Yesterday, my mother, sister and I got up at 6:00 am, which is nearly unheard of for us! Usually we'd much prefer to stumble out of bed at a much later hour of the morning. 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00... But I managed the early time without even feeling grumpy about it, because we had to be up bright and early to be at the AQED/QAHBE homeschooling conference in time for our talk on unschooling, which started at 8:30!
I was kind of nervous. I'd only written my speech the night before (at least it was short. Our plan was always to just give a fairly brief introduction to unschooling, then just answer questions), and I worried about not being prepared enough. Luckily, I've found that public speaking generally only scares me ahead of time. Once I'm actually up there, with everyone watching and waiting to listen to me, right when you'd think I should be feeling nervous, I tend to relax. I'm not sure why it works that way, but I'm not about to complain!
So we did our speech, said our piece, then started answering questions.
Ahead of time, I wasn't sure what to expect. How would people react? Would they be interested, skeptical, excited...? But as I looked at the faces of the people in the audience, as we listened to the questions, I found that virtually everyone in the audience had come because they were truly interested, and truly open to what we had to share. I've found such joy in unschooling, and I really want to share that joy with other people, to help them if I can, with my family's experience, on their own unschooling journey. And it felt so good, I was so happy, hearing peoples comments at the end of the talk, seeing their smiles. I think that our words, and getting to meet my sister and I, really did help some people, and that made us SO happy!! That was the whole point of stumbling out of bad at such an ungodly hour after all. ;-)
We stayed at the conference until just after lunch, and in that time we kept running into really nice people and getting into discussions about unschooling. Even people who hadn't come to our talk really wanted to hear more, and seemed genuinely interested! I wonder if I just have a different perspective now, or if the homeschooling community really is more accepting of unschooling than when I was younger...? Maybe it's just because Emi and I are now walking "proof" that older/grown unschoolers are neither illiterate nor rude. ;-)
One of the nice people we met was a school teacher who's doing an anti-school, pro alternative education documentary. He was so passionate about alternative education, and so eager to share it's benefits with others! I greatly look forward to seeing the finished project, and my mother and I gladly headed outside in the beautiful sunshine to do a short interview on unschooling. I was happy with what both of us said for that as well!
The whole conference was just such a positive experience. Every encounter was so open and genuine. People were friendly, interesting, and interested. We had good conversations, and it's also much easier explaining unschooling to homeschoolers! With a random traditionally schooled person, you have to get through all the assumptions, stereotypes, and misinformation about homeschooling before you can get to explaining unschooling properly. With homeschoolers, you can just get straight to the point!
It was just a really rewarding day, and I'm so happy that we were invited to speak at the AQED conference!