If you look around at the debate about unschooling and alternative education it can seem as if it’s a debate and discussion that involves more women than men.
When you look at the people who influence and decide policy at government level it seems that we have more male voices together getting everyone’s attention and making decisions that we may or may not like. More men in positions of power right?
It’s important that, as we look at how to abandon the industrial revolution ship of education and strike out for new shores and a new future for our children, all the voices are represented.
If we all do not participate in the debate about the future for our children, (in the same way as if you don’t vote then you perhaps shouldn’t complain about the government you get) we ought not complain about our education system and the agendas that drive it.
It is time to get busy, start talking about it at a community level and on the wider stage of the Internet.
I know there are many insightful compassionate strong men out there wondering, like I have been for the last few years, what is the best way to serve my children? What is the best way to equip them? How should we support learning? What ought we teach them about the world?
But many men in our society are giving men as a whole a bad rep. Men who subscribe to simplistic caricatures of what it means to be male. Men who promote macho warmongering approaches to masculinity. Unbelievably (to me) men who believe that we should put guns in the hands children and tell them this is the way to manage the future. Many of these kind of men run our government.
They do not represent me or most of the men I know.
On the other hand there are the emasculated men. Men who have never found a mature strong masculine but (understandably) reject the machismo on offer. These men also give men as a whole a bad rep as they offer un-transformative consciousness to our children. Men being appropriately male is what is required. Not men trying to be female.
They do not represent me either.
We need men, like many of the ones I know in the men’s movement, to start speaking more clearly, specifically and loudly their truth about what it means to be a father. What it means to ask the most profound question the man can ask. What is the best I can do for my children?
When we speak that question into the world an almost impossible number of opinions and ideas come back to us. It can be overwhelming.
This is why men need other men to talk to about these issues. I know I do. In the same way that women need other women to talk to. And of course just in case anyone beginning to get the wrong end of the stick, most importantly, women and men whether they are in a relationship together parenting children or not, need to start and continue an ongoing dialogue about what it means to raise their children for the future.
I was talking yesterday to a friend of mine who is a coach and who works in the education field. He told me the when his first child was born he had a plan to homeschool or unschool his children. It was in fact his partner, his wife, who resisted this idea and he never was able to bring it about.
This was unusual for me to hear this because I often hear mostly women expressing their dissatisfaction will the education system, the pressures on their children, how this causes anxiety and a deep concern that the children they love are being robbed of something precious that they can never return to. Their childhood.
But of course this is just me allowing myself to be influenced by the voices I hear and notice.
There must be many many men who, like me, took one look at what was on offer in the education world and tried to match it to a reasonable idea of what the world might look like in 25 years’ time, when my children would be adults, and realized there was a glaring mismatch.
So I’d like to invite any man who might be reading this blog to get in touch so we can talk to each other. Get into a dialogue and explore each other’s ideas and thinking on this topic.
We will not be afraid of talking to each other even when we don’t necessarily share exactly the same ideas.
It is scary for us to think about. I was very anxious for a long time about doing the right thing for my children’s education. But this has passed as I have learned to trust. Myself and them.
What will not serve our children is to not have any of these debates and explorations at all. And this is a conversation both men and women need to be involved in.
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Dear Anthony, thank you for writing this honest, personal and very true piece of men/fathers, education and our society. Normally I wouldn’t use a cliche, but here it’s in the right place: I feel and think very similar to you. It’s about time to change things in this society. Unschooling is just one important step into the direction of “I decide what’s best for my children and family”. A better way of communication between men and men, women and women, and of course – both genders, is needed. More authenticity and empathy. Less blame and shame. Please add me to your list of (new) men, who want to join or start a new dialogue. Let’s get this sorted 😉 Best wishes and speak soon, Torsten
Sorry for the delay in replying. Just suggested to Luke that we might get a place to have men connect on these topics. Maybe a fb group or something…your thoughts.?
Hey, I totally agree with you. I’m in!
This is also one of my goals, to build a network of discussion about our children’s education. Which eventually leads to making a change to the education system. Men are definitely the majority of politicians or ‘law makers’ unfortunately so it is definitely a good idea for more men to get involved because as everyone know for some men it is below them to listen to what female teachers (females are the large majority of teachers) have to say about what is wrong with their classroom. The ‘men’ only seem to take notice when the schools are costing too much money or they want to make more money from them.
Anyway I think I was getting worked up to write a massive RANT so I’ll stop. Sorry, might of gone off track a bit.
Well how remiss of me to put out this blog and then not reply quickly to you.
I know what you mean about ‘ranting’. Self control eh? Although in the privacy of my own office when everyone is out……
So I have been mulling it over and wondering how we might set up a kind of hangout place online. You any ideas? Maybe a Facebook group or page?
Might be only a few of us but needs a bit of thought as to scope….anyway let me know..
I would love to be part of this discussion.
i also wanted to home school my children but my wife and their mothers were not down for the idea. what is more hilarious is that now that we have restructured our lives and schedules around the brick and mortar school schedule we constantly run into issues with their schools that make them wish we had just began homeschooling.
i plan on beginning homeschooling my oldest (14) and my youngest (1) this fall and i would love to have other people to discuss this process with. thanks a lot for sharing your life on the internet for us.
Hello Luke and Anthony, I think a fb Group sounds good to me. Happy to set up/support it. How shall we call it?
You’ve struck a chord with me here. Whilst my wife is wholeheartedly signed up to our unschooling ways, I was the driving force for the changes we have made to our lives. The motivations were both macro (what will the world look like in 20 years time) and micro (what the hell is happening to my kids *right now*!??!?).
Like you, I am surprised at the lack of the strong voices of father’s in this community. We care just as much about our sons and daughters futures as our wives and partners do. Are we so entrenched in societies expectations about our own futures that we are so wholly pre-occupied with careers and providing? For us this is about to change.
We are a week away from embarking on full-time travel in a motorhome around Europe. I plan on dedicating more energy to this and writing on this more extensively. If anybody wants to connect with an English/South African/Italian/German-type family then please get in touch and allow us to look you up.
So exciting, hopefully we will meet in Italy!
Hello everyone here. Great to see more and more men joining the discussion! (Hey Sven, just went to your fb-site, great project and good luck on your journey). @Everyone, what do you think about a fb-group ‘Unschooling Fathers’?? Any thoughts?
That sounds great!
@Torsten yes that sounds great.
@Lehla – looking forward to it. We’re excited about Italy in particular, can’t wait to meet you all.
So, it’s been done: find and join ‘Unschooling Fathers’ on fb. See you over there.
Wow, well done!!
@Torsten, I’m having trouble finding the group. Can you send me an invite to https://www.facebook.com/poppelmann
Hi Sven, I sent you a message via fb. But here’s also the link again: https://www.facebook.com/groups/704392323006684/
Got it, thank you.
Noooo! I was just going to share this with my husband and now see you’re all disappeared to fb. Boo. ( We quit fb a few years ago)
What do you mean? We haven’t disappeared we are right here!