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!