they have the time for this? This would be under such a pressure And I don't know. I don't know how they would handle it. Well, that's a thing You have a scatter pillar and then it goes into. what is it called? I don't know.
Robyn Robertson: I don't know in English before it becomes the Christmas actually, or cocoon, yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: I sometimes think about the hammock, like the cocoon, like my teenagers are, like cooking there. They just need their space, their peace their nothing.
Robyn Robertson: It's funny we have hammock. We have two hammocks that use all the time. Our one always stays outside, the other one is mobile, So for winter we brought it into the living room And, like my son, that's his, he's in the hammock all the time And just swinging and yeah, yeah. My daughter. when it's nice outside she's in the hammock outside all the way. But yeah, it's funny that the hammock is the space, it's the place.
Robyn Robertson: Literally, but also figuratively speaking, the cocoon, it is the cocoon right. It kind of envelops and encloses. But I think this is very very important.
Cecilie Conrad: From this you get adults who actually fulfilled all of the stages of maturing. So come out real.
Jesper Conrad: They come out faster matured, I also believe. If I look at my life and normal public school, I matured very late on a lot of levels.
Jesper Conrad: Some ways I'm still cooking, no, no. But seriously, i'm looking at my life now and I'm seeing like, oh, i did this because of my insecurity And when we started traveling I needed a big rip so I could kind of show it in the face for people instead of just saying, hey, we just travel in whatever. And I think I hope that our children will have an easier walk in life as they have had time to mature without all those external forces and literally just had the time for it.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, yeah, well, i think it'll be easier in the way of they'll be more connected with themselves because they've had the time to do that And because they're connected with you, to be a person who, for a person who comes into the world as an adult, understanding themselves and being more confident with themselves and also living a life that is not that other way and being like, oh so, i'm used to choosing something that maybe looks different from somebody else. I'm used to living a life around people who are doing things that are true to their values, true to themselves, instead of the other way. Then, yeah, absolutely It puts them at an advantage in that way early on. I'm 45 and it's the same.
Robyn Robertson: There's still things I'm like oh yeah, that's right, because now I see That was like I'm still working this out from when I was 15 years old. I'm still choosing this because I've done this pattern for so long, but really it's like went back to here and that's what I'm practicing still in my life And I just never recognize it until now. So I've had the chance until now Because you didn't have the time when you were 15?.
Robyn Robertson: No, i didn't have the time, i didn't feel safe to explore or ask about it, all of those things exactly. I was surrounded by a group of kids, like you do, at school, who were the same age, going through similar things that didn't have any examples or time to work through it themselves. So we just all no experience, no other connection. We had to make this haphazard connection to try and just make our way through. We were surviving in so many ways I'm like there were so many years I was just barely surviving, doing the best that you can that way, and everyone else around me was the same.
Robyn Robertson: My husband and I stayed up late last night talking in our bed and talking about our teenage years And we do that often, reflecting, because it was so different for us as it is for our kids And I know for you guys you're talking about that too that we were actually, like you realize, an adult. We're like, wow, so many of our friends. We were all just surviving And we thought it was fun and normal. But when I look back now as an adult, i think, wow, i'm a concerned parent at us as children, like when I look at our friends and our childhood, i think, wow, some of us didn't make it through. I know that Some of us are not here anymore because they didn't survive And at the same time, it's hindsight is 20-20 as well. But looking back now and seeing what that was, it was not supportive for teens and children at all.
Cecilie Conrad: I think we should have a place to land this country.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, I'm looking at the flag.
Cecilie Conrad: It can be all that sunlight. Oh yeah, We just lost it.
Jesper Conrad: We lost the sunlight here. Oh, it is coming in.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, it's in your end now.
Jesper Conrad: Robin, it's been fantastic talking to you And have given me a lot of stuff. I want to go and continue pondering about to make a proper ending. Then, if people want to get to know more about you, where can they find you, where can they read some stuff you do, and if you can drop some mentions about where they can find you.
Robyn Robertson: Yeah, just look for you can Google. Honey, i'm homeschooling the kids, so I have my podcast, my website. I'm on social media, on Instagram and Facebook. The biggest thing is my podcast community. I have a Patreon community where it's a private community for conversations. I have different platforms. I'm on Clubhouse, where I have a club where we host conversations like this as well for people to access and listen and be part of. But really go to my podcast and my website, honey, i'm homeschooling the kids. My Instagram or Facebook, you can connect with me, hear stories and find me Yeah, absolutely, and hear stories from others as well, but that's the biggest thing is sharing those stories. I would love to have you two on the podcast to share your story. We would love that.
Jesper Conrad: Let's do a reverse. Let's do a reverse. We would love that. Robin thanks a lot for your time.
Robyn Robertson: Thank you.
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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
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