some subjects are obviously just interesting to me at the start such as english, psychology, language, art etc…
but when it comes to motivating myself to learn about math, science etc… it can be a bit harder. I think for me, it’s all about somehow translating these subjects into real life or into something that WOULD normally be interesting to me.
I know that math and science is just as important for me to learn as english is so this is where the “work” part comes in. I’m still trying to figure out how to make these subjects more interesting to me….do you have any ideas?
Anonymous writes: I love your blog! I’m looking towards unschooling (and hopefully graduating from college)…got any tips?
Clare responds: hey thanks! that’s great that you’re actively seeking out other methods of getting your education. Unschooling looks like a great option, doesn’t it?? And that’s awesome that you KNOW you want to graduate from college because that will help motivate you to REALLY learn the stuff you need to to get there!! As of right now I really have to say I don’t have any tips…I’m in the same boat as you are!! I’ve been thinking about unschooling and although I’ve gotten great advice from people around me, I am unsure about all the specifics…The best thing I could tell you is to find a community of people (maybe check out my friend Nora’s FB or Tumblr—you can find the links on the edzedomega.org website) that are or have been unschoolers/homeschoolers and ask them for advice. The biggest thing I think is to stay motivated. Remember your long-term goals (graduating from college) and KEEP AT IT! Even when it gets tough. Thanks for checking out my blog! Good luck!!
I made a post on my tumblr (click the link to see it! and answer yourself!) this morning asking for any help/advice on how to convince my parents to let me stay dropped out and to pursue unschooling. I tweeted it and Shauna (an unschooler for life!) saw my tweet. So she sent me an email with TONS of great advice. I thought I’d post it plus my response.
Here it is:
Hello Clare! It’s Shauna from Twitter. :-)
You wrote an excellent and thoughtful Tumblr post about presenting the unschooling idea to your folks. I’ll try to re-create an expand upon the answers I sent to Tumblr (I did them through my iPad, which doesn’t always submit stuff correctly).
I think the method that you use to present the idea to your parents (video, PowerPoint, speech, etc) matters less than the planning and content of what you say, which you’re obviously already thinking about very carefully.
Some ideas from me:
- Give a list of pros and cons about unschooling, and explain why you’ve concluded that unschooling is the best option for you. Mentioning recent experiences that have helped you will be good evidence.
- Outline your goals for yourself in the next year, which can be specific things you want to learn and do (“finish writing that play”, “find an acting mentor”) or more general things (“improve self-discipline”, “discover own strengths”)
- Lay out your plan for how to go about unschooling (well, as much as one can when the core idea is to follow your inspiration!): any people you might consult with, places you might visit, other resources you’ll use, what your days might look like, etc.
- Explain clearly what you will need from your parents (rides to the library, money for acting classes, their trust, suspension of judgment until you’ve had 6 months to explore this, etc).
- Present a plan for how you’ll evaluate how you’re doing with the unschooling, what’s working, what’s not, and how you’ll change your approach as you go. I really believe that in this kind of thing there’s no such thing as failure, only lessons that help you improve for the next round.
- Have a list of things that you’ll agree to with your parents, which will be something you discuss and put together as a team. These kinds of things could range from “continue to care for the dog” to “read a book per month.” Listen to what their concerns are about your plan, and try to find agreements that will be good for you but will help set their minds at ease.
I was lucky, I dropped out of pre-school at age 3 (or rather, mom pulled me out because I was miserable being told what to do) and my parents were completely supportive of the idea. I unschooled all the way through high school (did community college instead) and even now that I’ve finished my Master’s I still consider myself a continuous unschooler. :-) Around ages 11-13 I was all about math, so I got way ahead of where I would have been in school for that subject, while I wasn’t terribly interested in history so I didn’t really explore that. Later in life, namely in college, I had a reason to want to know history so then I took a class and started reading about it, so it was fun because I wanted to be doing it. I always tell nervous parents that yes, maybe your kid won’t touch on every subject that would be forced down their throat in school, but when they need to learn something they’ll learn it, no matter what point they’re at in their life. The absolute most valuable skill you can get through unschooling is the ability to teach yourself, because believe me you’ll be doing a lot of that for the rest of you life! On a job, in a new activity, in a new friendship, you’ll be learning new things all the time. Having the drive and the confidence to teach yourself is more important than any facts or concepts you could know.
Anyway, I’ll stop blathering on, but please feel free to ask me any questions or let me know how things are progressing as you plan to talk with your folks!
P.S. I’ve been through some of the EZO content but not all of it, I really want to get more involved. I know you all are supposed to be fictional characters, but you’re also real people communicating about yourselves, and I feel like the situation you’re in is completely real. So I’m acting accordingly. :-)
and my response:
thank you so so much for your input! All the information you gave me is so important and helpful! first off, just wondering if you’re okay that I post this email (and my response) on the EZO website? Just let me know!
EVERYTHING you wrote is so so helpful, but here are some specific things that especially struck a chord with me:
“- Give a list of pros and cons about unschooling, and explain why you’ve concluded that unschooling is the best option for you. Mentioning recent experiences that have helped you will be good evidence." I REALLY need to think about the cons. I OBVIOUSLY know the pros, but to express to my parents that I know there may be some negative aspects of choosing this path will definitely help them believe that i’ve done my research!
”- Explain clearly what you will need from your parents (rides to the library, money for acting classes, their trust, suspension of judgment until you’ve had 6 months to explore this, etc).“ I think this might be my parent’s biggest point for telling me "no” (if that’s what they do). They both lead busy lives and putting me in public school is the easiest option for them. I need to make sure I figure out specific things that I would need them to do and make sure that list is not so long…hmm
“Around ages 11-13 I was all about math, so I got way ahead of where I would have been in school for that subject, while I wasn’t terribly interested in history so I didn’t really explore that. Later in life, namely in college, I had a reason to want to know history so then I took a class and started reading about it, so it was fun because I wanted to be doing it.”
Although I’ve officially decided that unschooling is what I for sure want to do, there’s still A LOT for me to learn about how it works–things that I might not learn until I actually experience it. These bits of information about your personal experiences are so helpful when it comes to figuring out my own style of learning. I can sometimes kind of get stuck in my own mind and to read about other people’s paths really helps me to step outside of my thoughts and experiment more with different learning styles. I think unschooling is great i the sense that it completely gives you that freedom to experiment!
Again I cannot explain to you enough how helpful your ENTIRE EMAIL was for me. I’ll definitely use it as a guideline when putting together my presentation for my parents.
p.s. the way you’re interacting with me as a zed omega is PERFECT! I would love to hear more from you!! From what I’ve seen, you definitely have lots of great stuff to say!
and her response to THAT:
Yes, feel free to post anything from our conversations. :-) I really need to write my letter to the whole EZO project; I’m in the midst of putting together my personal “education manifesto” to solidify what I believe about learning and why, so this would be great for me too! When I was at the #140edu conference in July I kept saying that I was there gathering troops for an educational revolution, and I found many kindred spirits! What became clear was the fact that hundreds of different people and organizations are exploring non-school ways of learning and potential alternative education systems. We just need to arm ourselves with enough information (anecdotal as well as scientific studies) to convince the powers that be it’s time for a change!!
You’re right about point 2: it’s “easiest” for parents with jobs to have their kids in school. You’re past the age where kids really need a day-to-day supervisor, but parents always have their own ideas about when that age is. :-) Hopefully they’ll be open to you being more on your own (clearly you’ve survived summers on your own without any disasters!).
I’m guessing you’ve heard of these books before (I mentioned one of them to Nicole a while back), but have you looked up The Day I Became an Autodidact or The Teenage Liberation Handbook? Those both date back to my teen years, so they’re not necessarily reflective of the current legal and cultural situation for unschoolers. But Autodidact especially is one girl’s story of dropping out and making it work. Hearing about other people’s paths definitely helps you figure out how to forge your own!
I’m going to read up on all the Tumblrs from EZO and try to pay more attention to the other venues. I absolutely love this project!!
I think you’re absolutely right! 100%. I think graduating high school is a very “easy” way to make the statement that you can finish what you start, even if it’s not always pleasant or fun. (Especially if it’s not pleasant or fun.) And you’re also right that your high school diploma will open up many doors for your future like getting a good job or getting further education etc… to graduate high school is an opportunity that’s just laid out in front of you and as long as you just try a little bit you can make it through and finish.
I know, however, that there are other ways to make that “finish what you start” statement. I know, for me, the fact that I can make audition appointments even though I HATE LOATHE AND DESPISE auditions and I can follow through on preparing and actually going to them is something to be proud of. Also after that when and if I make it into a show, I accept the part I’m given and I follow through with researching the character/memorizing lines/giving a (hopefully) great performance.
What are some other examples? I know there must be many out there! Ways that you can prove to others and to yourself that you can finish what you start?
Again, I feel like– yes, you are totally right that getting your high school diploma is a good way of proving that you can get through something or finish something. But it’s not the ONLY way of proving that. And (at least in my opinion) high school is not something that you should have to “get through” just to prove that you can.
And bring on the other examples! Seriously! I’m sure there are plenty of other things that you can think of that prove that you can finish something! what are they? – Clare
So here it is. My final decision about school and how I want to proceed with my education. It was a hard decision to make. It’s a sad truth that choosing a less popular road when it comes to achieving your diploma can be so extremely difficult. I’m happy with the decision I made. Now we’ll see how it all works out! Having all the knowledge that I’ve gained from this independent study project really helps me to feel unafraid about changing my mind if something doesn’t work out. I know there are SO SO many options out there for me. I’m excited about what comes next!
Laurel’s video to me with some questions about how to proceed with the semester really helped kick off the project for me. It brought up some good questions that I have kept with me throughout the semester and still think about.
Derik’s facebook message was GREAT because he seemed so passionate about not only just education but HIGHER education. It made me really think about COLLEGE which is something that’s honestly, NEVER on my mind. I’m still trying to decide if I want to go to college or not…I’ll just see where life takes me!
I’m sure I share this favorite with the other zed omegas too…This message from Valeria asking what my dream school would look like really made me sit down and think about what I REALLY want from a school. What I think might actually WORK rather than just dwelling on what DOESN’T work. It was also really fun to make a presentation video explaining what an ideal school would look like to me.
Brandie has had TONS of things to say throughout the course of the semester. We’ve even had some one on one conversations that were really helpful to me! I think this was the first post that I saw from her. It really got into some of the logistics of unschooling/self-directed study (like what are the resources you can use to learn?) and it helped me on my path to my final decision to unschool.
here’s another post from Brandie that was helpful about students teaching other students and resources for that. Another great idea that really sparked my interest!
Lisa wrote this great post about where I can find other people who are just like me when it comes to their ideas about school. She also shared a girl named Leah’s blog-(http://leahmiller.typepad.com) Leah is an unschooler and also an actress just like me! This post helped me to feel supported in my decision to want to leave school and it DEFINITELY helped me feel less alone.
This article was really entertaining and pretty true (in my opinion) I posted about it on my facebook page and got a pretty good discussion going… It’s about the courses in school that are “pointless” and why. I think this article can be a bit controversial and that’s why I like it. It can really spark a good discussion.
I liked this post a lot. It’s about the courses school SHOULD offer. Like a “life 101” course where you learn to do your taxes, how to vote, how to balance a checkbook etc. I THOROUGHLY believe that schools (especially public schools) should offer a course like this. I think it would be IMMENSELY helpful to many many students.
recently I made a blog post about finally breaking it to my parents that I’m serious and want to continue on the unschooling path. I asked for advice from all my followers on tumblr and posted it to twitter. Shauna (who follows me on twitter) saw it and wrote me this WONDERFUL email. She’s a “life long learner” and has been an unschooler since preschool! She had so many great bits of advice for me. Here’s another post about Shauna from earlier in the semester:
She really makes me feel like I CAN do it. I can unschool successfully and become a smart well rounded person.
So there they are! My top ten (or so) posts! Let me know if you have any questions! And KEEP THE GREAT POSTS COMING! By the end of next month I want my top ten to become a TOP TWENTY! or even a TOP THIRTY!! Everyone’s advice is INVALUABLE to me at this point. Thanks to EVERYONE who continues to offer their advice/support to me and all the other zed omegas!
I found this post and the website it linked to be VERY entertaining and true! Or maybe I just WANT it to be true because I feel these same things about the different subjects in school! I especially like when they talked about Economics:
“Economics. This subject in high school is beyond silly. Professional economists don’t really understand economics. The arguments they have with each other are vicious and when the economy collapses there are always a thousand explanations, none of which will matter to a high school student. What should you be learning? Your personal finances. How to balance your check book. How much rent and food costs. How you can earn a living. What various jobs pay and how to get them. A high school student needs economic theory like he/she needs another leg.”
“School isn’t really about learning; it’s about short-term memorization of meaningless information that never comes up later in life. The school model was never intended to help people acquire practical skills. It is intended to satisfy observers that knowledge is being acquired (for short periods of time).”
My thoughts are – Why don’t schools offer a “real life 101” course? How does the knowledge we gain in school help us in the real world? Parents put their kids in school to learn and if you get good grades that means you were successful. But what do you REALLY learn??
You’re totally right. Sucking it up and just getting through your schooling IS just “part of the deal” in the US. Everyone knows that to “have a good life” you must complete high school and even go on to college so you can get a “good job” to make money and achieve the american dream….Or at least that’s what everyone is taught to believe.
What would the world be like if that “american dream” of having a great education, a nice well-paying job, a nice home with a lawn, a family with children (and even a dog) didn’t exist? Everyone grows up to believe that this is what a “good life” in America looks like when in all reality, most people nowadays don’t live like this anymore. People have to take jobs that they don’t like to have this “good life”. They have to make compromises and get through things that are unpleasant (like school) to have this “good life”…sometimes this “good life” happens backwards (kids, then family, then job, then school, then better job, then home and finally -“good life”). But really, what’s the point? If this “american dream” never existed, would ANYONE actually want to get through school? Or would we all just figure out what makes us happy and then go from there?
The pressure to achieve this “good life” is just yet another way to conform to what society says is the “best way to live”. I think I lead a pretty good life right now. I know I may never have a well-paying regular job — I may be a starving artist for the rest of my life. I may never have a home with a lawn, I may never even want to get married or have kids, but I’m doing what I love to do and to me, THAT’S a “good life”.
Just because I dropped out of public school doesn’t mean I don’t still want a diploma. I know that I for sure want a high school diploma (some of my EZO friends I know also want a COLLEGE diploma).
This is feedback I’ve been getting a lot. People think that I just don’t want to continue my education at all and that’s just completely untrue. All I know is that the public school system just isn’t working for me. Throughout this whole process I’ve learned about other ways of getting my highschool diploma that suit my educational needs more than public school does.
I know that it’s important to have a highschool diploma. It’s also important (in certain cases) to have a college diploma (even though I’m still not sure that I really care about THAT). What I’ve been trying to do is find different ways of getting this certificate where I feel like I’m actually enjoying it rather than just racing to the “finish line” without caring what I actually LEARN.
Do you understand? Do you have any ideas about how I might gain the knowledge needed to graduate without having to put up with mind-numbing public school?
“I’m sitting on the island of money. I’m having issues with this island because I’ve never have to have a job in my life before and I’ve been sort of searching for one, but it’s hard for me to find something that I really like to do.”
Okay so you’re probably wondering by now, “What’s the deal with those voice mails at EdZedOmega.org?” and, “What are the Zed Omegas talking about when they talk about the "map thing” that they did at the Walker Art Center…?
Well here’s a little explanation.
And even though you may not be able to come stand on our map with us, you CAN call the number and tell us where you stand on the subject of high school. (Did you have love it? Did you hate it? Both? Neither?) WHAT’S YOUR HIGH SCHOOL STORY?