Why do people like to talk so much about how tough they’ve had it? As though somehow it makes them a better person? As though working in a dead-end job, or better yet, two dead-end jobs just to make ends meet, or being thoroughly unhappy in a career is some sort of badge of honor?
Surprisingly this comes up a lot when people question unschooling, or are giving reasons why kids need to be in school. Basically it boils down to them saying, “Kids need to know that the world is a hard and unforgiving place. Not everything will go their way and they’d best get used to it.”
I hate that way of thinking.
First, school is not ‘the world’. Second, I don’t need to spend time in a prison to know that it is a tough place in which to survive. Third, I don’t believe life needs to be an endless struggle. Difficulties will arise in all our lives, but it is how we handle them that counts. It is my opinion that people who’ve been loved, encouraged, respected and who are self-educated are better equipped to handle any adversity than are those who’ve been beaten down, humilated and made wrong since childhood.
When someone asks me what Ben does all day, I tell them he plays a lot. He builds, he imagines, he sings (all the time) and he laughs. Learning? Of course. Adversity? Not so much. No bullies, no homework, no one telling him he “needs to know” stuff in order to succeed. He succeeds a lot in his life, and I think it will continue. When he builds he does not get discouraged when something doesn’t work the first time. He just tries again. He can do this because he is not afraid of mistakes. He doesn’t think a first try failure marks him as ‘lesser’. He is persistent and confident as only someone who hasn’t been told time and again that they’re wrong can be.
Maybe I’m way off base, but I think this is going to serve him well, even when he’s grown and living in the “real world”.