I inadvertently posted this to the wrong blog over the weekend. (I really do need to get my blogging act together. It's out of control.) Apologies for the repeat to those of you who are sweet enough to read my other blogs. More apologies to those who left comments, which were lost in the move. Sigh.
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Back in 2007, Dragonstar and I went to our first Live & Learn Unschooling Conference, run by the indomitable Kelly Lovejoy.
At that conference, Kelly gave me some advice -- a single word, actually -- that, once I got around to actually following it, helped to dissolve the sense of isolation from other unschoolers my daughter and I felt, and made us happier unschoolers in the process.
Not as in "Go to Europe" or "Visit Machu Picchu," but "Go visit other unschoolers."
At the time I thought, well, okay... but we didn't really know any of these other unschoolers well enough to show up at their homes with our overnight bags.
Apparently, we did. And do.
Because here's what I've since learned: that unschooling families are like cells in a geographically dispersed intentional community, little clusters of "people who get it" all over the world. Once you become a member of the community and you put the word out -- in person at a gathering, or on your blog, or via facebook, or through a Yahoo group -- that you're interested in meeting up, you'll get offers from others in the community to come visit.
As in, "Come stay in our home with us."
At first I found this concept hard to fathom. It was outside my frame of reference. But when the offers kept coming, it finally became clear that they weren't "Oh, they're just being polite" offers. They were real invitations.
Chances are, you'll get them, too.
And maybe you'll find them a little disconcerting, as I did. But there will come a day when you tire of your isolation and you get out the map and finally realize that you may not live next door to any unschoolers, but there are unschooling families to the north, south, east and west who welcome visitors. And some of them are within a day's drive.
A day's drive!
Keeping in mind that some unschoolers' definition of "a day's drive" more resembles a trucker's idea of "a day's drive" than a typical family's, let me say from personal experience that spending a day in the car -- even a long day -- in order to hang out with unschoolers is more than worth it.
And getting to hang out with them in their homes? That's worth some serious road time.
If the mountain won't come to Mohammad, Mohammad must go to the mountain.
So it took Dragonstar and I a while to get comfortable with the idea of this kind of travel. But our frustration with our geographic isolation finally outweighed our reticence, and off we went. And we're hugely -- hugely -- glad we did. Kelly's advice was wise, so I'm passing it along to you. If you're an unschooler who finds the time between conferences or gatherings to be too frustratingly long, or if conferences are not to your liking but you crave the company of other unschoolers, I encourage you to try a more personal approach.
Be bold. Put the word out. Then fill the tank, and go.
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Note to commentors: Please bear with me while I turn on word verification in the comments for a few posts. I have a very tenacious spammer I'm trying to rid myself of. I dislike dealing with those crooked letters as much as you do, and will make them go away as soon as my spammer does. Thanks for your understanding.