Thoughtful Revolution

Brief Shining Moments

Every so often, when I’m not alone and/or thinking too hard, my education works.

And that’s not to say it’s a feasible way of life. I can’t help but feeling that unschooling is a philosophy built on nice moments, in the hopes that, if you strenuously replicate the conditions, every moment will be nice; it’s a philosophy intended for sunny, temperate days, and when the sky opens up it’s not equipped to cope. But in early- to mid-June, with the sun out in full and summer peering over the horizon, there’s something really precious about the minutes of sheer
pleasure I’ve been given. (Someone less mature would say… you know what, never mind.)

These moments, cobbled together, don’t make for a full education. This is a core difference in belief as much as, or more than, it is a circumstantial one; no matter how perfect an unschooled life may be, I remain convinced that there are things that a child should learn, and skills that s/he should develop, even without a high interest level on his/her part. Regardless, they’re a lot of fun, and amidst all my whining self-pity I figured they’d be worth sharing.

Unschooling really succeeds when:
– you’re reading a great book about an incredibly talented soprano, and it gets you to thinking, and next thing you know you’ve been singing for three hours and haven’t even gotten to page 45.
– you’re reading a great book, that you found out about from another great book, and so on, and so forth.
– you’re reading a great book.
– that sunrise you see out the window? that pair of sturdy walking shoes in the closet? You can let the latter steer you into the former, and there’s nothing at all to stop you.
– at ten in the morning — on your compatriots’ last day of school, no less! — you’re hauling manure in a community garden, or working backstage at the city’s best theater, or contorting yourself around a yoga mat in ways you never dreamed possible.
– you can pay a not-quite-significant-but-fairly-sizeable chunk of your college tuition based on the essay contests, tutoring jobs, theatrical gigs, etc. you’ve had the time to go through with.
– your lifestyle has suddenly become healthy, at least in terms of food and exercise.
– you actually finished NaNoWriMo. (okay, that was just once. but it was a very good once.)
– you realize you can compare the relative merits of every cup of coffee in a 50-mile radius.
– you snag the inspiration for a spur-of-the-moment project.
– you complete that spur-of-the-moment project.
– you can mend a pair of jeans, fix a frozen computer screen, cook a meal, clean a toilet, and get from Eastern Market to Greenbelt via public transportation — all those practical things that you never used to do in school but that you now do on a regular basis.
– you learn how to learn from other people, and you learn that you’ve been doing it all along.


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