I know that it has been a while since I last blogged. Things have been happening. Mostly inside of me. Questioning. Coming to terms with many things. Some of them around self-directed learning. I sometimes use the term radical unschooling synonymously with self-directed learning. Others at the conference did as well. Another word that I heard a lot was deschooling.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended an international online conference for self-directed learning. It was nice to see other perspectives from around the world. I was struck once again by just how restrictive a culture I have lived in for the last fifteen years. And frankly the damage that has done to my mental health. Being ‘that American’ in the UK is hard. But what I learned that weekend shook me….
I am radical. Even among radicals.
Yes, I have never been ‘normal.’ In America, that ‘normal’ bell curve is a bit boarder and flatter than the narrowly defined one here. In my life time, ‘homeschool’ has migrated from an outlier onto the accepted range of that ‘normalacy.’ Even self-directed ‘education’ is gaining momentum.
In the UK, I have been reminded how crazzy we are. This recent turmoil has prompted a surprising number of parents not to send their children back to school. As a result, the home education Facebook groups of which I am a member are inundated with questions, such as:
- What curriculum do I use?
- Where do I get it?
- What are ‘normal’ school hours?
- Do we give our children school holidays?
- How do we access standardized tests?
Frankly, I’m losing patience with that shit. If you think school and grades and stardardized tests are so great, why did you de-registered your child? You think you can do that better at home? If it wasn’t working for them at school, what makes you think it will at home?
The overall need of these people to command, control, and condition their little humans into a warped and failing society and structure confounds and angers me. I scream….
And I worry for those little humans.
Which is why I have been silent. Who wants to listen to another fat, middle-aged, white Karen anyway?
To then spend three days with some of the most forward thinkers from around the world, only to realize that I am an outlier even among them was sobering.
A huge part of me wants to shut down the blog, slink off into a corner, and lick my wounds.
Except I know my way works. I live every day with the happiest and most well-adjusted autistic person I know (not me obviously). @PanKwake is happier than not only other autistic people, but other ‘normal’ teens. She is happier than almost all the adults I know, myself included. And she remains passionate about learning. In her way and time. She excels at critical thinking and advocacy. She is highly creative. And an amazing person.
But it isn’t just @PanKwake. All of the young people I know gravitate to me and respond positively to the way I treat them with respect as equals. Even those from the most domineering and commanding homes absorb that energy like a sponge.
So what do I do? What is the role of a radical among radicals? Someone who is ahead of their time?
Honestly, I’m not sure. Am I wasting my time and breath? I know I’m not willing to water my truth down or kiss a$$ to get followers. And honestly, I don’t care, like, or respect those parents and adults. I just want better for the young humans. They deserve so much more than what they’re getting from us. We’ve screwed up this planet and now we’re doing our best to screw them up too. That’s not right.
But then again, I’m that wild Crazzy lady crying in the wilderness that no one listens to. But neither can I be quiet about the injustices I see. Which leaves me….
An outcast and radical among radicals. So I’ll just….
I don’t know what yet. I’m like that caterpillar cocooned in its chrysalis. I’ll either die in there or become a beautiful butterfly.