Alanis Morissette Says She’s ‘Unschooling’ Her Kids but ‘Respects Conventional Schooling’

Alanis Morissette is a big believer in discovering her kids’ unique learning styles, and encouraging them to be the best individuals they can be as a result.



a person standing next to a body of water: Shelby Duncan Alanis Morissette


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Shelby Duncan Alanis Morissette

On Thursday’s episode of Katie Lowes’ Shondaland podcast Katie’s Crib, the 46-year-old musician and mother of three opens up about her new album Such Pretty Forks in the Road and how she has embraced both attachment parenting and “unschooling” when it comes to her three children: sons Winter Mercy, 13 months, and Ever Imre, 9½, plus daughter Onyx Solace, 4.

“For me, attachment parenting is, on a very basic level, eye contact, skin-on-skin, responsivity, gentleness,” says Morissette. “The word ‘attunement’ is [important] in parenting but also in marriage and best friendship and professional relationships. … If we’re not attuned to each other and we’re missing each other like ships passing, there’s not a chance for that deep connection that will be the hotbed for their whole life.”

That “attunement” ideology bleeds into how she approaches education for her kids — namely, in getting to know them individually and lead her in the ways that they learn best, instead of the other way around. This “unschooling” philosophy is something the singer was inspired to tap into based on an experience she had “in Fiji years ago,” when she witnessed two young boys laughing and walking down to the beach together, alone.

“I turned to them and said, ‘Where are your grandparents?’ And they did this waving motion with their finger, like, ‘They’re everywhere. Why would you ask us that?’ ” Morissette recalls. “I remember thinking that’s the ideal. That any itch you have — like, ‘Hey, I want to learn that technology’ [or] ‘I wanna be really funny right now’ — you would know that there would be a village around you [where] every itch could get scratched on some level.”



a person standing next to a body of water: Alanis Morissette


© Shelby Duncan
Alanis Morissette

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Morissette credits Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory for her and husband Mario “Souleye” Treadway’s approach to their children’s education, saying that they “loosely reference” the ideas of musical, spatial, physical and intrapersonal intelligence.

“What I do with my kids is I watch their eyes,” she explains. “So if I’m invested in them looking at this candle that I’m holding but their eyes are looking over there at the dappling through the tree, I’m gonna put that candle down … they [couldn’t] care less about my little agenda.”

As her own parents “were both teachers,” Morissette says, “I understand and respect conventional schooling, to some degree” — and if that’s the route her children eventually want to take, she’s all for it.

“When Ever says to me sometimes, ‘Mom, what if I want to get my doctorate?’ or whatever, I just say, ‘Yeah, whenever you want to go to school, you’re gonna go to school. And if you want to just keep learning outside of that context, then you will,’ ” she tells Lowes, 38.

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“I think because of my direct experience with ongoing education, it has me see unschooling as certainly daunting but in a really cool way, like, ‘Wow, this is a huge thing to take on,’ ” says the Jagged Little Pill legend. “Because as you mentioned earlier, it’s 24/7.”

“Like if Ever wakes up in the middle of the night and asks me a question, I’m not gonna blow him off, ’cause this is the time he’s gonna learn about that dinosaur,” she adds.

Morissette also acknowledges her “privileged position” in being able to bond with and educate her kids in the way that works best for her family: “I can be working at home when I want to and they can come on tour with me, and we’re an attachment village.”

Such Pretty Forks in the Road is streaming now on amazon.com.

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