This is going to be controversial, but I think everyone should let go of our enslavement to the goal of financial gain (because growth economy is not sustainable), and take on a goal of emotional gain. And by that I mean happiness! I'm not even there myself, but I'd sure like to be!
And I think the only reason we still live the way we do is fear.
I do realize that there are a number of people who truly believe in mass education; in conformity. But I think most of those beliefs also stem from a fear of non-conformity, or of somehow not succeeding in the current social/economical landscape. Because you know what? It was bloody scary when I was 7 and I dropped my wieners on the floor and a boy in my class made me crouch on my hands and knees and eat them off the floor while everybody watched and laughed. And he kicked me. I never want that to happen to my kids.
Honestly -- this has been a learning journey for me too (because we don't stop learning when we get out of school). That incident in elementary school is part of the reason I didn't send my kids to school! I was afraid for them! But that is not why I unschool. I unschool because once I made the decision to keep my kids out of school, I had to face the litany of new fears that provoked - and I overcame them. I don't want to live in fear, anymore. That incident did not make me stronger; it made me scared, and I'm still overcoming the many many fear-inducing incidents of my 37 years. Overcoming these things gives me strength to create a better world for my children.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
I like to think of any difficult situation in terms of "Why is this happening?" What fear is fueling this person's anger towards me? Or what cultural fear is propelling the people's support of this law I don't agree with, or this social system that frustrates me? Or what personal fear is keeping me from telling this person my feelings; starting this project; etc.? The answer is often more interesting than the question! And this helps me to overcome a large number of my fears.
I am afraid of plenty of things; here's a sampling, if I sit and consider this moment:
- That my mother will read this blog post and discover some terrible problem with it and I'll delete it.
- That there really is some gross flaw in my judgement and this post just makes that obvious.
- That I'm deluded about my kids' happiness, and really they're just deprived of a happy childhood.
- That my kids really are happy now, but will grow up deluded and incapable of functioning in "the real world".
- That I'm condemning them to lives as social outcasts by giving them the life I have.
- That I'm wrong.
- That I'm harming my children.
- That people will hate me for what I do and say.
- That my children will hate me for what I do and say.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
What are you afraid of? And how is it impeding your happiness?
Of course this isn't just about unschooling, it's about our community as a whole, and our country, continent, culture, and world. We make the changes that we can see ourselves making, and we have to let go of the fears to envision those changes happening.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
The solution is very simple, but also very difficult and complex in its realization:
Acknowledge the fear, and let it go.
Back to unschooling, somebody came to this blog this morning by Googling "Does homeschooling make kids weird?" Some of us might laugh, but this and similar searches are actually very common on my tracker. My answer to that question? "YES!" In the sense that weird means other than the norm, yes homeschooling makes my kids weird! It makes them have absolutely no reason to fear their uniqueness and be the people they dream of being! It enables them to feel belonging because of the acceptance of their own and others' uniqueness instead of because they have conformed! In the sense that they do not have to conform to the government's plan for their futures, nor the school district's rules and constraints about the way they should dress, eat, speak, learn, and direct their interests - they are WEIRD. And in the sense that they are happy just to be themselves, happy with their ever-changing desires and life-plans, happy with their bodies and spirits and selves? YES!! I embrace the word weird.
...and hopefully they are learning to live without being shackled by fear.