Thursday, March 19, 2009

"What do you do, anyway?"

I discovered an interesting article on unschooling teens today, titled Teenage Bohemia, and I was quite happy to find that it was very positive, as well as very surprised and rather flattered to see a brief mention of my blog title! However, reading it got me thinking... The teens featured in the article are all very busy. Outside of the home much of the time, doing tons of activities. And it seems to me that most teenage unschoolers have that in common. Just yesterday, an unschooling friend of mine, on hearing how empty my schedule was, asked "What do you DO anyway?". What do I do? Well, my (current) main interests focus mainly around human behavior, anti-civilizationism, unschooling, and environmentalism, and all of those things tie in very closely with each other. I've always said that I'm less interested in psychology, and more interested in sociology (and anthropology), since although an individual's behavior has always interested me, large group dynamics have always seemed far more interesting. Questions like how much human behavior is 'natural', and how much stems from civilization? How is human behavior different in different civilizations? Different parts of a country? Different parts of a city? Is there a difference in behavior between different social groups? What are those differences?

On a smaller scale, I love people watching, and have always found the most popular people, in the sense of who gets the most attention from the most people, not popular with a capital 'P', the most interesting. Their behavior affects the group they're in the most, and it's fascinating to watch how other people interact with them, and the ripple affects that their actions have. Perhaps that's one reason that anti-civilizationism fascinates me so much. In reading about that, there's a HUGE amount of sociology, pyscology, and anthropology involved. How do (did) traditional/aboriginal communities live? Why is our culture so different? How is it different? Is it "better"? How did we come to think that living this way is a good thing? In reading about, and sharing the opinions of, anti-authoritarian movements, quite possibly the most important thing about them is the emphasis on questioning, and not taking anything at face value.

Propaganda, brain washing, and control are something that I've also become highly aware of. It's a hobby of mine to listen to politicians, and explain what they're attempting to get people to think with their words. I love watching comercials and finding the unstated premisis on which they're built (something I notice most often is how advertisers presume people hate their lives), what the message is (often it's "Buy our product, it will give you momentary happiness in your dreary life"), and whether or not I think it's affective.

I also love environmentalism, and spend lots of time reading about how our civilization is literally destroying the world. I can tell you how everything we use or consume, from toilet paper to beef to CD's harms the earth.

I also spend a lot of time reading about unschooling, both in books, articles, and blogs.

Is that doing nothing? I don't think so. I feel much more of a kinship with the radical unschooling philosophy, since radical unschooling truly does consider everything you do to be learning. I find that a lot, although certainly not all, unschoolers still put a lot of value on the concrete, visible, more school like learning. I, however, happily sit on my couch, tearing appart commercials and explaining to my mom why I think cop shows enforce a certain way of looking at the world, and ultimately help those in power control people. My brain is working while I do that. It's just that the only people who hear about the workings of my brain tend to be my family or close friends.

Overall, I'm happy being at home most of the time, and not being super busy, unlike many unschoolers are. That said, I do feel that my life is currently unbalanced, and that I should start some new activities. Since I left cadets (and I have never regretted that descision), I feel that I am missing out on getting to observe group dynamics. Cadets taught me a lot, although none of it what they wanted to teach me. I learned how wrong authority, hierchy and control is. I learned how to tell when someone's manipulating you. I learned that brain washing is so effective because (of course) it's very hard to detect unless you're looking for it. I learned that people are often very easy to control. I learned a lot all right. And I'm so, so glad I'm out of it! But by the same token, my life has gotten too quiet. I want to start doing some new activities that are in line with my beliefs, interests, and ethics. But the big thing is, I want to get busier because that's what I actually want, not because someone else thinks I should be! And that, in my mind, is the essence of unschooling. Following what YOU feel is right for you, not what anyone else does.



  1. I agree whole-heartedly! I purposely try to keep our schedule open because it allows for more spontaneity. I do expect that once Jerry finds more things he enjoys it will get much fuller but for now we are perfectly content with our open calendar!

  2. Yayyyy! You've hit the nail on the head once again, Idzie! Thanks!

  3. we live a pretty quiet unschooling life as well. my kids are 6 and almost 5. we keep our schedule pretty bare, because my kids like to be home, and they are always finding so many things to do, along with making their many discoveries. we also value the spontaneity that having an open laid back unschedule life affords us. what we do find is that it is difficult to find other families to be spontaneous with. i am enjoying your blog- thanks a bunch!

  4. I'd say, whatever you're doing is working, cause I only know very very few people who have figured out what you already have.

    You, and your blog are heartening.

  5. I'm a homebody's mainly because I simultaneously hate humanity AND love people; my husband says it's because I am an elitist and can't bare to deal with so much stupidity (that might be it too!). All your brainwashing and manipulation that you mentioned reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

    "The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists." J. Edgar Hoover