When I started writing this blog a little over a year ago, it was with the intent of organizing my thoughts around our approach to learning and to give myself a daily writing outlet and writing practice. (The number one advice for authors to anyone wishing to be a writer? Write. Every day.)
Now that intent has developed into something broader – prompting me to join the BlogHer network and to start building a following on Twitter – which is to promote unschooling in places where people might not know about it; to stop preaching to the choir and instead become an unschooling missionary. Because I have noticed that the unschooling universe tends to be very insular. We are the radicals within the radicals. Life Learning Magazine is the only regularly published unschooling periodical (at least that I am aware of, which only serves to prove my point) with any substantial readership. And even then I’d wager that most of the readers are already life learners. There is very little outreach and even less advocacy. And there are understandable reasons for this. For instance people do not want the powers that be breathing down their necks, questioning their suitability as parents because their children are allowed the freedom to learn as they wish. Also, there is no money in life learning for the people who make billions every year off of compulsory schooling. Even traditional homeschoolers buy a curriculum.
Our numbers are small, our voice even smaller as we seek to protect the freedoms we have. Understandable, as I said, but I guess I want more. I want unschoolers to become an economic force, as I wrote about in Unschooling as Capitalist Ideal. I want life learning to become the homeschooling style of choice for families who decide not to send their kids to school. I want the radical fringe to grow until it enters mainstream consciousness in a big way and is no longer seen as a ‘radical’ choice, but just a choice (and a good one).
How can this happen if we don’t get out there and promote? We don’t have to browbeat people (although sometimes that’s effective) to promote life learning; we can be funny and self-deprecating and passionate. Sometimes we’re prone to taking ourselves a bit too seriously, which I see as a defense mechanism against those who would dismiss us, but we can improve.
On Twitter, I am following a lot of homeschoolers and unschoolers. Only three tweet on a regular (daily +) basis and only one of those is an unschooler (Christina Pilkington of the Interest-Led Learning Daily). The guy who tweets the most (he’s like a dogged telemarketer and even I get sick of him) is a very traditional homeschooler with a curriculum to sell. And that’s ok, but his ‘voice’ on Twitter is so loud and insistent it tends to drown out anyone else who might be found in a search for homeschooling.
So I’m making another request for your help. If you think that anything I write here is of interest, pass it along. If you know someone on Twitter, ask them to follow me @greenmangoes. I think you can even go to BlogHer and rank my site. The more people who read about unschooling and understand that it’s a viable choice and that this ‘radical fringe’ is made up mostly of normal-ish type people, the closer we are to one more person choosing this path for their children.
Just one more, on the way to many.