Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Don't Feel Like Being Extraordinary Today

I'm a big fan of Blake Boles' project, Zero Tuition College. I'm also horribly intimidated by it. For example, one member's project presents honorary degrees to students who demonstrate "(1) strong track record of self-directed learning, (2) an impressive breadth and depth of education, and (3) evidence of successful application of one's learning."

Which brings me to a question I've often pondered along with my fellow young adult unschoolers, when we're all alone and the pressure of society's judgement is off.

Do we really need to be impressive?

Don't get me wrong; I find a lot of unschoolers impressive, and I think people who want to reach for extraordinary goals should be encouraged. But does being unschoolers somehow obligate us to prove how special we are?

I'm not at a point in my life where going out on big adventures is an option. What I'm doing instead is addressing a lot of things that need healing in my life, both physically and emotionally. It doesn't result in a life that sounds cool on paper. I'm not backpacking through South America or starting my own business from a childhood hobby. I'm not writing books, or even blogging that much.

But I'm examining my needs and finding the resources I need to meet them. I think that's the goal I'd aim for in raising my own children: that they know what they need and how to get it, whether they need adventure or a quiet life in the suburbs. I know it's been, and continues to be, a long hard fight just to be able to name my needs, let alone meet them. And I hope the people who need big adventures continue to seek them. But I also hope we as a community don't lose sight of what's important: raising kids who can identify and meet their needs. All that big impressive stuff should be a means to that end. Being impressive shouldn't be an end in itself, and it definitely shouldn't be presented to kids - either directly or indirectly - as something they owe the unschooling community.

Unschoolers, you don't owe anybody anything. Living an ordinary life is proof enough that unschooling "worked". Meet your needs, and don't worry about what your life looks like to anybody else.