Unschooling, Self-esteem, Healing Solar Plexus Issues

It is interesting how just the normal everyday things we participate in bring up opportunities for us to heal and clear blocks. Maybe it is our guides whispering in our ears and guiding us there. Maybe it is the Universe helping to create those perfect opportunities for us to see our issues and what we still need to work on and release. My way of working through my issues and blocks has been to come here and write it all out and tell all of you about it. It is cathartic.

Yesterday Deryck Whibley from Sum 41 posted this photo on Instagram. He has been helping produce a song for his friend Todd.

deryckproducing

As I viewed the photo, I was in awe how anyone could ever learn what all of the knobs and buttons do and I suddenly realized that Deryck learned how to do all of that in the studio simply by doing…by being interested and passionate about music…probably by observing someone else do it and likely asking a lot of questions. And then it dawned on me and I got excited when I thought, “Oh my god, he is a Life Learner! How wonderful!” Upon this realization, I felt compelled to make the below comment on his photo:

You know what I think is pretty fucking awesome,@sum41 ? You didn’t go to school and sit in some boring class to learn what you know. You did it through life learning (aka unschooling). The theory behind unschooling/life learning is that if you allow children/people to learn about what they have an interest in, they develop a love for learning. Some people go to school to learn what you are doing. You know how to do it because of your passion and love for music. You were motivated to learn. I dropped out of school when I was 16. I used to beat myself up about it and feel ashamed about it until I understood what unschooling was. I feel I am very intelligent and self-educated. I simply learned about the things I cared most about. Life is an excellent teacher and force feeding kids crap they don’t give a shit about and locking them away in school for most of their days and inundating them with homework is not helpful. Sorry…soapbox. Stepping down now. Just thank you for inadvertently being a life learner and being so impressive with what you have chosen to teach yourself. I have tons of respect for you.

I hesitated after posting and had the urge to delete it because, yet again, I felt like I had revealed too much. I revealed a secret that I rarely tell anyone…I dropped out of school. And there it was…my shit laying before me in black and white.
You may remember, if you have read my previous blog posts, me mentioning details of my volatile childhood. The pressures of home and the dysfunction there combined with the pressures of school was just too much. I wasn’t the expressive person I am today. I bottled everything up and kept it inside. I was like a bottle of kombucha left to ferment in a closed bottle. Eventually the pressure would build enough to make the bottle shatter. I was thinking about ways to kill myself on a daily basis. I wanted out. I wanted the pain, the pressure and the stress to stop. I knew running away from home wasn’t an option because I knew my father would hunt me down and drag me back kicking and screaming.

Also, since entering junior high school, I started to understand just how ridiculous it was that they were trying to force me to learn about things I didn’t care about nor did I believe I would ever have a use for it in my life. I struggled in school…not because I didn’t understand but because I had no interest and passion about what I was learning about. I felt forced to be somewhere that I didn’t really want to be. I felt forced to learn about things I had zero interest in.

In my 9th grade year I left half way through and took home courses and was allowed to go at my own pace. I was finished with that year early as a result. What I really wanted at that point was to be sent away to performing arts school but my family lived paycheck to paycheck, so that never happened. I re-entered institutionalized learning for my 10th grade year. I was different in the way I chose to look…wild hair, vintage clothes with a style all my own. I was an easy target because of it. Kids can be cruel and they were to me. I remember vividly some male student I didn’t even know came up to me and asked me how much I charged…basically insinuating that I looked like a prostitute. I was wearing fitted black ski pants, a vintage bright blue short waisted jacket, a sequined bright blue wide belt, matching blue high heeled shoes and a cute little blue vintage hat that had a veil that came down over the eyes. Yes, I looked different but I wasn’t dressed in revealing clothes. The funny thing about that mean comment is that a year or so later, black stirrup pants would become a thing and all the girls would eventually be wearing tight black pants similar to what I had worn. I was just ahead of the trend…a trail blazer.

One day I just snapped. I couldn’t do it anymore and I told my mom, “I want to drop out of school” and explained to her that if I wasn’t able to relieve one of the pressures in my life, I felt like I would eventually follow through with my suicidal thoughts. My mom wasn’t pleased about it but I think my choice also motivated her to look at her life and leave my father for a second and final time.

I lived in a college town where usually the first question when getting to know someone is “So, what is your major?” I did eventually get my GED but I heard over and over people making fun of those who had gotten GEDs rather than a proper high school diploma. They were looked down upon. I made a point to try not to mention anything about my education. It was a source of embarrassment for me. I had friends who seemed to enjoy insulting me in round-a-bout ways because *gasp* I didn’t go to college and they somehow thought they were more intelligent than me because of it.

I did eventually go to nanny school and you might think, “How hard could nanny school be?” It was a lot harder than you might think. It was two years worth of child development classes crammed into 9 months. It was a lot of pressure and I didn’t enjoy it. I get test anxiety and even if I know all the information, I blank when a test is before me. It was a reminder that I am not really cut out for institutionalized learning.

I took a job in Michigan and was with a family there for 8.5 years. I made the mistake, in a moment of confidence, of sharing with the oldest child (12 or 13 at the time) about feeling suicidal and dropping out of school at 16. In a moment of rage he used that information against me and said some of the most hurtful things to me about me not being educated. It cut me to the core and I swore I would never open up like that again and share that information for someone to use it as a weapon against me.

But really, the only way to prevent information about ourselves being a weapon for another is to heal and take away the negative charge we feel when it comes up. People can’t use something against you if you develop a different perspective about it and it doesn’t bother you anymore.

Fast forward to having my daughter. As a parent you have all of these big decisions to make for your child. I haven’t taken those choices lightly and have researched the things I feel are most important. We co-sleep, practiced full-term breastfeeding, attachment parented, started eating organic, etc. One of the things we researched was what we would do about education. One of my mommy friends talked about unschooling. This was a new phrase to me. “What is unschooling?” I asked. In a nutshell, unschooling is self-directed, life-based learning. Some people call it “life learning” and it can look very different for each family. When people ask us about Inara’s school, I find it a lot easier simply to say “We are home schooling,” rather than have to try to explain what unschooling is to some random stranger.

Basically those of us who practice unschooling believe that you can learn all that you need in life just by living and having an interest in what you want to learn about. The person who learns about something they actually care about becomes passionate and the knowledge gained isn’t just tossed away as “omg I am never gonna use this”. It is remembered and they go forward with a voracious appetite to learn more. We learn SO much better when we are learning about what we care about and when we are actually DOING rather than from a text book and home work. I truly hope that we see a resurgence of apprenticeships and people shadowing someone who is doing what they want to do as a profession.

When I learned about unschooling, it helped me realize I wasn’t “uneducated” as some people would like to say. I am LIFE EDUCATED. I am a Life Learner/Unschooler but simply didn’t know back then there had been studies and books written about it. I do wish I had known about it so much earlier because it really would have helped me with my self-esteem and insecurities. It was my midwife telling me she had 3 grown unschoolers that helped me decide that we would unschool our daughter. Here is a great video by a grown unschooler:

I have a voracious appetite for knowledge and, thanks to the internet, SO much knowledge is available to us at our finger tips. If we want to find where we can go to encourage one of our daughter’s interests, a quick internet search will turn up things for us to choose from. If we want to learn about something on the fly that she has a question about, we can easily look it up.

I didn’t finish high school. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t get a degree. My education has been life-based and self-directed. I am an intelligent person and my value is not less because I didn’t subject myself to forced education for as long as some people do.

So, yeah…when I recognize another as being a life learner, especially one in the public eye, I get excited…especially when they are an amazing example of all you can do and learn when passion for that knowledge is present.deryckproducing3 deryckproducing2

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