An Unschooling Dad Looks Back

camping pattersons

I think dads sometimes see things differently. Or at least my husband did.

He saw ACTIVITIES they were engaged in.

Memories they were creating within the family.

Once he had the revelation that school was pretty much watered-down-waiting-for-life-to-start... unschooling made sense to him. I read him excerpts from Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto.

I always said Ron was the Quintessential Unschooler. It's just how he moves through life. New hobbies, loving learning, etc. Unschooling allowed him to continue to do that... but WITH the kids and valuing it for what it is.

This is what he shared in 2015, in Skyler Collins' book, The Unschooled Dad:

Ron Patterson
Retired Major USAF, Texas, USA

I don't know a lot about unschooling. But I had faith in my wife and faith in my kids.

We have many things to learn in life but you don't necessarily have to learn any of it in school. People think that's the only way, but it's not. Frankly, I learn a lot better when someone isn't telling me what to do. I see something that crosses my path and suddenly I want to find out more about it. Then one thing leads to another... and another... and another. Why wouldn't kids be the same way?

Life is full of great adventures and you should take every opportunity to pursue them.
That's how we saw it and how we lived it. Some of the things we did:

• Hiked on a volcano.
• Sailed on a tall ship in the San Francisco Bay.
• Built a horse arena.
• Built an ice rink in the back yard.
• Walked through the Red Woods (literally).
• Saw grizzly bears in the wild.
• Saw a humpback whale from about ten feet.
• Watched gray whales migrate up the coast of Alaska.
• Pitched a tent in the middle of a lake and then went ice fishing.
• Threw a cup of hot water up in the air and never saw it hit the ground (we were in Alaska).
• Participated in a civil war re-enactment on Angel Island.
• Hiked multiple mountain peaks.
• Climbed waterfalls on the banks of the Colorado River in Texas.
• Visited the deck of the only ship sunk twice in World War II (USS Enterprise).
• Learned to ride horses, raise chickens, bale hay on our own ranch.
• Learned about history, science, the world through movies together.
• Wandered around the battlefield of Custer's last stand.
• Learned about the Japanese culture as we hosted an exchange student.
• Spent a week in Washington, D.C., visiting museums, monuments, and fascinating sights.

These are some of my fondest memories – things we were able to do because we didn't bother with school schedules or school ideas about what's important to learn. My kids are now grown — 21, 24, and 26 — all making a living, happy with their lives.

Ron Patterson retired as a Major in the USAF and also as the Director of Christopher House, the only inpatient hospice facility in Austin, Texas. Ron leaves the online networking to his wife.


Read More from the Unschooling Mom2Mom Reluctant Spouse Series

Need More Help with This?

The Unschooling Guide: Critics and Naysayers is full of ways to overcome all the obstacles that show up when you have family and friends that aren't happy with your decision. Journal pages to help you figure out what's really going on, as well as examples of responses and ways to handle a variety of dicey situations.

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