Heather Armstrong of wrote one time that she met a woman at a conference who reads her blog, and after speaking for a minute the woman said, “Gee you’re so nice!  I thought you’d be meaner.”    I laughed when I read that, because Heather’s online persona comes across as loud, sometimes inappropriate and very opinionated.  However, I have had enough one on one email exchanges with her to know that she is very sweet and modest “off blog”.

I’m not sure I could be defined as “sweet and modest” in my everyday life, but I’m beginning to think that the persona that has developed around my discussions of learning and education is much more aggressive than the real me.

Some of you may remember, about 18 months ago, I wrote a piece that revolved around the “gifted & talented” programs in the NYC schools, and how I wished that expression would be removed from the lexicon.  Lenore Skenazy read it, liked it and tweeted it to her followers.   Which was great, except I was completely unprepared for the negative attacks and name-calling that ensued.   I was insensitive to the needs of gifted children, ignorant on the subject matter and arrogant for talking about it.  (Not all of the comments were negative – just the majority of them.)

It was then that my respect for bloggers like Heather and Lenore jumped tenfold.  You should read the vitriol people spew at them on a daily basis.    Or don’t.  It’s kind of depressing, really.

Anyway, since the “gifted & talented” post, I’ve been less inclined to go on rants against the ridiculousness to be found in our current compulsory educational system and if I do, I’ll sometimes post a disclaimer.  (You can call me chicken for that – it’s true.)

Despite this, a couple of people have suggested to me lately that I might want to tone it down – that my passion for unschooling is rather bulldozer-like and not terribly inclusive.


Me?  Over-zealous?  At first I was appalled, but then I thought, “Well, this IS what I believe in.”   Do I really need to tone it down so as never to offend anyone?  I mean, I don’t run people down for choosing a different path, but I will tell them why I think unschooling is extraordinary.   Which isn’t the same thing.   It’s no secret that I would LOVE it if more people unschooled their kids and am working to create more visibility around unschooling.

Should I dampen that passion to appease traditional homeschoolers or people with schooled kids?   Should I never mention why I love unschooling to them?   God knows many of them have no qualms about telling me why I’m probably doing irreparable damage to my kids’ futures.   Is it wrong that I want to tell as many people about this thing called unschooling as possible, just in case they decide it’s right for their family?

I don’t think so.

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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One Response to Impressions

  1. sarah says:

    I don’t think so either! I’ve come recently to your blog (I don’t remember how I found it) and one of the reasons I added it to Reader is because you are so straight shooting. I would much rather hear what someone really has to say and thinks than the cleaned-up “I am concerned with promoting my personal brand and don’t want to be offending people” version that so many people do unfortunately eventually fall into.

    Also, having come here so recently I had not seen your G&T program post so I had to go read it and I agree 100%. First that the whole system is nonsense and second that if the have to have it they should at least make it fair. (We are also in NYC so I am talking about the same system, btw. Although as a disclaimer I should say that we never considered sending our daughter to school so it was not a real issue in our house.)

    In any case, I just wanted to pop in and say please, carry on as you have been!