Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why is Unschooling so Fringe?

Being both slightly bored and having an urge to write, I asked people on Tumblr and Twitter to ask me questions, and Kelly kindly obliged with this one!  My answer is what follows.

Why do you think unschooling/life learning is so fringe? That is, only about 2.5% of American kids are out of school, and of that percentage, many are traditionally-homeschooled (with curriculum, schedules, etc.). In your opinion, what accounts for so few parents raising their children this way?

I think there are several reasons why unschooling is very much on the fringes.  Also feel free to share your own opinions in the comments, as I think this is a really interesting question to think about and discuss!  Now onto some possible reasons:
  1. Though not the most influential reason, I think that simply because it's so little known unschooling remains on the fringes.  School is such an huge part of our culture that most people don't even realize that there are options other than school: for most, it's never even a question.  You have kids, you send them to school.  End of story.
  2. People seem to believe somehow that, not so much that this is as good as it gets, but that this is as good as people can do at this point in time.  I feel like there's this pervasive idea in our society that this civilization is the pinnacle of human existence: that things have progressed neatly from horrible to steadily better throughout human existence, and thus wherever we are now in every aspect of this culture must be the best thing we've ever seen.  Thus, any other alternatives touted as more natural, more authentic, or imitating a way of living that has been successful in the far past is seen as going backwards: the opposite of "progress," which our culture so highly values.    
  3. It's scary.  I think that's absolutely the biggest reason.  People are positively terrified of being thought strange, of not fitting in, of being an outsider.  To do anything radical is scary as hell, and most people simply aren't willing or able to overcome that fear.  'Cause the thing is, doing anything radical or fringe does make you an outsider to at least some extent (to what extent depends a lot on a multitude of factors).  And the only way something becomes not-fringe is if enough people are brave enough to be on the fringes in the first place...  It's a vicious circle!  
There are many other reasons, I'm sure, but I think I'll leave it there for now...  I'm curious, why do you think unschooling is on the fringes?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I Use "Labels"

As my blog description line so loudly (if blog description lines can be loud, that is) proclaims, I am an unschooling vegetarian animistic green-anarchist (a lot of people were interpreting "green anarchist" as two separate things: that I was both green, and an anarchist, instead of how it was supposed to be read: that I'm a green-anarchist, so I decided the dash was needed) feminist (I've been feeling far more strongly attached to that term lately, so figured I should add it) hippie child.

Some people eschew anything they see as labels, and that's fine.  But as a word lover, I kind of like walking around with a string of words attached to me.  I picture them trailing out behind my head, fluttering a bit in an imaginary breeze as I move around: a banner of pride.  Yeah, pretty fanciful mental image, I know.  But anyway, I choose to attach these words to my person because I identify strongly with them: they make me happy to use, I feel like each one describes me well, and I just like them.  Those words are my friends.

It's important, of course, that everyone gets to fill in their own labels. (Source)

So that's why I don't find "labels" such as those confining at all: when a word stops feeling good, I simply drop it.  As it is, I like being able to define my worldview, my philosophical views, basically the things that influence and impact the way I see things and choose to live my life, in ways that other people can (hopefully) understand.  People with similar views can find me that way, and I feel like it's a bit of a warning to everyone in general: look out, radical here!  I'm always slightly nervous that I'll encounter aggressive disagreement or stressful bullshit from random people when they discover what my views are, so I like to get it all out of the way as soon as possible, before I can start liking someone only to find they react in shock and disapproval when they discover what I really think about things!

Well, okay, that hasn't happened yet (the me liking someone then having them hate me because of my views bit, I mean.  The aggressive bullshit thing has definitely happened!).  But maybe that's just because of my clever strategy of being super open about my views right from the get-go, right?

Either way, I like my "labels" (though I prefer to refer to them simply as words, thus avoiding all the baggage that comes along with the L word).  I like describing things (anything and everything, really) in words, and thus I like describing me in words.  All the feelings I associate with the words I choose to use in regards to myself are positive, feel good ones, and as long as that continues to be the case, I'm going to hang onto them. 

Which is why you won't find me bashing labels anytime soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A 20th Birthday and a Week Away

After not writing anything on this blog for over ten days, I figured I should let readers know I'll have no internet access for a week.  Instead of at home, I'll be in an apartment in town with a group of friends, hanging out for what will hopefully be a very pleasant week. 

I'm afraid I don't have much to say right now, and even if I did, I don't have time to say it, since I haven't finished packing yet!  Sure, I could make a trip or two home during the week, but I'd rather spend my time with friends, not driving/bussing into the suburbs to pick up stuff from home.

Now, is there anything else I should add?  Hmm, well, as of yesterday, I'm not longer a teenager.  I have left those years behind me forever.  Seems a bit weird still, actually, though it doesn't feel nearly as horrifyingly momentous as I feared it would!  It wasn't a bad day at all, when I turned 20.  This is my birthday in pictures...

Me and mom.
Emi looking pensively out the window, on our cake + good bread + groceries for my gathering shopping trip.
Emi thinks wine & umbrellas go well together.
And, of course, there was cake.
...With candles.
Lit candles! (Don't you love the four scattered lighters needed for a few candles?)
Which, being the birthday gal, I proceeded to blow out.


Gifts included the first two seasons of Supernatural (yay!), and the newest CD from Rise Against.  Plus some money put towards the aforementioned week long gathering, for which I leave tomorrow!

Organizing it has proved to be rather stressful, but I'm really hoping it'll be an enjoyable vacation.  Hanging out with friends and just chilling...  Getting away from a house that's in the middle of some major repairs thanks to some serious leakage...  It should be good.

And that is all!  I wish everyone a lovely week, and I hope to come back online in a week filled with fresh inspiration, and ready to finally overcome the huge writing block I've had for the last month!  I can hope, right?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Occasionally Sunday Means Links

I promise you, proper posts are coming soon!  How soon I cannot say, since I seem to be coming down with a cold and may not have much energy in the next few days, but they are coming (some possible/likely topics are: drug use among young people, parental trust, and bodily autonomy; You Know You're An Unschooler When...; a post on the relationship between anarchy and unschooling...)!

Until then, I give you a collection of the cool stuff I've found online in the last while, for your perusing pleasure.

Sex, Gender, GLBTQ, Sexism

The following reasons do not make it okay to call someone a slut

The opinion pages of the New York Times has this article entitled The Disposable Woman about the media, and societies, reaction to Charlie Sheen and his long history of abuse and violence against women.

"I've been really shocked and distressed to find out that 8- and 9-year-old girls are getting all their pubic hairs waxed off by their mothers. I think if I have any purpose at all, it’s to stand up there and say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, girls. You totally have a choice. You can wax it, you can shave it, you can grow it out, and this really is up to you.’ That’s the way that I feel about everything, that you just need to know there’s a choice out there."-Amanda Palmer Gives Pubic Hair a Shout Out! | Good Vibrations Magazine

"Women's breasts, originally intended to nourish babies, are greatly fetishized by men. In a patriarchal culture, this makes them sacrosanct, so they must be covered up as something dirty. Dirty = arousing to men. (Men’s chests might be similarly arousing to women, but in a patriarchal culture, what is arousing to women is regarded as being of no real importance unless it suits male fantasy.)

Of course, as fetishized objects, boobs must also be made into ornaments (just like cars, also fetishized by men). So, they are primped and prodded, alternately bound and pumped up, displayed like prize ponies. Even if you don’t want to. (Have you tried to buy a non-wire bra recently that didn’t look like a Playtex Cross-your-heart? Good luck with that.)

When I first wrote the Subversive Scholastic essay, I got a lot of reactions from males who said, basically: You wanna take off your shirt? Hey alriiiight! Do it, babeeeeeee!

No, no and no.

If I should take off my shirt, I want you to be as lackadaisical about that as if your best male friend took off his shirt. Are you saying Hey alriiiight! to your best male friend and encouraging him to take off his shirt? Then I don’t want that either. Optimally, it would be nice if you didn’t even NOTICE.

Hey, says authoritative male voice, you can’t expect guys not to even notice, okay?

Question: Do women act like asses when men shed their tops? You know, we might be as excited about that as you are, has that ever occurred to you? But we have learned to behave ourselves. I am utterly confident that men could learn the same, if expected to." -Women should have a right to be shirtless

"So many liberal dudes consider themselves political revolutionaries but then ignore or devalue gender politics as less important than other causes. Or they talk a good game about gender politics but then do the complete opposite in their personal lives. […] You think subcultures are going to have better more equal power dynamics, but then they usually reproduce the same fucked up power dynamics of mainstream institutions. It happened in the civil rights movement. It happened with hippies. It happens in indie and punk. It happens in everything when men are the only ones in recognized leadership positions. I wish that it never happened, but it does. Rather than bury our heads in the sand we must choose to engage with it, to figure out why it happens and how we can work on it." -Molly Lambert, In Which Your Ballroom Days are Over Baby

Unschooling, Education, Anti-School, Youth Rights

"It's not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life." -John Holt

I'm in the process of writing an unschooling zine (tentatively entitled Free The Children!), and would love your input on the ideas I have so far

"Usually when adults say teens need to be responsible or complain that they’re not responsible enough, what they’re actually talking about is being submissive. A teen is called ‘responsible’ when they shut up and do as they’re told without complaining or questioning what the point of what they’re being asked to do is.” -Elisha

This article from Jeff Sabo is worth a read.  He talks about how teaching can definitely be a part of unschooling.  Unschooling is about freedom of choice, not about learning everything all by yourself!

This page is from a terrific book entitled ABC's of Anarchy, which you can see the entirety of here.

A new unschooling website called Why Unschool? has been launched by two grown unschooled siblings.

A post about why being friends with older people is a good thing is up at Un-Schooled. 

The similarity between prisons and schools:

And finally for this section, a list of the 50 Best Blogs in the Unschooling Movement is worth checking out, though note that not all of the blogs and sites listed actually focus on, or even mention, unschooling.  Some are simply about homeschooling or school reform.

Anarchy, Politics, Revolution, Freedom

"We should be in the business of living, not making a living.” -Lucien Bourjeily

"(Many of) the greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules, but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages." -Banksy

"The first step — especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money — the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art." -Chuck Palahniuk

"Think of anarchism as an individual orientation to yourself and others, as a personal approach to life. That’s not impossible to imagine. Conceived in these terms, what would anarchism be? It would be a decision to think for yourself rather than following blindly. It would be a rejection of hierarchy, a refusal to accept the “god given” authority of any nation, law, or other force as being more significant than your own authority over yourself. It would be an instinctive distrust of those who claim to have some sort of rank or status above the others around them, and an unwillingness to claim such status over others for yourself. Most of all, it would be a refusal to place responsibility for yourself in the hands of others: it would be the demand that each of us not only be able to choose our own destiny, but also do so." -from Days Of War, Nights of Love: CrimethInc for Beginners

From XKCD:

Random Cool Shit

Have any particularly cool stuff you've found online lately?  Have you put together your own link roundup recently?  Please do share in the comments!!