Monday, August 23, 2010

A Month of Cool People & Places

On the 25th, the day after tomorrow, I leave for the Northeast Unschooling Conference (along with my mother and sister).  And I'm very excited for it!!  I get to see so very many terrific people, I get to hear Peter Gray (author of the Psychology Today blog Freedom to Learn) speak, and meet Erica Goldson, the woman who did the wonderful and now famous anti-school valedictorian speech:

 It should be a blast!  My sister's birthday even happens to fall while we're there, so we'll be celebrating that as well. :)

After we arrive back home on the 31st, we're only here for a little while before we leave for the Toronto Unschooling Conference on the 9th!  This is our first time going to this conference, and I'm looking forward to it!  I'll also be speaking at that conference, doing a talk called Unschooling is Forever:

Unschooling is the realization that life and learning are not two separate things. Yet even with this realization, sometimes end-points start sneaking in. But in a philosophy such as this, can unschooling (life=learning) really end neatly, can you just unschool grade school or highschool, finish up with unschooling, then move on? Unschooling is to me, as I continue through what are usually considered the college years, not only the realization that life and learning are not separate, but also the realization that unschooling can be a lifelong process of growth and discovery. Learning is everywhere. School, be it elementary, high school, or institutions of “higher education”, is optional! I’ll talk about my lifelong journey of unschooling, my feelings on learning and education, and about what happens next for an unschooler when those "high school years" have finished. 

I've done brief into then answer questions type talks several times now, and they no longer stress me at all really (actually, I really enjoy them!).  But since this is more of a "real" speech, I was totally freaking out about it for a while, and panicking that I hadn't finished it yet (or, if I'm to be honest, started writing it at all...).  However, as of last night, I just stopped stressing.  And, surprise surprise, now that I'm more relaxed about it I've moved beyond having just a list of points and am now actually writing it!  I just hope it goes well.

Then, after being home for less than a week, I'm off again on the 20th for Not Back To School Camp with my sister!  I'm SO looking forward to this camp this year!!  It's my last year as a camper, as I'll be "graduating", and I'm going to get as much goodness out of this last time as I can.  It's a great camp!

Not Back to School Camp: A Glance Within from Allen Ellis on Vimeo.

For all three of these events, I plan to bring along my small point-and-shoot camera that also happens to record video (of not great quality, but good enough for YouTube!).  Because I was thinking, since SO many unschoolers have such awesome things to say, but don't talk much online, people are missing out on hearing their insights and thoughts.  So I figured it would be a really cool project to record short (5-8 minute) interviews on unschooling with as many people as are interested in being a part of this!  I'm not making any type of documentary or anything: I'd just post the interviews, individually, on my YouTube channel and this blog.  So if you're going to be at one of these events and are interested in being a part of this, come find me and let me know!

Also, whether or not you want to be interviewed, if you're going to be at one of these places, come say hi!  I love meeting new people, and since it's been nearly a year since my last paralyzing bout of shyness (at Northeast last year, I kind of flipped out for the first couple of days and was just really really shy), I'll probably even be really outgoing and talkative! ;-) Looking forward to seeing many old friends, and meeting many new ones...


  1. I don't know if this is the best place to ask this but I think it's related to unschooling and individual autonomy: Did you hear about this 14-year-old girl from the Netherlands who is going to sail around the world and fly the Sea Shepherd flag? I have some mixed feelings about it, but i think it's basically awesome. I'm interested in what you think.

  2. It's nice to hear that you are more relaxed with those questions now. Have fun at camp!

  3. Hey, I've seen that speech before and love that girl for doing it. hasta la revolucion!

  4. I am really glad you are going to be at the northeast conference!!! I so much want to meet you. I was HORRIBLY shy most of my life.....even now at 47 years old it is hard sometimes for me to be in a group of strangers. But now it is okay instead of "there must be something wrong with me!" Your Blog is wonderful and refreshing!!!

  5. I recently read your blog post after coming back from nbtsc for the first time. my son is going to vermont for the first time this year; I wonder if you have any new thoughts for shy uninitiated campers.

  6. @Anonymous #1: No, I hadn't heard about that. Thanks for sharing the link! I love hearing about young people doing things many deem them "too young" to do.

    @Anonymous #2: Thank you! :)

    @Primavera: I know! Isn't she terrific?

    @Rachel: Am I right that you're @FreeChildhood on Twitter? It's hard sometimes connecting real names to Twitter names! :-P Either way, I look forward to meeting you!! Yeah, I've noticed that among a lot of unschoolers: they realize, as many other people don't, that there's absolutely nothing "wrong" with being shy! :)

    @Anonymous #3: Well, firstly, you might want to read this post about my second experience of NBTSC, which was much more positive!!

    Thoughts for new campers?

    1. It's a really crazy scene when you get there, and it might seem like everyone knows each other. Don't worry, it doesn't stay that crazy (there's actually a really chill atmosphere most of the time), there are lots of other new people who don't know anyone, and everyone is really friendly!

    2. I found it helpful to just sit at a random empty or nearly empty table for meals, since they all usually fill up, it's a great way to meet new people without actually having to approach them directly!

    3. I didn't my first year, but it would probably be really helpful to go to the New Camper Orientation.

    4. The staff are really awesome, and if you're feeling kind of down or having trouble meeting people, it's always fine to just talk about it to a staffer of your choice (don't feel like you can only approach your advisor. Any of the staff members will be happy to help!).

    5. Workshops can also be a really great way to meet people, again without having to approach them directly (I know this is still something I struggle with personally!).

    Annnd, I think that's about it! Hope it's helpful. :)

  7. That was brilliant!

    I read through the speech while listening and as a member of Toastmasters International, can only recommend joining us to explore and improve her speaking capabilities. She did speak well though. Very well and I applaud her for it.

  8. The second video is absolutely superb. I really love it and it is highly motivating with the home education of my children.

    Thank you for this blog. :-)