Friday, October 30, 2009

Another view of unschooling...

I haven't been feeling much inspiration lately in terms of blog writing, which I'm hoping will sort itself out soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share something written by someone else with you guys... I know that a large percentage of the readers of this blog are very interested in unschooling, so a while back when my sister Emi was having a written debate with some friends and let me read it, I asked her, since she doesn't blog herself, if I could share what she'd written on my blog. She said yes, which I am very thankful for! It got lost and forgotten about entirely for a while, but she kindly dug it up for me when I asked her to! Keep in mind this was written at something ridiculous like 2 or 3 at night, so I've fixed the typos that are unavoidable at that time of night (morning?), as well as editing out the names of those involved in the debate!


First, to (name removed): I don't understand how you can say you 'don't see how far in life you could get in unschooling'. I know people who have gotten through their entire lives (or at least their lives so far, up to the age of thirty-something, in the case of the oldest unschooler I know), and done just fine. Well, more then fine; really well, actually^^. So yes, you can get through life wonderfully being unschooled, that has been proven by many people.

People in high school get to choose their own paths only to an extent. While you are in high school, you must take certain classes and follow certain rules. You have much less freedom then an unschooled person. You can choose your own path once you leave high school, but by that point most (don't jump on me here, I'm saying most, not all) people have developed a narrow view of what their options are. Unschoolers (again, on a whole, not in the case of every individual), having lived free lives, can often see many more possibilities for how to live their lives, often not in the mainstream way most people do. And just to point out, by saying you choose your path by what classes you do well in, you're proving my point that you don't /really/ get to choose your own path. What if you'd never been interested in math, never done well in math class, then in your last year of high school you developed a burning passion for science and decided you wanted to be a scientist? Since you'd never done well in the math required, you'd probably just go into some other CEGEP course and never realize your dream of being a scientist. Whereas an unschooling person, who'd spent their entire lives knowing that they could learn what they want, when they want, and in whatever way they want, would find ways to learn math, then go into university taking science courses, and become a scientist like they wanted to be. Unschoolers have never had their education restricted by false notions that one has to learn certain things at certain points, or that certain doors become closed to you after certain points, all because of arbitrary rules.

As for coming into public school, I am wonderfully happy with being unschooled, so I don't want to try public school. The reason I suggested that you guys try unschooling is because I've gotten the impression from all of you that you're not happy with school. (I know for sure that two of you have directly said you dislike school to me before).

To (name removed): That 'well it works for you, but it wouldn't for everyone' argument is one I hear quite often, and it is a reasonable concern, but I disagree. It is true that by high school, there are indeed a lot of people who wouldn't know what to do with themselves without teachers telling them what to do. But that is because they've spent their entire life being instructed in how to spend their time, what to learn, what to do and what not to do, etc. All children are born with the instinct to learn. Babies touch things, put them in their mouths, mimic adults, and learn naturally. Toddlers still have that curiosity about the world, the urge to explore, to figure things out, and to ask questions. School puts a child in a classroom where they cannot learn naturally by interacting with the world, forces children to sit still and keep their hands to themselves, squashing their natural urges to learn. They aren't allowed to follow their particular interests and passions, they're not allowed to learn about what they love; instead, they're forced to learn a prescribed set of things, whether they find those things interesting or not. They're forced to learn for fear of disappointing their parents, being told that they've failed, being looked at as stupid by their peers. And through being forced to memorize facts that they don't want to, and by being kept from learning about the world in a natural way, that instinctive desire to learn is dampened and sometimes destroyed entirely. By the time a child reaches high school, chances are good that they don't know what to do with themselves without instruction. They probably have no desire to learn on their own, because learning is synonymous with work.

So in a way, you might be right; Maybe you would have no motivation to do anything, and maybe a lot of teens wouldn't. I know that I, for one, sometimes don't have much motivation either, but because of my natural tendencies towards laziness and procrastination, I've learned ways of dealing with that and motivating myself.

Also, it might be good to mention here that a lot of people, even by high school, would be motivated to learn about the things they're interested in. I'd bet the great majority of people wouldn't be motivated in the slightest to learn a lot of the stuff taught in school, and that's okay. People don't need to know everything taught in school to get by in life. You can argue that people do need most of what's taught in school to get by in life, but I know many, many people who were unschooled, learned little of what schools teach, and are now adults functioning well and earning money in the 'real world'.

As for your second point, you are assuming that everyone wants to go to CEGEP or trade school or get a job at that age. Some people give CEGEP a miss and go to university; some people give CEGEP and university a miss and never go to any sort of school; some people already know a trade, and don't need to go to trade school; some people do want to go into the traditional path of university or trade school, but want to spend some time getting used to the freedom that leaving school gives them, and just doing (and learning about) what they love before they follow that path. My point is, regardless of your age or how long it takes you to adjust to being out of school, it's never too late to leave.

Of your argument, the point of parents is the only point I agree with. Sadly, that is a huge reason that does stop people from unschooling. I just hope that more parents will be more open minded and put more trust in their children and their children's capabilities ^^.

To (name removed): First point, the world being anarchy would be better then it is now in my opinion, but that's a whole 'nother debate :P. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but basically you're agreeing that school is controlling and directs people onto certain mainstream, pre-determined paths, and that this is a good thing, because otherwise people wouldn't all work mindlessly in our current societal system. I'm honestly not trying to be snide here, but really, that seems like what you're saying, and I couldn't disagree more. To have a system that controls people and molds them into certain lifestyles that the government deems worthy is completely immoral, in my opinion. As for peoples' general stupidity, I believe that it is in good part because they have gone through a school system that discourages thinking outside the box and teaches obedience of authority without question. As I touched on before while replying to (name removed), if people were allowed to learn naturally from the world around them, they would (as a whole) develop into more open minded, thoughtful people who were better capable of handling new situations, new problems, and new ideas. I know that the people who are unschooled now are certainly all of those things.

Moving along, I find the term 'real schooling' kind of insulting. There is nothing less 'real' or valid about unschooling. Also, again to do with your phrasing, in my opinion nothing should be imposed on the masses, but once again let's leave that for another debate. You say that if school is not imposed on people, they will be ignorant and poor, but this is just not true. I don't know how many times I've said that I know lots of intelligent, well rounded, socially adept, money making unschoolers, but it seems I need to say it once more at least. Clearly, as thousands of unschooled people prove, unschooling does not breed ignorance or poverty. So why do you think, if more people were unschooled, that that would change? Unschoolers aren't some elite group of people who were genetically pre-determined to be motivated and intelligent; the lifestyle leads to those qualities. About not being taken seriously in the work force, again, that's just not true, and I feel the need to delve into a few different reasons why. First, no one puts 'unschooled' on their resume. If a person goes on to CEGEP and/or university, they would put those qualifications on a resume, and no potential employer would care what they'd done through their high school years. Ditto if they went on to trade school and acquired papers touting their qualifications there. Secondly, you are assuming that all unschoolers want to get traditional jobs and join the regular workforce, with is an incorrect assumption. Again, I draw on examples of unschoolers I know who are self-employed, people who have started their own businesses, who have become midwives or massage therapists or travel tour guides or one of any number of other nontraditional jobs. If an unschooler wants to make money through being self-employed, they can, and and if an unschooler wants to get a traditional job, they can go through university/trade school/courses to get what they need to get hired for that job. The key thing is that unschoolers know how to learn and accomplish things on their own, without being instructed or forced, so they're capable of taking whatever path they choose and doing well on that path.

In that whole first paragraph of yours, what you seem to be saying is that if everyone was unschooled, it would unbalance our current society. This is most likely true, and I think that a society that breeds such ignorance, bigotry, violence and poverty as ours does would be better off with the changes that free-thinking, open-minded, curious, competent unschoolers could bring to it.

On to your second paragraph! (Whoof, getting tired typing fingers here :P... Hope you guys are still reading and understanding all this... I'm falling asleep at the keyboard^^'!)

A child should not be pressured, by tools such as a marking system, into learning things that they do not want to learn. No one ever needs to be forced to learn; a person will learn what they need to live in our world without being forced. I cannot stress this point enough.

To address your last point: I will start by saying you have been extremely disrespectful in your comments, especially this last one. It seems to me you're saying unschoolers can't socially interact as well as people in public school. (It kills me a little inside to see people still using this ancient 'but if you don't go to school, you must be isolated and un-socialized!' argument -_-'). This is simply not true. Do you think I'm socially inept? I certainly know all my unschooled friends my age, and all my unschooled friends who are adults living in this 'real world' of which you speak so much are doing just fine socially. They interact with many people on a daily basis, they have friends and a social circle (or few), some of them do indeed work side by side with co-workers every day. And they are perfectly capable of doing so. It is perfectly possible, in fact easy, to socially network without school. Let me use the obvious examples of extra curricular activities, such as sports, cadets, guides, 4h clubs, etc. etc. etc. Also through community, getting to know your neighbors and (in the case of teens and kids) people in your neighborhood who are your age. (I think it'd be great if people actually developed a strong sense of community and knew the people living closest to them). Also, through the unschooling community, such as conferences, local support and activity groups, etc. You know, my social life is most fun in the summer, when everyone's out of school, because then I actually get to see, talk to, and interact with my schooled friends a lot, instead of having them trapped in schools (where they're encouraged to sit quietly and learn for most of the day, rather then socially interact as you imply, I might add).

Well, I think that's everything... Sorry if some bits don't make sense or if there are typos, it's 3:09 in the nigh- morning, and I don't want to proof read this heckuva long message -_-'.


Isn't my sis a wonderful writer? She writes fiction mostly (also wonderfully), but I always love seeing her forays into non-fiction, because they are always good. And I am envious of her debating skills (she's even better when it's not 3 in the morning! :-P).


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some of the newest additions to my quote collection...

"If humans died in a healthy culture, they would not lock out the earth in metal coffins and carve their names on stone monuments, but would instead place the naked body in the earth and plant a tree above the silent heart."
-William Irwin Thompson

"To think deeply in our culture is to grow angry and to anger others; and if you cannot tolerate this anger, you are wasting the time you spend thinking deeply. One of the rewards of deep thought is the hot glow of anger at discovering a wrong, but if anger is taboo, thought will starve to death." -Jules Henry

“War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself.” -Unknown to me!

"My right to a livable planet trumps your right to a TV." -Emilie D. (my briliant sis ;-))

"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death." -James Bymes


Friday, October 23, 2009

You want to know what makes me mad?

Like, really mad? Well, okay, a lot of things make me mad. But right now, what's making me really mad is all the anti-feminist, and anti-woman, stuff that is out there.

People, mostly men, say that women have equal rights. That all the gender inequality is in the past. Well, even by this culture's standards of so-called "equality", that's bullshit. Women still earn less on average then men, and men still fill the vast majority of positions of power. And beyond those very narrow views of what constitutes "equality" (money and power, as most people in this culture mean when they say that), from a basic human rights perspective women are not well treated. According to RAINN, in the United States of America one in 6 woman will be raped, and I've seen statistics that put the rate even higher, at one in 4 women. Is that what woman's rights look like? Or what about the advertising we see all around us, every day. Barely clothed supermodel beautiful women gyrating enticingly to men on beer commercials, while airbrushed models on billboards tout the benefits of wrinkle fighting facial cream. These things say that looks (with a very twisted, very narrow view of just what an attractive women is) are of utmost importance, and the only thing that matters is how others, especially men, see you. And the worst thing is, the barrage of advertising and pop-culture stuff attacking and objectifying women is well known. It's in the public eye and even discussed fairly frequently (as an interesting side note, you know Dove's big thing about using "real" models and promoting good body images? Well, Dove is owned by the same company that owns Axe, one of the worst companies for objectifying women. Yeah, like Dove's supposed concern for women is anything but a (sadly pretty successful) marketing scheme...). So knowing this, as pretty much everyone does, how can people continue to claim we live in a post sexist society?

Another thing that really, really bothers me are sexist jokes. And the worst thing is that I even have friends who make sexist jokes, and can't seem to grasp, whether I explain respectfully or let my anger show, that they're simply not funny, and are instead harmful, disrespectful, and hurtful.

And that's not even really getting into gender roles and what's expected behaviour from a member of the female sex.

This is just a scratching of the surface both for this subject as a whole and my own thoughts on it. There were so many thoughts rattling around in my head earlier, yet as I wrote, many of them just disappeared... I'm tired, which could have something to do with that. So for now, I'll stop here, leaving you with a few scattered and fragmented thoughts on something that I have so much to say about, and something that I firmly believe should be examined and talked about much more often...

When writing this, I thought of a Crimethinc. poster that I really like, and wanted to share.

You can be sure I'll be revisiting this topic at some point...


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughts, memories, emotions...

Today has been a bit strange, or at least the latter half of it has been. I'm swirling full of deep emotions, deep thoughts. Everything has seemed strangely full of meaning, and each new thing I saw while I was out before would start a new eddy of confused thoughts. And in case you were wondering, all of this was entirely without the use of illegal substances.

I started writing this while I was out before, sitting in the car while my mum went inside to buy something at a store, just looking around and thinking.

The rain-snow mix that has been falling off and on all day has paused for now, and the street that winds along the shoreline is covered in water. Warm yellow streetlights turn the puddles that litter the broken old pavement into tiny golden pools, that shimmer invitingly.

As we drew away in the car though, everything seemed to be less pretty than I'd first thought, the puddles on the street reflecting brief flashes of light, gold from the streetlamps, white-blue and red from car lights, cluttered and bright. The sidewalks looked worn out, and pipes and gravel were heaped on them where they're doing construction work.

I sat in gloom, brought on by me overreacting to being interrupted while I was writing (I hate being interrupted while I'm writing), until we arrived at the library, where I ran into a childhood friend whom I haven't seen in years. We talked for a while. She's 20, starting university soon, living on her own, and doing pretty good. When I said goodbye and we drove off, though, memories just kept spinning through my head. Us dancing through the streets barefoot in long skirts, pretending we were pioneers (I was absolutely obsessed with pioneers for quite a while when I was young), the tea parties we'd have, with the tea being made from various herbs we gathered from her mothers garden, thrown into random combination's that somehow always managed to be drinkable... I just couldn't help thinking how fast time passes.

So we drove in the dark, the streetlights making yellow blurs as we passed, a bus making a considerably larger blueish blur as it passed, looking strangely surreal... Talking with mom about old memories... While everything just kept going strangely surreal and full of meaning, sadness/happiness/loss/uncertainty/confusion/optimism. That's the best description I can give.

While I just tried to make sense of all the thoughts, all the emotions I couldn't fully grasp.

It's been a strange day, yet between those strange bits, it's also been utterly normal. I had many perfectly normal, everyday, thoughts and feelings, some perfectly normal conversations, and I came home and watched a perfectly normal show. There's just been this kind of overshadowing of deeper things...

Like I said, I'm in a strange mood tonight.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Making a Zine, and looking for submissions!!

Guess what? I’m putting together a zine!! Zines are just so cool, I decided that I’d love to put one together myself, with the help of all of you, of course! The theme of the zine is:

DIY Life: Doing things independently of experts, professionals, institutions, corporations, or similar things.

I’m looking for submissions of articles, opinions, artwork, poetry, quotes, and anything else you want to send me. I finally decided on this theme because I feel it gives a ton of freedom in what you submit (anything from physical DIY projects, to articles on radical political philosophy, to education, parenting, crafting, and beyond!) while still retaining a more radical feeling and outlook, which makes me, personally, happy! As a note, your submission can also be ANTI or AGAINST something you see as being opposed to a DIY lifestyle (i.e schools).

The theme is pretty flexible, but I do reserve the right to not accept submissions that really do not fit with the theme (i.e. why public schooling is absolutely necessary), though I don’t really expect to turn down anything, and am really looking forward to seeing what you guys have to share!!

Once I’ve received enough submissions, and with enough prior warning to everyone who’s interested in submitting, of course, I will then put everything together in a proper zine, which I will then send by email (most likely in PDF format) to anyone who wants it (if someone can point me towards a good, safe, file hosting website, then I may also have it there for easy downloading), or if someone wants a hard copy, you can send me a few dollars to cover printing and shipping and I can send it straight to you (sorry guys, but I’m broke, so that’s the only way I can do it!). I will also distribute some hard copies locally, and I’d love it if you guys also chose to do so, but really, share it as much or as little as you want to, and in whatever ways you want to!

If you have something already written that you’d like to submit, send it straight to me. If you simply know that you want to submit something, but don’t have it done yet and/or haven’t decided what you’re going to do, please send me an email letting me know that, so that I know you will be submitting something at some point!  Oh, and I will happily help with editing if you want me to, just ask. Otherwise, I will fix spelling mistakes and obvious grammatical mistakes (the same word repeated twice, for instance), but will touch nothing else without your permission. Send all submissions to:

IMPORTANT: If you want people to be able to find more of your work if they’re interested, let me know when you send in your submission if you have a website, blog, Twitter account, or any site that you want to be included in the zine (example: Urban Foraging by Cindy Jones (

Suggestions, just that I can think of off the top of my head, and please know that you’re entirely not limited just to the items in this list:

Articles on:
• Education (unschooling, homeschooling, skill sharing, community classes, educational co-ops)
• Parenting (attachment/natural parenting, radical unschooling, non-conditional parenting)
• Personal health care (herbal medicine, wild medicinals, nutrition, first aid)
• Sustainable living (gardening, food preservation, foraging, non-toxic and homemade household products, re-purposing projects, cooking and recipes)
• Community building/living/good for community/people stuff (community organizing, collectives, cooperatives, non-violent communication, peer counseling, autonomous living, intentional communities, any by the people for the people type stuff)
• Independent travel
• DIY projects or crafting projects of any sort (building a kiln, soap making, jewelry making, bow and arrow making, whatever you enjoy doing!)

Art such as:
• Any artwork, in B&W (photos aren’t great though, since they don’t photocopy well)
• Any poetry
• Any copyleft (not copyrighted), or licensed under creative commons, artwork other than your own that you think would fit with the zine

NOTE: Because of its nature, your own artwork and poetry does not need to conform to the theme, though it certainly can.

Miscellaneous stuff such as:
• Quotes, verses, or similar things, yours or copyleft stuff
• Anything else you can think of!!!!!

NOTE: by submitting anything, you agree that it is “copyleft” (not copyrighted), and can be copied and distributed by anyone. That’s just the way zines work: people often appropriate content in them for other uses (usually with proper attribution, although there are no guarantees).

For this to work, of course, I need submissions (sent to!)!! I’m really hoping I’ll get enough, really looking forward to seeing everything I do get, and just generally really excited about this project. :-D Also, if you have any questions or suggestions, please drop me a line as well! (Same address as above:

Oh, and please feel free to pass this on to anyone whom you think may be interested!


Sunday, October 18, 2009


It's getting dark so early now... I was bemoaning the loss of Summer for a little while, but really, I love the transitions of the year! They remind me how much I love this life, and no matter how down I feel, I will be uplifted by the warm leaves and cool days of Autumn, the muffled snowfalls and cool light of Winter, the trickling water and new shoots of Spring, the long lazy days and soft nights of Summer... The world truly is a beautiful place.
Our primary heat source in the Winter is our wood stove, so each Fall we get a nice big load of wood (10 face cords for those who care to know such things :-P ), which sits in a steadily shrinking pile in the driveway as we stack it on the side of the house. This is what the pile looked like on September 15th:

And, well, today, we finally finished stacking it!

To give you a good idea of size, my mom is 5' 2", and that wood pile is in two layers, as you can see from the first pic of the pile. That's a lot of wood!! A lot of wood that will keep us toasty warm this coming Winter. :-)

In other news, I really want to write something more in-depth and substantial than the stuff I've been posting recently, but today when I tried, I failed. So I'm just going to have to wait a bit until inspiration hits me!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Article on un/homeschooling in local paper

Remember that interview on unschooling my mom did ages ago? Well, the article finally came out! And guess what? It's actually positive!! There are a couple of misquotes and slightly inaccurate facts, but hey, it's positive!! :-P Here is the link! EDIT: I just want to make a note that how me co-leading a discussion at ONE conference and having a column published in ONE magazine was turned into me "speaking at conferences and being published in magazines" was thanks entirely to the reporter, not my mom. :-P


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thanksgiving and Columbus Day

This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving (celebrated on the second Monday of October), so I wanted to write some type of what I'm especially thankful for post, even though I don't really consider the holiday all that important, myself, but honestly I wasn't feeling all that thankful. It's been a rough few days, with lots of family drama, so the only thing I ended up really feeling thankful for is the fact that I have my family, whom I love dearly, despite it all (all up to and including the fact that my father said yesterday that he thinks homeschooling at all was a mistake... Thanks papa, thanks a lot.).

However, I don't want to dwell on that, and I do still want to recognize both of the holidays that passed this weekend (Thanksgiving and Columbus Day), so I'll share something for both.

I wrote this post on a bunch of things I'm grateful for close to this time last year. It's overly soppy, but made me happy to write, and makes me happy re-reading it, as well! :-)

And as for Columbus Day, well, I have a feeling that many of you already know the dark side of Columbus, and perhaps are also rather disgusted that there's a holiday celebrating a genocidal slave trader. Firstly, this article is simply a long excerpt from Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of the United States, which starts with stuff specifically about Columbus. Also, this post gives ten reasons to NOT celebrate Columbus Day.

I'm thinking lots, trying to figure things out in a slightly different way from the way I have been trying to figure certain things out, and just generally have a lot going on in my head. As I start to get those things a bit more straightened out, they'll probably make it onto this blog! :-)


Friday, October 9, 2009

Albatross zine

A totally awesome zine just came out, which includes my old post Anti-Civilization and What That Means (which I no longer like particularly, but that's beside the point. :-P). It's full of interesting stuff on green anarchy, DIY stuff, natural parenting, and similarly cool things. You can view it here: Albatross #1, or download it here. You can also send me an email ( and I can send the file directly to you, if you'd prefer. :-)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New bio

I didn't really like my old bio anymore... I just didn't really feel that it reflected *me*, as who I am now, as well as it could have... So I wrote a new bio. I'm not sure how much I like this one yet, and I may end up changing it, but for now this is what now shows up on my profile, which can be found on the sidebar of this blog (I hate the fact that Blogger doesn't have that nifty 'About Me' tab at the top of the blog the way Wordpress does...).

I’m a passionate unschooler, unapologetic green anarchist/anti-civilizationist, good (and healthy!) food loving vegetarian, earth feeling animist, and proud hippie. I love to talk about the coming insurrection, living on little or no money (dumstering, garbage hunting, thrifting), consensual and community living (radical unschooling, collective decision making, intentional communities, communes and similar co-housing arrangements, skill sharing, gift economies), anarchy, meaningful relationships, honesty, questioning everything, truly following your own path, staying whole, life, love, and many other things that I’m sure you can think of. I love being around people who play music, people who burst out in spontaneous song, who hug each other, who listen, who know how to have both incredibly deep conversations, and incredibly funny and silly ones, any people really. I love people. And I love my family above all else. I also treasure the connections I make with others, and strive to always follow the path that *I* want to in life, not the path that anyone else thinks I *should* be following!


Monday, October 5, 2009

What Fall is looking like around my place...

Changing leaves...

Rich reds, oranges, and browns...

Dying echinacea...
...And me being my usual hippie-child self and hiding behind said echinacea. ;-)

Buying five, count 'em, five, bags of apples from our local orchard (we estimate it to be nearly 30 pounds of apples!)

Also picking our own apples! They're a special type, red skin, and deep pink flesh! They're a bit scabby and misshapen, but they're simply WONDERFUL for baking. They're pleasantly tart, have a gorgeous colour, and a wonderful texture when cooked.

So, of course, we cooked several delicious apple crisps, using both our own apples and the ones from the orchard. One day when my mom was out, I decided I wanted to make an apple crisp, despite the fact I never bake so usually fail at it when I do attempt to do baking related things. So I dug through a couple dozen cookbooks (my mom has quite an impressive cookbook collection) until I found a recipe for apple crisp, then I proceeded to make one, (mostly) following the directions. ;-) I was rather surprised when it turned out great!

...And disappeared quickly. ;-)


Newly collected quotes

Just a few quotes I've recently added to my ever expanding collection of meaningful words...

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”-Chamfort

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money." -Cree Native American proverb

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it." -Winston Chruchill

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." -Native American Proverb


Saturday, October 3, 2009

How I came to be an unschooler

I've been thinking, and unless I'm much mistaken, I've never actually told the story of how I came to be an an unschooler... I simply popped up with a blog at age 17 saying "hey, I'm unschooled!". :-P So this is the story of how I came to be an unschooler! Some of it is taken from what my parents have said, since I was pretty young when some of this went down, but I'll do my best to tell it accurately!

Before I was born, neither of my parents had ever even considered homeschooling. It just never entered their minds. But my mom was, and still is, a hippie, so she did plan to breastfeed. Because of that, she joined the Le Leche Leauge when I was born (or possibly before I was born... I don't know how those things works! :-P). Now, my mom had plenty of gentle discipline, unconditional parenting, type books, I was never let to cry, lived in a sling for ages, and all those other attachment parenting practices (she never used that term, though I don't know why she didn't... She must have seen it used in all those books she read!) so she was the type who liked to keep her kids close, and be involved in their life.

At the Le Leche Lauge, she was exposed to an idea she'd never been exposed to before: homeschooling. And she liked it! Being the type of parent she was, she didn't like the idea of sending her precious little girl off to spend her days with strangers. ;-) So she started reading and researching, and decided that she really did want to homeschool! My dad, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. He's the most traditional minded of my immediate family, and he thought school was best, so my mom agreed that they would at least try it out. So off I went to half-day kindergarten at age five! I didn't really mind it. Neither did I love it. I had fun sometimes, but I was always happy to head home afterwards, as well (and I find it surprising that I actually remember that!). However, partway through the year, we started getting strange phone calls. Obscene phone calls, actually, and when they were traced (yeah, my parents actually had the police trace them) it was discovered that it was a kid in grade 2 making them. Sad, eh? So that about convinced my dad, and halfway through my first, and only, year of school, I was pulled out.

Our homeschooling started out in a way that many unschoolers will be familiar with: school-at-home! Well, sort of. Since this is my mom we're talking about, we never had a schedule of any sort. But she did buy a reading program (Sing, Spell, Read & Write! *Shudders*), and sort of tried to get me to do it regularly. Through that, I learned how to sound out words and stuff, though I didn't really read, per-say, and we never ended up finishing the program.

For years our "schooling" is a bit of a blur, I'm afraid. I was pretty young! I know that we had various school books and programs and stuff, but the only thing I can ever remember my mom actually trying to force was math. We did lots of fun science experiments, as well as watching Nova and Nature and similar shows avidly (I say we, because my sister reached school age with no one ever suggesting she go to school, so we just continued to learn together!). My mom always read aloud to us, poetry, stories, the newspaper, and I started actually reading at age 8 or 9 when she was reading Harry Potter too slowly for my taste! We never did book reports, though I'd enthusiastically tell my mom about whatever book I was reading. None of us considered that "schooling". We considered it life! I memorized poetry, and wrote both poetry and stories before I could even read (I'd narrate them to mom ;-)). My sister ad I would play spelling games for fun, and we relished our regular trips to the library, where we'd get whatever books we wanted (Emi would always max out her card, ending up with huge piles of books that my mom and I would then end up carrying, since she was too little!). Throughout this time period, my mom would tell everyone that we were doing "child-led" homeschooling.

Throughout that time, the only thing that she ever attempted (I say attempted because she'd often fail) to force was math. I was somewhere around 10 or 11 when I started completely refusing to do math workbooks, and, well, I guess that's when we moved over to full fledged unschooling!

We didn't really know it, though, and I always felt, because my mom always felt, since she was surrounded only by public schoolers and homeschoolers, that we "should be doing schoolwork!". We didn't, but I guess unschooling wasn't fully embraced in our house until a mere couple of years ago. When we fully, truly, embraced and accepted that what we were doing was *right*, it felt so much better! I started reading and thinking and talking about it, and was just like wow, this really is a wonderful thing we're doing! I think that made my mom very happy. She'd *known* what we were doing felt right, but there had always been that fear, that "what if", until I said gee mom, I like what we've been doing! :-P

And the rest is history.

Oh, and I invite my mom to make any corrections to my story if she so wishes. :-P


Friday, October 2, 2009

New poll!

I now have a new poll up, located on the sidebar just below the list of newest posts, asking what topics that I blog about most interest you? Thanks for voting!


Political dump (aka interesting stuff to my green anarchist self)

Attractive title, right?

Anyway, I realized that I've only really talked about unschooling for a while now, and been really quiet (for me, anyway) about my political (or lack thereof) views. However, that doesn't mean that I haven't been watching, reading, talking, and thinking about said lack of politics views. So, I decided to share a bunch of stuff that's been interesting to me lately. I hope this is of interest to at least a few of my readers!

Firstly, I absolutely LOVE They have a show called It's The End of the World As We Know It every week or couple of weeks, usually around 15 minutes, that just does a wonderful job of putting current events, news, and information on green anarchist (anarchist in general, but with a very definite green lean) stuff in an amusing, engaging, and informative way. You should definitely check it out:

The newest episode:

Next, I also enjoy watching videos by these two guys on YouTube, AdamHintz and MeursaultBateman. They both talk about issues of green anarchy, sustainability, and similar things.

Something I'm very against is the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia (if you look at the sidebar of my blog, you may have noticed that I have a badge against the Olympics). Lots of people react with surprise when I say that. "What's wrong with the Olympics?", they ask. Well, here's what's wrong with the Olympics: Why We Resist 2010 (taken from the website

I've also been looking into the G20 summit protests since I got home from camp, and there seems to have been the seemingly fairly normal amount of police brutality. Here are a couple of videos showing what I mean:

Police State Uses Violence Against Protesters - Intro by Howard Zinn

Police Attack Students at University of Pittsburgh

Also, I may have mentioned a while back that I really wanted to go to the Rethinking Education conference, especially so I could hear Daniel Quinn speak. Well, I didn't end up making it, but his speech was posted online! Thanks to both Eli and Josh for sending the link to me! :-) Check out part one here.

Oh, and here's Derrick Jensen's newest article from Orion magazine: Side with the Living

FINALLY, for a long time, I didn't like rap or hip-hop music. However, relatively recently I've discovered that there's some really good stuff out there! The main thing I never liked was the lyrics. The whole gansta hip-hop thing, with ho's and money and guns, never appealed to me. Radical political hip-hop, on the other hand, is totally different! So here are a couple of my favorites...

Light It Up 2.0, produced by Ratatat, and as far as I can tell, lyrics and (obviously) sung by zzz33333

You're a Fucking Terrorist by Resident Anti-Hero (you can listen to, and download, all of their music for free at their site)

Annnd that's all for now! Hope I didn't make this too long!