Full Disclosure

It has come to my attention over the last week that because of my “radical” views on education and learning, many people make the assumption that I lead a particular lifestyle.

Because we are life-learners, the assumption is that we fall into a particular stereotype; one in which no fast food ever enters our bodies, we don’t own or watch TV, we eschew pop culture in lieu of loftier pursuits which may include a devotion to nature, all things organic, sustainable living, classical music, classic literature and, since we live in New York, a particular love of museums – especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And the thing is, I have friends who could go down that list and check off each and every item.   I admire them immensely.  They are life-learning superheroes.

I, on the other hand, am not.

If I was judging objectively, I’d probably put me somewhere in the middle between life-learning superhero and total pop-culture heathen.    For instance, I subscribe to “Entertainment Weekly” and am a regular purchaser of (gasp!) ”People” magazine, but I despise on-line chats over TV shows or celebrities, and I will die a horrible death before I ever beg a celebrity on Twitter to retweet so that “I’ll know you know I exist”.   (That’s a real one that I saw on Adam Levine’s Twitter feed.  I’m not above reading them now and then, even though afterward I usually feel the need to take a shower.)  I love to read, but will usually choose YA fiction or pulp fiction over, say, Pulitzer Prize winners.  (Though this year there was no fiction winner, so I guess I’m off the hook.)

We own a TV.  It has an ungodly number of channels because we cannot survive without English Premiere League soccer, which you can only get via the premiere digital TV package.   We also watch “Biggest Loser”, “The Voice” and “Project Runway”.  (I do think it’s slightly sad that most of my favorite shows fall into the reality category.  Thin ice, people, thin ice.)    At night, on my laptop, I have also been known to watch “Castle”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Downton Abbey” (but everyone watches that, right?) and, my secret guilty pleasure, “The Vampire Diaries”.   (Don’t snicker, Andrea.  I have one word for you.  ”Charmed”.)

We do not have the TV on unless we are watching something, and  we never, ever, EVER watch the local or national news.  Ever.   I subscribe to the Times, and I scan the headlines on my homepage.   Enough said.

My kids love social media and YouTube.  Maya is well on her way to full-blown entrepreneur status due to YouTube.   She’s met amazing kids from all over the world this way.  How can I complain?    Ben loves all things Mario Bros.    And Lego.  (Lego is acceptable I know because of it’s architectural qualities and robotic capabilities – but it’s still a mass produced toy that markets popular characters to kids.  Do we care?  Not really.)

I shop organic most of the time, but we love Diet Coke.  We eat at McDonald’s probably more than we’d like to admit.   I’m not a fan of cooking and do it out of necessity more than pleasure.    My kids say they love my cooking, so they are either very kind or ignorant of what great cooking really tastes like.

I believe we as a society need to get our act together when it comes to global warming and the environment, but I confess to feeding my cat off of disposable paper plates and being an unabashed user of paper towels.   I recycle always, and upcycle when I can.

I love Pilates and Zumba and would probably choose those activities over a hike in the woods on most days.  Not all days, but most.   I enjoy mountains and the ocean but am not a huge fan of sand – at least not when it comes home with me – so mountains are my preference.

I like Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack and the huge Chagall paintings that grace the front of the Met (Opera not Art Museum) but given the choice I’d probably go to a baseball game before I’d spend a day wandering the galleries.  Actually, I’d go to the movies before I’d do either of those things.  Favorite recent film – aside of “The Hunger Games”?  ”Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and no, I haven’t read the book.  (I have, of course, read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy.  Twice.)

My favorite song at the moment is Maroon 5′s “Stutter”.

Does this make me unfit to be a life-learning, unschooling advocate?   Maybe in the eyes of some, but I actually think it makes me more accessible in a lot of ways.  It’s hard to put yourself in the same league with the superheroes (although we definitely need their examples as that to which we can aspire) but someone who is midway between superhero and pop-culture heathen?   Maybe that’s a goal most people believe they can achieve; maybe even surpass.

And that’s a good thing.

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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23 Responses to Full Disclosure

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  20. Cynthia says:

    As I am reading this post, I am thinking, “I LIKE this woman!”

    I hate that no matter what, there is a box that someone tries to put me in. It’s what makes labels so difficult. If I say I am a homeschooler, there is a perception that goes along with that … or if I say I am an unschooler … or a Christian … or a Unitarian Universalist … or an artist …. or a vegetarian or not.

    We love The Voice (though we think Christina lost her mind last week). Project Runway is a favorite as well.

    I have an eclectic taste in music, art, books, tv, movies … and it is just who I am. So there. Actually, if I think someone is pushing me too far in a box, I find a way to resist, to redefine. I hate it that much. That’s probably why my interests are so varied … and it makes life fun.

  21. miriam brougher says:

    When you express these opinions, it is quite obvious that you have inherited a LOT of traits and opinions from your grandfather Niemoeller, my dad. It is somewhere between hysterically funny and spookily scary. lol.

  22. miriam brougher says:

    This was one of your greatest. Hi Andrea!

  23. Not to worry! People learn how to sort and label in school, and it takes a long time to recover. And even “super-heroes” don’t have it together in the way people imagine.

    I remember back in the 1970s when we launched our first publication, Natural Life Magazine. Many people decided (erroneously) that it was a back-to-the-land publication and were upset to discover, among our other apparent “sins,” that we lived in a townhouse at the time. No chickens, goats, or hippies there! And we were, surprise, surprise, learning along with our readers.

    Life’s a journey, and some of us are a little bit further along and therefore able to help others navigate it. But part of the definition of “life learning” is that there is always more to learn about.