Ditch the stereotypes; even your own

People who have heard of unschooling but don’t know what it’s about, or who know just a little tend to stereotype unschoolers as uneducated.     This is because people wrongly equate school with education.

Dale Stephens is probably, at least at the moment, the most well-known unschooler around, having received the Thiel Fellowship and being the founder of UnCollege.    This can only be a good thing as I doubt there is anyone out there who would dare to label Dale as uneducated.

On the flip side of this issue, many unschoolers stereotype anyone who follows a path that leads them to financial success as a greedy person; a capitalist in the worst manifestation.   The tendency among the unschooling community is to laud those who eschew any kind of wealth and to suspect the rest of duplicity.

Both sides err in their stereotyping.

The first group – the ones who know little or nothing about unschooling –  is actually the easier to deal with; all it takes for them to realize they are wrong about unschoolers being uneducated is to meet a few of them.

It’s the second group that is more difficult.   Unschoolers who deride fellow self-directed learners for following a path of business or corporate success are contradicting what unschooling is all about; allowing children to grow & follow their interests.  There is no caveat that says “as long as those interests lead them to live simply and not work for a corporation or have a lot of money.”    I myself do not get inspired by marketing or a well thought out business model.  But I know people who really, really love that stuff and are great at it.   And you know what?  If my kid was one of them it would be completely wrong of me to discourage her from becoming a marketing whiz and making a lot of money along the way.

Conversely, I am also not inspired by gardening or cooking, but if my kid wanted to open a cafe where she made everything from food grown in her own garden – if that was her dream – then it would be hypocritical of me to point out that she might not get rich doing it and so should choose a different career.

The money – the financial or material success – of the thing is beside the point no matter how you look at it.

What matters is doing the thing you love and doing it well.

So to all the unschoolers out there?  Ditch the stereotypes.  They do no one any good.


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