Valerie Fitzenreiter once asked me how I would define unschooling. This was my response:

Unschooling is life as a child would live it, unencumbered by society’s ‘shoulds’; with wonder and spontaneity, curiosity and imagination. It’s a conscious decision to live in connection with your children and to live with your eyes wide open.

I was reminded of that definition when I read this article from the Washington Post, and this paragraph in particular:

“There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

Interview Magazine is quoted as saying that Bell’s “playing does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live.” The children who tried to stop and watch didn’t need to be told – they see it in every pebble and hear it in every bird song, smell it in every blade of new-mown grass and taste it in every cookie – but they wanted to hear it just the same.

I wonder, will the mom quoted in the article continue to propel her son through his life, eyes and ears closed tight to the magic he sees and hears all around him? Or will she learn from her son – and from a man who, as a child himself, found music in a handful of rubber bands – the reason why she bothers to live?


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