An excerpt from my 2005 Live & Learn Unschooling Conference talk entitled *This is Where Unschooling Lives* ~
I think we can zoom out from Sam now and zooooom.in.on..JAKE! There he is,
sitting at the computer.writing. That's pretty unusual, right Jake? ;)
This is my 15 year old. When we are home instead of out and about in the
world, it's a pretty common site to see Jake at the computer at various
moments of the day, hearing his fingers typing away, as he writes to his
friends and as he writes his incredible role-playing scenarios at
Subeta.org. I love reading what he writes because I get to see a side of
Jake that is not revealed in our every day interactions.
Just as trust was the key element in allowing Sam to get to the point of
reading his YuGiOh cards, in his own time, trust has also been an essential
part of the journey of Jake's life to this point of him sitting here at the
computer, writing, because he loves to write.
While Jake has always had something to say that deserved to be written down,
he always found the actual writing to be challenging and difficult. More
significant than the fact that he wrote his letters backward, his biggest
frustration lay in the fact that what came out of his pencil didn't ever
match the picture that was in his head.
Because of the high expectations he placed on himself all the time for
perfection, the level of frustration that this caused was no small thing in
his life. Jake's frustration often blocked his paths to joy and peace, and
I knew from his earliest days that this meant that it also blocked his
motivation to play with the world.
My child's heart wasn't at peace and so, quite naturally, we came up with a
solution. I was his scribe. I was his writing hands. For many years.
I would write down or type his words and his stories and his birthday card
sentiments and his observations of the world that were pure poetry to me. I
knew that *writing* was what happened in the mind and in the heart of the
writer, not the physical act of putting words on paper.
This was never more evident to me than when I typed a story for Jake that he
wrote when he was 8 for a contest held by our local library ~ I think I have
that story on our board. I loved watching Jake write that story, loved
being a witness to him bringing his thoughts and visions and imagination to
life through the words that he was dictating to me, all the time pacing the
floor, his eyes focused on the floor as his mind whirred. His hands and
fingers needed to be free to move rapidly as his ideas came together and
formed something wonderful.
And because I was his scribe, his mind and his body were free to create.
The only time he came out of that story to his physical presence on earth
was to check my spelling as I typed. And to make sure I had included enough
exclamation points. Jake's heart has always been overflowing with
I trusted in my child and I made sure Joy was our compass. I didn't tell
him that he needed to write himself because I wouldn't always be around to
write for him.
I didn't shame my child or make him feel less than Whole because he
struggled with writing. I didn't choose to distance my child from me by
handing him the weight of my disapproval or judgment.
Instead, I chose to ignore society's and school's imposed requirements on my
child and I focused on the words that his mind and his heart were weaving
into a story, for I felt strongly that they were worthy of being preserved.
It's really important to remember that I did not possess the power to see
into the future and see my child sitting at the computer writing for
himself. I saw a child who struggled to write. And I chose to trust that
all was STILL well.
And then it did happen.
One day Jake received an e-mail from a friend who had recently moved away.
After reading it together ~ I think I read it out loud to Jake ~ he told me
that he wanted to write back to her. So I assumed my usual position and sat
down in the computer chair. He looked at me indignantly and said, "No.I
want to write back to her."
I slowly stood up, relinquished the computer chair to my child, and walked
away. Knowing my back was to him, I did the SNOOPY DANCE OF JOY!!!
BUT... not so much for the fact that my son was FINALLY writing ~ just like
Sam's journey to reading, the focus was never on the end product of the
reading or the writing.
No ~ my heart did the little Snoopy dance of Joy because my child had
PROVEN!!...YET AGAIN!!...that Trust is the key element in allowing
unschooling to live sweetly in our home. He proved yet again that my
children will do what they need or desire to do when they are ready.
I took what I knew to be True about my child ~ how my child Shines ~ and
from there, I did the next right thing.
His keyboarding started out that day as hunting and pecking.but now our days
are filled with the clack-clack-clacking of his rapid typing.
I listen to him and I sometimes just watch him ~ amazed and thankful for our
journey ~ for the gift of Trust that I chose to give him.
And I do my best to ignore the fact that I've always said that the only
really useful thing I learned from my twelve years of torture in school was
how to type, as my always-unschooled sons' fingers fly as fast as mine do,
as fast as the words are coming into his mind, without anyone ever having
shown him how to do it "correctly."