First let me say how much I admire young kids/teens who advocate and put themselves in the public eye as unschoolers. This includes Jude, the unschooled teen who appeared with me on Stossel a few weeks ago, as well as Dayna Martin’s son Devin who appeared with her on the Jeff Probst Show earlier this year. Then there is Idzie Desmarais who is a grown unschooler and writes the blog “I’m Unschooled, Yes I can Write” and Laurie A. Couture’s son Brycen, who appears with Laurie in “The Teen Rebellion Myth” video offered for purchase on her site. And there are others like Nikhil Goyal who was not an unschooler but who is on the front lines of advocating for changes in education, and Dale Stephens who was unschooled, went to college and then left after starting the very successful UnCollege.org and winning the Thiel Fellowship.
There are many others I haven’t mentioned, and every one of them should be respected for their decision to speak about their own experiences and advocate for change.
In my own house, we’ve had several discussions recently about speaking in public. After I was on Stossel I decided to put together a workshop for the upcoming AERO conference in May (for info go to www.educationrevolution.org) and as I mentioned yesterday I will be taking part in a panel next Saturday, April 13 at Student Voice Live!. I enjoy speaking in public and am passionate about self-directed learning and unschooling so it is an easy gig for me. The people at Stossel asked if my kids would come on the show with me, and they declined. My daughter could have come to Student Voice Live! but has other plans on the date and in any case was not that psyched about going.
People often assume that since I am so willing to talk publicly about unschooling, my kids will be too. And if they wanted to, that would be wonderful, but it’s also completely ok that they don’t.
They don’t want to be held up as examples or asked questions such as the ever popular, “What’s a typical day like for you?” Life and learning are so completely integrated for them (and always have been) that they have a hard time answering questions about “what they learn” or how they learn math, science, geography, etc. It is not something they actively think about much – it just is. That said, if they loved public speaking they would probably consider the best way to answer those questions (as I do) in order to illustrate the unschooling lifestyle to people for whom it is totally unfamiliar. But public speaking is not one of their interests and for the most part they keep their accomplishments and their passions to themselves.
Forcing or pressuring my kids to be interviewed or speak in public about unschooling would go against everything we believe about learning and pursuing our own individual paths. Both of them have been interviewed in the past, neither really enjoyed it and have no great desire to do it again. That may change in the future, and if it does, they’ll have our full support as they do in everything.
Until then, I’ll advocate the lifestyle; they are busy living it.