Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Unschool

"If every child was unschooled -- given the chance to explore and discover and learn in the real world what they love to do, what they're uniquely good at doing, and what the world needs that they care about -- then we would have a world of self-confident, creative, informed, empowered, networked entrepreneurs doing work that needs to be done, successfully. We would have armies of people collaborating to solve the problems and crises facing our world, instead of going home exhausted at the end of the day seeking escape, feeling helpless to do anything that is meaningful to them or to the world. We would have a world of producers instead of consumers, a world of abundance instead of scarcity, a world of diversity instead of what Terry Glavin calls "a dark and gathering sameness". We would have a world of young people choosing their lives instead of taking what they can get, what they can afford, what is offered to them. We would have a world of people who are nobody-but-themselves, and who know who they are, and how to live and make a living for themselves."

--Dave Pollard, An Unschooling Manifesto

That is the kind of human being unschooling produces.  Those are the children I am raising to adulthood, one at a time.  I can only influence a few human beings in my lifetime . . . why would I send those over whom I have the most influence into an environment that has, so crushingly and universally, turned out exactly what our "Real World" does not need?

As Sir Ken Robinson so astutely stated, the children going into school now will be retiring in 2075.  None of us have the faintest idea what the world will look like then.  Honestly, there aren't many who belong to the older generations (or my own, for that matter) who really understand what the world is like right now.  Educating our children in a structure designed by 19th Century Prussian socialists to turn out obedient public servants is one of the highest disservices we can offer our children in the name of preparing them for the "real world".  The classroom has its place . . . but only in small and measured doses, and when the student chooses freely to go . . . and is free at any time to leave.

The Real World I was warned about, educated for, and made to worry about in my own schooling doesn't exist for me.  It never has.  It was the Real World of my high school teachers . . . and even if there are some for whom that world construct still serves, it never served for me.  I have always chosen to remain outside of it.  The dark and gathering sameness has never attracted me.  The dawning light of new understanding, the striving and sweating to reach new heights, the call of a better way that the limping gait of culture have always kept me forging ahead elsewhere.

Each of us makes our own Real World, full of possibilities, priorities, paths and pastimes.  Why on earth should we be educated identically?


Kirsten said...

Just curiouse... how do you feel about higher education (college/university)?

Thimbleanna said...

Great post Annalea! As one who feels that her days are wasted at work, I think that magical world you talk about would be divine!

Annalea said...

Thanks, Anna.

Kirsten, I feel that higher education can be a wonderful thing . . . if approached mindfully and carefully so that it's not just an older-aged version of public school. Having access to the resources available at colleges and universities to attain carefully-set and passion-fired goals is a huge blessing.

The trick is not to just go through the motions and get your sheepskin. There are definitely professions where it's required (Kirk's being one of them!), but others (like Vern's) in which a degree is a huge hindrance. Computer science degrees train you to teach computer science at the University level as a professor, and the programs just can't keep pace with the industry's evolution and progress.

I learned so many things at BYU that I simply couldn't have learned elsewhere, and I'm so grateful for the opportunities I had to meet and learn from incredible profs.

But like all other education, in all of its forms, higher ed can't be forced if it is to be truly useful.

BumbleVee said...

hahah ...I should have scrolled back a bit further... you have the bit about earning a living right here..... perfect!