Just got through reading Wendy Priesnitz piece, “Unschooling as a feminist act” that was republished in the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) Education Revolution magazine. Wendy is a fellow comrade in the large circle of activists for education alternatives where AERO functions as part of the connective tissue among us. Within that larger group, Wendy and I share a focus as unschooling (what she refers to as “life learning”) activists. So I was intrigued by the title of her piece given the fact that I consider myself both a feminist and unschooling activist.
My take on Wendy’s thinking here, is that she sees a connection between feminism and unschooling because both challenge our society’s remaining patriarchal traditions and values that see men (particularly adult men) in the superior position to women and children in societal hierarchies of control, where “father knows best”.
Certainly our state-run public school systems in the U.S. can be viewed as hierarchical organizations with students (young people of both genders) under the authority and control of teachers (mostly adult women) who are then subject to a controlling hierarchy of authority above them. A controlling hierarchy that becomes more male-dominated, the higher you work your way up the levels of that hierarchy to the state legislators, ed secretaries and boards at the top of the pyramid. This is not unlike our society’s political, economic and religious institutions which continue to be male-dominated (though trending in a more egalitarian direction).
Writes Wendy in her piece…
It had never occurred to me that unschooling and feminism were mutually exclusive. In fact, I am quite certain that it, in all its label-defying glory, is the ultimate feminist act, for a variety of reasons on which I’ll elaborate in this article.
In my reading of her article I would summarize those reasons as follows…
1. Our male-dominated society devalues the child-rearing function including mostly relegating it to mothers and not paying the female-dominated childcare and teaching professions comparably to more male-dominated professions
2. Feminism took a great step forward empowering women to work outside the home, but if women are to be fully empowered, they should equally be empowered to choose to focus their lives within the home raising children
3. As empowered mothers, women should not play second fiddle to the conventional wisdom of mostly male societal experts who claim to know better than those mothers what is best for their children