Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ELF's and Writing

August 11

Leading from my research into anarcho-primitivism the previous day, I did some research on various groups and organizations that seek to save the planet. The most extreme, and also most fascinating, of these is the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF. Deemed by the US government as one of the top American based homeland security threats. Despite that, they have yet to cause a single death, or even injury. They have, however, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property, in the name of saving the environment (some targets have been: Mansions that put wetlands in danger, a ski resort that planed to cut down hundreds more trees, and similar things). Although I'm in no way in favour of blowing stuff up, I can understand with the world we live in how easy it is to get discouraged, and to feel that bringing it all down, piece by piece, is the only way left to go.

In other news, I also wrote a piece on unschooling, entitled What is Unschooling? Here it is...


What is unschooling? That’s always the first question asked when I tell people that I’m unschooled. Blank looks and curiosity. Homeschooling has now become, if not mainstream, at least well known, with high profile stories of homeschoolers and Harvard. Unschooling, however, although wide spread, is still relatively unknown. Even among some homeschoolers! So what is it you ask? Well, it is a form of homeschooling I suppose, in the sense that unschoolers do not go to school, but whereas homeschooling tends to imply a school-at-home type setup, unschooling is completely different. The unschooling child or teenager directs their own education. Yes, you read that right.

Unschooling Versus Traditional Schools

Unschooling works on the principle that people are born with the desire to learn, and will therefore have quite enough motivation to learn about anything and everything they want to. We taught ourselves to speak, didn’t we? Why would we be unable to teach ourselves anything else we’re interested in? Schools, however, seem to think that we as human beings are born dumb, incapable of using common sense or making our own way in the world. Instead, schools seek to control the child’s/teens life completely, to hold their hands and guide, nay shove, them in all the “right” directions. Schools teach obedience, conformity, and many useless facts. Something few people are aware of is that originally, our school system was designed to educate the lower class, teach absolute obedience to authority, and give the minimum education needed for them to be good factory workers. Our noble, and narrow, views of “Education” are rooted in nothing more than control.

Dispelling Some Common Myths About Homeschooling and Unschooling or What Does an Unschooler Do?

As an unschooler, the parents are not “teachers”. They are there to help as facilitators, helping the child to discover resources and those knowledgeable in different subjects. Although many people equate homeschooling with staying at home and becoming little more than a hermit, most unschoolers spend quite a bit, or even most of, their time outside of the home. Volunteering, working, participating in apprenticeships, getting involved in activism, visiting museums and libraries… When actually in the home (or at a library, or a cafĂ©, or sitting on the grass in a pleasant field…), many unschoolers devour books. There are amazing non-fiction (and fiction) books on any subject you choose, whether your interests lie in poetry, space shuttle construction, shoe making or calculus. The possibilities are endless, and the unschooler finds themselves unhindered in their learning and growing by the time consuming, creativity squashing school system. Will your average unschooler end up flipping burgers all their life? Absolutely not. Unschoolers regularly score above average on SAT and/or GED tests, or have extremely impressive portfolios of work if they choose not to take tests due to their beliefs on the folly of standardized testing. They get into colleges and universities, some quite prestigious ones, if they so choose. They also quite often decide not to do any formal schooling, and instead pursue their dreams of starting a ballet or circus company, opening a retail store, becoming an organic farmer, starting a home business fixing computers… The opportunities are truly endless.

In Conclusion

Am I biased? Obviously. But I do not regret the years I’ve spent in free exploration, in learning everything that I want to learn, not what my government believes I should learn. Is it for everyone? Perhaps not. But it certainly is a viable option, one that will let you or your kids grow naturally, freely, and follow YOUR dreams, to think outside the box, not the narrow range of college dreams deemed acceptable by the schooling system, and sadly, society in general. Let your love of learning fly as high as the clouds, not get trampled into the polluted muck below.

I don't think it's all that good personally, but the editor of the homeschooling magazine I write for wants me to re-work it into a longer article (including my experiences at Not Back To School Camp) and publish it. Go figure. On a similar not, I'm SO FREAKING LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT CAMP!! Only a month away...

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