My emailbox has been unusually full this past week, not so much because I’m suddenly popular, but because I’m on an email list of unschoolers who are planning to attend the Live & Learn Unschoolers Conference that gets underway this Wednesday in
Several hundred of us are about to converge on the Blue Ridge Assembly in the mountains above Asheville, moms and dads and babies and teens and grandparents and life partners and all manner of folk in between. Many are seasoned unschoolers. Others will be new to the whole idea. Some will leave baffled. Others will leave as new members of a joyful tribe.
My daughter has always been an unschooler. I was conventionally schooled. As she learns, I unlearn, relearn. The longer we do it, the greater its implications in our lives, and the greater our influence on those around us. We have changed minds, just by being who we are and doing what we do. And our lives have changed, just by being among other unschoolers.
In the early days, I carried a lot of schooly thoughts in my head. I embraced the essence of natural learning – that we learn what we learn in our own time, in our own way – but I didn’t know at first what would replace the workbooks and curriculum and schooly stuff. I still thought in the language of school: subjects, semesters, “What Every x-Grader Should Know.”
So for a while I measured our lives against the artificial construct of institutionalized schooling, and tried to find ways to wedge our activities into their appropriate “subject” categories. Even though we were quite free of school in many ways, in the beginning I thought in terms of the world as our classroom. Dragonstar -- and other unschoolers -- taught me that, as Grace Llewellyn writes, the world is not a classroom, the world is the world.
What replaces the workbooks and curriculum? Absolutely nothing. And absolutely everything. The world is the world.
At the conference there will be lectures and roundtable discussions. There will be (somewhat) organized activities known as funshops. There will be a picnic. There will be a masquerade ball. There will be kids with painted hair and faces and grandmoms with tattoos. There will be trails to walk and a creek to wade in.There will be five sweet days of letting someone else do the cooking.
The unschoolers are coming to
credit: "Embryo" original pen & ink by ps pirro