Unschooling as a Source of Self-Exploration

The more I observe these two girls, the more I remember how important it is to nurture myself. These girls are good at that. They are protective of their desire and right to be happy. And valued. And left room to explore their own interests.


It’s been 17 months since Kris and I started Marley and Sage down the unschooling path, and has brought on a sense of adventure in me that I thought would have been reserved for the girls. What I’m learning is that we are all unschooling, the four of us, and in shifting our minds from information gathering and recitation, to bumpy self and environment exploration, we learn how to simplify our efforts and learn more about our own genius.


I took these pictures at FisherMan’s Beach in Montego Bay, where we pick up fresh fish and vibrant conversation with the warm and friendly people who call the co-op fishing village home.  “Sleepy” our fisherman of choice, calls us weekly to tell us about the condition of the Goat Fish, Parrot Fish, and Snapper available for purchase.

“Good catch todeh, yu waah come chuu?”

When we go, the girls get to have the types of conversations and interactions that were previously relegated to their books and TV screens.

Now, they get it live, and they get to practice social and intellectual life skills within the context of culture.  They get to put life into practice, within the safety zones of childhood and nurturing parents who respect their rights to explore and express themselves.

They observe chickens (then chase them). They meet children who live in a world vastly different from their own.  They talk to adults who are happy to see other adults. They know how much we pay for the fish, and how much extra it costs to get the fish steamed or escovitched.  They know where we go to find a taxi home, and how much it should cost us in both Jamaican and U.S. dollars.

They sometimes each go off to do their own thing–writing, digging for things to rub against their palms, and particularly interesting things to snag for their at-home inspection. Between busy markets, curious goats, new sights and smells, and the stories they’ve heard about their parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods, these girls are getting quite an education.

It’s free-range learning with guides along for the ride.  We believe it is good, perhaps even best for them, and they believe that too.marwritefishersmansbeach

We will continue to pay attention to their development, being as careful and committed as we can be to keeping them curious about the world and their abilities to affect it, and less on test results, comparisons to others, and the need to be liked or validated by fitting in.

That is all we want for our own selves too, isn’t it? Space to get to know ourselves, opportunities to practice the authentic expression of that self, and people who love us enough to be just fine with our similarities and our differences.