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32 Reflections on Children, Parenting and Your Life. Learning Societies UnConference – Part II

I went to the Learning Societies UnConference (read Part I – about being brave and breaking out of your comfort zone) to seek answers to some homeschooling questions, to meet people on this journey and to get ideas for other things that I’m seeking in life at the moment.

I’ve found some of the answers and pointers that I wanted, but I have to admit – from all these, I found myself learning more and more about my self and reflecting on who I am, what am I doing etc.

Sharing some of my profound reflections, that I came back with – from LSuC – about children, how they learn, how our own conditioning affect our parenting and much more.

Also, get to know the books that have made a deep impact on me.

In my journey as a parent in the past six years, I’ve learnt one most important and valuable lesson. That – my child, parenting, learning, education, my happiness, my career, my relationships – with others and with myself  – all these are not isolated subjects – something that I have to handle each at a time. They are really integrated.  And, again and again, I’ve noticed how they all ultimately tie back to me – the person, the parent.

My child is her unique self but, she really is a mirror of me. I am a model to her every living moment. She hears me, observes me, reads my body language, looks deep into my eyes, catches the subtle vibes, feels my unexpressed sadness, gets affected by my anxiety, interprets my body language, glows positively when my eyes express unconditional love.

Most important – she copies my actions alright, but delves deeper and interprets and infers from my body language, intentions and any ‘hidden agenda’. These inferences register in her mind and soul. And, she goes on to become the person – shaped by these experiences and environment.

The person she becomes  – she may not have CHOSEN to be. She may not become who she was MEANT to be. Gosh, that sounds like a jarring note to me! She may have been moulded – by MY deliberate or not so deliberate control tools – my words, tone, body language, agenda! And, these are only subtle control tools.

Boy, do I realize how precious childhood is but at the same time, how vulnerable a period it is. And, the child is so helpless when it comes to understanding those adult controls and the impact it can have on his/her inner self.

The controls – subtle and direct – that we think we can exercise upon our children all the time – as if it was a right that we were bestowed with the moment we became a parent – do have a life-changing impact – on them.

Yes, we always knew parenting was a big responsibility and we have been bestowed with immense power. And that’s probably the reason we thought we have all the control buttons over our child.

Well, well…! Power and responsibility go hand in hand, no doubt.

Remember – “with great power comes great responsibility”

But, how did the ‘control’ word make its way into this equation?

In all the sessions that I participated in at LSuC, one thing stood out to me – that in the equation of power and responsibility, the element of ‘control’ throws the equation out of balance.

Be it your child, your own relationships, your environment and even your own self – letting go of your urge to control will lead to peace, love and harmony in the most natural way.

On another note, did you notice that I wrote “participated” in the sentence above and not ‘attended’ because the essence of an un-conference lies in people driving it together by participating back and forth and not just being there to be entertained.

Alright, here are some of my “mental notes” (as I’d mentioned in the Part I of this series)  from this whole experience that I’d like to share with you all.

I’ve listed them – under categories – pertaining children, learning, parenting, living, listening! Also, these are not really ‘quote unquotes’ but my own interpretations from what I listened, how I understood and ultimately chose to infer. Very few are perhaps “quotes”.

Also, my intention of sharing is not for you to resonate with each and every point but to perhaps reflect. Not even consider it all good (or bad). I’m sharing these because these nuggets of interactions and my interpretation of them – stood out to ME.

About Children and Learning

(Some of these thoughts, I registered, when listening to Jinan)

1. There’s no play-way method of learning. Play is the only method by which children learn. (quoting Jinan)

2. Let children play with real things and in the real world. There’s no need whatsoever to create an artificial world for them.

3. Don’t pre-decide and bucket what all children essentially want, like, prefer. For exp: Don’t assume that all children get attracted to bright colours and due to that assumption start brightening up their environment with reds and pinks and blues!

4. Jinan also shared – In his time spent with tribal families, he was amazed to see that the adults and parents never ever say ‘NO’ to the kids. And, the children living in that environment rarely lie. Probably, there’s a connection?

5. Also, the tribal families rarely ‘teach’ their kids. And yet, the kids – by age four or so – are more or less independent to do every chore that’s part of a normal adult’s life in the tribal lifestyle.

6. It’s been seen for ages that children learn best when they get to interact with people of different age-groups (this is how it happened in large families in India – in the old days) and backgrounds rather than children of their own age and socio economic backgrounds as it happens in class-rooms across schools.

7. Whether it’s private school, public school, home-school or unschool, choose what works for your child for it’s about him/her and not about any specific ideology

Recommended Reading:

How Children Learn by John Holt (this is my Bible and Gita!)

Understanding How Learning Happens

Jinan shared some intriguing insight, raised questions, challenged assumptions. These points implored me to reflect on my own conditioning due to the regimen-style schooling and being in a society that seeks to control childhood.

8. It’s important for us to know how children learn rather than ask how to ‘teach’ children.

9. Knowing happens in and with the real world – as a whole where as teaching breaks the world in to fragments and is compartmentalized as subjects.

10. The act of knowing constitutes originality, autonomy, freedom where as teaching is about control, conditioning, secondhand and psychology.

Recommended reading:

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Schooling 

About Parenting

(The Unschoolers – Urmila Samson, Hema Bharadwaj, Dola Dasgupta, Anita Roy and many more enriched this session)

11. Avoid saying ‘no’ to your kids as much as possible. It’s not easy. It never was. Our conditioning makes us want to control them, but children are as much ‘persons’ as we adults are.

12. We think WE get stressed because of managing kids, their wants, needs etc. Imagine THEIR stress (and humiliation) of being controlled all. the. time.  – right from when their day starts to when they go to sleep; and everywhere they are – at home, in schools,in malls, shops (“don’t touch this, this is not for kids, be careful, hurry up, stay away, speak softly, stop whining, stop crying!)

13. When YOU as the parent form the rules and expect the kids to follow, clashes will happen, leading to stress. Give your kids a say. Form the ‘family rules’ together. This makes them own up passionately.

14. YOU are the biggest influence on your child

15. Don’t force your agenda on your child. You may suggest, you may show the options, you may guide – if he/she, seeks – but refrain from getting him/her to give in to your agenda by using emotional baits like – ‘I’ll be the proudest mom in the world if you did this. come to think of how much I love you and what all I do for you. ” I liked the quote Anita Roy used often –

“If you love your agenda let it go, if it is good it will come back to you”

16. And, don’t manipulate your way around to get your agenda to work. Okay, you want your child to learn piano because YOU think it’s beautiful, peaceful, creative, elitist – whatever! But, if your child has no interest, don’t make him/her do so by playing smart games – rewards, your happiness, your sadness, his/her bright future, that he/she can perform at the school/family function; that it’s fun etc. If it’s NOT fun for your child at this point in time, accept that. May be you can ‘suggest’ later. But, only ‘suggest’. Please!

17. This is interesting! As per Jinan, and this stood out to me (wink) – have three or four kids if you can. It provides the most naturally healthy learning environment and dynamics. Because, adult influence is going to be far less than in families that are nucleus and have one or two kids. (point well taken, Jinan. I wish I had spent more time procreating!)

Recommended book: 

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn – “Ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them.” I’ve read it myself and highly recommend.

About Television

18. Television turns you into a hypnotic state where the viewer switches off completely and is drawn into the world of the idiot box (well, that’s why it’s called that – an idiot box) for it doesn’t enable a two-way communication. Not even a silent one because you go numb.

19. And yet, – watching television is not as bad as we think it to be. It’s the relentless bombardment of ads that make it quite unhealthy. If the same programmes that you kid likes  – can be available on CD/DVD (but without the ads) – it can be a win-win option

About living in harmony with nature:

20. Whether it’s farming or gardening, doing less is nature’s way. Most plants in city homes die due to over watering.

21. Doing more is interfering with nature’s rhyme and rhythm. Stop controlling nature. (This philosophy can be applied to Parenting as well. Let go of your instinct to train, control, teach. Let your child be, give time and space. )

22. Slow down, stop hurrying

Recommended Reading:

The One Straw Revolution by Fukuoka: This will revolutionize the way you think about life. Yeah, it’s seen as a book on natural farming but it aplies to all spheres of life including parenting, relationships, career.

About Listening Effectively

(Thank you to Anita Roy for this discussion)

23. Listen with an open mind and heart.

24. Choose the right environment and make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to be able to listen genuinely to the person who’s offered himself to be heard

25. You cannot listen effectively if you are distracted by environment – outside and within you.

26. Which means – your own mental environment is as important as a peaceful outside environment – for listening sincerely.

27. Ask open-ended questions so the person can open up to you to understand his story better and offer a solution – if he/she asks

28. Yes, offer a solution only if asked. Don’t assume that just because the person shared his feelings that he wants your opinion. Sometimes, all people need is to be heard – sincerely. Nothing less. Nothing more.

29. Don’t start plugging your own story saying – ah, this happened to me, too and blah, blah…. By doing this you will be hijacking his story. This was not the idea when you sat with the person to ‘listen’

30. Keep eye contact; mind your body language so the person gets good vibes from you. If you look distracted and uninterested, the person will sense it immediately and will shut up.

31. It’s okay to tell the person ‘no’- gently and with good intention – if you think you cannot handle his/her story because it’s too emotional and disturbing for you

Recommended Reading:

How to Talk So Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids will Talk

32. Your Thought?

What are you going to reflect on?

How has your own conditioning (your schooling, childhood) influenced your parenting, living and the choices you’ve made?

Share your mind and heart… (smile)


Suggested Reading:

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shruti March 23, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Very Interesting article.. thanks for the suggestions on the books to read.. You have gotten me all curious.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 5:54 am

      Shruti, glad this article got you all curious! :)
      I’d love to know your thoughts after you read through any of the books I mentioned…
      Thanks for being here, Shruti!

  • heather at wordplayouse® March 23, 2012, 3:30 pm

    Your thoughts and book recommendations were good ones to reflect on. We want to raise are children as best we can and these are good guides to keep us along that path.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 5:55 am

      Thank you for stopping by. Glad you found these thoughts valuable :)

  • Mansi March 23, 2012, 5:27 pm

    This Post has become my bible now. Loved the detailing of this articles. Great work Rashmie

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:07 am

      Thank you, Mansi. So happy that you found this article useful and something to bookmark and visit again. :) It’s very encouraging and heartening to know my friends/readers have found value in my sharing these experiences… :)

  • Anita Roy March 23, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Well written Rashmie… thank you for taking the time to give us your experiences… I never sat with Jinan but I realize we did pretty much what you wrote about in terms of not saying “no”. In other words, we always discussed the situation rather than saying “no”. However, once in a while, we did say “no” and that is okay too. But all “no”s are not equal. A “no” said with love and humour and affection and/or explanation is not the same “no” said with a stern and reprimanding voice. We might have said “no” to eating something in the fridge that was being kept for a social occasion. Our kids never took the “no” as something to fight about. We had EARNED their respect from the past. We had a positive loving relationship from before. They knew our “no” was not borne out of a desire to be the top dog.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:23 am

      I agree with you that not all ‘Nos’ are equal. When it’s expressed after taking the child’s perspective and need/want in consideration, it’ll come across as empathetic and friendly rather than hostile and a ‘dictat’, so to say.
      Thank you for adding your valuable input here, Anita. You’re amazing :)

      On another note, Pari just saw your name here and she immediately recollected your Belly dancing sessions. She’d enjoyed them thoroughly (I, too) and is wanting to write to you about it. I gave her your email id and she’s typing an email to you right now… :) You’ll get one from the ID – ‘Parinita’!

  • Supriya March 24, 2012, 1:31 am

    I be been thinking about this for quite a while, very well articulated. Shall share it with few of my friends / relatives. Hope to hear more from your experiences. Jinan is a quite an insightful person. Love and wishes.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:09 am

      Good to know you’ve been thinking along these lines, too. Ah, so you’ve met Jinan? :) At LSuC or somewhere else?

  • saurabh March 24, 2012, 5:48 am


    Do chk this film with headphones..and thanks for the write up…

  • Melissa @imaginationsoup March 24, 2012, 5:32 pm

    this is incredible – I need to reread it again to absorb everything. Thanks, Rashmie!

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:11 am

      Thank you :) Sure take your time to read and re-read. Really appreciate your encouraging comment…

  • Ann March 24, 2012, 11:13 pm

    Great collection of thoughts and insight. I took notes! My favorite points are around NOT saying no. Which instinctively feels wrong to me. So true about big families. I was one of 4 and it was a great environment to grow up in. Also love that kids just learn and it is more our job to provide a nurturing environment versus instruction. Thanks for sharing Learning Societies UnConference with us!

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:27 am

      Ann, my dear – thank you for sharing your own reflections on these thoughts…
      You’re an amazing person and a mother – that I can tell…. :)
      Your growing up days must have been fun with you being one of four siblings! I feel often that this is something Pari is missing out on… :(
      Thank you, Ann, for being here. I’m so glad we came to know each other…

  • Ann March 24, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Forgot to ask – did you take that picture – Inspired by Nature? It is amazing!!!

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:30 am

      Ann, yeah, I shot that picture – of the black buck. This was during a recent trip to Rajasthan – at a place called Tal Chhapar.
      Glad you like it :)

  • stacy March 25, 2012, 4:16 am

    Oh Rashmie, how I would have loved to have attended this event with you. So glad you’re finding your place and settling in to the things you believe in. So very very proud of you & happy for you!

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:33 am

      Thank you for stopping by to encourage… :)
      You’re right – I’m finding the conviction and the natural connection with my self to take the path of my calling…
      I hope it only grows from here…with support from like-minded friends like you… :)

  • Srishti March 25, 2012, 6:15 am

    Was eagerly waiting for this post! You have summarized so much in these points. Most of the points are thought provoking, I never even thought about them earlier. Each point is deep in itself :). I will re read this post and try to think through. How Children Learn by John Holt – will buy this soon!

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:35 am

      So glad you found these thoughts worth pondering on…
      That book by John Holt is inspiring – to say the least. :)

  • Sonal Gandhi March 26, 2012, 6:40 am

    Was eagerly waiting for this post; and I must say the wait was worth it…

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:37 am

      Thank you, Sonal, for reading and letting me know. Words from you all keep me going – on my path to writing and sharing…. :)

  • Aditi March 26, 2012, 7:15 am

    Hey Rashmie,
    Met you for a brief at LSU – you write from heart. Many thoughts are close to my heart – enjoyed reading.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:41 am

      Yeah, it seems even those 6 days at LSuC were too short to meet all the amazing people and interact to heart’s content. Hopefully, we meet again and get to know each other better.
      Happy that you enjoyed reading my thoughts… :) Those came straight from heart, no doubt. :)
      Thank you for stopping by, Aditi.

  • shalini March 26, 2012, 7:23 am

    Love the photos that add extra power to this super-packed article! The best I’ve read so far (Smiles) .. Is this park the Sariska reserve? your niece and Pari look so beautiful… nazar na lage :)

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs March 26, 2012, 7:46 am

      Shalini, thank you as always for your sweet words :)
      Yeah, I love photos and that’s the reason I sprinkle some to add dimension to the words.
      I shot those at the ‘Tal Chapar Sanctuary’ in Chapar (Rajasthan). It’s an amazing place – serves as a natural refuge for the most elegant Antelope in India – the Black Buck.
      I’ll tell the little girls about the compliments they just received :)

  • Marnie @ Carrots are Orange March 28, 2012, 10:31 pm

    beautiful and inspiring post rashmie!

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:18 am

      Thank you, Marnie, for stopping by here, and for sharing this article on your Facebook page :)

  • Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam March 29, 2012, 3:32 am

    Oh, Rashmie, i so enjoyed reading this. I wish we lived close enough to sit down over a cup of coffee (or tea?) and chat about these ideas. My head is swimming with so many thoughts right now. Most of my thoughts are saying “Amen.” =)

    So, I will just touch on one, and maybe someday we can discuss more of the points.

    So relieved that someone isn’t condemning TV as a complete forbidden for children. It’s unrealistic to assume parents will turn it off completely, and the point that it shuts your mind off is important. My daughter is a go-go-go kid just like her Papa, and has a hard time just relaxing. So I have found an hour of TV is a good activity for her to just sit and relax which she needs to do with all the mental and physical activity she does all day. It’s okay to let kids just sit and do nothing sometimes. I completely agree that access to commercials should be avoided. Luckily, we have channels that don’t have commercials and have a streaming device where we can stream kids’ shows to the TV without the commercials.

  • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:29 am

    Dear Rebekah,
    I’m writing back late to your wonderful and thoughtful reply. Yeah, I too wish, we lived close by to chat and share our thoughts and ideas – over a cup of ginger tea – for me! But then, I love coffee, too – albeit light :)
    About TV – yeah, I realize that unplugging it completely is hard for families. For my family, too – however much I may wish to do that! I’m a really no-TV kind of person. But then, Pari does watch and loves some of those kids’ programmes to the core! I don’t have the heart to deprive her of something that she totally loves. It’s the commercials that I think are a big noise! Even Pari feels so. Sometimes, she gets very irked with a few commercials, which she says are being “mean”to kids. She thinks the ads make the kids look naughty and as if they’re always bugging their moms!
    Gosh, what deep thinking and reflection! I was amazed when she said this – a 6-year old!

    I think watching good movies (at home) could be a substitute for TV, which really propagates non-stop commercialization. Indian television in particular – I can’t tell you what an over dose of commercials each programme comes with! It’s unacceptable and makes me cringe.
    We might also get the devise that streams programmes without the ads…it would be worth it…
    Thank you, Rebekah, for reading the article and sharing your view. Glad you liked the thoughts I shared… :)

  • Anita Roy April 7, 2012, 5:26 pm

    Here in Canada, we had cable TV twice in 16 years, each for six months, just to see what was going on in the TV world, and once to see World Cup soccer. Other than that, we did use our TV simply to watch good movies together as a family usually. We used the pause button liberally if one of the kids had a question about what just happened. We didn’t just watch kids movies, we watched all kinds of movies from all over the world. I consider that movie watching to have taught the kids a whole lot about the world. We watched historical movies, romances, comedies, tragedies, Shakespeare, Deepa Mehta, Fellini, Goddard, everything. Good times together, and lots of conversations.

    • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs April 30, 2012, 1:05 pm

      I’m late in replying to your second comment about watching movies from around the world. Have been online sporadically of-late.
      I agree that movies can be a great source for knowing about the cultures and lives around the world. Plus, they are likes books – in the storytelling aspect. Kids love stories and movies bring stories to life. So, I’d say a resounding YES to movies. Even though, I have to say, I’d stay away from some Bollywood movies. Some are quite good but others – we’d better stay away from!
      One movie I really liked recently was ‘Kahani’ (meaning ‘story’). It’s set in Kolkata – your native place, I guess. The setting is a character in itself! The spirit of the city is beautifully woven in the story. Watch it when you can… :-)

  • GrayCee April 13, 2012, 9:38 pm

    What you are saying here resonates deeply with what I am beginning to understand as I learn from my children. It’s also a process of unlearning from my own upbringing and schooling. I have been putting into action the wisdom from a book that changed my life, Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, and I am not surprised to see that many of the ideas you share from the Learning Societies UnConference are the same ideas I found in this book.

    Every day I am grateful that children grow slowly, giving me time to continue learning and evolving in this process. At the risk of sounding too enthusiastic, I feel as if I’ve been a closed bud for a very long time, and now as a parent, homeschooler, and spiritually awakening person I feel myself blossoming. What’s wonderful is that, in blossoming, I also see buds opening all around me.

    I’m glad to find your site and will continue to follow it. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll want to find it!

  • Rashmie @ Mommy Labs April 30, 2012, 1:19 pm

    GrayCee – I’m so sorry for this tediously late reply. I always like to promptly write back to my readers’ comments but last one month has been less than smooth on the personal front – due to my health etc. and hence I’ve not been on top of things – especially replying to emails and comments on the blog.

    I can totally relate with and understand what you expressed – as though you were a closed bud until you became a mother and then a homeschooler and a spiritually awakened person. I’ve myself gone through this journey and have listened to others going through a similar path. And, this has often made me wonder if ‘homescholing’ is really not just a ‘decision’ but an awakening or a call from the deepest recess of our hearts and souls!?

    For homeschooling didn’t happen in isolation. With it and infact preceding it, I experienced some changes and transformation within in other spheres of my life – food, health, career, money, materialism – there was a change in my thought process on different aspects of life and relationships!

    I can understand your enthusiasm. I feel this way too. Often I feel too gung-ho about such things for others to like. ;)

    I’ll check that book you mentioned – Free Range Learning. I think I have seen it mentioned in couple of other places too. But, now that you say, I’ve really taken note of it.

    Thank you so much, GrayCee, for sharing with an open heart. I hope you’ll connect here again :-) I’d love for you to do so…..

  • Jeannine December 30, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Hello and thank you for all the inspirational sharing you are doing here with people. I have just found your site tonight for the first time and am captivated. I am doing alot of questioning about homeschooling and unschooling my children and I am wondering if you are ever open to personal emails with one another to explore more?

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Jeannine Tidwell

    • Rashmie January 26, 2013, 10:46 am

      Hi Jeannine,
      I’m late in replying to your comment. So sorry.
      Glad you’re inspired by our learning journey. Do send me any questions regarding unschooling/homeschooling. I’ll try my best to answer promptly.
      I’m not on top of emails always though I try to be regular. You can write to me at rashmiejaaju [at] gmail dot com.

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  • Sandra Dodd January 9, 2016, 12:18 am

    This is not at all true. It has been claimed for years, but it’s nonsense.

    -=-18. Television turns you into a hypnotic state where the viewer switches off completely and is drawn into the world of the idiot box (well, that’s why it’s called that – an idiot box) for it doesn’t enable a two-way communication. Not even a silent one because you go numb.-=-

    If that were true, how much worse would books be? Plays?

    I have collected accounts for twenty years of the learning that comes from television and video. People like to have enemies and monsters, sometimes, and “Screentime” is an easy boogey-man. http//sandradodd.com/screentime

  • Rashmie Jaaju January 10, 2016, 12:08 am

    I agree with your view on television facing the brunt left right centre. I quoted these lines (from a discussion) four years back. Wouldn’t have written this as it is, today. Not even a few months after I wrote this article, for I started reading your articles and started seeing this topic in a new light. Your argument about television not hypnotising and dumbing the person down made sense in the context of how the television is being watched. In our family, we mostly watch it together and tons of discussion, deliberation and post-watching commentary happen. And, even when my daughter watches alone, I believe her mental state is different (more alert and discerning) compared to a person who’s watching after hours of being confined in school.