UMA reflections: the work.

I wanted to put something down to day in a way of reflections on ‘doing the work’.

On Saturday night, some of the parents in our local home education community came together for a party. It was awesome:

Parents that play together, stay together.

And during the night, I was chatting about this UMA and how it was going, how much I was enjoying the process etc, and we talked also about this book called The Artists Way for Parents. I think I first read my copy about three years ago when my son was a baby and my daughter was about 3 years old. It’s been three years of waiting before I have been able to implement some of the practice I admired in the book.

We talked about how it is really difficult to ‘work’ whilst also living as a family in a children’s rights conscious way. Especially when the children in your family are really young. I reflected on how until literally now, it wasn’t possible for me to do this ‘work’ – of creating the UMA – because it would have been too much in conflict with meeting my families and my own basic needs.

Before now I was just too tired. I know lots of parents who are currently too tired. I still get too tried, by evening my brain is no good, which is why I am working first thing.

Which brings me back to the idea of ‘work’. Parents that I know, who are activated in the social justice movement of attachment parenting/children’s rights based family living, are doing extremely important ‘work’, the nature of which means their ability to share or even fully explore their own wider potential can be constrained. This is especially true for unschoolers. ‘Showing up’ as an unschooled is highly significant and important work in itself, before you get down to the parents other individual interests and passions.

I know so many parents who have very insightful and meaningful experiences to share on this journey, but their voices are not widely available due to the very nature of the journey. I know many parents who through this journey have unschooled their self beliefs to a point where their human potential has expanded, but their opportunity to explore that expansion is limited because of the very nature of the work.

Even at this point, with my carved out 2 hours each weekday morning, I know that my tiredness levels due to the wider picture of my work inhibit my ability regarding progress on this UMA. And that is a very interesting balancing act, because frankly in terms of my immediate priorities, it is the work away from this UMA that is most important, that is my relationship with my family and community, creative work within the our home education community to make it as stable, sustainable and attractive as possible an opportunity for families to take.

The reason why I am doing this UMA is to find the algorithm as it were for transitioning from authoritarian beliefs to children’s rights based beliefs and most importantly to children’s rights based behaviours. I’m looking for the key(s) and I do believe that it(they) exists and that via grassroots action there is a lot we can do to implement them and accelerate this social progress. The reason for this UMA running alongside my other work, is to combine exploring these methods in the real whilst working out how to project them beyond my immediate life and community to the wider world, so that these strategies and understandings can be shared, adapted and replicated.

Over the weekend, a teacher,author and trainer on teaching practice called Sue Cowley picked up on Twitter about my blog post attachment parenting as a social justice movement, commenting:



I fully agree with Sue on this. The discourse in parenting and the discourse in education is running on the same lines, and the keys to unlocking our human potential in terms of transitioning from the authoritarian model to a socially just model are intrinsically related. Whatever the environment, what we are talking about here is the dynamic between adults and children. That Sue picked up on this really gives me hope that it is possible for there to be an alignment of consciousness on this. That the dots are joining up.

I also know that there are teachers within the system who have increasing awareness of the problematic nature of schooling and children’s rights/social justice, and that many are themselves too tired, occupied, stressed, vulnerable to the pressures of their daily work to engage fully with manifesting action on this. The very nature of the issue is a significant barrier to progress on it, especially when an essential part of it is personal work – the unpicking our own conscious and unconscious beleifs/bias, which in and of itself can be a painful and draining practice.

This post really is to highlight the context to what is happening here and the work in this movement, and to acknowledge all of the people who are doing their part, however visible or seemingly invisible it is. I see you and your work is contributing the the whole, even if that whole is something that feels intangible and out of reach.

Tomorrow I will be cracking on with my notes, and some new reading material.

5 thoughts on “UMA reflections: the work.

  1. This is an interesting post about children’s rights, social justice and education. I think Paulo Freire’s writings have a contribution here. He wrote about how teachers and students are both teachers and co-learners, and how learning is strongly attached to feelings (and not to detached ‘rationality’). If you are unfamiliar with Freire there is an eight minute video-clip of him speaking, entitled ‘Paulo Freire – An incredible conversation’; it encapsulates a lot of his person-centred ethics and values. Please do watch it, even if you are familiar with his work.


  2. Hi Sophie – I love the work you are doing and really recognise what you are saying about how tiredness and the need to prioritise a number of really important things means that a lot of this important work doesn’t get recorded or recognised.

    I am a unschooling mother and needing to earn a living too and I find it so painful sometimes that I can’t do everything I want to do! Luckily my paid work does meet my need to spread the word about treating children with kindness and respect but I have so many more ideas that I would like to have time for.

    I am really enjoying your notes on your UMA – very thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this process.


    1. Hi Jo – its tough isn’t it. Dealing with creative frustration and it’s consequences is really hard. Unschoolers especially in my experience are very creative and entrepreneurial, again, this can result in frustration when the conditions of this ‘work’ limit the opporuntity for exploring things and taking things that we want to further. I am working on ways to overcome that, how community coming together can support each other to make space for people to do the ‘work’ they need and want to do. It’s a challenge. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experiences, I am so glad to hear you are enjoying the UMA. xxx


  3. It felt amazing to see my constant internal struggle written down in front of me, I feel better knowing other people feel the same. And that it’s not just me.

    The battle of wanting to do the work, dismantling beliefs and bias I already have ingrained in to myself due to our patriarchal society and the conflict I feel knowing that I’m limited to what I can achieve at the moment due to wanting to be available to my young family.

    if I absorb myself fully in to this I am not present with my family but I feel a pressure that if I wait too long to start learning and unpicking things that my family won’t receive the benefit!

    I must remind myself that burnout is possible in all areas of life and that finding a balance maybe a constant work in progress!


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