Critical Mass

Normally I don’t read more than one book at one time.  I like to put all my focus on one story or subject and be fully absorbed in it, if possible.   However, this Spring (and I’m using that term loosely, since our spring started around the 2nd day of February – take that Punxsatawney Phil!) I’ve had to make an exception.  Right now I am reading  Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams”, Blake Boles’ “Better Than College”, Wendy Priesnitz’ “Beyond School” and “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham.   Got you with that last one, didn’t I?  NOT Young Adult fiction or a book on alternatives to traditional schooling?  What is going on!?

Then yesterday I had a moment of near panic due to the sheer volume of new information out there regarding unschooling and self-directed learning instead of college.  How is a person to keep up?   I mean, come on!  Three books, masses of great info appearing every day on sites like UnCollege and Zero Tuition College, grown homeschoolers & unschoolers reaching the heights of their professions (I’m thinking Tim Tebow and Grant Colfax),  positive videos on unschooling…  Every day it seems there is something new and positive about self-directed learning and the people who pursue it in lieu of traditional schooling and education.

And that is 100% fantastic.

Really,  I am not complaining.

BUT, as a person who writes about learning outside of school and who advocates for it, possibly beyond the limits of patience of those who are subjected to my almost daily rants, I felt I was falling behind.   My job is to be the person who has read everything and knows everyone involved in this movement!!

Isn’t it?

Just at the moment I thought my head was going to explode, Ben & Joshua came in and suggested we all watch a movie together, and my first thought was, “A move?!  You must be kidding.  I have media to catch up on and a blog to write!”   My second thought was, “Wait a minute.  This is ok.  My job is actually to facilitate self-direction for my kids and to be their point of reference.   If I do that and miss an article or two, it’s ok.  My kids are my best credentials, my family my top priority.”

Not that watching a movie has much to do with self-direction.   Although since the movie we chose was “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”,  it certainly reinforced my kids’ decisions to continue their life learning and not join the crowd looking to enroll in high school.  (Sadly I had a math teacher in high school who sounded almost exactly like Ben Stein’s character in the movie.)

Today my view on the overwhelming amount of positive info out there regarding self-directed learning is this:   We have reached critical mass.   Self-directed learning is the future and it is inevitable.   The fact that I can’t keep up with all the new ideas and articles and websites is not something about which to be overwhelmed, but energized.   My kids are living in the midst of it and are going to benefit from all of it.    It wasn’t too long ago when you had to search for hours to find anything positive (or even negative) about unschooling.   There were the tried and true books by John Holt, Life Learning Magazine from Wendy Priesnitz and a smattering of books and publications from a few others, but nothing that was catching the eye or attention of the mainstream.  It’s kind of hard to talk about unschooling as cutting edge when the its’ main advocate died in 1985.  (I am not taking anything away from Holt, his writing or the Holt Associates.  John Holt’s writing is still at the apex of all things unschooling, and rightfully so.)   Now, in just the last year or two, a slew of other voices have joined the chorus, from Peter Thiel to Dale Stephens, Blake Boles to Seth Godin and of course, Michael Ellsberg, just to name a few.

I probably won’t be able to keep up and read absolutely everything out there.  I’ll read as much as possible, not forgetting that my kids are the best examples I have of how this whole self-directed thing works.

Everything else is cake.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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2 Responses to Critical Mass

  1. patricia says:

    Hi! I found my way here via a followed tweet. You are so right about the point you’re making here. I’ve felt this way lately too, and it’s so exciting! Most of my acquaintances outside of the homeschooling world still have no idea what’s going on, but they will! Sooner rather than later, I’ll bet.

    Thanks for putting this into words so well.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Patricia. You’re right that most people still don’t know a lot about homeschooling, but we are definitely on our way!