#25 - Sandra Dodd | Learn Nothing Day - Unschooling and the Complexities of Parenting
🗓️ Recorded June 28th, 2023. 📍Åmarksgaard, Denmark
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About this Episode
This is an episode to celebrate Learn Nothing Day. Sandra Dodd's birthday is on July 24th, and as a joke, she started 'Learn Nothing Day' - which now is an international holiday for unschoolers. A day where we each year try to learn nothing and fail.
As Sandra Says:
"Unschoolers need a holiday. When people ask if they homeschool in the summer, they say yes. When people ask when they have a break from learning, they say never. This has gone on for a long time now. July 24 is Learn Nothing Day—a vacation for unschoolers."
We loved our first episode with Sandra Dodd so much that we promised each other to continue our talk in another episode. So here we are. This episode besides talking about Learn Nothing Day, tackles the topic of unschooling and parental judgment. Sandra shares her experiences and insights, offering valuable advice on how to guide and coach your kids without imposing your own biases. We discuss the importance of fostering an environment that promotes natural learning.
Our chat with Sandra Dodd is more than just an exchange of ideas; it's a journey through personal experiences, shared struggles, and triumphant breakthroughs. Whether you're a parent, a homeschooler, or simply curious about the art of communication, unschooling, and parenting, this episode is a must-listen.
It's an invitation to reflect, question, and perhaps see things from a different perspective – one that could better serve you and your family. So, come, join our conversation, and let's explore together.
And see if you can take just one day of learning nothing :)
- Learn Nothing Day: https://learnnothingday.blogspot.com/
- Learn Nothing Day on SandraDodd.com: https://sandradodd.com/learnnothingday/
- If I Let Him... Things parents have actually said: https://sandradodd.com/ifilet
- Sandra Dodd on Judgement: https://sandradodd.com/judgment
- Sandra Dodd on Videogames: https://sandradodd.com/videogames/
Watch the full interview on YouTube
0:00:00 - Jesper Conrad
Welcome to Self-Directed. We are your hosts, Cecilie and Jesper Conrad, and now it's time to welcome this week's guest. We are again today, together with the wonderful Sandra Dodd, and if you don't know her, just start reading, go to her website and look her up. And, Sandra, the reason we are here today is we have several. One of them is it felt like we could have talked for hours more when we talked last, so we agreed to continue the dialogue. So where should we start? Do we have somewhere you want to start?
0:00:42 - Sandra Dodd
There was something that I forgot to well I didn't forget I never. You know, we were going so fast and so scattery that I didn't get to a point I was trying to make, which is that I grew up hanging out with a lot of boys talking about music, talking about philosophy. When I hung around with the girls, they were talking about fashion and boyfriends, and it was awkward for me and I didn't really love it. When I grew up, though, and had kids, or even before, when I was an adult children's alcoholic, that was a more male oriented sort of discussion, but when I started having kids and I got involved in birth things La Leche League, you know, unschooling then it was mostly moms really 98% moms in those discussions, and a lot of them were used to discussions that I didn't love, that I was unwilling to participate in, that I, it wasn't my specialty, and it seemed like a waste of time. So then I seemed harsh, because a lot of them were used to either the feminist sort of if a woman says something, believe her, and people need affirmation and support and I was like, okay, well, I'm not going to volunteer eight hours a day of my life to affirm and support people I don't know about whatever they say, that I got stuff to do and some of those some days. If there was trouble on the list, I would be there. I would just tell my family I go, I'm sorry, sorry, you guys, go buy burgers, bring me one, because I can't leave this right now. It'll be more so a mess if I when the people are not there. But I'm just going to let you know that I'm not going to volunteer. And then I told my parents that work by email Discussion lists were the big thing.
We had a couple of them. Joyce had my. My cohorts for years were Joyce federal, who has her own website to, and Pam Serussian. And Joyce had a site. A group inherited a group and Pam and I were the other admins. So we're used to working together. But the difference in the group so is Joyce didn't like strife piece, so enjoy this group.
Kind of peace on mine is like what, what are you saying? Say it again. But I was used to. If you're going to say something, back it up. Why are you saying that Allegedly people are sharing I mean really kind of over sharing?
Is it's women? They don't let men come to those meetings because women are nursing babies in front of other people. I'm in my 60s and people my age some didn't even see other women breastfeed, so we needed to see it somewhere. You know you can't just imagine it and do it as easily as you can. See people do it and have them physically help you like with their fingers and their babies mouths, and look, look, this is how this can work and this is how this can work. So I was used to that. So this is the combination. This is the really a combination we got in those groups is sharing real things about our real lives, talking about our real kids and things that really happen, and also back it up. So what would this work? Don't just say well, it does. I just feel it in my little soul. You know, not, not flowers and unicorns.
0:03:49 - Cecilie Conrad
And is that what you call feminine conversation or?
0:03:53 - Sandra Dodd
So it's like okay, do you know any research about this? Can we look for some? Why do people say this is true? What, why, why, why, what? You know what? In what? In anything?
Sociology, psychology, anthropology helps back this up. What makes this natural or unnatural dangerous, safe? We were doing that, that sort of analytical discussion At the same time. If somebody said, well, theoretically, like if I had this kid, we're like stop, we're not analyzing theoretical kids, let's talk about real problems that we really have and and. So that was a, for my tastes, a really good hybrid of male and female style communications. So we just maintained it's like this is what I'm willing to do.
There are other discussions, but if you guys want to hang out here, that's the deal. Be be honest, be thoughtful, be serious, don't waste other people's time. But also, nobody had to share anything. But we didn't want to making things up, we don't want to be hypothetical, and I also wanted it public, which was weird because some people are going well, I don't want to talk to my mom. I can in public, okay, well, and is there any way that you can just talk about what happened without naming? You have to name your kids. Name, let's say, at my house there's this kid who's 10. Who likes video games. And okay, let's talk about this, a real 10 year old kid that you know, who plays video games.
So that that was fine. They didn't have to tell us where they lived, you know, not that kind of tell us everything. And I saw, I just I did not feel guilty about that at all, but some people didn't like it because they wanted everybody to be soothed. They couldn't pay me enough. Nobody was paying me anything. But you know, if I had taken money, they couldn't pay me enough to do things I didn't want to do with my life, with the limited life I have, or to say things I don't believe, don't want to do that.
So it worked out, worked out well for 30 years and I'm kind of tired of it now. I don't, I don't let. I let something through to that group recently because it seemed interesting and easy and I thought, well, there are other people there who can answer. This will be fun for them. Nope, sure enough Somebody came in and said, well, I'm not an unschooler. But and starts telling all of us that what we're saying is wrong and telling that other person what to do. That's not unschooling advice. I'm like, okay, I'm not going to, I'm not going to stay here for hours babysitting this. I used to, I used to, but I can't anymore.
0:06:19 - Cecilie Conrad
But is this discussion group on your website? Where is it? If it's public, people could actually.
0:06:25 - Sandra Dodd
It's not on the website, it's on a used to be on Yahoo groups, always learning, and now it's on a thing called groupsio, because Yahoo groups shutting down. So yeah, so I, you can make those groups private, but I wasn't interested in private. I wanted to put it there so that I could send people to read it. People could just come and read it without needing to join or you know, because it was, it was the kind of public that's that makes it like a webpage. It did. It made it like it, made it like a website because people could go in there and search for topics. And so I told people don't say things that you don't want said. Don't, you know, don't, don't overshare, don't talk about your sex life. Let's just, you know, stick to six topics that can be public and they would forget sometimes, but we would try to get back to it. And so what I wanted to share is that I think, having having been familiar with male conversations and what I consider to be the advantages, I was able to work that in.
Still, it was probably from a male perspective, too much chit chat, too much. You know, men don't like the as much noise as women make sometimes, not that typing is very loud. You know a lot of words, a lot of words, yeah. And sometimes men would come and sometimes they would just assume that they got to sit in the front and make the most noise is like I appreciate the perspective, but but you know, you're you're haven't been at home as much as she has, so it's possible she saw some you didn't see. And sometimes people would come who had a PhD in education or whatever and they thought they got to sit in the front row and it's like, oh sorry, you're not a PhD in our schooling and even if you did, how long you've been doing it?
0:08:05 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, sandra, what do you just mentioned made me think about a conversation we had on since we saw each other last. We have been in a world school co-living situation with a lot of other families and we had a lot of talking, a lot of wonderful and very clear coincidence, they were mostly on schoolers lived with 1015 families who on school.
0:08:35 - Sandra Dodd
Yeah, it was amazing for fascinating, there was so much to learn. I was watching the pictures you were posting.
0:08:42 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, it was at the castle and and nobody but one of the mothers I talked with her about life and stuff and she told me about my point of view was, I think, the not enough men is entering the conversations. That's also why I like to Cecilia and I to have this podcast together, because the men are a lot in the background. And she shared a story about she has six children. This woman I'm thinking about no, but, but she, she has a lot of children and under covid everybody was at home and it started not working out for them. And so one day she just got tired of it and she said, ok, let's have a family meeting.
And she have brought all the books she have read about parenting, on schooling, homeschooling, and said this is all I have read, this is all I've tried. I want really to do the best. Show me what you have done, then we can start the discussion. And I just love that, because for me, I come to the conversations with Cecilia where I sometimes like, ok, I have not been at home as much as Cecilia, absolutely not. Now I've been at the stay at home dad for five years, but the first four years I was mostly working from home, stay at home dad, and still in our life, I see that I can have some points, or sometimes even valid points, but, but sometimes even valid points, but the reality is that the parenting is still mostly Cecilia who has the overview and all the details, and I don't.
0:10:24 - Cecilie Conrad
I think what you're trying to say, if I can.
Yeah, because he likes words more than I do, actually, as a rare. What you're trying to say is you have learned over the years that the husband, especially if he's working outside of the home, needs to be very humble with you. You're not humble. To begin with, you had very strong opinions on how I was supposed to do it and what I did wrong, how children function, and you know how we should tighten the belt and and I love you, but it's a very valid point that you know you can have a PhD or no childhood.
It didn't hurt me to do this and that, but but the women who are actually in the flesh, doing the, doing the what's, doing the parenting I don't even call it unschooling, anyways, funny thing I'm just with the kids, I'm with the children and they we just left my sister's house today and she's 10 years, 12 years younger than me, and her kids are like what, younger than our kids. So she's doing the same thing just 10 years ago in our life and we discussed you know how come the men can go to the bathroom and close the door. I mean, my youngest child is almost 12 and I still have conversations through the bathroom door. It's not over. What's going on with that?
0:12:09 - Jesper Conrad
It's a male privilege.
0:12:12 - Sandra Dodd
I mean, it's a little bit of a necessity.
Well, I don't know, but I think just in many cases not all cases, but in many cases the woman takes center stage and the life of the children and in the life of the home, element of the family life and and too, Because the other day, the other day, the grandkids are over and their, their mom, one of one of my daughters-in-law came and her sister, whose kids are older, are like teens, now maybe grown, and I was telling them that now that all my kids are gone, I stay up really late, which I never used to do, and I wake up whenever I want to. I just stay asleep until I want to get up, and if I wake up and I want to go back to sleep, I do. And I said in my whole life I haven't done that. When I was a kid I had to get up at 6.30 to catch the bus and I always had early morning jobs and I would have the key to open up, or I was a teacher, whatever, and I had to go early, go be there at 6.30, be there at 7. And then when I had kids, I was up until the last one was up and we didn't do bedtimes. So that was, you know, you don't know for sure. And then if the first one who wakes up wakes me up, like it's Christmas morning, you know, mom, I'm hungry and so my, because my husband was working and he had a really strict schedule and he got up early and went.
I really guarded his sleep time, so after 10, I made sure the kids didn't bother him, and he doesn't. I don't think he fully appreciated what was happening while he was asleep, Because I would variably get up and check on all the kids when they got old enough that they weren't asleep. Well, I used to sleep in the next room with them in a one of those double decker, like a double bed on the bottom and single on the top there's a little one at the bottom and you know biggest kid at the top or whatever, and so I would be with him all night. And if I could sneak away, sometimes I did, and if I couldn't, I didn't, and that's that was. So he could sleep and so I could nurse a baby without waking him up. And I never reminded him. You know I wasn't sending him the bill, I wasn't saying guess what? Did you have a nice sleep? Good for you, Did you?
0:14:15 - Cecilie Conrad
enjoy your shower.
0:14:21 - Sandra Dodd
I'd like to take one, maybe Friday if you could. Yeah, yeah. So that went on for years without me realizing that he didn't really know. So he said something, so he overheard me telling that story. You know about how nice it is for me to just go to sleep when I feel like it, when I'm really tired, and wake up when I feel like it for the first season really in my life. It's been a couple of years, but you know, if they try to make me a doctor appointment at the morning, I'm no, I'll come after lunch. I'm done, I'm retired from that. If grandkids are over, if I have to do something, I can still get up. I'm good at it. But that was.
It was fun for me to be telling him. I said I know you guys can't because you have little kids and I know you just been through years of having little kids. So I was kind of like going ha, I can and you can't, you know to these younger moms. But but my husband hadn't heard that before and I didn't. I forgot he was in the room, he was over on the other side of the room playing with one of the granddaughters. And then he said something to me later and like oh yeah, I forgot you're in there. Well, I didn't mean to say that all in front of him. You know, it wasn't too embarrassing, it was true.
0:15:31 - Jesper Conrad
But but do you miss male voices in the whole unschooling, homeschooling, parenting movement?
0:15:40 - Sandra Dodd
What happened was well, I really miss Pam and Joyce and if and if they're not there, because Joyce is off writing on Quora. She writes all the time on Quora about unschooling, about parenting and unschooling, and Pam um Sarushi and is really busy in California. She's got a bunch of grandkids and she I don't think she's teaching anymore but she's been having some health problems so she's just doing other stuff and we talk once in a while but they're not. They're not involved in it anymore right now, in the discussion every day, and I it was like going to work with people he really liked and even though we were all in the US, we had other people in Europe and Australia that we could count on to spot us overnight and we knew that the conversations would get too crazy. But over the years there have been other little batches, like one batch of really good uh, moms who wrote really well. Their kids have just all three families that only had a boy and they all joined up, started talking with us when their kid was a six, eight, nine, and it was Colleen Prieto in New Hampshire, karen James, who was in New York State for a while, but now she's in California, Karen James and Joe Isaac in Australia and they all came about the same time and they were all really enthusiastic and I loved going to work with them, you know, to go there and see what they said. So there have been other batches like that where there'd be a season when a lot of voices joined Like this is a cool batch of people and then their kids grow up and then they're done, you know they, they they're through and like that's, that's what. Like Joyce and Pam, all our kids are in their thirties. But when our kids were little and we first met, when I first met Pam, our youngest were four and five years old and so we got to see those other families daily, daily growing up too. Because we knew that Joyce came to visit us, we went to visit her, not the whole family, but some of us went to her house and she and her daughter came to our house at the time when she was nine, and another time they came to see some her daughter was involved in in heavy metal bands and came to a concert now with Kirk. So from Boston that's a long, long, long way. I haven't seen that fly. But yeah, so we were, we were close like that, like coworkers, and you don't work together anymore. So that's a little sad, a little hard.
Somewhere some some discussion. I overheard something about judgment and I know it comes up. It comes up once in a while and people will say, well, I don't want anybody to judge me. Or or I'll say, well, you need to use good judgment. Well, I don't want to be judgmentals and that may be just an English language problem, where we have judgmental, which is like a sin to be judgmental, and then we say, use your own judgment, use good judgment. Those words are like touch each other and people get nervous. They don't know what, how to think about it.
So judgment, being being judgmental, means that you just walk around all the time going well, that's stupid, that's dumb. I don't like that, you know, just sort of being a negative. I'm kind of like that myself Because because I'll also can be called pedantic, like I see people's misspellings, I call the plumber and I don't like the way the receptionist treats me or you know, whatever, whatever. So I can't. Some people are like that. For unschooling to work, they need to try not to be. They roll it back. Roll it back, be more positive. See things as much as you can. What's good about it which kids are grown and then then grump at the plumbing company. But like I'm, like it's Wednesday and I was promised a call back from the cart, from the chimney cleaners by the end of Monday. You know, but that's just. The judgmental part is like I'm not sure I could do better. So that's me complaining about other people when if I had that job I might be worse. So it's just not a good character trait.
Judgmental, being judgmental, is not a great character trait. It's something that people should try to recover from and avoid. But if you don't use good judgment, if you don't think about why you would do something or whether something's a good idea or not, how can you make any good decisions? You're just gonna flip a coin, roll dice. So you need to people need to have some discernment and some analysis of factors. That kind of judgment is what I think is crucial for a good parenting, because you're gonna let kids have choices and you need to model how you made your choices. So if some parents just say, well, my child will never see the inside of a school and I'll tell them how to be and I'll tell them what kind of person to be and he should not be judgmental, the mom might say, while being very judgmental about how that child is being. So it's better for the parents to figure out how they want the kid to be and then be it.
If there's a trait that they would like to pass on to kids, the best thing to do is to do that thing and let them see you do it and maybe talk about why you did it, like not just incessantly, not like in class or actually, but to just say I was thinking about doing this. But then I remembered that it's better if we, it would be better if I do this, because her feelings might be hurt or grandma's coming or whatever reasons there were that day to do this thing instead of that thing. Just talking through it a little bit will help kids when they need to decide something to know what kind of factors are legitimate concerns. If decision making is all done silently or in secret or it looks like the mom's just always right, because some people like that, they like to seem like they're always right, so they just hide their anxiety, they hide their angst and then they come out with a poker face and they make their declaration. So sometimes it's better to go.
I'm a little nervous about whether we should do this or not, or whether we should go or we should invite over. Talking through it doesn't hurt the kids unless they're clearly showing an indication that they don't care, and so helping them use good judgment would be like help them talk through a situation. If they come and go, I don't know what to do. I don't know whether to go to this party or not. This guy's gonna be here that I don't like. Well, is it? Is the party in more than one room? Is it in the whole house? Could you just kind of like politely, be in another room?
Or could you make a joke of it? If you guys get too close, you know, throw some ideas out and then don't ask them to report back how it went. I think that kind of judgment like I had some options and I had some factors and I thought through all that is I think it's really important and good.
0:22:18 - Cecilie Conrad
I think some unschooling parents that I've met I don't know if they actually do it, but they talk about it as if they wind it back from the judgmental point of view to an non-existent point of view and they think that being a good unschooling parent is the same as being a non-person. Almost that's what I call it. Obviously that's not what they call it, but you're not allowed to have any opinions because they will influence the opinions of your children. You can't say if anything is good or bad, or and I see how all of these things can go wrong if it comes from the wrong point of view. But at the same time I don't see the value of being a center person in the family, trying not to be there, not to have any opinion on anything or anything, and I've seen some people, some moms, just they don't like, they don't like to use.
0:23:22 - Sandra Dodd
when you say, use good judgment, help your friend, help your kids, coach your kids, help them think they're like well, but I would be telling them something's better than something else.
0:23:31 - Cecilie Conrad
It's like some things are better than something else. Some things are better than something else.
0:23:36 - Sandra Dodd
You know, if you're advising your kid who's really angry with somebody, he could go punch somebody in the face. That's probably not the best thing, you know. Talk him down. How about just say I'm really angry, I feel like punching you, I'm gonna go home. There are things that keep people out of jail. One is learning to calm yourself down and breathe. But anyway, yeah, I think sometimes moms have come to unschooling discussions and they get all excited and they hear a bunch of stuff and then we don't hear from them for a week or two and they come back and go. Well, I told them they could do whatever they wanted to and I left them alone and they didn't do anything. You left them alone. What do you mean? Where are they? Where did you leave them? Well, I'm right here, what? You weren't talking to them or hanging out with them or interacting with them, and so some people kind of miss that. They think child led learning means they're just off leading themselves around and you're doing the dishes or something.
0:24:28 - Cecilie Conrad
I don't know.
0:24:29 - Sandra Dodd
But yeah, I never recommended that and we've always said in the groups we were in, in the groups I was used to. The groups I liked best was, yeah, coach them, help them. They need advice. My kids went to a wedding without me. My boys went to a funeral with them, and so they knew what to wear, but they didn't know what to say and I said, okay, well out of, because it wasn't a funeral, I didn't know the people at all and I had. My daughter was still at home and I said the family will be sitting on the front row and they'll stay there for a while, so everybody will go by and talk to them.
And here are some things you could say especially talk to your friend and his mom, you don't have to talk to everybody, Just things like that that unless you've been to five or 10 funerals, you wouldn't know. And so that I think that sort of was like teaching them about funerals. I suppose I was, just as I would with anybody. If I, when I have people from way out of state who come to New Mexico, it's like if we go to a restaurant, it's like, okay, this bread is eaten like this, you take the corner off and you put honey in it, just stuff like that. Like, like, oh sorry, I need to tell you. This is what that means. When they say red or green at the restaurant, they mean do you want green chili, which is like the vegetable dropped up, or do you want red chili, which is the powder made into a gravy?
0:25:48 - Cecilie Conrad
And so it's just coaching, coaching and even people are curious, and so it's like I think that's a good thing to situations I mean we have. We do have more experience, and what I do as a parent is I tell my children I could be wrong, but this is my point of view. And in our family we talk a lot about values with the children as well. They especially our second oldest child, our son of 17,. He's very interested in thinking about ethics and to him, it's one of his top five values to be a good person. So we talk a lot about how can you achieve that. How can he achieve that? Because it's important to him.
And we talk as a family a lot about when we have to choose between auctions. How do we do that? In the end, we have to do that based on what's more important. And to know what's more important, we need to know what has value for us and we know that this is for us, this is what's important for our family, and we choose based on that. I mean that's not not having an opinion. I have strong opinions, I have clear values and I share them with my children, but I don't tell them they have to have the same values, but you tell them why that you do right.
0:27:14 - Sandra Dodd
I tell them, why I have them and I show.
0:27:16 - Cecilie Conrad
As you say, making good judgment for me is about knowing what are my values and how do I want to implement them in my life. And how can they? How can I change between them? Because I don't go do the same thing all the time. Sometimes it's all about people, and sometimes it's all about health, and sometimes it's all about me. I need to get it out. What you could easily do on one day.
0:27:39 - Sandra Dodd
you couldn't do that same thing on a different day because you have to be somewhere at one or whatever, Exactly.
0:27:44 - Cecilie Conrad
And as we are nomads, very often we are it's now or never. Now we're in Istanbul Do you want to see that mask or not? Because we're leaving next week and we're probably not coming back the next five years. So we have a lot of urgent decisions to make about where to go and what to do, because we don't live in one in the same place. So that's why we have a lot of conversations in our family about choices, those philosophy discussions I talked about before.
0:28:13 - Sandra Dodd
We talked a lot about ethics and duty and service and things like that and also that just I don't know if it's because of my personality or because I saw the value of it in helping people center themselves and be more mature, but those discussions have come into unschooling discussions that I was involved into Service, not just to your own kids and your own family, but to others. It makes you a better person and whenever it makes the parents better people, it helps the kids. So I just I don't know I wasn't a missionary or anything I just as things would come up and it's like these discussions like how do you decide? If a discussion comes up, it's like, well, I can't think of a good example, but I know one time we were walking, I was walking with my kids, we were walking up an alley and I have a trash bag.
I just picked up a bag and I'm putting trash in it, just not trying to fill it up, but just casually, as I come to something in the road I'd pick it up. And so the kids started helping me too for fun, they finding paper cups or whatever, because the wind blows a lot in New Mexico and it blows up against walls. And so after a while, my son who was about six, I guess the oldest said mom, are we getting paid for this? And I said no, just to be nice. And he said that's nice of us. I loved that Finding opportunities to. I wasn't trying to set a good example.
0:29:33 - Jesper Conrad
I didn't. I didn't have a good example, I didn't have a good example.
0:29:36 - Sandra Dodd
I didn't have a good example. I wasn't trying to set a good example. I didn't do that so that they would do that. I just did it because I wanted to do it.
0:29:43 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I think the whole idea they take me too. Yeah, but maybe the problem is lies within the idea of having an agenda. I do this so that they can learn that I don't To me. I live my life as I want to live it, and I live it with my children, whom I'm grateful to have in my life, but I'm not. I don't ever have a hidden agenda. Now I will go here so that they can learn this.
0:30:11 - Sandra Dodd
Oh, sometimes I do. If it looked to me like they didn't have any idea about some particular thing, I'd buy a science kit or something just for fun, but I wouldn't present it as a science. It's not like a toy.
0:30:21 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, but it would be a hidden agenda. I mean, a science kit is-.
0:30:25 - Sandra Dodd
But I wouldn't say, I wouldn't say, look, I got this thing with magnets because I want you to learn about magnetism, because it has to do with physics and no, because it's fun. Yeah, I would just put it out to play with. But early on I was reading the state requirements for different grade levels and stuff when I was first starting to reassure myself that they were on track, they were fine, but yeah. So sometimes I would get an idea from there and go, ooh, I could induce that by bringing home some shells or whatever.
Mm-hmm so I suppose that's hidden agenda, but not horribly so.
0:31:03 - Jesper Conrad
No, there is-. When talking about having judgment about what we think is good and bad, I am thinking back about one of our earlier podcast with Naomi Eldor. I don't know if you know of her.
0:31:21 - Sandra Dodd
0:31:22 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, and she is against praise, but it's of course more it's broader than that. But her way of presenting it made me think that I can follow her on a certain level that people maybe have an automatic pilot sometimes where they just Every time a child comes and shows a drawing, then they just oh, you're so good and you get a gold star. And this way of getting children to do stuff to get praise it can, of course, be too much. But at the same time I was also I can feel I don't agree with her, because when my children come to me and show me a drawing they make, then I say, if I think it's good or bad, if I get excited and think, okay, this is so super beautiful, how you have been coming so good at drawing, then I say it and then I am praising my children, which is not down the line she thinks, which you go as parents.
0:32:33 - Sandra Dodd
But she was working as a counselor and the rules for counselors and that whole Alfie Khan's punished by rewards and stuff. That's for teachers, that's for schools, that's about competitive education and about people only working to get an A or only working to get the praise. But if kids aren't working and they're not competing, I don't think that applies in families. And one of the best things I ever learned in my whole life was in La Leche League, but I don't think it's a La Leche League slogan, but the leaders of the first meeting I went to said. One of them said be your child's partner, not his adversary, and that's one of the most valuable things I've ever heard in my whole life. They were talking about breastfeeding, but I just kept it.
0:33:22 - Jesper Conrad
I kept it for everything and you put some more words to how you see that the sentence, what it means to you.
0:33:31 - Sandra Dodd
Instead of the parents and the children being enemies, or the parent manipulating the child with praise or with a studied lack of praise, then how about just being honest, human with this other person who's your partner and say what you honestly feel, without being hurtful? I don't mean, is this the best you can do? You draw the same picture all the time, not that kind of stuff. I drew the same picture for five years when I was a kid. I liked it. But I think between parents and children, who know each other really well, the mom might know, the dad might know that a child would like some praise, that the child's had a bad week. So it's that same thing. One day you might wanna go. This is really pretty. I like it. I would like to keep it. Can I have this one? Or let's put this one on the fridge and another week it might be pretty good. Or was that fun? Some honest communication.
But people need different things different days. Sometimes somebody needs to be honest, but it's not like that. It's different days. Sometimes somebody needs you to bring them a cup of tea and pat them on the head, and sometimes they just need you to leave them alone. And the better you know your own family, the better.
You know that it shouldn't be run by dialogues that somebody else wrote. And that bothers me when people say, well, we were in a conversation but then you told the story about yourself and I'm like, yeah, because you were saying I don't know what to do in a situation in which, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm like I don't know what to do in a situation in which I'm not a good person, but I'm not a good person. But I'm not a good person. I have seen it because I'm older, because I've been married longer, because, whatever the topic is, and it's like where do you get that idea that a person shouldn't offer what? Oh, from counseling classes, from classes about counseling kids at school, or from therapy classes where you're supposed to let them talk them something that came up but don't tell them about your life because you don't want to get them involved with you. It's like don't mix up the directions for being a school counselor with being a mom. So if my kids are saying I was really embarrassed when my like, if somebody says I was really embarrassed with my uncle or my grandma on the other side, or you know, when I was the mom and during grandma's did this, said this. It's how my grandma used to do that too, or I think that's how it is with grandma's.
If I was a therapist, I wouldn't say that. I would say what did it remind you of? Or, you know, would house this grandma otherwise Is she often that way, you know, maybe just like what? Why? Why'd that bug you? But I'm just like trying to soothe them. I'm not trying to draw everything out of them. I'm trying to settle it down. Let's do something else. Let's not repeat every couple of days exactly what grandma did. That bugged you, just let it go.
0:36:26 - Jesper Conrad
She's old, she'll die.
0:36:28 - Sandra Dodd
You know it's and that's and I hope they're saying that about me she's old, she'll die If what the stuff I'm doing is bothering my kids or my grandkids, just like, yeah, but I'm old.
But I honestly think that whether it's praise or not, or sharing about yourself or not, it's conversation within a family and I really think that the advice to not put it that whole punished by rewards thing, for one thing, the guy who wrote that doesn't like homeschooling at all doesn't agree with unschooling. So unschoolers shouldn't use that as one of their main books because it doesn't make sense. And it does make sense with school because I see I mean, you guys surely probably see it do there are people who did really well in school and then they get out of school and they don't know what to do because there's nobody to give them an A, there's nobody to say kind of the class or you know great, and so. And also the kids who kind of sloughed off in school will slough off at work too. That's one thing that school really teaches you how to look interested and how to look busy without actually doing much.
My kids didn't learn that when they went to their jobs. They worked really hard all day and they had fun and the coworkers didn't always like it because you're messing up the average here in the curve. Did that get off topic? I probably know I think it's perfect, I'm thinking.
0:37:51 - Cecilie Conrad
So there is a relevant, in my opinion, critique to the praise, which is what you call the autopilot. Oh, autopilot praise, yeah well, I'm just thinking it is a relevant thing for new parents to think about. If the child is running, the example is always the drawing. Look, mom, I made this drawing and it's for you. And then the mom started saying it's a beautiful drawing, you're so good at drawing, and maybe that was not what was needed in the situation. Maybe you just came back from being waited for three weeks and the kid actually just needs to give you something and say I missed you. But the way to say it is, I made this drawing for you and maybe the better response would be I missed you too. I love you, I'm happy I'm back, but I don't think it's a wrong response to say and your drawing is very beautiful, thank you very much. I'll put it on the fridge and I think this.
I don't really like naming people for when I disagree with them, but I do disagree with this point to be strictly against praising and it refers to the judgmental and judging theme. I can say it if I'm impressed by something my children do or don't do, or the way they handle themselves in situations or something they can draw or achieve in some way. But I did learn from this idea of just being aware of what praise can do. I did learn that early on with our children just to think about is praise what they need right now, or is it actually something else that's going on? Maybe they? I just want to make sure that they know that I love them and I am proud, or whatever impressed with who they are, no matter what they do. We just had it.
We just came back to Denmark to because our daughter released her third book and everybody at the reception asked me because I'm the mother If I was proud of her, proud of her book. And I don't, I'm not know, it's her book to be proud of. I love my daughter, I'm impressed with her total being, I'm happy that she's an happy artist and that she writes books. She really likes to write and of course, it's amazing that someone wants to publish them, especially in our very, very, very small language that no one can read except for in Denmark. So I think it's a good thing to just have an awareness with this theme of being impressed and and praising, and I don't want my children to feel they have to be good at something to get my attention or my love. I want to make sure that they know that, whether the drawing is beautiful or not, the day is beautiful and our relation is a loving relation. So let's not let's not swipe it completely off the table. It's a relevant critique of absolutely.
But having it as a religion that you can never praise your children that's too much that one I don't agree with.
0:41:17 - Sandra Dodd
I don't like. I don't like dialogues. We will say well, you know, here's how you say it. And I know there are examples in certain books, you know, and people can use examples if they really don't have any ideas at all. But some people take that example and they think that they're supposed to recite it. And there's another thing that I, that I said years ago like don't use the poodle voice, like you, like, like I don't know if we're talking to you.
0:41:44 - Jesper Conrad
I actually make make my hair stick up.
0:41:49 - Sandra Dodd
Yeah, that's, that's too false. So people can go too far where they're also kind of praising by a dialogue, and so it's better if it's honest communication between humans. That's that's why I believe.
0:42:04 - Cecilie Conrad
And free flowing. If it becomes a structure and there are so many rules and so many things you have to do and can't do and have to remember to do twice a day and and you can't use the word not and you can't use the word and and and you can't use the word use then it becomes complicated to have a conversation, and I think the more honest and true we can be and present a whole heartedly that's, that's the key and and we make mistakes.
0:42:32 - Jesper Conrad
And one of the mistakes I know I've made as a dad is I have always, and when I see something, my first thought is how can that become better? That is how I like to learn, that is how I like to do stuff, and I thought about how to say this in English. But our daughters, oldest daughters nickname for me in Danish is her men would translate to serve, but she's not your button, not your bottom but you would always say yeah but, but it could be.
So. She called me sir, but but in Danish, and it's fun in English. But and sometimes he actually said to me that I want you to read this. But can you forget, sir? But for a second, I actually want to hear what you like about it what you like about it, and then, after you have said that, then you can come with sir, but to the safe, you can't.
Yeah, and I've become better at that to hide him away a little because and but it's actually I've been thinking a lot about it what I see is I like what. I see so much that I'm like, oh, and this could be even cooler, even more something, and and that guy, I've learned to to put a little back, but without being dishonest in my dialogue with my child, but sometimes just taking a step back and thinking, ok, it's not now. Now I need to respond to where my child is right now. Right, and took me some time.
0:44:08 - Cecilie Conrad
That's why it's good to have four children, and the first one.
0:44:12 - Jesper Conrad
0:44:15 - Sandra Dodd
But that's. That's where judgment is. Instead of having a whole bunch of rules like make each decision based on the actual factors in that moment, and I think can we talk, are we up to decisions? Oh, I wanted to say this about judgment. I don't think judgment should be Aimed at shaming anybody, even ourselves.
That was embarrassing. I knew better than to do that. I was really tired and I acted like my mom. So I, if it's convenient and not invasive, I'll apologize to the person, or maybe next time we talk about it like I was embarrassed last time that I did this, that I got mad so easy. I'm sorry, but to have remorse, to feel guilty, that's good. So those are really close, really close, and some people would have throw all of them away or have all of them like what you should be. I think my daughter was probably 12 one day when I kind of jokingly said aren't you ashamed of yourself? And she said what, what? Oh? By the time I was 12 I don't know how many times I'd heard that and they meant it to. They wanted me to be ashamed of myself and she didn't know, she didn't have the concept. Oh, that's pretty good she got. She got up into double digit age and didn't know what ashamed of yourself meant. I was proud of myself.
0:45:37 - Cecilie Conrad
I'll get you now.
0:45:47 - Sandra Dodd
You get a bonus like that, where you learn something that you didn't know how you could have. You can't learn it otherwise, you can't test it, you can't know. I wouldn't have thought it. I wouldn't have thought it was possible.
0:45:58 - Cecilie Conrad
I think the shaming and sometimes be used as a way of doing the manipulation and we could unfold the idea of how to handle. We think children actually did something they should have done or stepped out of what would be okay for our standards. That's one kind of shame. And there's another kind of shame which might be even more relevant for unschooling parents, which is when I'm cool with whatever is going on the kid is not wearing shoes today or I don't know and that could be holes in the jeans or headship on the t shirt or loud voices in the museum, whatever I'm okay with it. I have a problem with it. But then other people into the scene and maybe I stopped being okay with it because the surrounding society, I'm afraid of their judgment and I feel ashamed of my children's behavior. So that's actually a double thing.
0:47:26 - Sandra Dodd
That's a big jump, though.
0:47:38 - Cecilie Conrad
But we're beyond that, more or less. I mean, if there is a situation where we find we need, like, a funeral or whatever, we need to give them instructions. This is how we think it's proper to behave in this context, and so I think that's a way more or less just comply or don't come.
0:48:00 - Sandra Dodd
But when they were little, when, when they okay.
so people who have younger kids now they did, they can, they can work by rules and say unschoolers don't have to be quiet in the museum, which is not true unless the unschoolers own the museum, you know you want to buy that they can impose all the rules on their kids out of fear of imaginary people who aren't even there, their own grandmothers, who you know are gone to heaven or wherever there, but still you know they're in, there's there in their voices, are in their head. So you can go too far either way. In the middle is are we disturbing the peace? Let's don't.
0:48:42 - Cecilie Conrad
And also I think this, the whole idea of working by rules can be a problem. I think it's. It's it has for us work very well to say, there's a context here where I can't handle. I remember the classic example of there was a phase where one of our sons really like to wear dresses and he had a lot of dresses. He you know his older sister grew out of them and he liked them and he wore the dresses and we didn't care to four years we didn't care, we still called him a boy and so it was not a gender fluid kind of project in our family at all.
He just I don't really care that much about clothes. They put on some clothes, they like them, I'm happy, they're happy, that's it. But he liked his dresses, and one day we were going to birthday party, birthday and and our son wanted to dress up really nice, so he took his most beautiful dress and put it on For going to the birthday party.
0:49:38 - Jesper Conrad
And that one yeah, that that the I did. We had a long talk and ended with a dress with a shirt on top.
0:49:49 - Cecilie Conrad
That he wore for like exactly 15 minutes.
0:49:51 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, but I needed to appear for for the general public with. This is a boy. He has a shirt on, so all is good.
0:50:00 - Cecilie Conrad
What I liked about the situation was you arrived at a point where you didn't need to say boys wear shirts. You, you had the honesty to say I'm sorry, I can't handle this. This is my mother and she will probably not understand. Her and her friends will even more not understand, and and I, and maybe you were even wrong maybe my mother in law wouldn't have shared if it was just at her place it would be no problem.
It doesn't matter. The thing is, you own it, you don't put out a general rule that you can never say anything about what they wear, because you can if it really disturbs you and, on the other hand, you're not judging your child. They say it's a beautiful dress. I know you love it.
0:50:45 - Sandra Dodd
Please wear a shirt on top of it, please.
0:50:49 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, that happens. I walked along with having small children and all the way up to grownups and taking this choice as being not taking a choice, but being an on school mom. Have you had periods where you were when we talk judgment, were afraid of how other people looked at you, or how did you work with that in your life?
0:51:16 - Sandra Dodd
When my oldest was eight, he wasn't reading yet. A lot of boys aren't, even if they're in school and my mother in law said well, why isn't he reading? And I thought I should try to get him to read. I think he was eight and you really love Ninja Turtles and the toys used to cost $5 little Ninja Turtle figures. And so I said, if you read with me for half an hour, I'll buy you a Ninja Turtle.
I sat down and we did like reading lessons and I bought him a Ninja Turtle. And the second time, you didn't like it, I bought him a Ninja Turtle. And the third time I asked him and he just like something said down on the table like that, and I went, okay, sorry, let's just go get Ninja Turtles and not read. I thought, okay, this is stupid, you know. The first time I thought, well, maybe my mother level shut up. The second time I thought he's not really going to get this, is he? And the third time I thought I'm not going to make him happy, so that she go, he's reading. So then I was cured. I was totally cured, but that was. That was before Marty was even old enough to decide he was going to stay home. So that was an early sort of an inoculation for me. I had this car for years.
0:52:29 - Cecilie Conrad
I have a much worse reading story.
0:52:31 - Sandra Dodd
Yeah, so it's like okay, my, I had. I lost a friend over it. A friend who was a teacher used to come and hang around at my house almost every day and when I decided not to send Kirby to school, she said that's very selfish of you to keep him home, but she was. She was. She taught at the school for the deaf. She taught sign language to mostly kids who were deaf and had other problems, and she was deaf and other special needs. So that's a very focused and niche job and she worked in for the state school for the deaf and then she worked at a local preschool in Albuquerque for those kids, so they didn't have to live in Santa Fe and she would try to teach the parents sign language and much stuff like that too. It's like okay, I taught in schools.
I know the arguments, for if all the kids go here, there'll be more inclusion, there'll be more variety. I know all of that, but I'm not going to sacrifice my kids to the slight possibility that the school will shut up. You know they won't. It's like my mother in law saying doesn't he read yet? So those things went together. For me it's like I'm sorry, barb, you I didn't, don't come around anymore, because I'm not going to sacrifice my child's happiness for your occasional comfort. I wasn't mean to her about and I didn't even say all that to her, I just let her go.
And she was Holly's godmother and she sewed a lot and used to make Holly costumes for our medieval studies club. And then she quit. She never, you know, she just quit. She got really angry with me. We can still be in the same place if we're at a party or whatever, or sometimes I go to her house to see something, do something. We're fine because we don't talk about how well unschooling went for our family and that's just it's. We politely don't talk about it. She was wrong, I was right, but she never had kids either. So, oh, there's some disconnect. Yeah, there are some things I knew that she couldn't know. Yeah, and that's fine, but I did. I've lost some friends, I've irritated some relatives, I've mystified some neighbors.
0:54:41 - Jesper Conrad
I love that. Oh, we have mystified some neighbors in our A lot of neighbors oh my goodness.
0:54:50 - Cecilie Conrad
I think we also lost a lot of friends, but not in open conflict, no more like. Obviously we no longer have any friends who are school teachers.
0:55:01 - Jesper Conrad
I have one.
0:55:02 - Sandra Dodd
Well, you have one, I have a couple, and then they used to tell people to cut, like if they had kids who are not doing well in school and we're not getting well in school, they would slip the parents my phone number or my address, you know, yeah, yeah, that was nice, as life involves the group of people we hang out with changes we have.
0:55:23 - Cecilie Conrad
I personally have some friends who are like life witnesses, soul mates that I will hold on to probably forever. But in my years on this planet I've had this group of people and then that group of people and of course, when you start unschooling then you meet new people and they will come to try, or your friends for a while and then you grow and you meet other people. It's not like really has to be a really a problem or a problem of balance and judgment. It's also just having something to share and doing some parallel things that way so that we can ask to shame and judgment.
0:56:08 - Sandra Dodd
That's how I dealt with a couple of pressure pressure stories and then I just rolled over and changed and and done what that person wanted. My kids wouldn't admit wouldn't probably have been as happy and that person wouldn't have really been fully happy. You know, it's just, I'm a small part of that life, I'm a big part of my kids life. That's better to better to go with what they need and want. I before my husband, before we had our first baby, my husband and I didn't really plan to have kids, or we didn't ever both planned at the same time. What was might be thinking about it, the other is going and I don't think so. So we were in our 30s before we had the first one and he was an accident. I had a broken leg and blah, blah, blah.
It's a long story but we had a lot of childless friends who didn't intend to have kids, several couples. We hung around a lot and then I got pregnant and then we had three kids and then we didn't have. We couldn't hang around with them much because it's just incompatible situation. And then, when our kids were teens and we could get out more, we started hanging around with them a lot. Especially my husband started hanging around the more, and that was. That was nice that they were still there. Yeah, you know, say well sorry, you've been gone for 15 years so we're not interested in you anymore. Wasn't like that at all. Just like the same things that kept it from working before. We're, you know, let it work now the kids world enough to take care of themselves.
Yeah let's go do some things. Sometimes things change back.
0:57:33 - Jesper Conrad
Absolutely. We have, in our dialogue back and forth and you may, we have talked a little about talking about two subjects. One is for later, which is to learn nothing day. I look forward to go, I look forward to going into that it's because, yes, it's a dessert. But you mentioned about talking about decisions.
0:57:58 - Sandra Dodd
Right. I think that's something that came out of that medieval studies. That was called society for creative and anachronism. My husband's often an event right now and my son is the king of the local of the kingdom Southwest, most of the Southwest US. So there's still playing a lot. I played very hard for I don't know, 10 or 15 years, but I'm not doing it. I haven't done it for a while.
But that's where that philosophy discussion was associated with that. And Within that club we had a friend one night. He was going to be knighted, so we had a vigil where we had put up a tent and a fire and people come and speak with him one at a time, about philosophical things, about the change in his life, about what kind of a man he wants to be. I liked those. They last all night. We keep the guy up all night sleep deprivation like a cult and then there's the ceremony in the morning and then he can sleep it all off. But it wasn't sleep deprivation like a cult, it was a medieval tradition of staying in Making a cult.
He couldn't sleep it off Making a joke.
0:58:59 - Jesper Conrad
0:59:00 - Sandra Dodd
I know, I know I know, I know, I know Somebody's going to come and quote me.
0:59:05 - Cecilie Conrad
No, no, no, no no.
0:59:07 - Sandra Dodd
Little film clips. Elflin says it's a cult, oh, that's my sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry Sorry.
Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I don't have any more room for that. Thanks for that. I want to finish this video Right here.
You guys have all of this nice furniture and a, you know a big tent and you know nice dishes, and I'm embarrassed that I will be, you know, of a higher rank in the club, but I don't have nice equipment. And I said but we got these things one at a time. You know, I made that tent and we, you know wooden or pewter or silver or whatever, one at a time. If I find something cheap, I'll buy it and replace something with. You know, something gets replaced with something better gradually. And I said and Keith made those benches, and you know, you just, we didn't go get all this stuff at once and you shouldn't even think about it Just when you're gonna buy a tent. If all you can afford is a nylon tent, don't get the orange one, get the brown one. If you can afford canvas instead of nylon, get the canvas. And I said, just make the more medieval choice. I told him. And then somebody else like threw me out. He said, oh, your time's up. I went, I need to talk to him, Okay, fine. So I come out of there all like proud of this idea that I've just come up with. So I go back to my camp and tell everybody oh, I just said this really cool thing to leaf. I said make the more medieval choice, cause. And I am telling him he's wondering how to make his camp better. And they went wow, that is good.
When I came into unschooling and people are saying I don't know how to become the kind of unschooler you guys are, because I'm scared. I still think about school subjects all the time. I still have all these voices in my head saying tell them to sit down, shut up, go to bed at eight, eat this, eat it now, eat it at the table. I don't know how to get there. And I said every time you make a choice, think which way do you wanna be and make the better choice. So that directly telling leaf how to make a more medieval camp turned into how to move from being really traditionally harsh parent who thinks kids probably can't learn to that school, even though you want it. You want it but you don't believe it to a person who can be calm. And I said so right away. If you want to be more peaceful.
I said if you're really mad at your kid, the adrenaline comes and you wanna hit him or yell at him. Give yourself a choice. Don't do the first thing. You think I'll do the second thing. You think. Think this, make a choice and it's all right. With adrenaline things go fast, it might happen in three seconds.
But if you didn't think first, you acted thoughtlessly. And that wasn't worth telling leaf, because leaf wasn't talking about hitting anybody, he was just talking about something peaceful which is buying some better goblets or bowls. But when parents are like I still spank him, I still spank him and I'm always sorry, but I spank him because my parents spanked me, because that church they say to spank or whatever. People had different reasons and I'd say, well, just don't spank him, make a better choice. And so you didn't spank him, you just yell. Okay, next time your choice starts at, am I gonna yell or now? Think of something a little more peaceful than yelling. Make a choice. Maybe you don't have time, maybe you're too mad and you yell and you just pat yourself on the head that you didn't spank. That's a little step, that's one step.
But then that, if that becomes a habit making the better choice and acting thoughtfully thought by thinking and making a decision based on thoughts and all the stuff we've talked about for the past hour. Factors what are the factors today? How can I make myself and people get better at calming themselves? I think that's what I wanted to say about making decisions is it does involve judgment, because you need to know that something's better than something else. That whole denial of, as far as I know, the whole thing about I can't think of the term right now, but the idea that there aren't things that are better than other things I think that came out of anthropology, 20th century, like telling people it's not okay to judge the costumes of a tribe that live on an island in the Pacific by what people in New England wear, by what people in France wear.
The missionaries made that mistake. They told people a lot of the late 19th century missionaries probably American missionaries or maybe English went out to Pacific islands and they talked to women to wearing like high necks, long sleeves, boots, dressing like they lived in London or something, and so those people died. They physically died because you can't wear those things there. Maybe the missionaries could because they were too ashamed not to. But yeah, it was just it was not.
1:03:58 - Cecilie Conrad
They did die as well. The missionaries lots of them, as far as I know. They didn't even have a window to see.
1:04:05 - Sandra Dodd
But the idea that all ideas are equal, to say you can't judge another culture by your rules, by the taboos of your own culture. I wear shoes in the house and people who are from places who don't wear shoes in the house think that's just disgusting. Well, okay, live in the desert where there are stickers and you might. Things are just different, different places. And so I think it's the same with the decision-making that unschoolers do to get to where they're going. They start in a place, but if they like to believe I started, I didn't get there. So the idea that anthropologists can talk about what's a good idea in one place is not necessarily a good idea in another place, what's moral or ethical, even In one place. You can't always impose your ethics and your rules and your sins on another culture. But some people took that too far and said all ideas are equal, like everything is equal. There is nothing that's better than something else. It's like wait, wait, wait. Within a culture, where's the context? Again back to context. If I go to Japan, I'm not gonna wear my shoes in the house. If I go to Minnesota, I don't even. I try not to wear my shoes in the house, but I forget I stayed with a Muslim family. I forgot once to take my shoes off and then she had a big spider in the basement and I killed it and then for a second we were all glad I had my shoes on Again. That was the best at the moment, but I really tried to remember to take my shoes off, not because having shoes off is better, but in the context of being in that house, in that place at that time, me wearing my shoes was not okay. It wasn't my house, no, and I've used that example about beds Because you said you can't live by rules.
Can you jump on the bed? Maybe, and I've always told people maybe. Start with this answer when you're asking, even you're asking yourself a question. First answer it depends. Can you jump on the bed? Maybe? It depends, yeah. What kind of bed? Where is this bed? Is it our bed? Is it already kind of junky? Yeah, junky.
1:06:13 - Jesper Conrad
Are you five years old? Are you a grown-up man? I cannot jump in a bed anymore. I thought they would make it great.
1:06:21 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, I can jump in there.
1:06:22 - Sandra Dodd
I thought a bed anymore, yeah. But if a family says, yes, you can jump on beds, they might be saying you can jump on all the beds in our house. That doesn't mean they can come jump on all the beds at my house Because I know which ones are old and fragile or that I really like or are new, or that if you fall off you fall on dangerous stuff or stuff I don't want broken. So it depends, and I think that's a really good answer when people ask questions. It depends.
And now you get that opportunity to go oh yeah, right judgment. What are the factors? And so if people can make the better choice about anything making their marriages better, doing better at work, making their dog or their cat happier then it becomes a habit to give yourself a choice. And also, I think it's a good way to remind people that just deciding once to unschool isn't enough. Like just deciding to get married isn't enough. Having a wedding isn't enough. I promise I'll be nice to you forever and ever. I promise in front of all our friends. That's not enough.
You have to then decide that afternoon not to be a whiny brat. You have to decide in the morning to smile when you wake up instead of saying, oh, we should have still asleep. Oh yes, good morning on the first day of our real marriage. To be nice in moments is what being nice is about, not just promising that you'll be nice and acting however you want to and saying, well, that's as nice as I could be and I think some people unschool like that. Well, I decided to unschool and then I waited a few weeks and he didn't do anything, he didn't lead, he didn't develop a passion. It's like what were you doing? Yeah, so I think it's all kind of related Judgment and decision making.
1:08:05 - Cecilie Conrad
It has to be. We can't make any decisions if we don't have any judgment, any value system.
1:08:13 - Sandra Dodd
We can't. You guys are driving all around. You guys are driving all around Europe, right? Yes, awesome. You don't just randomly pick left or right when you come to an intersection, right? I'm just?
1:08:25 - Cecilie Conrad
gonna go on. We have a plan. We are open to changing it, but we have a plan and we have a reason for our plan and I think, and a schedule. Yeah, that too.
1:08:36 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, but we change. Everything is down to values. Or when we get in doubt, we choose in favor of our values, or, as you would say, we make the better choice. We look at what is important in each of us lives and then we go in that direction. That is the best choice for it. I'm super curious, sandra, this medieval thing. It's popping up in my mind all the time. How did that start? Because that sounds so nerdy to have medieval tense. I need to know.
1:09:15 - Sandra Dodd
How did it start?
1:09:17 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, and now you have tense and somebody is knighted and stuff. Oh yeah, I can send you some stuff on the side.
1:09:24 - Sandra Dodd
People can look it up, look up society for creative and agronism. But any historical reenactment groups there are so many. There's civil war In England. They do the battle of Hastings every year and people come with the best armor they have the first year and the next year they have better armor. And I think that I know a friend of mine, a friend of mine in Berkshire, is part of a Viking reenactment thing and sometimes they get to be inside a castle, like some old castle, that's just the walls and they'll set up their Viking tents inside there and have their own little Viking party for a couple of days.
1:09:59 - Jesper Conrad
But how did it start for you, Sandra? Oh, how does it start for me.
1:10:02 - Sandra Dodd
I was interested in the Middle Ages since I was a little kid and recently, like 10 years ago, recently 10 years ago, I bought the DVDs of a show that was on TV in the United States when I was looking at a Robin Hood series, and I watched it again. So you know, you couldn't a lot of the shows that were on in the 50s and 60s, you just couldn't watch until recently. And I watched every one of them and I took notes and I printed out the episodes so I could take notes with it. It's like that's where my interest in recorder playing came from. I think that's where my interest in a lot of like I'm really interested in wheelbarrows, just as a historical thing. Weapons I was always interested in weapons and armor, but there are things in those stories about cooking, about the crusades, about you know, all this stuff. So for me that was like, I think, my first time when I was really aware of how many connections could be made from one interest. And as I watched it I was seeing all these things. The costumes were good, it was a good series. It was in black and white but the music was real. The music was period music and the language, the writing was good, they weren't trying to fake older English, but they were being a more formal than people were talking in New Mexico in the 60s and the acting was good. And so watching that and thinking of me being little and watching it and not knowing as much as I did because I was really little like seven, eight, nine when I watched it that for me seemed to be the seed of it. But I used to draw pictures of knights and castles and dragons and whatever Just fantasy stuff. I liked fairy tales. When I started playing guitar I liked older songs and then I started liking medieval ballads. I just always I was playing recorder.
I already was doing a bunch of stuff, I already had a costume. And then some friends of mine said there's this club and at the time it was 10 years old and it started at 12 years old, 11 or 12 years old, because they were deciding whether this was May 1st is the anniversary. But it started in California, near San Francisco, berkeley, by some people that I knew later. But they just had a backyard party, like they had a party and they dressed up and they played once and then they did it again and then other people were in town, so I grew out of that. By the time I was playing it was all over the country and now it's all over the world. But there are other ones too. And then there's another thing called LARP live action, role playing but that's not what we're doing and that's more like D&D and costume, with casting spells and stuff. So that's like playing a game. Yeah, that's different and we're playing too, I think.
I was the first person used to call it playing. They used to call it participating in. That's what we're playing, because I'm playing like I'm Elfin and Dukferin, I'm playing like I'm a Saxon, you know, and it's not 1000 years ago. But it's an excuse for people who have those interests to make costumes, to make armor, to make food to cook for a bunch of people, food that's exotic and I have probably 10 medieval cookbooks and stuff like that. I don't do it, but it was so fun when I did. And that's where I met my husband, because I lived in another town but I used to come to Albuquerque every Sunday because they had a gathering and somebody was supposed to start coming running a Madrigal group for us. A nun from another town was supposed to come and teach us music. Somebody had arranged for it and she didn't show up. So there's a group there, a pretty big group, almost 20 people, and so we looked around twiddling our thumbs she's not coming and says anybody know some Red Bull? She's not coming. Is this? Anybody know some rounds that we could do? And I was like I do, I know a lot of songs that are period.
So I taught some songs and the next week she didn't come either. Well, she'll come next week. The next week she didn't come either. I thought she might not and I had brought some music, these people who were there, this one guy was a really good singer and he could read music. I'm like, ooh, sexy. So later on it turns out this guy, keith, who's now my husband. For a long time he was also a really good fighter in one tournaments and stuff, and so a couple of times people said, oh, you must have liked him because he was so good at that. I said no, I liked him because he could sing. People have insulted me and said that's not true. I said you don't know. You don't know. I always hang out with the musicians, not the jocks, but sometimes a person is both.
1:14:30 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, well, thank you for that story, wonderful, I loved it. It's not about unschooling, but it is about it's about following your passion, which I think that a lot of unschooling is.
1:14:43 - Sandra Dodd
And that's and that reinforced my confidence about people learning what they're interested in and about the connections that can be made.
Yeah yeah, and to go all in Right, I had a lot of confidence by the time I was unschooling. Nobody could tell me that you can't learn on your own for fun, because I've been doing it my whole life and I was. I was at one point, the corporate president of that club. I was. I was really all in yeah years and I, in the days of newsletters, I've done newsletters. I'm the only person who was ever the chronicler that you know, who did the newsletters and the record keeping for every level a small town group, a city group, principality, kingdom and corporate. So, yeah, I did a lot of paperwork and now people only appreciate that when I go. You don't. You don't know how many newsletters I did. They don't. What do you mean? A newsletter? Yeah, those things change too. Yeah, they do, but still, that's what my website is is keeping track of what has happened. It's kind of the history of unschooling. I like my website.
I made a new page the other day because whenever I find out that there's a topic that I don't have a page on, I try to make one. So if somebody comes and says I have this weird problem or this weird idea that I can just send them that one link and every page leads to at least three other pages. That's the design of it. They said it's like a prairie dog village, so every hole leads to another hole or two. But my, my pattern is every, every page leads to at least three pages. So people start in there. It's like a choose your own adventure book. Yeah, they went in there to read about one thing decision making or whatever, being your child's partner but it'll lead to another couple of things and they can read till they're tired and quit.
1:16:25 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, and then come back tomorrow.
1:16:28 - Sandra Dodd
I wouldn't know that people could use that page on their own. I kind of thought it wouldn't happen. But as an adjunct to a really busy discussion is perfect and I save this one. In the discussion somebody writes something, save that. Ok, I'd put it over there. It's like the bank put this one in the bank and it is a very rich website. Yeah, but I've gotten fan mail to in the past year of people who are just on their own somewhere and they learned to unschool from that website. Yeah, and wrote me a letter.
1:17:05 - Cecilie Conrad
I think it's very different than Europe, from the States, because we are such a small group here. Hey, hey, people haven't heard about unschooling. It's very new, it's very rare, it's very different here. And we, when we first started, there was not much to find To find and probably not say I don't think I read anything from Europe. Everything was American, yeah, and it's good stuff. But it's not exactly the same culture. And no, it's not the same.
It's not the same context, especially because one people have to be on school and most likely you're all alone. You'll be the only one in your town.
1:17:48 - Sandra Dodd
It's not there because that's what happened here too. A lot of people were isolated physically, but they but then, thanks to being able to be online, they were able to. Yeah, so the physical isolation. I just don't think people talk online the way they did because now people go to Facebook and it's so overwhelmingly about everything. But in the days that there were discussion groups, you could go. You open your computer and you go where there's nothing happening but unschooling. And there were several. I like them, I like the forum.
Bulletin boards, or bulletin boards or discussion lists On bulletin boards, you had to go deposit directly right there, but with the discussion list you could just do it by email. You didn't have to see anything else you didn't want to see, and so that was Clean and pure. It was not Junked up with. You can't even get there without seeing stories about car wrecks and Donald Trump and a bunch of crap. So it's so depressing now being online because things have advertisements everywhere and just it's junky. It's junky. It's like a bad neighborhood with a bunch of junk in the alley. Compared to what used to be so, when we used to be able to have a really dedicated discussion and then have pages that to send people to, that was perfect. That was ideal.
There are a lot of unschoolers in England and they're a fair number in Spain. There are two different groups in Spain that don't like each other. I don't know. They'd probably like each other, fine, but they don't. They don't mesh. At least they're enough different that they don't work together that well, but that's okay. But each has a different, but that's okay. But each has pretty many families and sometimes they have conferences or gatherings like camp out or something yeah, spain Now learn nothing.
1:19:29 - Cecilie Conrad
Can we talk about learning nothing?
1:19:31 - Sandra Dodd
We need to do definition of learning first. Of a month's schooling I brought some oh, I would love that first.
1:19:37 - Jesper Conrad
1:19:38 - Sandra Dodd
In 1998,. In 1998, I was interviewed and I was in writing. It was an email interview, but it was published in Home Education Magazine. It's on my site and part of what I wrote near the end was try not to learn, don't try to learn. Those two aren't the same thing, but they're close enough for beginners. And then at the end of that paragraph I wrote given a rich environment, learning becomes like the air it's in and around us. So that was not exactly a definition, but it was. So that's 1998. That was well back and somewhere a few years after that I wrote I couldn't find out where I went to search for it. I had the quote but I don't know where I were. The original is and sometimes the originals can't be found anymore because they're on some site that's gone.
I wrote unschooling is a commitment to living in such a way that learning happens all the time, every day, all year. And I wrote that and I saved it, and that was before 2008. Because in 2008, I hope maybe 2009, I came up with learn nothing dig. But my best definition of unschooling is unschooling is creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which natural learning can flourish. So that's that's my distilled over the years. Best definition Creating and maintaining, because you can't just create it and let it run on its own. You got to. You have to be there.
1:21:03 - Cecilie Conrad
1:21:05 - Sandra Dodd
So one day, somebody said something about I don't see learning happening all the time, and I said, ok, but that's that you're not seeing it, don't you think? No, I don't think learning happens every day, I don't think it happens all the time. Ok, so then I made this just for fun. I happen to know because of my birthday. My birthday is not a holiday anywhere except in Utah. In Utah, july 4th is the day that the pioneers came over the ridge and saw the Salt Lake Valley and decided to stay there. So in Utah they have parades and picnics, and so I thought you can't possibly go to a parade in a picnic and not learn something. So I said the very first year I thought it was just going to be a one day, I thought it was going to be one thing, but every every year it has come back. I said, ok, on July 24th we're going to have a holiday, we're going to have a vacation from learning All the young schoolers. Just don't learn anything that day. Ok, one day you can do it. And it was partly a day that I was going to be able to learn, and it was partly a demonstration to prove that those people were wrong who were saying sometimes you don't learn. It was like a living demo of OK, prove it, put up or shut up, let's see. Let's see you not learn. And so I made a big deal. I had an art competition, holly made me a logo.
I made a big deal that first year and reminded people every day 10 more days till we're going to learn nothing. Nine more days till learn nothing, day we count. And so, of course, people start writing immediately. Like nine in the morning, I woke up, and by the time I wake up in New Mexico, even though I was waking up at seven or six in the morning, it's already half the days over. You know New Zealand's already failed 12 hours ago. By the time we got to here, all of Europe is reporting in all of the rest of the United States because I'm in this third time zone across You're all going. Ah, we only lasted till breakfast, and so it was the most glorious day of people telling a story of how learning popped up, and I didn't expect that. I did expect that people go. Ok, it didn't work. What I didn't expect was that it would be a festival of learning stories.
1:23:22 - Cecilie Conrad
That was cool.
1:23:24 - Sandra Dodd
So every year I've done it. The last few years weren't very fun, you know it wasn't, situations weren't great. But I'm going to do it this year. I'm going to put out some. I've written a letter of cease and desist. Of what? Cease and desist? You know, a cease and desist letter is a letter that you send to someone who's like violating your copyright or maybe owes you money or something. Oh, ok, this is a formal letter, cease and desist, stop doing what. Ok, writing a letter to tell people to cease and desist.
But I always said from the beginning, boy in Utah. I said from the beginning, boy in Utah. And then that was a test too, that was a demonstration also. And the way to lose was to write to me and say why, why is it waiting in Utah? And the first few times I kind of laughed and said you should look it up. Huh, and the 45th time I was kind of pissed off and that's not fair, because that person didn't know she was number 45.
No, but it's like okay, we're talking about learning, we're talking about unschooling. I just said all the unschoolers in the whole world except Utah need to learn nothing on this day. Why would I say that? All you gotta do is go to Google and put in July 24th, utah, and you read all about how far they walked from Illinois to Utah the Mormons in 1850, whatever it was and it's.
I didn't make that story. I'm not Mormon, I don't live in Utah, but I just have a lot of friends who do, and I remembered that. They said, oh, your birthday's on pioneer day, or remember your birthday because it's pioneer day. So I remembered pioneer day too. So that's what Learn Nothing Day is, and I don't have it right here to read you, but there is a page on my site I could send you the link if you want the criticisms of Learn Nothing Day where people have come and said well, I thought unschoolers never learned anything. Anyway, I would never tell my children not to learn. It's just funny. I mean the kind of criticism that people would do. It's like okay, you need to maybe Google my name or maybe at least read a little bit before you jump in and tell people they're wrong.
1:25:45 - Cecilie Conrad
So how would it be staged this year? Learn Nothing.
1:25:48 - Sandra Dodd
Day. I'll just put it online. I have a blog about it and I'll just. People can read the old stuff.
1:25:53 - Cecilie Conrad
Holly made a new logo last year, so I'll just put that, if the listeners want to participate or contribute, oh then in your own place, if you don't like putting your on-site fail On June 24th.
1:26:08 - Sandra Dodd
Just try not to learn, see how long you can go. It's very confidence building because people who think, well, I could probably go to a noon can't, no, they all fail, which is glorious, which is proof that you can't go a day without learning. And so sometimes people who were kind of lacking confidence not skeptical, but they just hadn't really gotten there as to fully confident about in-schooling, sometimes that tips it for them.
1:26:40 - Cecilie Conrad
It's a beautiful tradition. I love it.
1:26:43 - Sandra Dodd
I have a Facebook group, but outside of Facebook group, in that blog, I don't do other platforms. I can't figure out Twitter. I like to collect stuff, clearly, obviously. So I don't like Twitter because you put something out there and everybody shares it out and it goes a thousand places or 10 places and then there are comments. I wouldn't be able to follow all the comments so I don't like it. I don't do the other ones.
1:27:08 - Cecilie Conrad
I think you should just keep going strong. I mean, you have everything on your side. It's just for people to change behavior a little bit and get out of social media and go make a decision. I want to read Sandra Dunn and then set aside three months at least. I'm wondering do we have time for one more topic?
1:27:30 - Sandra Dodd
Yes, but wait, don't tell them three months, because what I came up with, something I spoke one time in Quebec and I said I wanted something new to say there that they could have for theirs, and it was read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch, yeah. So reading a little bit is better.
1:27:48 - Cecilie Conrad
Yes, dip your toe and do it again later. Yeah, yeah, that's better, true, true. I've just been having this little insect in my mind and this conversation, and that's because you said somewhat in the beginning when you talked about the group, where one rule was we only discuss real children, not imaginary children, and the example was I have this 10-year-old at home and he plays video games. I think the video game, which is maybe not anymore video game, but gaming problem or computer games this topic takes sense, a stage in many conversations on unschooling and it's a little bit like the I decided to unschool and they did nothing. Now I hear a lot of parents saying I decided to unschool and all they did was play computer games, so I stopped. It's one of the big dividers.
Divide us? Yeah, and I was just wondering would you unfold your ideas on this theme?
1:29:03 - Sandra Dodd
When my kids were little a computer game cost $60. And you had to put one. The first one we got was in black and white. For a Macintosh you had to stick 10 discs in 10 little discs and it might not totally load, so but we had three games for them when they were little on the computer.
When Kirby got a little older he played Nintendo at somebody's house. He played Mario on a Nintendo machine and he loved it so much that when he was at their house he couldn't do anything but that. And then when I would come to get him he would cry because he didn't get to play with the boys. But when he got there it's like game or boys. So I told Keith we have to get him one so he can play at the house and when he goes to their house he can play with the boys. And we did, we talked about it and that really helped. And I could just see because I wasn't afraid of things I could just see all the learning he was doing playing those games. So I wasn't afraid of it.
But I also wasn't in communication with a whole lot of people at that early time when he was four or five, and so that was when the first Nintendo system came out. So we grew up alongside Nintendo. As he got older, the other Nintendos came out and we'd always buy a new one. My kids played rock band and Beatles, rock band and guitar hero as those came out. They were teens For a good age for video game learning. We missed Minecraft. So when Minecraft came out, my kids are too big to care. One of them plays now with his son.
I could see the learning in it and it didn't scare me. I didn't see it as different than a book or a puzzle or a game. It was a game and I just never was afraid, and the other people that we were hanging around with said well, try it. What happens to your relationship with your child if he loves something and you say no? What happens to learning if the only way he can get what he wants is to be away from you, to be somewhere else, to be potentially sneaky, dishonest? There is no benefit to that at all, and invariably the parents who say I am not going to let him do that are just speaking in the voice of somebody else. They're channeling somebody else. It's not their own thoughts. It's not something that they made the better decision about that they made the better choice. It's them just reciting what their friend said or what they think their mother-in-law is going to say, or all those things that I already went through and said. No, my kids are more important than that. Or it's somebody who wants to unschool, but she wants it to look like school, she wants to look like a Boy Scout meeting, she wants it to look like summer camp and she has these pictures that you could take photos of, and she doesn't want it to look like a kid sitting there, staring and not interacting with her.
If you go to Always Learning I know it's just before I came here I approved a post from somebody saying that her kid just turned 12 and he doesn't want her to watch him play video games anymore. He wants her to go away and let him play and she's wondering if that's OK. I just approved it, but we'll be in there If you want to join Always Learning, or you can go read it without joining, so we'll see what discussion comes from that, because all of the people in that group who write well, who have written a long time, who have experienced there. They let their kids play games and especially, I have pages and pages of stories about Minecraft, because I didn't, I missed it with my kids. But there are other people who have documented the heck out of the things that their kids learned with that. So should I say more or should I just no? I think. I just think it's a relevant topic.
1:32:48 - Cecilie Conrad
I usually bring it up if it's. You know, I find it. I'm sorry we didn't prepare for this, I know, but I thought maybe I could put it in there anyway, because I know it's a worry. It's a real worry for many parents and I agree that the idea that it's toxic or dangerous or that you can become addicted or whatever it comes from, not from inside the mind of the parents. It comes from the culture that we're in and in many ways it comes from people who never played a computer game, who have some ideas about what childhood should look like.
I totally agree with you. On the other hand, I find it hard to really answer the question when I'm asked how should we cope with this in our family? Or how should I handle this feeling that it's too much or that we should maybe also do some of the summer camp things and the computer takes sense of stage. It is a real worry and maybe the best advice is to let go and let the kids play. But I'm personally not sure. I think it depends. I am. But I'm happy to hear that because I think we need some voices on the topic and some fearless voices.
1:34:19 - Sandra Dodd
I've seen people try to limit it. I've seen people criticize the kids about it. I've seen people throw the machines away. I've seen people lie and unplug them and say they were broken to little kids. I've seen all kinds of nonsense. None of it helped. The relationship between the child and the parent. Without that relationship on schooling isn't going to work.
So it's not about video games. It's about what kind of parent are you? What kind of thinker are you? Are you just going to believe? You think? You vaguely heard somebody say you can become addicted. What do you mean by addiction? So a lot of times we just get people out of that by asking them questions. What do you mean addicted? Well, he'll want to play it as soon as he wakes up. Is that game new? It's like a big puzzle with music and lights, and I play video games and I want to keep up with it. If there's something you've got to show up every day to get this thing, at the end of the month you get a bunch of points I'll do it. It's like playing cards. Some people really like to play cards or dominoes or poker or whatever. Some adults have some game that they like to play Risk some board game or something, and nobody criticizes that. Video games are way better than that, because you can do it by yourself or you can do it with other people, your cousins in other cities.
1:35:34 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, I think something that changed my mind about it was we talked with Darcy and Avis on our podcast and earlier episode where she mentioned the indigenous species and she apologized and looked into that. They let their children play with all the tools they use and are going to use when they grow up. They can play with arrows, knives, whatever, but the poisoned arrow they removed from the child and that made me think about then what is the poisoned arrow in what we are doing? There are part of the internet that I find that's not a place I want my kids to go Young yard yeah the junkyard part of it.
That's what I will find the poisoned arrow. But I need to, as a parent, think about then. Not all gaming is bad, absolutely not, but some games I'm not fond of. But then I need to look into them, understand them, talk with my child about what do I not like about this game or what do I not like about YouTube shows or whatever it is I dislike, and tell them why I think stuff is good or stuff is bad. So I like the poisoned arrow idea about it and I love playing games with my kids. We just bought VR headsets and I am really enjoying listening to music and have a lightsaber and chopping down the stuff. It's so fun.
1:37:14 - Sandra Dodd
Well, I think sometimes the poison arrow is the parents.
1:37:20 - Jesper Conrad
1:37:21 - Sandra Dodd
People go to therapy not about a video game, but about the way the relationship between them and their parents True, that's a good point.
1:37:32 - Cecilie Conrad
It's a very good point.
1:37:33 - Sandra Dodd
And I've had kids who played all the video games they wanted to and they would go days or weeks without touching one. So that's how I know People will say if I let him, I have a whole page of actual cut and pasted statements. Have you seen that page? It's fun. If I let him, he would say something crazy. If left to his own devices, he would just eat bugs and cigarette butts or whatever stupid like try it. Ok, try it. Give him a bowl of bugs and cigarette butts. Give him a bowl of M&Ms. Give him a bowl of fruit. Let's see what he eats. He's not going to eat the bugs and cigarette butts, but I don't tell them and they don't try it.
But one friend of ours who came from a very traditional part of the country, from Bible Belt, her favorite thing to say was get a big bowl of M&Ms. Whenever anybody starts on any of this, any of this video games or anything, she would get a big bowl of M&Ms and put it out on the table and see how long it is before they don't eat M&Ms anymore. But if you give like with Halloween candy here, halloween's a big deal and people will pick up enough candy that if the parents say you can only have one piece of candy a day, it could last until Christmas. So if you say you can only have one piece of candy a day, those kids will eat every piece of that candy, no matter how bad it is, no matter how dried up it is by the time they're getting down to the bottom of the bag. They will eat it because you limited it. All of the people who ever studied economics 101 know that. They know what.
And I just used to say, yeah, have it if you want. Is there anything you want to give me? Give me the dark chocolate and the coconut. They didn't like that. Give it to me before it dries up and it's like yeah, have it. They'll eat 10 or 20 pieces and the next day they'll eat five or 10. And at some point we throw it away because they're tired of it. They got down to the stuff they didn't want and starting to get hard, and you can't know that that will happen unless you try it. So the parents who are unwilling to try will never know. If you say you can only play video games for one hour a day, those kids will play an hour a day Every day.
Yeah, what do you say? Play it or don't. Some days they might wake up, turn it on and play till night because there's a brand new game and it's really exciting. All their friends are talking about it and it's an awesome game and they haven't played it yet. And if that's so, then the parents should take them some food and some water and let them play, because the game won't be new forever and once they've played through it once, they may not even play it a second time.
So Marty had one called Knights of the Old Republic I think it was based on Star Wars and he played it twice in a row because you could play making the good guy decisions or the bad guy decisions. So in case there were like five options, you pick one and then it goes through another part of the game, another part of the game, and so he played as the best guy he could possibly be and he played as the worst guy he could possibly be, and later on he played it. So those were like campaigns, marches, right, I'm playing it, I'm going to see what happens. And then he played it later. He played it for fun, he played it in the middle, like to go see the stuff he hadn't chosen before. Because you'll never see that whole game. Because every time they give you five choices, that's too many branches to ever see.
1:40:54 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's impossible.
1:40:57 - Sandra Dodd
And there's also the idea of playing with a game that sometimes kids do with video games that parents often don't understand. There was a one that Holly played. It was Japanese and it was called oh, it's a farming game. Oh, everybody out there who knows this game is thinking of it.
Yeah, harvest move, harvest move. Ok, and it's old, it was for a couple of the middle. The Nintendo sets probably Nintendo 64 and SN, the Super Nintendo, but she would play it. And so you have a farm. You have to find a horse and tame the horse. You can trade something for a dog If you go and watch the neighbor's horses. Oh, that's how you get a horse. You go and watch the neighbor's horses, you eventually give your horse. Now there's all this stuff, plant these things, get these chickens. And so she used to do things to see what would happen. She took her chickens to church. There's a church. And then for me I'm fascinated by the Japanese view of what, because it's a lot of farms that kind of in the United States. It has American holidays and Japanese moon viewers, so it's sort of a hybrid fantasy world of the United States and Japan. And on Thanksgiving you give your girlfriend a cake and I'm like there are cakes in Thanksgiving, they'll go together. There's no cake at Thanksgiving, none, don't do it. But so for me that was fun.
For her taking the chicken to church was fun. I think the chicken became invisible and still laid eggs or something weird. Who would think that? But she's just doing. She's putting things in the wrong place. She watered chickens Maybe that's how they became invisible. She watered chickens with the watering can. She took it inside the chicken house and started watering chickens and they became invisible, but still laid eggs. That's what it was. But something about the chicken in church just stayed there, I guess, and so that's experimenting with materials. That's like a piece of artistry or storytelling where the programmers didn't think you were going to do that, so they didn't know what would happen either, because they didn't plan for you to do that. So sometimes something weird happens and sometimes the thing just disappears. That's fun.
1:43:09 - Jesper Conrad
But, sandra, one of the things that sticks really with me with what you, overall, are saying is it's about which kind of relationship do you want to have with people. It's about how you can be honest to get the wisdom. And, as you said, you don't go to therapy about not playing a computer game. You go there to if you have had a bad relationship with your parents.
1:43:38 - Sandra Dodd
Is there some other reasons? But I just of those two. I think parents are more likely the poison arrow.
1:43:42 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, yeah, but how do you recommend people to work on getting better relationship with their children?
1:43:58 - Sandra Dodd
By being their partners, by de-schooling themselves, by the parents recovering enough from their own school fears and prejudices and conditioning that they are confident that learning is happening. I have a lot coming into it that learning is happening all the time. That learning can come from anything from playing with a can and some dirt in the backyard or playing a high-tech video game with a phone. The whole range, because what the child is thinking and discovering and trying out and doing something that no one else has ever done before, or doing something that a million people have done before, but it's going to be different for each person because they either did or didn't watch all the old Robin Hood shows. They either did or didn't travel around Europe. So the connections that you will make from something will be different from even the other unschooling families that you know and hang out with, because you have different experiences, because Danish might have different words for different things than their languages had, so it's so individualized. But school doesn't appreciate or even reward kids for having more knowledge outside knowledge or to have more things to connect it to. So just be quiet about that, because the other kids didn't get to go and so let's not talk about that. Let's just talk about what everybody can share. So it's cool to kind of stand it down so that everybody's more or less the same and not making too much noise or getting too much attention. But within a family, one kid might just really need attention that day, might really need to play something loud, might really need to go to the water slides, and the parents just know this kid is frazzled and needs to have big muscle dancing, singing, running around, playing with lightsabers, and another kid might not. Another kid might need to sleep it off or just play a really quiet video game by himself and then, by himself, take him some food. So by being more in tune with what their kids need, by recovering from their own expectations, by not thinking that they're always right, that just because they think something that makes it true, by being analytical I think that's with the discussions that think about female and male communication is males. I don't see males having that attitude. I thought it and that makes it true. But I see women having it Because I say well, women's intuition, or I just have this feeling, or I just know what my kid wants. I can tell what my six-month-old is thinking. No, you can't, but women are overconfident about what they just know to be fact, and so we used to say based on what? Based on what? How can you tell what your six-month-old wants? Did your mom tell what you wanted when you were little? When you were six, did your mom read your month? So I wouldn't like pound on them, but just bring it up.
Whatever little tweak can help a mom who's saying video games are bad, video games are poison. I'm not going to let my kids play video games. What did you like to do when you were a kid? I just like get them to shake off that dialogue, or that monologue, that speech that they're making in their head and their heart and to everybody, the thing that they're repeating. Look that they have going. Look at it. What's it made out of? Whose voice is this that you're hearing in your head? Is it possible that it doesn't help unschooling? So I think, going back to what makes you a better parent, what's going to help learning, what's going to help your relationship with your kids, what's going to help unschooling the decisions that are made?
I asked you earlier, but we both talked at the same time, but you said can I think of what you were saying? When people make decisions to make their relationships with their kids better, their marriage is better and stuff. It's not one decision a day, even. It's not like you wake up in the morning and say it's going to be a great day. It's an old coffee commercial. It's every time you're going to act, or speak, or decide to do something or not to do something. It's all those decisions, and it's probably not 1,000 conscious decisions a day, but it might be 100. And those lead you closer or further. It's not a random this or that, don't care. And there's nothing better than anything else, because I'll just get you muddling around in one place.
1:48:22 - Cecilie Conrad
But I think it's also crucial. I can't remember the exact phrasing of your definition, but you said something like unschooling is creating and maintaining an environment where An atmosphere, an atmosphere where learning can happen.
Natural learning can happen. Yeah, the thing is this creating and maintaining the atmosphere is about being present. I also, like you, said something this lady asking is it okay I leave my 12-year-old not watching him play computer games anymore? Is it an okay thing that he wants to do it by himself? And I find it very beautiful that she's been sitting there for maybe not 12.
1:49:15 - Sandra Dodd
Oh right, I have to think about how much time she has spent, for her to be Exactly.
1:49:20 - Cecilie Conrad
A lot of parents are so afraid of gaming but they don't sit down to understand what it is. They don't try the game, they don't talk to their children about the game. They have no idea what it actually is. So what I'm trying to say is just peeling off the layers of our own fears and conditioning and ideas coming from other people or other cultures, even about how it should be. Do we dare to be present in our lives and to take the challenge?
I had the question recently whether I thought it was okay to unschool my children because that would leave them with Maybe this was actually a very open question, but maybe it would leave them with lesser options when they were coming of age. Maybe when they were 20 years old, they would have fewer options. And I said, well, they could just go take that course in mathematics or whatever. They don't know at that point. And this person said, yeah, but maybe they wouldn't. Maybe they would choose the easy way, the easy path. So your children would never become doctors, even if they really want to be doctors. They wouldn't because they didn't have the math course.
That was his idea. And do I have the courage to face that now and think about it with my own ideas, or will it scare me off and I'll run down to the store and buy a math book? I think that the job as an unschooling parent is to actually have that conversation, not just write it off, but think about it. Is it okay what I'm doing? Am I okay with it, and can I say more than I feel it's right?
1:51:25 - Sandra Dodd
This will be separated and might be chopped off, but the question about the judgment of other people is related to this too. If somebody else says like you're saying what if your child can't become a doctor because you didn't take math classes? My kids learned all of school math in one remedial math class. At the junior college they tested into whatever level they had and then that's like a quick review of everything that they're assuming. Except for my kids, all the other people who were in that class had gone to school for 12 years. So my kids go in there and they're like, okay, okay, got it, got it, got it, got it, got it. So they're going from like about multiplication and division up to geometry and algebra and they were fine with it. They were great with it because they wanted to be there, they were interested and they didn't feel like losers. They felt like this is their first math class. Kirby took his teacher in Apple the first day. He said this is my first day of school here.
I think if a parent is too timid or insecure or suddenly picks some word like that to stand up to the mother-in-law or the friend who's a teacher or the person who's saying, what about? What about. What about then? How are they going to stand up to a social worker or somebody from the school district? They need to build their confidence. That's why they need to de-school those parents need. For this to work well, those parents need to spend more time on their own prejudices and fears and clear that out so that they can see a kid playing video games and go well, that's cool.
Those kids were even invented when I was a kid. They had been. I'd probably been playing it myself Instead of. This is evil. We grew up without it. They don't need it. They need to go down and catch frogs.
1:53:26 - Jesper Conrad
The dialogue we're having reminds me of a dialogue I had once at work. I talked with a female colleague and she asked me about on-schooling, on-homeschooling. She said but it seems like you are thinking so much about everything. Isn't that difficult? And, to be honest, yes, sometimes it is. Sometimes the she was just she actually was like aren't you exhausted of taking a stand on everything? And sometimes I actually are. It would be easier not to think things through and just go ahead with do some stuff. But on the other hand, is there anything more important than taking a stand on figuring out where am I with this point? What does this? My kid doing this? How do I feel about it?
1:54:22 - Sandra Dodd
Sometimes new unschoolers are like that, just like that. They think about everything really hard. As soon as they wake up in the morning, they're thinking about things really hard. They can just do it all day and still be having fun, like if that was a video game the same sort of energy.
1:54:36 - Cecilie Conrad
It's kind of a big thing, I think. Oh, it's in everything.
1:54:41 - Sandra Dodd
The same energy that goes into solving a problem any problem, whether it's a video game or a puzzle or some weird math problem. Somebody's given you for fun One of those puzzles. Like you have 40 pounds of lead and you need to blah, blah, blah. That is that's playing, and playing is really healthy. So if you're playing with those ideas, you're deciding about ethics and stuff and you're playing with those ideas, just because you're playing with an ax doesn't mean you can also split wood with it. Just because you're messing with sharpening it with weird tools or throwing it at a stump doesn't mean it's no longer any good for splitting kindling. And so just because you're thinking really hard about what you believe about learning or you're thinking really hard about video games or ethics, doesn't mean that that won't be a real tool in your life that you can use. But if it's fun for you and you play around with those ideas, just like Holly was playing around with Harvest Moon, that's healthy and it's exercising your curiosity.
But I think partly because of school, partly because of religion, partly because of culture, I don't know. My grandparents lived during the depression. My parents were little kids during the depression and that's affected everybody since it was still alive, because my mom used to say you've never been hungry. You stop saying you're hungry, you're not hungry. Stuff like that's like okay, there may be stuff like that after COVID that will affect people for 100 years, I don't know. But sometimes people just get harsh. They want to not laugh, they want to not be seen as childish, they want not to be seen as thinking anything is fun or playful and they think that's better somehow, that that makes them a better, more solid human.
1:56:34 - Cecilie Conrad
And you can only achieve something if it was hard to achieve it. Otherwise it's not an accomplishment, and then you can't be proud.
1:56:41 - Sandra Dodd
So I find that. What if they liked me Not having fun doing it? I have a friend who went to medical school. She had to drop out. She did all of the pre stuff and she went to medical school in the very first day that they took them in to observe a surgery. She threw up and had to quit. She couldn't see live blood.
I know a friend who went to law school and he worked hard when we were in college. He wouldn't party with us whatsoever we're not that we were a huge part of years but he would not at all. He would do his homework and he would go to bed and he would get up and he became a lawyer and he got a job at a law firm in a next state over in Dallas and he got a date. And it's about time he wouldn't date in college because he needed to get through with law school. I think he had student loans and I'm sad to think about what happened with that. But he got this job and he had this date and on the night that he was going to meet his date he got hit in the crosswalk and killed.
So that's what I think about being doctors and lawyers. Sometimes it's like it doesn't always work out. You can be super dedicated and get to that point and then like can't be a doctor or can't be a lawyer anymore. So I'm not that impressed by I haven't known. I know doctors and lawyers and I don't know any of them to just love their jobs to pieces.
1:58:07 - Cecilie Conrad
No, no, and some doctors and lawyers were even on school. So, it's not really a worry. They want to do it, they can go do it.
1:58:17 - Sandra Dodd
I know what psychiatrist. So she went to medical school and did psychiatry and she was on school.
1:58:24 - Cecilie Conrad
1:58:26 - Sandra Dodd
I'm thinking maybe we should schedule a third conversation because now the sun is low and that's a, and I don't think I left anything out this time, so next time you guys could just tell me stories, and we would love that.
1:58:42 - Cecilie Conrad
There might be a thing or two about I'm willing to talk about again, but I'm just thinking. Now it's two hours.
1:58:47 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, yeah, and. I'm happy and I could go on, but somehow we try to keep the podcast episodes at one hour, so this will be a two hour episode, but so send it. Where we are now is that we will first of all wish you a very happy learn nothing day, and we will try to learn nothing at all that day, and we will probably.
1:59:12 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah we will probably. I'm not getting up knowing I'll fail, I'll just be.
1:59:20 - Sandra Dodd
People have tried to that way too. Yeah, no.
1:59:24 - Cecilie Conrad
And I advocate and I will celebrate the day, but I know I will fail if I learn nothing, so I might as well not try.
1:59:32 - Sandra Dodd
If you want to report your failure, you could come to either the blog I'll send you the address Facebook, which doesn't doesn't get fired up till now, but I do need to publish my cease and desist letter to tell people to stop learning on July 24th.
1:59:48 - Jesper Conrad
1:59:49 - Cecilie Conrad
I will share my failure. I enjoy sharing my failure. It's fun, I do it.
1:59:57 - Sandra Dodd
You can do it on your own blog and I could link to it that would be nice. I think I would do that because I tried to actually avoid Facebook a little bit.
2:00:06 - Jesper Conrad
Sandra, thanks for this wonderful talk and we look forward to another two hour session with you later on. Thanks a lot.
2:00:16 - Sandra Dodd
Thanks, it was fun.
2:00:17 - Jesper Conrad
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