Conceiving Of Change And Invisible Alternatives

Something happened to me since the first post in April. I’ve been… activated.

I was born into a family that was living an alternative. That was just happening, it was pre-decided. And I grew up the way that I did — without school. And it felt natural to me, invisible in a way. It was just my life and my experience. I learned with autonomy, and self-direction, and therefore responsibility. I feel responsible for myself today in a deep way. Not just my adult self, but more than that. I can feel my life as whole… beginning at the beginning. As a kid. A narrative of connections, not choppy-chapters.

But all of that, the “natural” unfolding, my experience… it’s a privilege. It’s rare. It’s rare to feel responsible. Maybe it’s rare to be responsible.

I don’t know; I’ve just checked back in. I’ve just opened up to this conversation about how we raise our kids, and how they learn, and how we teach. I’ve just checked back in and opened up to questions like: What do we want to be? Where do we want to go? How do we want to get there?

Education maybe sounds like a banal topic, but it’s pretty amazing. It’s huge, and amazing. And now I’m activated.

I like this moment of time that we’re in — the conversations that are being had about the mind, about how we learn and live, individually, collectively. I like that Sir Ken Robinson, and Sugatra Mitra’s ideas are out there, being discussed in mainstream channels. I like that, as an adult, I can contribute my experience to another generation — something that wasn’t around when I was growing up unschooled.

bubbles in a field

just a photo I took this weekend at a picnic

But, I know many of you will understand what I mean when I say that feeling activated makes the inactive unbearable.

It’s not disagreement that’s most frustrating. It’s the dis-interested, un-questioning acceptance that’s frustrating. People all around me are having kids and not really, really thinking about any of this. From where I am, it’s hard to understand or relate to.

We take so much for granted. The systems we move through, the way things are done. We assume the way we were formed was necessary, because it’s what we know. That’s why the status quo is the status quo. Not because it’s prevalent — but because we subscribe to it; we believe in it.

Anyway, lately being “activated” means I feel like the crazy one in the conversation. I’m the one that keeps insisting the emperor has no clothes, and everybody just humors me politely, but they don’t really believe me. Or care, maybe, either way.

But, I know I’m not the only one. I know that I’m not the first. After I wrote this post today, my mom sent me this quote:

“[A] danger of formal schooling is that it will imprint a disciplinary template onto impressionable minds and with it the belief that the world really is as disconnected as the divisions, disciplines, and subdisciplines of the typical curriculum. Students come to believe that there is such a thing as politics separate from ecology or that economics has nothing to do with physics. Yet, the world is not this way, and except for the temporary convenience of analysis, it cannot be broken into disciplines and specializations without doing serious harm to the world and to the minds and lives of people who believe that it can be. We often forget to tell students that the convenience was temporary, and more seriously, we fail to show how things can be made whole again. One result is that students graduate without knowing how to think in whole systems, how to find connections, how to ask big questions, and how to separate the trivial from the important. Now more than ever, however, we need people who think broadly and who understand systems, connections, patterns, and root causes.”~David W. Orr, “The Dangers Of Education”