Back to School!

By , August 23, 2010

I’m really glad Aly’s an unschooler, because if she attended regular school, I’m not sure I could take it!

I became so indoctrinated by institutional learning that I still have a visceral reaction to the school schedule, even though I graduated more than 30 years ago. I’m comfortable with school starting at the end of August, that’s the way “it’s supposed to be.” Now, I hear that Haines Schools start this coming Tuesday, a full four days ahead of the date I find comfortable, and it makes me panic!

This is ridiculous. I’m convinced that certain aspects of institutional education ruin us, and the schedule is a prime example. Throughout my years of “normal” working life, I always felt like I needed two weeks off every Christmas. Around May 28th or so, it felt like time to take a vacation, or at least slack off! These expectations have been deeply ingrained in my poor psyche.

Luckily, Aly is an unschooler. When you embrace the idea that humans naturally inquisitive, self-teaching creatures, then school is always in session.

Ironically, as most of the rest of Haines gets ready for school, I’m ramping up my continuing education as well.

I just finished reading an excellent book, Anya Kamenetz’s DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (check your local bookstore). Kamenetz indicts our society for blindly insisting that a college degree is necessary, explains why spiraling tuition costs do not indicate increased value, and shows us the future, in which an educated person may be judged more by his or her competencies than by certifications. The possibilities she presents are fascinating, challenging, and in many ways, very attractive! I’m fired up, not just to support Aly’s educational quest, but my own! I’ve been reading key passages aloud to the family lately, and the discussions that result are very stimulating. The brainstorming has been lively and fun.

Our bottom line is that Aly’s entering her crucial senior year. If she wants to pursue college, it’ll have to be paid for by scholarships. So far so good, but I’m urging her to explore alternatives should her future fail to play out according to plan. After reading DIY U, I feel ready once again!

But, I still get butterflies when I hear the phrase, “back to school.”

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