This harebrained (or is it hair-brained? I could make either case) idea was inspired by new unschooler Colleen wondering how to prepare a concerned dad for the disappearance of traditional academic lessons and measures. So I credit her for the idea and I did write it in the form of a letter to her, but I bear full responsibility for running amok with it based on many other dads I’ve known and read about through the years. Blame me alone for the fictional composite dad created as a result or for any glibness or generalizations you may find offensive. Any resemblance to her dear husband or any other individual, living or dead in your home or otherwise, is not intentional!
Okay. Suppose you do leave your son’s academic lessons completely aside, and stop thinking about getting him to learn a little of this or that to pacify Dad (which really doesn’t accomplish anyone’s central goals, including Dad’s.)
But don’t stop schooling! Re-focus all that energy directly on your school-minded husband, with one goal: getting him to learn important lessons about unschooling so your son will indeed be able to get an excellent education both broad and deep (not just some socialization and rote schooling) and then someday help his own children to do the same.
(If you dearly wanted to adopt from China, or take your son on a year’s safari or a mission, or dramatically change the family’s lifestyle any other way, Dad would be a willing partner in the process, right? — not just watching and judging you as you did all the research, deciding, planning and acting alone?)
Probably you can both agree that your son like any learner, will benefit most from teachers dedicated to his best interest AND well-versed in education and cognitive psychology research? That could be you and his dad, if you’re willing to study hard and learn your own lessons. No learning could be more important to your son right now, than for his parents to learn to be the education leaders and life-lesson examples he wants, needs and deserves.
So take this semester to specialize in graduate-level education study for his parents. Make that your entire curriculum. Plan it like traditional lessons perhaps, since that is how Dad learned to learn and still believes is best. School him intensively and with rigor! Make Dad your one-to-one teaching target and learning partner (instead of your son) — devote all your attention to teaching yourself how to teach Dad all about schooling and education research and principles.
You can prove to Dad every day how seriously you are taking this new responsibility for your son’s education, by focusing all your efforts on one-to-one teaching — of Dad! Give him lots of reading assignments, like Howard Gardner’s The Disciplined Mind, Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, and Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works, and expect him to outline and teach YOU what he learns from it all. Ask him to make that book list I suggested in a comment for you at Snook, and press him into service independently scouting out research from unschooling and education sources he can bring to your attention and discuss with you.
NHEN published some great dad essays from all sorts of perspectives you can assign, also.
Why I like this idea —
I figure it’s bound to “work” toward your family’s unschooling success, no matter what happens! Either Dad will be a receptive learner and gradually take ownership of the ideas and try them out, get into it, grow in understanding and internalize unschooling principles for himself OR, if he just won’t or can’t after your best efforts to target him and change his thinking, then ta-da! — his own personally experienced failure to learn from all that intensive teaching is Exhibit One for why being the target of “teaching” so often fails, no matter how hard we try to make someone else “learn” something we think worthwhile. . .
You were earnestly aiming important teaching at him. Yet if he resisted, didn’t like the way it feels, had too many other things he wanted and needed to do instead, and it therefore wasn’t “learned” no matter how valuable someone else thought it would be — well, you just taught him the most important unschooling lesson possible!
Maybe teaching is like communism. Makes perfect sense in the abstract, sounds like the obvious answer, until we actually try to make it work and learn for ourselves that it doesn’t.
I don’t mean to sound sneaky or suggest you fool him. I really do endorse this as a TRUE unschooling lesson in both message and delivery. Help Dad experience for himself how learning without schooling works — and schooling without learning doesn’t.