#64 Sue Patterson | UnschoolingMom2Mom - Connect more with your kids

FB Sue Patterson

🗓️ Recorded March 22nd, 2024. 📍@ The Lovetts, Fresno, California, United States

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About this Episode 

As I watched the light gradually fade from my child's eyes with each passing school day, I knew a change was necessary. This episode chronicles Sue's own metamorphosis from a traditional suburban parent trapped within the confines of the schooling system to a fervent unschooling evangelist.

Sue bravely shares the trials and triumphs of her journey, offering a raw and insightful look at the necessity of preserving a child's innate curiosity and zest for learning that conventional schooling often fails to protect.

Sue Patterson, a homeschooling mom with three grown “children” and nearly 30 years of experience, is also an author, unschooling coach, and podcaster. She helps families who are unhappy with their educational situations and shows them how learning more about unschooling will help.

She is the human behind Unschooling Mom2Mom, available on all the social media platforms and offers courses, guides, group coaching programs, and private coaching.

▬ Connect with Sue Patterson  ▬

Watch the full interview on YouTube


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With love

Jesper-Underskrift

Jesper Conrad 

AUTOGENERATED TRANSCRIPT

00:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Today we're together with Sue Patterson, who has the website called Unschooling Mom to Mom and the Facebook page also, and we have yet to have the pleasure to talk. And today is the time you have been in the realms, in my world, of the whole unschooling and I was like now it's time. Now I want to know more about who Sue is.

00:24 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
So, first of all, thank you so much for inviting me. I'm looking forward to this.

00:29 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, so. So, Sue, let's start right there. Who are you who?

00:33 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
am I? Well, I am. You know, I'm really a mainstream mom from the suburbs. That's where I started. I did not know that I was going to go on this path. I had my kids and mothers day out and I was working part time as a nurse and we were in the military and school just didn't work. School just was like this is not fun. This, you know, my little first grader. I would look down the hall and there's these big third graders. You know, when you have your oldest first grade, everybody that's eight and up looks huge and they look like zombies. And they were. So, you know, their shoulders hung down and they were not enjoying their learning experience. And I had this little learner that loved everything about learning and I was watching it shift and I was like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, we're not going in this direction. And so I ran into some people that homeschooled. This was the 90s, like 1996. And where about?

01:48
I was in San Antonio, texas, okay, and I ran into people who homeschooled and their kids made eye contact with you and they were like I'm like whoa, what is? And you know, I was at this one thing and I leaned around the corner and her kids were doing dishes in the kitchen and they were shoving soap bubbles in each other's faces like normal kids. And I'm like, well, this is, this is okay, this is okay. I hadn't really run into other homeschoolers. Well, I had run into one other homeschooling family and, to be honest, they were kind of weird and I was like, oh, I don't know about this. And so I just started picking her brain, you know about how, how could this work? How could this? And they were a traditional homeschooling family. And she said, you know, all kinds of people are coming into it now. And I'm like, oh, I'm probably exactly who she's worried about, but I'm not going to tell her. And and so I just gathered.

02:49
Back then we had to have catalogs, because it was only like we had prodigy, you know, we had old, old school computer stuff and it didn't have the information. Aol message boards were going on, but I hadn't stumbled across those yet. And so I gathered some catalogs and I thought, oh, I can like make science fun or make you know, I was still in that those subject lanes, and how can I sparkle this up a little? And and then we were about to move because we were getting transferred from San Antonio to Alaska and and I thought, okay, let's just do this, let's do this, we'll be up in Alaska, no one will know what we're doing, it'll be fine. And if it doesn't work, we pay taxes, they'll take him back, it'll be fine. So I had a. I had a what was he? Six, and then a four year old and a two year old. So I had three kids that were pretty young. And I'm like Michael, don't tell your teacher that we're going to do this. And he, of course, like he's like me, so he just tells it all.

03:56
And next thing, you know, she says can I talk to you a minute? I'm like, oh no, I'm not ready for this. And she turned off the oven. She said Michael says you're going to homeschool. I'm like, well, I'm thinking about it. You know, I kind of like hedged a little and she goes well, my sisters were homeschooled and it was fabulous and I think he'll love it. And I'm like what she says, yeah, he wanted to learn about the solar system and I told him you're going to get that in fourth grade. And I watched him kind of look at how far ahead fourth grade was from first grade and now you can do all the solar system stuff. And I'm like, yeah, no, they handed us the packet, you know, when we left school and it was sealed. It said deliver this to the school. And I'm like you're not sealing something about my child?

04:49 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And so.

04:50 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I opened it, it was nothing and we started on that path. And so, as we dipped our toes into it and learned that doing school at home is also not fun and causes a lot of tears and a lot of frustration, and so, again, I kept with the Picking People's Braids how are you doing this, how are you doing this? And so we met people and we didn't live too far from I don't know if you know the Hagnars from Home Education Magazine a long time ago. They were publishers, they lived near us and all their kids were unschoolers. And so they're 10 years older. You know. They were of the age of people that met John Holt or that had kids that just snowboard, and you're like, I don't know about that but. And so all of it was just like undoing layers. And so fast forward to today. My kids are all in their 30s, they all have careers and degrees and homes and all the stuff. You know, all the things that you think I don't know if this is going to work.

06:10 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And it's hard Unschooling.

06:11 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
And so I want to tell people you don't have to do it like that. That's like my whole reason is I just want people to know they have options that they don't. They don't have to drink some Kool-Aid and become an. I mean, it's not a weird thing, it's just a natural way to learn and it will provide what they need. And if you continue to learn more which is what I'm all about helping people figure it out then you can start to conquer some of the fears that are holding you back and some of the misinterpretations about learning. And so when you can do that, then you can connect more with your kids and the whole unschooling thing just takes off.

06:56
So we had lots of adventures in between that start and where we are now. We still have adventures.

07:02 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
There is so much to talk about, but I'm really curious about the move from Texas to Alaska. That must have been from hot and sun to a lot of snow. How was that move?

07:18 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Well, we loved it. Actually, To be honest, my husband was to promise me when we went into the military he would get me to Europe, and his person that makes assignments said just take her to Europe, but you need this assignment in Alaska. Well, so we ended up I'm like a little reluctant because I really wanted to go to England and so but we started and we had our little mini van and my mom came with us as we drove from San Antonio three days across the country, stopping at different places to look at different historic things or cool, interesting locations, and then we ended up in Seattle, which we got on the ferry in Bellingham and took the ferry up to Haynes and then drove two more days on through the mountains and into Alaska and into Anchorage and Mace. You did it in five days.

08:24
It's such a long drive. I mean it was three days to get to Montana and then another day over to Seattle and then three days on the ferry and then two more days in Alaska. So it was a little while and we did that with a lot of the places that we moved was that we would take like a month between to like figure it out, not be such a rush and there's a lot of cool things you don't want to miss. So we, you know it was different and we just saw it all as an adventure, and so that was. I mean, it was way different because my husband and I both grew up in Texas.

09:09 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So we're like thinking like wow, Quite the contrast to a lesson.

09:14 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Yeah yeah, I loved it, not even one of our favorites.

09:19 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Another culture for some time. We are now immersed in Fresno for one and a half month, Living with the on-schooling friends and seeing the local culture. And it's just for Europeans seeing everybody drive everywhere, it's just wild. You're like why don't you take the bike? It's only not, but we take the car.

09:43 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's funny because yeah, yeah the small things. We didn't think the States would be would feel so cultural we kind of felt we're just, we're here to go out with some friends and we didn't even think about it as a cultural adventure. And then here we are, Interesting and it's. I really feel I'm from another part of the world.

10:05 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Yeah Well, we are going to go to France at the end of April. I'm excited. My first time to Europe is finally. Finally, we're going to go.

10:14 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
What are you saying?

10:16 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Huh, for how long are you staying? We're going to stay for a week, just a week, I know it's not enough.

10:23 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
It's not A lot of small city centers. It's really really wonderful.

10:28 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Let us know, we spend a lot of time in France and we can help with anything.

10:32 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I'll pick your brain, because that's what I do Pick people's brain.

10:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm ready for it. I'm just wanting to follow up on the thing you said about the light and the children's eyes and how it how it becomes more dim when they enter the school system, because I want to go back to this.

10:51 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, yeah, we can talk about it.

10:55 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm going to go back to the school and school and podcast. So it's just because I see the same thing. I see that there's a lot of light in the kids eyes and they are enthusiastic, engaged in life, and you know what their different tempers, but Sure, so that's how they are in general. And then they enter the system and it doesn't take them many years to turn that light off.

11:17 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
No, well, I think I mean, when you really look at what they're doing, it's understandable. When you're told you can't do your fun stuff until you do the stuff, I tell you and I promise it's fun. Only it's not really fun. And you hear that over and over and then suddenly you're like, oh yeah, there she goes calling that stuff fun again and it just beats you down.

11:44
I think I think that you know, when you're able to explore your interests and move more freely, then you have an opportunity to kind of grow that light. You enjoy your life more than if you're just checking somebody else's boxes. And that's what I think happens in school. I think that's what happens in traditional homeschooling too. And I think that when you're told, shelve your stuff until you do what I call important, then it doesn't inspire. You know, and an inspiration kind of comes more when you can partner with them. You like this, so let's grow it.

12:34
And I think that what happens with unschooling, that what's so great about it, is that you find out their interest.

12:43
And then you have your adult life experiences that you can say, oh, we could do this and this and this is kind of adjacent. And then it's all trial and error and it takes a while to step away from. But I got to check the history box and the math box and the English box and all that. But when we start to step away from that, I always think of it as kind of like putting the cart before the horse. If you say we must have these subjects and here's how we will plug you into them, versus let's explore these interests and as I'm de-schooling, I will mentally extract the subjects, then I can calm my fears down because I can see, oh, they did a little English, they did a little history. Because that's how we all kind of start right we start with what's familiar and so once we've done that for a while, then we stop extracting because we trust that humans are really hardwired to learn and that they really are going to find what they need with a parent that's helping them navigate.

13:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Very much agree. I'm thinking about something that I find a little hard as an unschooling mom. I'm not as old as yours, really, I don't know, 15 years behind you maybe but I don't want to be too judgmental around people who send their kids off to school. I don't want to, as a just as a fellow human being, talk to others and say the light in your child's eyes will die. I don't think that that's true, because I'm thinking a lot about how can we you know, you and I totally agree on the unschooling I'm on, we're just. This is an echo chamber kind of. But I just want to ask you a question Is there a way, because this is puzzling my mind at the moment is there a way that we can reach outside of this echo chamber? Can we inspire those who are not ready to take the step? Can we help them to keep that light shining in their kids' eyes? Is there a way we can?

15:03 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I don't know really. You know because I remember feeling exactly like that as my kids were growing up and my nephews were all going to school and I have step kids that went to school and I didn't want to bad mouth their experience. And here I am now my grandson, my only grandchild goes to school and so I don't want to. I do not believe that if you send your kids to school, their light will be extinguished. I don't believe that. But I do believe that if you send your kids to school and you don't actively parent and you don't actively find fun things for them to do outside of school and you don't advocate for them when they're in school and something is just like a bureaucratic conveyor belt, I believe it will not go as well. But I believe that if you do those things, then you can make the best of that experience. They can still go to all of that and you make sure they have this full, rich life with you in your family and that they know you are partnering with them through it, that that child matters more than whether the homework got done, that that child matters more than whether the teacher was right. And you must always remember you are all your kid really has, and so you have to stand up for them. And I know that it's really an interesting thing watching my daughter send her son to school because she was the most radically unschooled of all three of my kids and she went to high school for a year and a half because she wanted to see what it was like. And so my grandson is in. What is he in now? Third grade. I was like what grade is that?

17:04
And she has these other mothers that also have kids in school and I watch her with them and she has such a different perspective. She does not mind calling up the principal and saying what the heck is going on in that room. You know, can I have a meeting with you and saying things like that? You have my child and we will talk about that. She doesn't have that fear of the principal that so many of the other parents that wander through have, and I think it's because she had this unschooled experience.

17:34
She never had 12 years of being afraid to be called into the authorities office, and so she can navigate this a little bit better because she prioritizes we're going to do these things and these are his interests and we're going forward with that and I'm picking him up early and I'm doing whatever you know, I'm just doing it on our terms, within you know reason, because you still have to follow enough rules that they don't get kicked out, but you can still pick him up early, like yesterday was his birthday. He turned nine and she called and said what time do you all do the headcount for the payment? Basically that happens for every day that they're there. They're like will you do it after first period? Because by nine 30, will you have done it? And they're like, yeah, so there she is, nine 30, picking him up for his birthday, you know.

18:35
I don't need Jackson.

18:39 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It reminds me of a story from a family we met in Germany at one point. In Germany, home schooling is illegal and very hard to get around to do it anyway. So most yeah. So we know a family who who likes their personal freedom very much and and also respect the freedom of their children, but they couldn't get around the schooling thing and they, they went to the law and found out how much is mandatory. Right, this is down to hours. Okay, the child is this age, it has to be in school that many hours, okay, whatever.

19:14
And so they told the school so the chat this, this schooling is mandatory. And I see that your schedule is four hours more a week than the mandatory, so we're going to pick up our child every day at 12 or whatever, was the okay. Yeah, we've done the mandatory schooling, will pick him up. Actually, they started by saying you know, at 12 he's done with the mandatory, so could you please walk him to the bus stop so he can come home? And they wouldn't do that. And so they said, okay, I'll use my lunch break at my work to drive to the school, pick up my child and drive him home.

19:48
Right, this is such a radical thing to do and, of course, a lot of conflict arose with the school is missing English every Tuesday, because that's from 12 to one. I don't remember the details, but I really like, liked the way this family stood up for their children and said you know, as an unschooling mom you very often meet people who would say I wish I could do that, but for me, and very often you think, yeah well, you know, maybe you could if you really wanted to, but in Germany it's harder. Who actually can't?

20:24 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
And I like families that have done like umbrella school type things.

20:29 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I know German families who get around it, but I also know that if you live in a small neighborhood, it takes a lot.

20:36
If you get, if the authorities figure out that you're there and your kids are not in school, then there is not much getting around it. So this is what happened to this family and I respect that. You know they just you know it was. It would have been leaving the country or sending the kids Right, right. So I like the way that they would stand up for the personal freedom of the child. The okay, we have to obey some rules, like your daughter picking up at 931 because Right right.

21:10
I like that. I'm not sure everyone.

21:14 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
It takes a personality type to be able to do that.

21:18
And she had that because when she went to high school for that year and a half she would text me and say, oh, this girl is going to beat me up in the bathroom and I'm like, well, I'll be at the back door and she walks out the back door or I bring lunch for her and her friend and they come out the back door and get it. And so we she had that like modeled that we will do this on our terms and and see how that goes. But but you know what you made a good point about how do we, how do we bridge this gap with the majority of the world that is sending their kids to school? And then we're doing this other thing. And I think that in hindsight, when I look back, I think we don't always have to bring it up in conversation. We, we can look for the common ground. We try to find that we invite their kids to come with us on cool field trips or on interesting activities when they have spring break or after school or Saturdays or something like that, and we allow everybody free choice. You want the free childcare, go for it. You know.

22:34
I mean I say that among unschoolers. I would not say that to my friends who have their kids in school. You want the free childcare. I wouldn't say that. But I also think that we have to be careful that, in an in an attempt to be harmonious, that we don't totally quiet our voice, that we still, and so that's why I don't mind being loud and vocal. About unschooling specifically, a lot of people are like, well, you know, they have a lot of problems with it, like mm, because I feel like the pendulum can get to the middle but somebody's got to stand over on the other side to swing it. You know.

23:23 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
What you're saying reminds me of the way eco villages have worked for for many, many years I am in my professional career. I've been responsible for an organization called Gaia Education, both as the marketing director and then I took a turn as interim CEO. But what was really interesting about eco villages and, if you want, well, the goal of this organization is to make sustainability educations to change the world. Most should live in harmony with nature and all that. But I was sitting there looking at the numbers and in my mind I'm like well, I don't think we can get everybody to live in an eco village, even though people maybe wanted to do it, but the mind got in depth with it.

24:12
It is fascinating that a lot of eco villages actually see themselves as living laboratories. It is people who comes from the academic world, who have a big passion for the one to live in this sustainable world, in in union with nature, and they document everything. So they actually produce so much knowledge that you can extract learnings from more than 40 years of people living in eco villages and saying how can we then use this knowledge for everybody else? Right, and I think that we are at a point with unschooling where all these nerdy a lot of them are women who sits on so much unschooling knowledge that have been written books, but I'm like we're like the Petri dish, and there needs to be a work done soonish, and it's already is.

25:08
there's people who have read John Hall's books and Peter Gray books and et cetera, who are not in the homeschooling, unschooling world but have taken knowledge from it. But I can just see that there is we, we, and maybe we are more yet, these Petri dishes, as you say that we.

25:26 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
so much knowledge is learned on re, on going back to a way of being parents that was normal earlier in our Maybe it's one of those things that when we do a cross section of time and this is what we see over a longer arc things will change in that, for instance, my daughter sending her child to school but taking the doing the experience differently, it takes multiple generations of people having the courage to stand up to stuff, to advocate for children. We already see that a lot of child advocacy has changed over the past 30 years and that that's continuing. We don't see such a when. We still see a lot of anti gentle parenting or anti attachment parenting, but not as much. And you know, we want to see it move faster, but the needle doesn't move fast. You know, I guess that's the thing. That's the thing I know as a 63 year old woman the needle does not move fast.

26:40 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I can see my own needle from without our first bond. She was in private school and I remember you know her asking me about stuff and my answer to her was go ask your teacher. It was not taking the responsibility of helping her or guiding her to. Now I'm like go ask your mom.

27:03 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
No, yeah, I am or Google it, google it. You'll tell her Go Google it. Smartphone.

27:15 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Why do I need to?

27:16 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
know anything.

27:18 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
If I'm not joking aside, then then I can see how I has changed as a parent. Take on the responsibility of what's going on in my child's life, and that is on every level, where earlier I was, in a mindset I had inherited of you, kind of outsourced these things, and that is the big change I really would love to see. No matter if people homeschool on school is this hey man, it's your child.

27:48 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
And.

27:48 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I think that we.

27:49 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I think that we'll see that in that, because everybody knows a homeschooler now and as we get a little bit further along, everybody knows somebody doing homeschooling, kind of in a weird creative way. They may not know the word unschooling or they may not even like the word unschooling, but they start to see that these people are in their community and they're they're not as they're making different choices, but they're not as far removed and they write about over in West Virginia or something, and I think that so then when the parents who have kids in school finally come up to something that their kid is so not thriving, they don't feel like I've got no choice. They're like I want to talk to that lady over there Because somehow her kids are alright and they stepped away and what did it take to step away? And I think that it was just a random thing that happened that I would run into somebody. But it is not so random anymore. It's a lot more common for somebody to run into.

28:59
I even have friends of my daughter's friends who I make this screwing calendar where every day of the month has a celebration, and so I give them links and stuff like that and it's really helpful for people that are de-schooling as they're moving away, you know, to start to see that learning is everywhere. You don't have to go to school to get the learning, and some of my daughter's friends subscribe to it while their kids are in school. Because they just put the calendar of oh, parfaits for breakfast, let's have it, or oh, it's penguin day, let's do it, and because their kid happens to be interested in penguins, and so I think that that's part of that. Graying the areas between it's not so separate as it maybe was 30 years ago.

29:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I also think that, on the one hand, I think that there is nothing like unschooling you can't unschool in the weekends, you know that makes no sense, but on the other hand, a lot of the inner work that we have to do as unschooling parents.

30:09
If you do that without being an unschooling parent, you will still become a very much better parent, right, and you will also become a very much better advocate for your child who has to go to school for whatever reason. Just more connected, yeah, and making it a more free experience. I remember I haven't thought about that for a long time, but I remember when my mom was not homeschooled. She was homeschooled for a year and a half or two years while living in another country as a child, but otherwise she was normally schooled, right. She did advocate for me when I was a school child in the way that she would very often say all the other kids are stupid. If I didn't like them, she would very often say don't pay attention to that teacher, he's a whatever. She would use some word. She would say if I didn't like the homework, she would say but that's ridiculous anyway.

31:09 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
See, I think these little things help, they move us along.

31:14 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
You know how it gave me a little bit of a little bit of a space and I think if she had been more conscious about what she was actually doing saying those things, because I think it was just genuinely, genuinely just her opinion. Right, I thought it was bullshit, but she didn't have a big parental philosophy behind. She just thought, you know, that's just a waste of time and if you don't like math, whatever, I don't like math either, I'm happy. Anyway, you know, she is straightforward and I think if you in a conscious way, do the inner work and peel off the layers and, you know, put the horse and the there's cart before the horse or hard, if you put that in the right order and maybe forget about that cart and go fighting, just for fun, that and get very far in the journey as a, as a parent, and I think we have to remember to the that a lot of people don't want to do the internal work.

32:13 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And that's a.

32:13 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
P2. Everybody has their baggage, everybody has their own mountain to climb and and I don't feel judgy about that, I feel I don't really feel judgy about any of it I feel like everybody's doing the best they can.

32:28
Yeah, what you said about the gray area, because I think sometimes the unschooling world is a very there's a very strict and clear line between the unschooling and the not unschooling and, as my world, you know and that's really that's how unschooling mom to mom came to be was it was just too rigid for me and my tastes and I did not like jumping on the bandwagon to tell somebody they weren't unschooling right, or they. I just didn't like it. I thought, you know, I did not leave one PTA to join, and so unschooling mom to mom came to be as kind of a kinder gentler way to help parents see that this really will work and it really isn't neglectful or unparenting or all the things that you may hear in the homeschooling world. And you don't have to, you don't have to do anything. That doesn't make sense to you. It's just not a good idea. It's a good idea to learn more and unpack your fear and figure out where am I doing something? Because I'm over tired or I'm, I'm, I'm, I just don't have the bandwidth to explore more.

33:48
Okay then, then that's where you stop. You know, I don't. I thought of it. I thought of it a lot as your, you're on one side of the river and they're on the other side. You're like it's really okay over here and but if they stop at the island on the way across the river, it's alright, it's still a little better than they were if they just stayed with their head buried in the sand on the other side of the river.

34:14
And so, a little bit, who knows, who knows, just because right now they need the island, that doesn't mean two years from now they won't be standing right over here or they might not know. I mean, there there's just a lot of places for people to be, that you don't have to say unschooling this way of everything else Bad, no, no, unschooling this way and it works. But if you can't get there, or you don't want to get there, or you have a spouse that's against it, or you have all kinds of trauma that you still are working through, go where you need to go, but know that you can advocate for your kids and be more present and you don't have to just follow the status quo.

35:09 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's beautiful. I said exactly that to a client yesterday. Actually, usually I'm a big advocate for unschooling and she was Me too.

35:18
So but the context that she was in, she said I want to be an unschool, I don't dare. And then she told me her entire story and I said I think you're doing what you're doing Pressure she was under from other things. It's a time to change it and no one's suffering. They all like to. The homeschooling. Kids are happy, everyone's happy, they're thriving, they're having fun with what they're doing. It's in a school homeschooling structure with the curriculum and a plan and you know. But whatever, if everyone's, sometimes it's the right advice to give to someone actually not take the step, not right now.

35:55 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
But the most unschooling is okay, you know, and I think that I think that sometimes when there has and this is certainly what my experience was that as we were, as we were learning about it, there was such an anti unschooling push, so then that made those that are happy with unschooling push back, and so when that was happening, it was because sometimes it had to do too. Some of that real strident rhetoric was because it was happening online and because sometimes the way you write is not the way you would say it if you were talking to someone at over coffee, but somebody you know, but you also have the speed of the internet. So you have I'm thinking of like the email lists that happened in the 90s and and you know the speed and somebody, but what about? But what about? But what about? And you're like it's good and and so then things can be taken out of context or you can get caught up in it and you know it's it.

37:09
It doesn't have to be so black and white. You were saying you can't unschool on the weekends. You can, you can if you want you. Just it's not gonna give you the same benefit as if you unskilled seven days a week, but if you're unschooling, you're implementing that kind of stuff on the weekend you're a different steps in that direction you're just somewhere along the path, because I know it.

37:41
Where you start is not where you end. You know where. Where you begin is not where I am now you know there will be. If only, if only, if only I could take the parenting information and knowledge that I have now and and use it on my kids.

38:01 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Oh, get it as I'm a team, please?

38:07 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I wish, but it doesn't work like that because we're evolving too. You know, we have never parented a child this age in a society that is doing what it's doing now and okay, so everything is an experience. I always tell my membership group everything is an experiment, try it for a week, see what parts you like, what parts you don't like, and then reevaluate and tell your kids. You're doing it. Tell your kids well, let's give it a try and see how this works yeah, so what about an unschooling dad to dad?

38:41 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
are we actually not enough dads out there soon that some of us should do something?

38:47 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
what do you?

38:47 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
mean, I'm just trying with it, with this podcast, to also be a male voice in the choir who is very feminine dominated, and it is because in in the most families it ends up being the man who is working and the mom at home. And I also believe there's some biological stuff going on. I am less interested in my children than my wife is. He's much more. She's the primary parent on so many levels and I see the may seem dads out there growing in that direction, but it is still. It's most often comes from the mom but is that a problem?

39:34
no, it's not a problem, absolutely not, and it is, I have this conversation often because of the name of my unschooling mom-to-mom and so they're like our dad's not welcome.

39:46 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I'm like that's our welcome, that's our welcome, I'm happy to have it. You know, in every, in every part they ever went to, there were one or two dads, one or two. You know, when I look at my Instagram percentages of the demographics, 98% are women. They just are. And so I have often said it's, it's a mother's movement, because it just is we. We looked at our kids and we said no, it's not good enough, and and we took steps in that direction.

40:25
And the fact that society, our society, says that women are more in charge of the child raising. Somebody else's society may not, but this is where I live, this is what I have to deal with. And so, for instance, my husband, who was not super into it, didn't really want to read a book about it, you know, and I would just like follow him and read a couple of lines from John Taylor Gatto, like, did you know? And then, and so somebody who was his name, skyler, something, and he wrote unschooled dads. And so he, ron, my husband, was one of the older dads of the people that he kind of surveyed and he said and so I said, okay, just tell me, tell me what you think about it and I'll type it.

41:23
And so he's like well, I think that what happened was I trusted you and in a in a relationship if. If you don't trust them, that's a whole other issue. But I trusted that if you found it was working, you would move in that direction and if you found it wasn't working, you would modify it and we wouldn't talk about it, and that you were more educated in it than me and I was okay with that, and my job was to do the things I wanted to do. You wanted to learn more about education and learning and children and parenting, and I wanted to take them on a ship in the San Francisco Bay and I did, or I wanted to be one of the volunteers that took the kids to climb a mountain, or do you know different? So, and then he just started listing off, like if we had not, if we had not been allowed to pursue what you wanted to pursue, they would have never. And then he just started listing off all the cool experiences he got to have with them.

42:29
And that may be what is the motivation for dads in our society yeah and I and okay, you know, everybody has brings their own, you know, you gave him a funny look why did you go?

42:46 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
he's crying, he's getting emotional. Yeah, okay you know that's okay.

42:52 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I mean no, no, but that's it. I mean the experiences I've had with my children because we have taken this direction. Oh, my god, I'm so grateful. Right, a little little joy, cheer, that's okay, you know that's fabulous because I'm glad you've had those experiences oh, yes man.

43:10 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I'm sad for people that haven't had those experiences or they don't know that they could have those experiences.

43:18 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
You know you have to set your priorities differently and also, I think, if you have, not all families work like that, but many families in unschooling work like the mom is the unschooling I don't know major force and the dad does some other stuff, usually bread winning right and is less interested in the day-to-day activities and you know the flow of the home kind of thing. And sometimes I know that, yes, but gets a little, I don't know, envious, maybe almost.

43:56
Yeah, yeah, and I'm patient to the kids and why are they always talking to me about stuff? And you know why am I, why do I get to? Sometimes you say you sit, you just sit and talk. But that's basically my job, but you know what but now? You do.

44:10 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
That's why I mean, I don't mean to, but that's why they come to her.

44:15 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I know.

44:16 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Because you're not in a rush to get to an activity.

44:21 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And yesterday I had such a wonderful talk with our 15 year old daughter of Cecilia was out walking, so whatever she had on the mind, she was under one. I love to get out of the house some more.

44:34 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
So that I'm the only alternative they have? Yeah, I'm happy.

44:39 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But you know, what.

44:40 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
You'll just have a different relationship with them.

44:42 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I know, I know, I know.

44:44 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
That's the key. Like my kids, they still text my husband movie lines Like they'll start a movie line and you have to guess, do you know what the movie was? And they started that as kids they would do that. They would say a line at the dinner table and then somebody would say the next line. I was usually not even aware of what they were talking about, you know, because it just wasn't. But my husband, that was his thing, and they were doing like all these crazy Western movies that he had watched with them and they would know all the movie lines and you know. So that became a connection point and so you look for connection points to have with them that allow that to work. You know you're not going to duplicate what your wife has, You're going to have your own.

45:32 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Absolutely.

45:32 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's what made you cry a moment ago, because you've had such a great experience as a father, even though your experience is not mine. You're doing it in a different way and you've been working and you've been. You know, you've been not available in many different forms over years because of the bread winning thing, but it's not like it. It isn't amazing. I remember when we began he would tell me after a few months maybe, that coming home from work on an ordinary Tuesday, that's back when you had an office job. Now he's working from home, but back then he said now, coming home from work, it's like weekend. Every time I come home and it feels like Saturday. It's so easy. And the kids they have some energy left, they want to talk to me, they're full of happiness and joy, they're sharing what you know, what they did today. Maybe sometimes we just meet in the park after work.

46:27 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
There's bedtime, and I think that that's a good thing too from your perspective, from the mom perspective is how can you include them more? How can you set it up so that we're going to have dinner at the pool and so you come straight to the pool after work, or you? I'm going to text, we're going to do a quick video on the phone, hey dad, and just so that he feels part of it, or she, because I know lots of dads who's the wife, is the one that's working, and you still want to include those people. They're still, they're still a parent, you know that want to connect with their kids.

47:06 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and I think that is one of the things we have learned a lot about during the whole parenting unschooling journey we have been on is how important the connection is. And also to look at how can you connect around something that isn't necessarily your interest or your child's interest, but it's the one you have together, Right? So is it? You create these spaces, and it's my advice to some dads out there would almost be go technical on it. My say to yourself I need to have a connection with my different children, and what can I find that we both are interested in? Okay, let's do that, Because we we maybe don't do it as natural as mom do and we might need to structure ourselves a little more. I know I could do that from time to time, Like, oh, have you remembered you should connect around this. The periods when I look back where I draw a lot of stuff together with our daughter. Our connection was so much better in that period than periods where we didn't, Right? So how do you work in those things?

48:14 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Because that's when those conversations happen right, when you're side by side putting something together, they're like, well, you know, this happened and all of a sudden then you have that free flowing connection.

48:27 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And I think some dads like myself need to be a little more scheduled about it.

48:33 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
It's like Well, I think too that it sometimes feels like rejection. You know it's sometimes and so how people deal with that like I feel like you're connected with mom, so that's a rejection of me, so I will reject and that's not a way to grow closeness. You know that's if you think about it, if you're trying to have more connection, don't reject. Just try to take your ego out of it so that you can. What can I do? How can I be? How can I, you know, send me a text, send me a FaceTime video, make a picture for dad? You know something? It usually doesn't take a lot, it just takes thinking about it. And it's funny you said about Saturdays. My first blog that I wrote, like back in the early 2000s, was called a life full of Saturdays.

49:28 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, yeah, but that's how it felt in the beginning. Absolutely, I think it's a very good headline. Take, take your ego out of it, yeah. And I also want to challenge the gendered yeah Version of this song, because it can go wrong on so many levels. Absolutely, our family, that's how it is, and other families it's how it is, but not always like that.

49:58
And I was thinking about it because our oldest son, now 18, if you ask him what are your core values, he can spit them out, like you can wake him up in the middle of the night and he can say what's your core values? And you can ask him and how do you go about making sure you live those core values? And he can spit that out as well. I was quite impressed when he did it and one of the things he does actually every day, I realized on a random conversation I had with him, he told me oh, but every day I make sure I have a little activity or at least conversation with each and every one in our family and if we co-live with someone, I make sure I go about everyone as well, even the dogs. So, like in the afternoon, personality, right, that's like brother today, or did I not. Did I pet the dog.

50:47 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
It's like it's just ticking the little boxes, and that's interesting because then that being will grow up to be an adult that has a circle of people you know when they talk about. You stand on the shoulders of the people before you and that's kind of he's stood on your shoulders and someone will stand on his shoulders, and that's how that arc progresses right, and that's a very non-ego based strategy.

51:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's just a rule he has, like brushing his teeth kind of thing, that he might enjoy his book or his game or whatever he's doing, but then he goes through that list. Hey, wait a minute, I have a moment now and I didn't talk to my mom today. Let me just get up and ask if we could cook the dinner together or whatever. And then he shows up and when he told me I realized, oh yeah, he systematically does this. It shows up for the people that because one of his core values is to have good relations. Smart guy.

51:50 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
That guy started thinking about it.

51:52 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
This is my son, not one of my daughters, it's my son Something right. He's doing something right.

51:58 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Don't. But you also created an environment for that seed to grow. You know you got to give yourself a little. You created it. The environment that allowed that to, to not be squashed out, to not be that personality emerges at 30, after he's, you know, gotten over all the other stuff like most people and, yeah, that's very cool.

52:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, it is.

52:24 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I would like to ask you what would you suggest to the parents out there on the journey or they're like, maybe scratching the surface, and I'm thinking this homeschooling, unschooling, gentle parenting, parenting what it's all about. What are your recommendations?

52:45 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
How do you start?

52:46 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
How do you start? Well, as a matter of fact, I have a YouTube channel and I was just recording before I started talking with you. I'm doing this little three, three or four videos of how to start like, really how to start Like, how do you find the others that are out there? How do you tap into community? How do you know about the laws? And then how do you figure out about learning? How do you start to break away from a school approach which is just one approach to tackling gathering knowledge? And then the last part is really about how do you continue your own knowledge journey, because how you start, you have a lot of fear, and fear keeps you from looking at everything. It puts these blinders on you so that you just got your fear and that's all you're focused on. And then you conquer that fear and then you can start that those blinders can get wider and wider so that you could maybe look at something else. And so, if we know that we're going to have this learning process for all of parenting I think of parents as we're de-schooling it's our problem to de-school, to get that school mentality at least to a dull roar so that we have room for other things and our kids. What they have is to learn how to handle freedom, to learn how to navigate freedom, and it's a different path, but they co-exist and one allows for the other.

54:35
And so I think that how I would tell parents is find some other people, listen to podcasts, find other people that are thinking differently about learning. Don't try to simply do it like somebody else. Realize that individualizing is really about you and your kids, not them and copying that that's a leftover from school, that where you are in your class ranking and how you compare to other people. I know that's even going to be relevant anymore. Not only is it not relevant to your kids, not relevant from that standpoint but school is kind of becoming irrelevant as the internet grows, as YouTube channels become available.

55:27
There are so many cool ways to learn about history just from watching funny videos about history, and there are a lot of ways that kids can learn that we have to open our minds to, and I think that, as parents who are tapping into YouTube and things like that ourselves, all of a sudden we see oh, I didn't have to sign up for a class, I could just put it on a YouTube search and now I know how to unclog the toilet, or now I know how to do something. I didn't have to go to the library on Thursday to learn it. I could learn it. I could sit and watch a movie and say, where have I seen that guy before? And I look it up. And so we realize that we're in this different era of information and availability and I think that school is going to be kind of marginalized a little bit as more available information is out there.

56:36 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I said let's hope so.

56:39 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Well, and even if it's not, because we still have people that are not, for whatever reasons, they don't really want to step away from the status quo. Some people like to step away from the status quo, other people not so much, and they have been conditioned to conform and they conform and they really conform. Well, and so that's what they're, that's their achievement. Okay, it will be there for you. You know, I would love it if regular school was like community college, where you take the classes you want to take and you go when you want to go and you and you learn what you want to learn. And that is what the internet has started to be that you don't have to go to the community college.

57:26 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
We have to get over the idea of the curriculum and we have to get over the idea of the exam, because you know the whole paperwork thing and maybe you know with the curriculum. We have to get over the idea of someone else knowing better what you need to know than yourself. That's the problem.

57:42 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
Right, well, I think it helps that as adults when we look at what did we really need, what do I really need and how much? How much math or science or language arts or what do I? Do I really diagram sentences? No. Do I really need to know signs and cosines? No. And when you start to break down some of those things you're like, well, ratio and proportions, I kind of needed that, and so, as that shows up in real life, then that's what you share with your kids. It's kind of like pulling the string on the sweater that the more you pull it, the more it unravels and then it becomes sort of a mess, but you can clear it up.

58:30 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, yeah.

58:32 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I think we have to. Might we schedule a?

58:33 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
second talk.

58:34 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, at some point.

58:36 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm tiring out, but it's very interesting.

58:38 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah.

58:38 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
How do we do it?

58:40 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Then what we do is saying Sue, it is time for people who wants to know more about you that you share with them, how they can find you and how you can help them on their journey.

58:53 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
I would love to help them and I have the unschooling mom2momcom website has everything where you could get into my membership group, which is a group of parents that are all different places on the unschooling path, and we have weekly coaching calls twice a week actually and a huge library of PDFs and recordings things to help you basically on what your obstacle is for unschooling. So I love my membership group as the best, lowest priced way to really surround yourself, immerse yourself in unschooling. There are also guides. I've made little $15 guides for different topics like what about socialization, what about technology, what about typical days, things that are the usual questions that I've heard over 30 years. So if you want to dive into something like that, that's an easy DIY or kind of way to do it.

59:55
And there I have a couple of courses that one is to get started unschooling, another is about learning math without a curriculum. You know, over 30 years I just I'm kind of a maker, so I make a lot of things and you can always just hop on the phone with me and we'll have a. I have a calendar that I talk with people and help them. A lot of people just even do like once a month we have a little 30 minute check in, and that's kind of nice too. So reach out. Coaching at stupattersoncom, you can email me or you can tap into it over at the website. We will put the links in this show now Absolutely All right, thank you.

01:00:33 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Watch your videos on YouTube.

01:00:35 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, that's also good place to start.

01:00:38 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's a good place.

01:00:39 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So thanks a lot for your time. It was a time boat with a learning, laughing and crying. And then it takes all my boxes, my little lockdown memory lane. It was wonderful connecting with you and inviting me.

01:00:55 - Sue Patterson (Guest)
It was lovely for me too. Bye.

01:00:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Bye, bye.



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