It's taken me a while to begin to wrap any kind of useful language around the experience Dragonstar and I had at this year's Live & Learn Unschoolers Conference in North Carolina. Words have failed me for days.
But as a first attempt, let me share with you what keeps coming up for me in the aftermath of our return to our daily lives: the conviction that we as a people need whatever it is this conference offers. Our society needs it. The world needs it.
So many of us crave workable alternatives to our desperately dysfunctional culture, but we are stymied in our quest to get there from here. To move us forward, we need to see actual demonstrations of those alternatives. Theory is not enough. Books and descriptions won't do. We need to see it -- experience it -- in action.
We need to see what really happens when relationships between family members are based on principles of kindness and trust and mindfulness and respect. We need to see how it really works when these families who are committed to living their lives based on these principles come together and interact.
And as we observe, we need to pay careful attention to the details of what we're seeing: what is present in those relationships and those lives, and just as importantly, what is absent: coercion, guilt, shame.
Unschoolers know that unschooling isn't merely a method of education, it's a way of life. It's a principled approach to being in the world, to being present and accountable. And when several hundred families come together and demonstrate those principles -- imperfectly, because we're human, but with true and honest intent -- you have the makings of a cultural revolution.
Next year's conference will be held in the same location in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. If your interest is at all piqued, it might be time to come see for yourself what another way to be in the world might look like and feel like.
There are plenty of porches at the Blue Ridge Assembly, by the way, some wide and public, some sheltered and private, and all of them are well-stocked with rocking chairs, just waiting for your arrival.